Somebody mentioned sometime during our orientation to Tanzanian life that stress comes when our expectations don’t line up with reality. Because I had already visited Africa once before, my expectations were built rather solidly around my prior Ugandan experiences. Many of these line up with TZ culture, but some don’t. I don’t quite know why I though Ugandan life and Tanzanian life would be identical. Certainly, living in Minneapolis is different than living in Chicago or Boston or San Diego.
It is hotter in Dar Es Salaam than it was in Kampala. And I hear it is only going to get hotter. Did I mention that we have an ocean view house? Well we do, and being so close to the ocean doesn’t exactly allow the excuse: “Well, but you know, its that dry heat”.
Dar Es Salaam is also much bigger than Kampala which increases the amount of stress that comes from Western influences colliding with the African way of life. For example, there are many more white people here than I was used to seeing in Uganda. Because of this, not many Tanzanians bat much of an eye when I walk down the street, yet in Uganda when my American friends and I would venture into town, we would joyfully be shouted at from many directions; “Hey Muzungu!”. There is a larger western, or even wealthier, population in Dar Es Salaam, bringing the demand for shopping malls and movie theaters. Just down Bagamoyo Road, is a new shopping mall with a store called Game, a South African chain much like Walmart or K Mart, however with prices that suggest the goods were not easily imported to Tanzania. One of my first days in Dar, I went shopping at Game wishing to buy a small bathroom mat. The bathroom that Brandon and I are using is quite wonderful, but the shower is not so contained and water easily runs all over the place. Game was selling a bathroom mat that was only about a foot and a half by a foot and a half for $25.00! I decided that containing water to the shower may not really be something with which to fight.
In Uganda, people either speak Luganda or English. It is not difficult to speak English in Uganda because it is very common. In Tanzania, Swahili is spoken. Pretty much only Swahili. Although the school we will be teaching at will teach in English because it is an international school, Swahili seems like the way to go. Brandon and I will be starting language lessons once we have sorted out our school schedules. This should be interesting, and I am really looking forward to it.