We moved on from Tanzania, oh, about six months ago, but it took my mum to ask me why I haven’t posted on the blog in such a long time to get me on it again. As usual, mums are the best butt-kickers. Thanks, mum!
This is a post I had started drafting just before we left Tanzania. Since then, we have stayed in Cambodia, and Bali, Indonesia, and have been in Penang, Malaysia since September. I know. I am SO behind.
You know it’s time to move on when …
1. You lose your shit easily, even over some small irritant that only a few months ago was interesting or amusing. For instance, a few years back when we lived there, I remember totally losing it, going all white-woman crazy on a guy at the little ten-car ferry that takes you across the Pangani river, a five-minute ride unless there’s only one engine working. Then it’s the circular route which takes slightly longer and faces backward.
Aaanywaay… apparently I was supposed to get out of the car for the ride, yet just the other day there was no such order. So I challenged him on this, in a mixture of loud English and broken Swahili. Ok, I was yelling (over the engines). He rudely turned his back on me, so I followed him, yammering away, practically stamping my foot like a 2-year-old, much to the amusement of the passengers, not to mention my husband.
Similarly, just before moving back to Canada, in a tent on the side of a dusty road in Kenya, the border official insisted that I had to have the yellow fever vaccine or he wouldn’t let me back into Tanzania. He had it right there, in a cool box, and it would cost me $50. I absolutely refused. I’m returning to Canada in two weeks anyway, I said. So I got a bit screechy, and used several loud “hapana’s” (no’s) and it worked. He backed down, poor guy.
2. You stop noticing all the insects, large and small, that get in your face, in your drink, in the shower with you, every day. You don’t even flinch, not even when the bats come inside the house for a visit. Or the scorpian that finds its way inside the bed net. Well, ok, maybe that one was a little alarming.
3. Makuti roofs are no longer rustic and romantic, but a source of dirt and gecko poo. A little, wet pellet of shit lands on your shoulder–or worse–in your hair, and you start shrieking, “Can you see it, can you see it?!” But you smell it because it really stinks, so you drop everything and have a shower.
4. You don’t have much patience with the hawkers, the beggars, the guy who sells cashews. You no longer look forward to going to town for supplies, because you are tired of seeing the poverty, the intense need, the crumbling, makeshift homes set in the dust and heat. It only leaves you depleted and cynical, and guilty as hell.
And yet when the day came, when we were leaving, it was a bit sad. I was going to miss everyone terribly. I was excited to start the next chapter, but also a bit nervous. Tanzania for me was a way to ease into this new location independent thing because it was familiar and comfortable, in a sense. We have a built-in support network there which is wonderful, although we discovered we can also manage nicely without it. (But then again, we haven’t faced any major challenges in our travels. Not yet–and hopefully never, knock wood.)
I can safely say that now I miss Tanzania again, and have yet to find a place that can even compare because it is so utterly distinct from anywhere else. It is a frustratingly difficult place. You sweat a lot. You get dirty feet. You can’t drink the water. It costs more than it should. Yet it casts a spell that makes you forget all the hassle almost as soon as you leave. And I am certain we will keep going back.