I’ll let you all in on some of my Swahili lessons!!
Karibu means Welcome!!!
So, Welcome! Welcome to my home, and my new town!
Welcome to A18- a cute little house, in the midst of the doctor’s compound right outside of KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center- the hospital I work at). The compound is made up of about 20 homes, all owned by various organizations, and the hospital. It is a gated community with security guards patrolling 24hours a day…..Hopefully it’s more of their presence that keeps the bad guys out because I often wonder how some of them will protect me! Ha!! Quick funny story about the security: one night I noticed a big tree branch had fallen on the power lines, and it was causing sparks and loud booming noises. Not having a clue about who to call, or what to do, I called my go to man- Joel 🙂 He came over, called the appropriate people, and made sure they came over to take care of it. He even went out to talk to them when they arrived, to save me from having to pay the “mzungu” tax. (Aka… white person tax!). One of the compound security guys also came over to check out the situation. He told Joel, “I heard all these booming noises coming from over here, but I just thought it was evil spirits!” Haha.. thanks dude, thanks for your diligence!
My house consists of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a big living room, dining room and kitchen! Not quite the “bush” living that everyone was picturing for me!! It’s actually very nice, I have a normal toilet (yay! No squat, hole in the ground toilet..see picture below!), a large bedroom, and most of the amenities I am accustomed to!! My trusty mosquito net protects me from the nasty malaria mosquitoes every night, so hopefully, no repeats of malaria this year! I have a few more critter residents than I’d like, but we have a you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you policy that has worked out well for all of us!
I am completely spoiled here with the most wonderful house Mama, Fatuma. She does most of the cooking, all the cleaning, and all my laundry! Yes, you heard that right! She has made the transition here so much easier; not having to worry about those little things has really helped my stress level. And not to mention, I don’t know the first thing about washing clothes here.. hand washing.. what?! Yeah, clueless! Everyday I come home to my washed clothes drying on the line (or around the house on rainy days!), and a home cooked meal. Yes. I know. Spoiled.
I think one of the hardest things about being here has been feeling like I can’t be as independent as I’m used to. I don’t have a car (yet!), don’t know the language (yet!), and I’m still figuring out the lay of the land. It’s so nice to be able to rely on Joel to help me with things (and he sssssaaaaaays he likes it too), but it’s hard not feeling like I can and know how to do things on my own too. I know it will come with time, and slowly but surely I will gain my status back as Miss Independent.
It’s been fun exploring the area around me though. I’ve found the small supermarkets and roadside fruit/veggie stands that are within walking distance to my house. I’ve found a Catholic Mass at the hospital with an English mass at 7:30am. I’ve found a gym that I can get a monthly membership to, which also has a nice outside pool (bonus!). And I’ve felt confident enough to ride the dala dala (picture: small 15passenger van cramming in 20+ people in it) into town for my Swahili classes. So, things are coming along, pole pole (slowly, slowly).
The town of Moshi is a busy little place.. the streets are filled with people, shops, roadside venders, and restaurants- both local and local local (a technical term by our Kili guide Erick). On any given street you may see women working hard on their sewing machines with their creations hanging behind them, locals selling their fresh produce at the local market, people walking around with their recent purchases balancing on their heads, school kids in their uniforms- usually either pointing at you and saying “Mzungu” or saying “hello”, and practicing the few English words that they know. It’s a friendly place, the locals always talking to each other like they are bff’s, and testing the white people on their Swahili, usually seeing if you know how to answer “Mambo”…which I now know has a plethora of responses: “safi”, “salama”, or “poa”. Most of my walks through town end up with me meeting a new friend, which is usually fun, but sometimes annoying because they usually end up wanting you to buy something of theirs!
I’m beginning to find me here, in the little things, and in the things that feel like home. Things like Mass, a gym with workout classes, supermarkets with almond milk, sweet potatoes, roadside fruit stands that sell the best avocados, iced tea, a Mexican restaurant, an amazing fresh salad, cooking, Fatuma setting out 2 plates every night for dinner, date night watching a movie on the couch, and work friends who love shopping just as much as you do!
And when things don’t feel like home, you put home there.
And then you do lots of FaceTime, Marco Polo videos, texts, emails and calls to those who always make you feel at home.
So now everyone is going to come visit me in Moshi, right?!?! Yes. Great. Nzuri sana!
Karibuni Sana! (you are all very welcome) and Karibu Tena (you are welcome again… guess that only applies to Sarah Nickel though!! Haha)
Love you all and am missing all your faces in real life!