A mzungu acclimatizes

A strange thing happened the other day. We made a trip into Dar es Salaam to drop off Laura and Mari, who were returning to Finland (via Scotland) after five weeks of volunteering.

Traffic and a poorly timed flat tire made the one hour trip into a two-hour one, and anytime someone from the school goes to Dar, there are eight to twenty errands to run, so we were not making anything close to good time. Maristella, the headmistress was with us, so we were a vanload of six wazungu (foreigners/white people – mzungu is the singular) and one local, which always attracts attention.

Our list of things to do included buying phone credit, topping up our mobile internet account, picking up milk and a few other bits at the supermarket, taking Laura and Mari to their friend’s place, and the primary reason Maristella, Rachel, Gemma and I were there: a visit to the tailor.* On top of this was the time needed to change the tire, and an unplanned visit to two former teachers.

On the walk back from church, this truck stopped specifically to ask if the mzungo wanted a ride, ignoring all the locals, including my companions.

Welcome to Africa, where a trip is never from point A to B, but more like A to G or K, with all stops in between.

But back to my original point – the funny thing I noticed, or perhaps did not notice – Tanzania no longer seems so foreign. I After 20 days in the country, I have stopped mentally comparing everything I see to its equivalent at home. I am no longer gaping out the window at the passing scenery, marvelling at the strange architecture or run down shops. I still have a long way to go with learning the language, and visually I will always stand out. But my brain has reset its sense of normal, and this is it. Strange, and I like it.

After a few visits, the pub which once seemed a little sketchy, now is simply the pub.

I can only imagine that when I get home, my first hot shower, or glass of water from the tap will blow my mind.
Copying an idea from Laura, Mari and Marie (yes confusing, but one is pronounced with a German accent, the other a Finnish one – see the difference?) we have bought material at a local shop and are having skirts and dresses made by Maristella’s tailor. We want that African flavour, but there style here is much more bold and colourful than at home, so we are also trying to be careful to choose fabrics and patterns that we will wear back in Canada/England. I pick up my dress on Wednesday.
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