Oh yeah, I don’t live a “normal” life…

No reason for this song, although I think it’s become my new anthem.

So, life has been trudging along as much as it can on a crazy study-abroad trip. This month has consisted mostly of going to work every day, coming home, and doing homework. (This is a big reason the last two posts had nothing to do with what I’ve been up to.) I’ll admit, I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut, so I made a point every day for the past week or so to write down moments: some not normal for me even now, but mostly things that have become normal  for me until I take a step back and realize how foreign it was my first week here.

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Mt. Meru

 

The list is as follows:

  • Walking from work down to the main road, a group of four Maasai guys who I think spend most of their time chilling in that one spot on the side of the road (I see them every morning and afternoon, not really doing much). Three were chanting the traditional “Hu! Hu! Hu! Hu!” chant  (I can’t explain it better than that without going all poetic and crap on y’all) as the one was jumping straight into the air over and over, trying to jump higher, higher, higher. 
  • Unfinished buildings.  Buildings standing without roofs or walls, free of the trappings of construction with the rebar skeletons growing out of their concrete flesh, waiting to be completed in that ambiguous “someday”  when whoever started building gets more money to continue. It’s a way of loan-free construction.
  • Daladalas. Psuedo-sketchy Tanzanian public transport. Ok, the first week they were super sketchy and petrifying. 15-passenger Nissan vans that drive way too fast and recklessly (like everyone here) and commonly fit 30-40 people. But riding is government-regulated  low low price of 400 Tsh. Opa!
  • Waking up to African music blasting from the neighbors, pikipikis revving, and Pentacostal Swahili preaching/praying/yelling from the radio in the living room. Also falling asleep to this.
  • Squatty potties. I am the pro at these. No details needed.
  • Bucket showers. I’m also pro at these. Like, we’re talking amazing water conservation and efficiency here people. (Have you seen how much hair I have to wash?? Mad skills.)
  • Laundry in a bucket. Not quite as pro at this, but at least I don’t stink.
  • Feral animals. Animals everywhere. Goats, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, ducks, a couple of cats. Usually honking at them urges them to get out of the road.
  • Hair salons. I’m pretty sure the hair salon:people ratio is like 1:5. They’re everywhere, man.
  • M-pesa. So, this is where African technology surpasses Western technology. East Africa basically skipped the whole credit card/banking phase and went straight to m-pesa, which is a system a Kenyan created to access and transfer money on cell phones. People’s entire paychecks, grocery shopping, etc, is done though m-pesa.
  • On the way out to our house (which is so rural google maps doesn’t have info on it- I’m not kidding), there is an area of skeletal stalls that every Thursday comes to life and completely fleshes out into this bustling, lively market with everything you could want (well, essentially). And then on Monday or Tuesday morning it’s skeletal again, with tumbleweeds blowing and buzzards circling. (I’m only kidding about the tumbleweeds.)
  • Every morning I walk from my house to that of a couple of fellow students to hitch a ride into town (1600 Tsh a day adds up), and on my walk there is a mama duck and her little fluffy baby ducklings. Always a highlight of my morning. They’re freaking adorable.
  • Going with my co-workers and just chilling with a group of Maasai women in various places just outside Arusha.
  • The Maasai bibi (grandmother) who pointed out my eyebrow piercing, said she liked it very much, and asked why I didn’t have the other one pierced as well. This is especially funny when compared with the Zanzibari guy I talked to in his 20-somethings, who freaked out about it and acted like it was a circus trick or a second head or something. Go grandma.
  • Konyagi. Basically it’s like local moonshine, and if you’re smart you will not drink it, particularly if you’re a mzungu. It’s sold as shots in little plastic packages, and the number of these empty packets littered around me has me a little concerned for the livers of the local population.
  • Pikipikis. Literal translation=motorcycles. But, almost all pikipikis are up for hire and in this traffic with those drivers are super dangerous. Pikipiki driver funeral processions are normal. Once I saw a live chicken bungee-corded to the back of a piki, just chillin’ and looking around (I couldn’t help but think, “This is the day you die, little chicken. Pole.”)
  • Little kids yelling greetings as I pass by. (Well, everyone yells greetings to the mzungu, but the kids I don’t ignore) They usually try out the couple of English words they know, which sound like “Howyu” to “Howayou!” Walking after work one day, there were a group of probably 5 5-year olds, and they all started yelling that over and over, which eventually morphed into a chant of “How-a-yu, how-a-yu, how-a-yu!!” with rhythmic dancing going along, continuing until long after I was out of sight. It was fantastic.
  • Walking along Sokonie street when I heard music and saw a group of three musicians dancing down the road like they were having their own mini-parade. There was a flautist, a drummer with legwarmer-looking spikey maracas around his legs (that is honestly the best description I can come up with…), and a guy with a big horn that wrapped around his shoulders that curved all the way down to his knees, with an end that looked rather bulbous and the whole thing painted blue and yellow. They had some friends/admirers with them who just danced along to the music around this group as they paraded joyfully down the street.  

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yeah buddy, this is happening.

So there you have it, glimpses into my daily life. This was my last week of my internship, and despite not having anything to do (except my mountains of homework), I am going to miss everyone here at Inherit Your Rights and all they do. On Saturday, we are leaving for the rural village of Uru until Thursday, after which we will travel to Lushoto for a retreat. On the 13th, we go to Dar es Salaam! There are aspects of my life here in Arusha I will miss, but overall I am super excited to move location, change up the rhythm of life, do new things, be with all my fellow students again (we miss each other so much!), and experience these last 5 weeks of Tanzania. On to the next adventure!

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