The first two of months are over, and there is a lot to tell you from Tanzania. But let's start at the beginning:
Our Quatar Airways flight took us from Frankfurt via Doha to Dar es Salaam, our first destination in Tanzania. We had a really warm welcome there.
The first highlight was our trip by car from the airport to the nun's domicile, where we would be learning the Swahili language for a couple of weeks. As traffic rulse, signs and the like seem to be totally overestimated, everybody just drives wherever thee is space. A two-lane can easily mutate into three lanes, and instead of stepping on the brake people just honk the horn. That's easier, isn't it? Anyway, the traffic here is crazy and you spend a lot of time in traffic jams. At long last, we reached our destination and were once again impressed - this time by the nuns' house, which was built especially as a point of contact for arriving and departing guests in the "capital".
On Monday morning after breakfast, we started our language course. In the mornings we had lessons in a room in the house, using a flip chart. In the afternoons we explored the surroundings with our mwalimu. Mwalimu is the Swahili word for "teacher". We simply called him Mwalimu because we couldn't pronounce his real name. He told us the names of plants, fruits, objects, etc. We also did some role play with him to practice the Swahili language.
My first real contact with the local population was when we visited a school. There is a football field just outside the school, and some kids were already playing. We joined them in their game. Unfortunately one of my shots hit a goalpost, which was shattered into three pieces. But in Africa, that's no problem. A replacement was waiting by the field. The tree trunk was exchanged, the rope that served as a crossbar was tied to it and the game continued.
We also went on some excurisions that were really fun: The first trip took us to the Indian Ocea, 80 km north of Dar es Salaam. Of course we had brought our bathing suits and immediately jumped into the water, hoping we could cool off - but no way! A water temperature of some 27 degrees Celsius isn't all that refreshing. Nevertheless, we splashed around a little before having lunch in Bagamoyo.
On our second trip we had the chance to see animals we knew only from the zoo in their natural habitat. On the way to Morogoro we took a turn to Mikumi National Park. For the first time in my life, I was just a few metres away from wild giraffes, elephants, zebras, antelopes, gnus, monkeys and lions. I could watch them without any grille or glass between us. Awesome! It was quite impressing how the animals remained calm when we passed them in our car. Unfortunately we had only an hour and a half in the park, as it gets dark as early as 6 pm.
After 2 weeks we finally set off to Peramiho, my home for a year. The 1000 km long bus trip to Songeu took 14.5 hours and was quite uneventful. All the streets were paved, so that the ride was not too bumpy. From Songeu it was only 20 minutes to Peramiho.
In Peramiho we live in a small house that is ideal for two people - a kitchen with dining area, two bedrooms, bathroom, loo, a large sitting room, a terrace and even a chimney, just in case it should really get cold. I'm really glad that our house has a two-metre long bed, as the other beds were only 1.90 m. That was a bit short for me, and I had to lay crossways.
Our main chore is to work on the farm. My roommate opted for the chicken farm, where the locals (all men!!) immediately made here the boss. She was given the kay and now has to unlock the place every morning and lock up every afternoon. Moreover, she is called every time eggs are counted or chickens are sold - to double-check, sign off and sometimes even to bargain (without any language skills to speak of). Her main task is to feed the 2000 hens and 150 broilers, collect eggs and to clear out the hen houses.
My "calling" was the butchery. I guess I fit in quite well, as some of the other guys are somewhat chaotic too. They talk about girls, dancing and music. You may have guessed already, and you guessed right. They are all men too. We produce tea sausage spread, sausage with sweet peppers and a kind of salami, as well as frankfurters, ring bologna and smoked ham. We also sell plain meat for grilling or frying.
In addition, we do baseball training for the girls twice a week, and somtimes I play football with the guys from the vocational training school.
Now that you have an idea of our daily routine, let me tell you what else has happened so far. On one occasion we were at a football match of Songea vs. Dar es Salaam (Azam). There were more than 1000 fans in the stadium in Songea, and we were right in the middle of them. The goals had nets and the field had lines. It was a sandy field, but with corner flags just like in Europe. The entrance fee was 2000 shillings, which is about 1 euro.
One Friday we went to a wedding. It started at 10 am, so there was no work that day. The church service took 2 hours and included two weddings and a baptism. It was very nice. Then there was song and dance outside the church before we went to the newly-weds' house for lunch. A DJ was playing music outside the house and all the friends and neighbours were dancing. Except the bride and groom and their relatives. They were sitting inside and waiting in silence. Kind of strange, but well... different strokes for different folks. A little later came the first round of presents, which also involved a lot of dancing and singing. In the evening, friends and neighbours once again danced to DJ music outside the house. Inside there was a second DJ for the family and a presenter who guided us through the eveing. First he introduced the family, then the other guests. A midnight meal was followed by a second round of presents, this time mainly from the family.
On another weekend we went to Mbinga to visit some friends. The journey was quite adventurous, but the landscape was beautiful. There are many hills and a lot of green even in the dry season. Unfortunately the road was not paved and we were sitting right behind the driver, so that we had hardly any room to move our feet. The trip took 3 hours, but it was worth it. We attended another wedding where three couples were married, 16 people were baptised and 10 persons confirmed.
All in all I'm doing fine and I have settled in well in Tanzania. The sun is shining every day and we have just over 30 degrees Celsius. All people here are nice and polite. Sometimes it feels awkward when strangers want to be your best friends immediately, but if you don't react and stay polite then that's no problem either. What I miss from home, apart from the people I like to have around me, is the ease of shopping; the evening entertainment, which is practically nonexistent here; and variety. We have potatoes for lunch almost every day, and some things are very hard to come by, e.g. deodorant or other daily supplies. All this feels a little unfamiliar. It takes you just a few weeks to realise that you are more "German" than you like to think. This includes the slow life and the fact that when you need something, usually nothing happens for a while. For example, we waited something like 10 days for the "internet guy" and had altogether three appointments, until on the fourth occasion he finally found a ride and managed to come to our house. But you soon get used to this slowness.
I am looking forward to the rest of my stay here in Tanzania!
Kwaheri from Tanzania