Oh my, let me tell you…. there is room for one more…. took on a whole new meaning today. It’s almost a daily experience to get some kind of laugh attack whether it’s 30 seconds or 45 minutes and today was one of those 45 minute kind of days as I ventured from Mikati Beach back home to Kunduchi Beach.
I spent half of Dala Dala ride pinched intricately between an old Tanzanian man’s knee, a woman’s left butt check, my right leg on the bottom step of the stairs going into the dala dala, my left leg holding my backpack next to the wall all the while my head was sticking out the window.
After a few stops, the puzzle pieces of the beings involved in this dala dala ride adjusted and I then spent the remaining adventure with my left butt cheek sitting on the window with my body resting against the edge of the window all the while my head swayed in the early evening breeze.
Today was by far one of the most interesting public transport experiences I have yet been involved in as there were around 60 people crammed into a dala dala that typically seats around 25 people.
Although we were filled to the point where people where hanging out the window, we continued to stop and pick up individuals waiting at the stops and with each stop,
we somehow made room for each and everyone that needed to get on the dala dala.
As for some fun details of today’s adventure, the group of us whom will be teaching on Mafia Island left Kunduchi Beach after breakfast and ventured to Mwenge to shop at local cultural shops and into an air conditioned Tanzanian mall called Mlimani City and yes it was air-conditioned with cappuccino and ice cream shops!
We then ventured on several other dala dala in Posta and Kivukoni where we took a five-minute ferry across the ocean to Kigamboni and ate lunch at a street vendor.
One of my favorite local dishes to order is chipsi mayai (french fries with eggs). After lunch, our final destination was a local beach, Mikati for an afternoon swim with local Tanzanians and fellow volunteers.
Amongst the chaos of being a human puzzle within the public transportation in Dar es Salaam, I was once again reminded of the sincerity of the Tanzanian culture. While scrunched against and hanging out of the dala dala window, I watched an older Tanzanian man, someone who you referred to as “Shikamoo” (meaning elderly respect) engage in an extremely humble humanitarian act.
As a woman and her son (probably around 5 years old) squeezed onto the already overcrowded dala dala, Shikamoo pulled the young son’s hand up and made enough room for him to sit on the edge of the chair. Shikamoo then took the large plastic bag of recycled water bottles filled with liquids and put it on his lap. It gets better…. he then looked at the mother and grabbed the large gasoline container from her hands and put that on his lap as to ease the burden from both the mother and her son. When it was Shikamoo’s time to get off the dala dala, he made sure this woman and her young son received his now vacant seat before he exited.
Although this interaction between strangers may seem minuscule amongst all that we witness in our daily routines, this gesture speaks loudly to my observations about Tanzanian culture in this short amount of time here on mainland Tanzania. Yes, this country is extremely impoverished financially BUT I will tell you, it is so rich in culture, so rich in openness, understanding, and acceptance.
It is truly humbling to witness and experience the subtle gestures of local Tanzanians as majority are so overjoyed to share a small conversation, even if it is in my broken Swahili.
With each excursion out into the cities, my understanding and ability to speak Swahili increases as I look forward to having a full conversations in Swahili without having to look at my Tanzanian counterparts for assistance.
This evening is filled with the task of repacking my suitcase as I leave early in the morning on a plane to Mafia Island where I will be teaching at a school in Micheni. While there, I’ll be living with a local Tanzanian volunteer, Seif who grew up in a town outside Tanzania. At dinner tonight, Seif and I talked about creating house rules which will include nightly dinner sessions, Swahili and English “Genki lessons”, photo excursions, yoga sessions, creating a blog for him and anything else that comes up along the way.
I am thrilled to share this experience with a local, someone who is native to Tanzania knowing the in’s and out’s of the environment, language, school system, welcoming culture and so much more!
Below are a couple photos I uploaded to my computer.
There are far too many to share at the moment, but this will give you a sense as to my reality for the past week. I am not too sure as to my Internet connection once I am on Mafia Island, but those details will be worked out within the first couple days of getting settled. I hope each and every one of you reading this is enjoying it as much as I am writing it. Thank you so much for your openness and support! As always, it is humbly appreciated.
Baadaye for now! :)
World Teach Tanzania Semester 2013 volunteer at our training facility –
Jambo from Tanzania:
Living & Teaching abroad in Mafia Island, Tanzania
In June of 2012.... a dream came true.
I was accepted into a WorldTeach program to teach English in Tanzania on Mafia Island. In late December of 2012, I embarked on a 3 month journey to the motherland! Enjoy this blog as it was designed to share my photographs and adventures while living and teaching
on Mafia Island, Tanzania.