A Challenging Day for this Westerner, But…

11430597905_188446d573_oBy Barb Carman

| Greetings readers! I will start the account of my day yesterday by saying that Tanzania is in the middle of its rainy season.  Also, as some of you know, my computer no longer allows me to use the internet, so I work off line, save on a flash drive, and go to an internet café. With that in mind, the following paragraphs will put things in perspective in the Tanzanian culture and environment. It had rained all night and was raining most of yesterday.  I went to two day centers yesterday morning, the second of which I left with my shoes weighted down with very sticky gooey mud and my walker wheels clogged with it.  However, the two visits were worthwhile and productive.

I then went to a fairly dependable internet café which is located in a small building on a large multi-use property.  Looking like a mud ball, I knew that I could not enter any of the buildings since I would have left mud everywhere.  I asked staff (most of whom I am acquainted} if there was an outdoor faucet somewhere, and I was immediately taken to one by an employee who worked with me for about 20 minutes to scrape the mud off the walker wheels, brakes, etc. and rinse by hand. I was then sort of fit to enter the building where I discovered that people attending a large Africa-wide conference were having lunch.  The first thing I noticed about them was how clean they were.  They were friendly and interested to know about me as I imagined them thinking “how do these westerners get so filthy?”  I was even offered lunch!

I moved on to the internet café where I was delighted to find the electricity and internet up and running!  My manager/technician buddy was there, so I thought maybe I was going to have a productive few hours even with their rickety computers!  Well, two electricity failures and three computers later, I had not accomplished anything!  I was trying to attach blog entries to emails as well as pictures.  We kept changing computers, thinking that a virus alert that I received was a problem there.  But no, a scan of my flash drive showed a virus in a document on it that had been transferred from a local person’s computer in March.  It infected any writing that I had done since that date.  The scan dumped the infected documents.  Then the electricity went off again.  My computer buddy and I just shook our heads and laughed because of the absurdity of it!  As I was leaving he asked me where had I been that made me so muddy!  I gave him “a look” over my glasses which made him laugh.  So I called a taxi and went home.

The “but” in my title is there because of how I’ve seen and heard Tanzanians during this rainy season and failures of electricity and technology.  This is the first true rainy season that has occurred during our three years of coming here.  There had been some rain, but not enough to keep the country out of a drought.  So this daily and nightly rain is cause for much joy in Tanzania.  All the hard work in the fields and related work has paid off. The maize and beans that provide much needed work and food are growing like crazy!  The trees that produce bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and avocados look so fresh and healthy.  What all this means is that there is plenty of water for all living things.  Water has not run out as in the past two years, so it’s available for drinking, cooking, washing, and cleaning.  As one person has said to me “water is life here.”

Yes, plentiful water for people far outweighs the inconveniences of mud, washed out roads, going barefoot to keep shoes clean, carrying children instead of having them have a slow difficult walk, or attempting an impossible wheelchair ride.  Being late for school or work or missing a day is understood.  Interruptions in cell phone service and electricity are tolerated better.  A large percentage of people do not have computers, except maybe at work and a large portion of Moshi’s population does not have electricity at home so …

Many, many people seem to have umbrellas and walk to their destinations.  At restaurants or hotels, such as yesterday, a large table umbrella is used to ensure a drier walk for several people at a time. I have to say that seeing many pairs of legs under a huge moving umbrella is a comical sight to me, but very practical!  The dala dala (an overcrowded and often dilapidated commuter van) drivers are more likely to wait for persons trying to get to the stop.  Motorcycle taxis provide hair-raising rides in muddy conditions.

I have learned so much from the overall patience and kindness, resourcefulness and unruffled approach of people in Moshi in their day-to-day interactions and responsibilities in what appear to be very challenging conditions to me.

So today is a new day! At the end of yesterday, I could afford to call a taxi to take me to a dry home with a shower and bed, and plenty of food. Far too many people in Tanzania do not have that.

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