I love being here in Africa, but being the minority in Africa is an interesting position. Walking in the streets people stare. Actually, everywhere you go people stare. The Kiswahili term for European (which if you are white you are automatically assumed to be) is mzungu. Everywhere I walk literally all I hear is mzungu, mzungu! Little kids point, everyone thinks I don’t know what they are saying (which, let’s face it, I don’t, but I know it is about me), and it is a little awkward. If you happen to have a friend that loves getting attention, I would tell you to recommend to them to come to Africa as a mzungu! It will get the job done.
Tanzanians are really into greetings. It is the first thing we learned upon arriving, and one session of greeting can actually be an extended conversation. How are you? How is your day? How is your morning? How is your work? How are your parents, your chicken, your cows, your goat, your monkey, your school, etc…? It literally lasts 10 minutes and is super awkward because the entire time they are greeting you you are shaking their hand (which becomes more of a hand hold) and you are not allowed to say anything besides “good” to all questions or else you are considered rude…you greet everyone! The point seems a little foggy since you never learn anything new from the greetings, but it is teaching me to be more patient (or at least that is what I am telling myself) and it gives you a soft landing so when you accidentally say ”ninataka kunya” (I want to defecate) instead of “ninataka kunywa” (I want to drink)–surprisingly similar and easy to mix up–people are much more understanding if you have greeted them!!
I went to my first wedding on Sunday. It was very interesting to see! In groups, guests of the wedding dance up to the front of the room to deliver gifts to the bride and groom (party train style). My host mama made me go with her group, which is great, I mean, I like to dance, especially in a train, but when you are the only mzungu in a room of 200 people, people stare, people point, people laugh…it was quite embarrassing. I just closed my eyes, danced my little wowowo off, and pretended like I was on a beach drinking a strawberry marg.
Yesterday, we got to cook! This was awesome, although cooking a meal here is about a 5 hour process. We made chicken. Fresh chicken. I caught the chicken in the yard and then had to watch its poor little head get chopped off. I could never be a hunter! I did pluck all of its feathers off after the beheading, and I cleaned it, but when it came to eating it I couldn’t do it…maybe vegetarianism is in my future (I am definitely NEVER doing that at my site!). We also successfully baked some excellent banana bread, and I feel like an expert at making coconut rice. All in all, a good experience. It is so nice here how fresh all of the food is. With little refrigeration options, it has to be!
This morning I woke up to a bunch of cockroaches in my room…really big really gross cockroaches. Good thing the Peace Corps gave me some spray to kill them…I went to town. I was really loud, spraying, maybe with a few ”eeks” of fright popping out every now and then, so my host sister knocked on my door asking me what was going on. Don’t worry though, I killed a bunch of them (and by a bunch I mean 3), and I think I used the entire can of spray the PCs gave me so I am going to have to ask for more…but I feel pretty good about it. When I get home tonight I am going to go through all my bags to make sure there are no more lurking…wish me luck.
That’s all I have for now, one more day of language class, and then 2 days with the whole group! Love and miss you all (and thanks for reading and commenting, I know I haven’t been the best at responding but it makes me sooo happy to see and I will try and be better!)