I guess no matter how hard you try you can't avoid jet lag. I am pretty sure I fell asleep at about midnight and now 5 hours later I am wide awake (thanks in part to the rooster) - we'll see how long that lasts! Unfortunately my Kindle doesn't get internet reception at the house. In order to save time at the Internet Cafe I will write out my posts whenever I get a chance and head down to the cafe to type them in when I can. Thanks to everyone for your posts! They brighten my day.
Nothing can really prepare you for your first day in rural Africa - or any third world country for that matter. It's hard to explain, but it is not bad, just very different. I arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport and wasn't even sure if anyone would be there to pick me up. Our flights were delayed a couple of hours - for no real reason - everybody just moves at their own pace around here....slowly. As they say in Swahili "pole, pole". Anyway, I had not received confirmation that I would be picked up at the airport, but hey, no worries. I figured I would stop by a phone store at the airport, pick up a SIM card and make some calls. Wrong. The airport was really just an open air structure no bigger than a CVS. No stores. Thankfully, my bags were on the luggage belt waiting for me after I went through customs and, after a few moments of uncertainty, I found my driver, exchanged money and started on the road to Moshi. Ally the driver (there is another Ally who is teaching me Swahili) and I had several laughs on our 40 minute ride. He gave me a quick introduction to Swahili - When I say "thank you" (asante) you say "thank you very much" (asante sana). At time it feels like I'm actually living in the middle of an old Elvis movie which made the saying all the more fitting.
I'm quickly learning that perception is everything here. People don't really tell it like it is - they just tell it to you the way they'd like it to be. For example, the "town" of Moshi that I'm staying in has either 250,000 or 1.2M people in it - depending on who you ask. And yes, incase you were wondering, we do have hot/cold showers. That is if I take a bucket of water to the stove, boil it and carry it into the bathroom to dump on myself, the walls, floor, toilet and anything else that may get splashed in my shower with no curtain. Under normal circumstances this may seem less than ideal. However, it wasn't until half way through my first "shower" that I realized the hand held shower head actually worked and the tiny stream of cold water coming out of the faucet comes out just a little bit faster through the shower head. After the frustration of trying to shower with a bowl and a bucket for 5 minutes, this small discovery felt like a modern day miracle!
There are 11 of us living in this 7 bedroom house - depending on who you ask! Fatouma - the house mom - her daughter, Somiya (she is maybe 3) and 14-yea old Esther. We are told she is a friends daughter or a cousin. Who knows? There are 5 girls from the U.S. and 1 guy who I have yet to meet. Then there are 2 or 3 other Tanzanians who come and go, depending on the day. Sarika (NYC), Elizabeth (FL) and I share a room. We are quickly becoming friends and i am sure I will have plenty of stories to share about them over the coming days.
It is now 6:04 am, the sun is rising, birds are chirping and the roosters are crowing. I can hear the morning Muslim prayer chants in the distance. The trees are blooming with beautiful red and purple flowers and it smells a bit like the smokey remnants of a campfire. Good morning, Tanzania.