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Published: December 11th 2005
Here we are, three and a half months later. I can hardly believe it. In 48 hours I will be on a plane to London, and in 72 hours I will be home in Canada, revelling in the ice and snow. It seems incredible to me, the time has sped by, it seems like such a short time ago I was getting off the plane full of wonder and awe and unable to even imagine what the coming months would bring.
The goodbyes started about a week ago, when I saw Carol just before she left to go home and spend some time in Nairobi. She and I spent a lot of time working together on the research report that flowed out of a survey FOGOTA conducted of their partner groups...we had a good working relationship that developed into a good friendship. I will miss her but I think we'll stay in touch. She kept saying I should marry a Tanzanian man and stay here...good thought, but there is so much still to do at home. I have to fiinish my degree for one thing. Time will tell as far as the rest of it...
Then I spent the day with Muhalley last Saturday and we went to the kindergarten graduation of her youngest daughter. It was a blast, mostly because the kids were so excited and watching them was just so darn entertaining. They held it together pretty well, although there was a momentary bout of fisticuffs among two of the graduands, but that was quickly resolved to their mutual satisfaction and nobody seemed any the worse for it. The best part was that because the ceremony was late in starting (no hurry in Africa), they put some kids' music on to keep them entertained. At the first notes that were played, the entire graduating class (of five and six year olds) leapt to their feet spontaneously and began to dance with joyous abandon. I've never seen anything like it. No wonder the adults here can dance so well...it starts at this young an age. It reminded me of the Charlie Brown shows where Schroeder plays the piano and the room explodes into dancing. So we had a very nice day together, me and my African sister as I call her, who did so much to watch out for me while I was here. That's the first time I have met her kids -- she also has 13 year old twin girls -- and it was a great way to spend our last bit of time together.
Then on Friday (Tanzanian Independence Day, as it happens, December 9), I had a meeting with the director of SwissAid, (FOGOTA's international partner), who wanted to know how my experience has been. She apologized profusely for the fact that she was not able to spend more time with me, not so much in her professional capacity but just as a courtesy to a guest, but her mom was quite sick while I was here and all her extra time and energy was taken up with that. I assured her that everything here was great, that I didn't take offense at not having seen her, and that I got more than I could of hoped for out of my placement. She was a bit surprised to hear that, as things are always so busy and chaotic, and I think she was sort of relieved. We had a great talk about how she ended up in her job, and what she did before, and what she would like to do in terms of research on the state of poverty alleviation in Tanzania. It sounds like amazing work. She is really really a cool person and I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to know her better and spend more time with her. Then to top it off she took Dorcas and me out to lunch at the Holiday Inn. Yay! Decadent western dining at somebody else's expense. I am so there!
Friday night I had dinner with Thomas to say goodbye, although I will see him briefly on Monday, and that was sad. He has been such a good friend to me over the course of the past few months, and he was really the first friend I made here, and the person I was the most dependent on for the first few weeks. Then on Saturday afternoon I went to Ali's for lunch, but as soon as I got there he had to leave as he had been called into work on some sort of emergency. He was quite concerned but I said, don't worry about it, I will stay and visit with your family, which I did. His kids are all home as this is the school break. His two daughters go to a school where English is taught and emphasized, and his 11 year old in particular was a very helpful although shy interpreter for me and his wife. His wife is lovely and I had a really nice time. They fed me lunch and we chatted as best we could in a mixture of English, Swahili, and made up sign language.
Today I am verifying my flight information on line and finishing up my packing. I also want to go to Movenpick, my favourite tourist hotel, for a last meal. I have been hanging out there a bit more in recent weeks with the heat so bad, as their air conditioning is of top quality and their staff is lovely. I don't stand out there nearly as much as everywhere else, so I was surprised to find that the staff is recognizing me. Particularly the doormen and security guys outside, who greeted me enthusiastically the last time I was there. I thought, oh they're just being friendly, but then one of them said, How is Msimbazi Centre, which is where I stay, and I thought, oh my gosh, they really do know me. I had to laugh. My dear friend Perry teases me about making friends with everybody I run into, wherever I go, and I always thought, what is she talking about, but I have to admit, she might have a point. A few weeks ago when I walked down one of the main streets in the city centre, and a whole bunch of people I didn't even recognize called out, hey Jack! when I went by, I thought, hmmm, there might be something to this. Anyhow, it's nice that people are wishing me well, even though I'm sure not everybody has the honourable intentions that I would attribute to them. But still, it's fun.
Tomorrow I will go in to work briefly in the afternoon, just to say goodbye to everybody. Rose, the SwissAid director, asked me to come in. She said, just pop your head in and say goodbye, but then Thomas told me he was asked to be there specifically to say goodbye to me, so I guess everyone is planning to be there. Which is very nice.
On another happy note, I have been spending some time with the guy I was seeing, Ali, who had the meltdown there a few weeks ago. We meet in public spaces, but I have been happy for the chance to say goodbye and get a little closure. It is nice not to have to leave it at the awfulness, but to reframe things in a better way before I actually go for good.
Then Tuesday morning I will be at the airport, for my flight which is supposed to leave at 9:20, but which has already been changed to 9:45 according to the British Airways web site. Oh well, I should prepare myself for the fact that getting home from Africa won't be any smoother than anything else to do with Africa has been! And I wouldn't have it any other way.
So...thank you so much to everybody who has read this blog and been so kind and supportive of my efforts here in Tanzania. I have loved writing it, and the response has been good so I have to say that at least some folks have enjoyed reading it. That's very cool. Kwa heri (farewell) to Dar, to Tanzania, and to Africa at least for the time being. I'll be back someday, of that I have no doubt. But in the meantime, there are other things to do, and I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends. I love you all and I will see you soon...I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, so let's see what we can do about that, okay?
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