Published: June 13th 2012June 13th 2012
I have been slow to post lately, and for that I am sorry, but today I thought I would give you a day in the life: the sensations of Arusha.
I wake in the morning to the universally frustrating, and yet in this context somehow comforting, sound of construction. The apartment below ours is being remolded, so hammering and breaking tiles form a nearly constant staccato refrain during the morning hours. Not a great way to sleep in on the weekends, but a very effective alarm clock so I don’t miss work.
Driving to work in Arusha is a full assault on the senses. The air is heavy with smog, but every now and then the delicious smell of maize roasting on charcoal fires fights its way through the grime and makes my mouth water. There are colorful dala-dalas with funny sayings and pictures plastered on the side (they will be the subject of their own photo post at some point) and small fruit stands brimming with fresh bananas, juicy mangoes and papayas, glorious avocados, and verdant local greens and herbs. The trip into work takes only about 10 minutes unless traffic is particularly heavy and is accompanied by a cacophonous din of honking horns, yelling street venders, and screeching breaks.
My office on the fourth floor of the massive Arusha International Conference center gives me a lofty vantage point from which to see and hear the city below. Magpies, pigeons, and these beautiful black birds with red wings circle outside my window. The sounds of the traffic from the bustling streets are muted, yet ever-present. The afternoon finds me distracted by the Muslim call to prayer, the lilting sound reminding me just how far from home I really am.
My apartment, with all the western trappings we have brought here with us, is my salvation from the constant feeling that I am a stranger to this place. There are delicious smells of comforting foods which, although made with a decidedly local twist, take me back to where I am at home (and also rescue me from the need to eat often questionable locally prepared fare). And in the evening, after a day full of work and struggling to put my meager Swahili knowledge to use, I watch movies, read books, and finally curl up under my mosquito net and sleep the sound sleep of the truly fulfilled and inexorably satisfied, knowing that this is where I need to be but also knowing that this is not where I will always be.