Swahili for beginners

I’m trying really hard to pick up some Swahili while I’m here but it’s proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought. It’s strange but it seems like my inner dyslexic is coming out even more with this language. I’ve picked up greetings, some numbers and the name of some dishes so far – but it’s not quite been a week so it’s okay. Still a lot of time to learn :)

This first week here hasn’t been very exciting so far. It was filled with running errands and getting basic things. Next week there’s a trip planned that involves Safari, the Kilimanjaro and sleeping in tents. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about all of this.

For the time being I’ll just leave a few pictures here, because yes, even in the quieter districts of Dar, it’s still kind of magical.

tansania2 117 [Above: Food at the funeral. | Below: Our house for the time being.]

tansania2 006 tansania2 036[Above: To get to the district where our house is you have to take the ferry from Downtown Dar es Salaam. | Below: Beach magic.]tansania2 068 tansania2 088[Above and Below: Met these two really awesome girls and we’re having a blast.]tansania2 108

What I’ve seen in Tanzania so far

Things in Tanzania started a bit slow for me. I arrived on Friday to a very subdued atmosphere, since one of the girls working for this organisation has died a few hours earlier. The situation must have been quite awful. A group of volunteers went to the beach, the waves were to strong and while all three of them were in danger, two managed to save themselves.
One girl didn’t. As you can imagine, the next few days were pure chaos. When I arrived they told me that the project I was supposed to work on didn’t exist. I talked to a woman working for an NGO on the phone today – which would have been my second choice and she told me she doesn’t have enough work for that many interns. That many would be three – including me.
I guess it’s okay though – not the best possible outcome but still kind of fun. Let’s see with what project I’ll end up with.

Today I spent the entire day at the funeral of the girl I’ve never gotten to know. It was kind of a surreal experience. We were at their parent’s house for a small gathering and food, then we went to the church. This was really hard. At some point everyone stood up and walked around the coffin – which was open. It was my first experience like this, so I wasn’t sure how and if I could handle that. I’m still not sure about it. I felt a bit awkward there. Her family and friends were crying so hard, you could see so much pain and sadness, it was incredibly hard to witness and I don’t think I’ve fully realised what happened yet. From the church we went to the cemetery for another short mass. Mind you, all these masses and speeches were held in Swahili and although  I’m busy learning some basic words and expressions, I obviously couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

The whole thing lasted from around 10am to around 5pm. And while we were only sitting around, waiting and listening, it was still very exhausting. Just to be clear: a funeral in Tanzania was definitely not on my list of things I want to experience while in Africa.

On another note: we also nearly got robbed already. I went to the city centre with a chinese guy and a czech girl yesterday – for the girl and me it was the first trip to downtown Dar es Salaam, so we were glad we had that guy with us to show us around, since he’s been here longer. Not even 10 minutes after we got off the ferry we were approached by a beggar, asking for money. We said no and kept walking, when he suddenly grabbed the shirt of my friend. They started fighting, the chinese guy finally managed to get that man off of him, shrugged his shoulders, told us to walk on and said “Well, that doesn’t happen that often. If you see someone like that, just cross the street to avoid them.

But I guess that’s Africa for you.

To sum it up: In Tanzania so far I’ve seen incredible danger but also overwhelming kindness. Kindness like the young man today at the funeral who let the little boy have some of his water. A gesture so simple and true, yet somehow worth mentioning.
I’ve seen pretty beaches and sun, but also poverty and sickness. I’ve experienced a lot of friendliness and eagerness to teach foreigners something about their culture and their way of life. I’ve tasted some pretty great food and already tried the local alcohol.
I’ve become fast friends with a girl from the Netherlands and a girl from the Czech Republic.
Apart from the fact that my cat broke his leg (again!) while I didn’t even leave the country for a whole week. This time I’m not to blame (obviously!)

Excuse my ramblings (and possible typos, this keyboard hates me, I swear!)
Pictures will follow as soon as I put them on my netbook and have time to upload them :)