Saturday, June 14, 2008

Arrival May 07

Even Salama?

After 34 hours of travel (22 on planes), three security checks, four airports, two hours in London and many (surprisingly not bad) airplane meals, I have finally come home to Africa. It is so amazing here, it is hard to express in words but I will try. The journey here was relatively uneventful, as one would assume of sitting on a plane.

Doha, however, was pretty cool, the capital of Qatar, a tiny middle eastern country. It was quite a different world, everything was desert and it seemed to go on forever except for the few small buildings at the airport. Evidently it is an American military base, which might explain them not letting us take pictures and the blood that was splattered on one of the posts inside the airport. It was pretty incredible to see all the people; the women all wrapped up and the Bedouin men in their white robes. Unfortunately we were only there for a few minutes and didn’t get much time to look around.

By the time we made it to Dar es salaam I was exhausted after having slept maybe four hours and the humidity was quite a shock. But it was just as spectacular as I thought it was going to be. The airport was full of people, many of whom were trying to help you by carrying your bags or getting you a taxi to get a little money. Outside tons of people were waiting because some sort of famous person was arriving and there was dancers and drummers and the energy was electric. When we had gotten all of our bags and found a good deal on a taxi we went to the Jeshi la Wokovu (Army of the saved/ Salvation Army). It was originally a base during WWII that was built to house and care for the sick. There are about 30 or so small buildings that have a bed and some other furniture and a sink, shower and toilet (it really is quite the exceptional place to live, at less than $7/day for your own room). There is also an orphanage, primary school, language school (where we are attending) and many other buildings which I don’t know yet.

After getting settled and having a good meal we crashed and had to get up early to go to school in the morning. Definitely intense right of the bat and I am very thankful we did some preliminary lessons. Our teacher Musa is very good. He is probably 30 and well educated with three wives and ten kids. We have now done two classes and it is a lot of information, but it is good. We are going to be doing classes five days a week, five hours a day for six weeks. I can’t wait to be able to speak more with people. There are many other people about who are very friendly and helpful including two research assistants who Vinay has hired Grates and Joli and Vinay’s long term friend and helper Robert.

We went into town yesterday with Robert to buy supplies and it was intense. I don’t know how anyone could possibly drive here, it is shear chaos. I have never seen anything like it. We spent the afternoon going to markets and stores and ate some amazing Indian food. Tommorow we are going to Mbande village, where we will be going to do our research, to see it and meet some of the people. But for now I must sign off because there is the most amazing music coming from somewhere and It is calling.



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