So, you’ve noticed. You’ve noticed that I haven’t really written a lot about my time in Tanzania. You’ve noticed, you’ve mentioned, and okay I get it already!
But I think I’m experiencing what many other travels have experienced before me, which is namely, the struggle to explain what I saw/felt/heard/experienced while in Eastern Africa. And what is even more difficult to define is how I feel now, and the way I see/fee/hear and experience life in my own country, having visited another culture that is so vastly different. What have I taken away? And how can I convey that to others? It’s certainly not impossible, but I find that I can’t talk about Dar without mentioning daladalas or bajajis, then I have to define them. Or I have to explain what mix is (though I don’t exactly know), explain just how fully awesome Fanta tastes on a hot day (even though you’ll never really know unless you go), and what it’s like to make the choice between extreme sweating or 28 mosquito bites in the night (rock + hard place = that night in Dar es Salaam).
And all of this, not to mention the countless funny stories that come from these tiny tidbits, are no easier in the telling than in the writing. I am different for having been there, but how? How have I changed?
When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
When you arrive in Dar es Salaam, the first thing you notice is the noise. Tanzania is not a quiet country, and it doesn’t masquerade as one – what you hear is absolutely what you get.
The Dar airport is all high ceilings and cement floors. New, unfamiliar sounds bounce off the plexiglass windows in the customs department. The stamping of passports ricochets like friendly fire: welcome.to.our.country.don’t.screw.up.bam.bam.bam. The stamping keeps time to the sound of your beating heart: I.made.it.I.made.it.I.made.it.I’m.here.
Successfully arriving to the other side of the world is the best feeling.
They will shove your passport back to you, someone else will shove you out of the way, and you bump along over to the baggage claim carousel to shove your luggage onto the floor because it’s too heavy to lift.
The next thing you will notice is the heat. It covers you like the lightest sheet. Light and immovable. There is no relief, no breeze – just heavy air. The sound of bats and insects humming outside becomes the sound of heat. Both the feeling and the noise envelope you as surely as the lightless African night will cover you for the first time when you leave the confines of the airport.
And before you know it, you’re out in front, with your bags, looking for a friend, a little piece of home.
If you’re lucky, home is staring right back at you.
And it’s the best feeling.
“Hey, know what? I’m really glad you’re here.”
“Me too! Hey, what is that noise?”
“F-ing monkeys…it’s always the monkeys…”
…and back in the US! It is definitely good to be home.
I have slacked. Oh how I have slacked during this, the hallowed month of NaBloPoMo. I have definitely lost NaBloPoMo. But I think I have a good reasons. Here are my reasons:
1. I was in Eastern Africa.
2. There are awesome things to do there.
3. These things are more awesome than blogging, I’m sorry to inform you.
4. Also, sometimes the Internet is closed in Africa.
5. I’m not kidding about that.
I have, however, been journaling a ton. I don’t want to forget a single hilarious, heartbreaking, life-changing moment of this trip. Or any sweaty moments. There were lots of those, too. So I will be posting journal excerpts, memories, stories and pictures from my trip starting tonight. Because in America, the Internet is always open.
Just one more reason why it’s good to be home.
“I have a four hour layover in Amsterdam, so my plan is to buy some chocolate and a trashy magazine and wait for my plane.”
“You’re in luck because that’s all there is in Amsterdam! Well, chocolate, liquor and prostitutes.”
“Those are my three favorite things! Why didn’t you tell me this before? Why don’t I live in Amsterdam?”
“I don’t know, but you should definitely, definitely move there.”