(Happy 295th, Eddy!)
I’ll likely publish these belatedly, since I haven’t been able to get around to setting up my blog.
I arrive in Tanzania, somewhat surprised that the runway is paved.
The smell! It had smelled sweet in Addis, but nothing compared to this! True, it’s not as intoxicating as the eucalyptus and fir of Big Sur, but it’s earthy and genuine and wants to hug your lungs. I will always remember this smell.
I meet Adam, secure my visa. (For those wanting to travel to Tanzania, the special discount for US citizens is twice as much.) He points out things as we talk furiously on the ride from JRO to Moshi. I hope that he’s taking my ‘I know’s seriously.
I settle, shower. We go tour Moshi, not a long tour. In Nakumatt, a small girl stretches out her hand and mumbles something.
‘What she’d say?’
‘I couldn’t tell. I still don’t speak enough Swahili.’
‘Yeah, don’t give money to people, they’ll just—’
‘I don’t give money to people even in the States, because charity is unsustainable.’
‘You get it!’ And then we bemoan volunteers.
Adam asks if I want a beer, and I reply of course. We go to a rooftop café. The birds swarm overhead, greeting each other at what I call Bird Café O’Clock. Kili slowly shakes off clouds in the background. I greet her. The mountains loom here, pretty and dusky purple in the not-so-distant distance.
For dinner, we get chipsi mayai and another beer. This one’s the local special; you can’t really find it elsewhere—not Dar, not Nairobi. Last week, someone teased me about not being able to find beer, but assured me that ‘It will work out, since you can try all the local brews.’ I looked delighted, then dejected as she said, ‘There are no local brews.’
She lied. This one’s called Eagle.
And Ryan, it’s made from sorghum! And it’s good! It has a nice tartness to it, and something of the aftertaste of a Dogfish Head 90 Minute.
Adam and I see things much the same, which bodes well. Even both our little white brothers rap. He thinks that I have a hilarious accent—the Canadian.
When we definitely don’t want anyone to understand us, we speak French. Talk about accent.
Only three men ask if they can have me, although one just in passing to Adam. Mzungu women in general must just fetch interest. Today Adam explains that I’m his fiancée. I’m going to get a lot of miles out of my black pearl ring. I’m reminded of Roxbury. The barkeep who teases Adam about getting married calls after us in the street as we leave dinner. I manage enough Swahili for her to keep pressing until I laugh, ‘Polepole, mama!’
Truth be told, my brain is a bit frazzled. My travels were wonderfully uneventful—save the incredible checked baggage fee that I had to pay for my third bag, which I should have avoided by reading up online first. Alas. But everything arrived in one piece, on time, with neither pomp nor fanfare. I even met a fellow social entrepreneur, an MIT boy, in Toronto en route to Addis. Small world.
I have to go shower soon. There’s hot water. We’re going to the hot springs tomorrow. We’ll go on a hike Tuesday. Then I’ll start thinking in absolute days again, as opposed to the relative time that I’m in now.
I said that I was looking forward to working hard, reading, writing letters, and writing this blog. Adam added, ‘And relaxing. It’s important to relax.’
Maybe we don’t see things much the same after all. But I’m going to try to relax.