Adjusting to life without luxury

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July 3rd 2019
Published: July 16th 2019
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After our first full night's sleep in Tanzania, we were rudely awoken by some roosters crowing in a coop right below the hostel building. Even with this interrupted sleep, the ensuing frigid bucket shower was good enough to jolt us awake. This day was set aside for "orientation," and no actual classwork was to be done - instead, the entire morning was spent setting up our classroom router and personal modems for internet, a valuable commodity. With an otherwise uneventful morning, we played card games until a lunch trip to Neema Crafts and Restaurant, the expatriate hangout in town. This unique establishment has won worldwide recognition for employing only disabled people. The menu wasn't exactly authentic Tanzanian, but the burger I had was very good, and the habanero and pili pili sauces added an East African spicy flavor.

The afternoon consisted of a hike to Gangilonga Rock for a beautiful panoramic view of the city of Iringa (though with our program advisor Celia leading the way, it was more like a jog). The hike was a good workout up a hill on the side of town, with some scrambling toward the end to reach the top. The way up and back took about an hour. We made one final stop at Gangilonga market, a convenience store with essential items and snacks on the main road before heading back to RUCU.

Dinner at RUCU cafeteria brought our first significant hurdle with the language barrier when trying to place our orders to a woman who spoke no English; although the menu listed about 20 items, only 4 were actually available, and my first two attempts to pick one of them were met with a strong "no." We finally called Celia, who advised us to just say wali na maharage - rice and beans. It was a humble but decent tasting meal (they even threw in some Tanzanian sambar), and for the equivalent of 40 cents, we experienced a typical Tanzanian dinner. Back at the dorms, I was surprised at how lively everyone was, considering RUCU students usually wake up at around 5 AM. A surprising amount of American music rang through the halls as we went to bed.

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