On Tanzania

Our trip back was everything we hoped it would be.  It was wonderful to catch up with our Tanzanian friends, to visit our schools and see the new developments at each, and to catch up with current and former Peace Corps Volunteers.

It was interesting how much our one week stay in the village reflected our two years of service. We felt like we were going through it all again, minus the actual teaching in a school.  Emotionally it was a roller coaster, magnified by the exhaustion of traveling for 2 days to get to the village, the jet lag that we experienced, and the amount of food we were fed every day. Fiance talked about one day hating everything and feeling like he didn’t belong, and the next day being in love again with Tanzania and with the people that went out of their ways to host us and to visit us during our visit.

Similar to his emotional response – significantly heightened due to our being on his home turf, I felt like I was having the gastrointestinal equivalent.  Let’s just say, my issues ran the full gamut there as well.

Despite the slight hiccup that my old cell phone from while I lived there – which held all of my contact numbers for friends in my village – being stolen from my bags at sometime either in baggage claim, customs, or while the airport held our bags (they didn’t make it onto our flight because of delays and we had to pick them up the next morning), I showed up in my village for the afternoon one day, and was so warmly greeted I was ready to stay again.  Showing up with no warning meant that I didn’t get to see a few teachers dear to me, but surprise visits are totally the norm in Tanzania, so those who were around immediately welcomed our visit, shared food and soda with us, and were eager to fill us in on all the school news.

It was wonderful to see my school, and to have my headmaster show me all of the improvements that have been made over the last 3 years.  Since I’ve left they have completed 2 hostels, a library, 2 teacher houses, 4 new classrooms, new teacher toilets, and nearly completed 2 new laboratories, and they have electricity now.  They are preparing to have A-level students begin there next April, which will be great for the area.  As far as I know there is not currently a government A-level school in the villages north of Lushoto, so this will provide a great deal of opportunity to the students in that area.  I was also very happy to see that the rain water catchment tank that I wrote the grant for is being put to good use for clean water for the students use.

At the end of our week in Tanzania we spent a night in Dar es Salaam with an RPCV couple living and working there.  They rent an amazing house on the south coast and welcomed us with a beautiful guest room, homemade pizza, and a lovely dinner out before I had to get on a plane back to Michigan.  I loved hearing the ex-pat view of life in Tanzania, especially ex-pats who were once Peace Corps Volunteers (because we’re a little different from the typical diplomat families).  They told us all about there Tanzanian elopement, the land they have back in the village that they are saving up to build on, the kindergarten they helped build in exchange for the land, and the different work they’ve been doing in the 3 years since we left.  Talking with them stirred many ideas for Fiance and I for the future.

The bad news is, I didn’t take a single picture during our week there.  The fact of the matter is, we’re just not the type who are like, we should take a picture now, and it never seems like the right time to whip out a camera in the village.  And of course the couple times I did want to take pictures, we were without camera.  Maybe Fiance will have some when he returns from the rest of his trip.

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