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Published: September 4th 2010
Hello from Tanzania! I finally made it here on Thursday night (Tanzania time, around 2ish Canada time) after a long flight to Amsterdam, a medium layover, and an even longer flight to Kilimanjaro Airport. KLM Airlines was surprisingly impressive. The food was good, and I got a bottle of red wine on the way, you know, to calm the nerves. I was a little disappointed that the flight was landing at night because I bet the view from the plane would have been exceptional. I was sitting beside 2 sisters on the plane and when they walked on they were all dolled up and carrying purses. The man infront of us was a Russian older gent who creepily leaned back and said to the older sister in his thick russian accent "I saw youz in the airport. Eet was dream to sit to near you." We all got a good laugh and I made some friends. It turns out that the sisters were traveling about 4 ours outside of where I am to do missionary work through their church, and the girl across the isle was doing the same. They kept telling me about how last time they visited they had bible study and bible workshops with the kids and the pastor who leads it is a great and holy man. As you can imagine, bible study isn't really my thing, and so i began to panic. (I should note here that I cried saying my to my dad, more like bawled, and cried saying bye to Michelle, and Janet, and of course my dear mom at the airport. But then I went through security and thought that I should put on a brave face and conquer the world. so any sort of panicking at this point would induce tears.) I smiled and nodded politely and asked for another bottle of red wine. (they were mini bottles, don't get any wrong ideas here...) I also would like to say that the older sister also asked me if they speak Amsterdamian in Amsterdam. I just looked at her and sad Dutch very firmly.
When we landed, a staircase was pulled up to the plane, because the airport is a room and therefore no terminals, and I got off and all I saw was darkness. Aside from the airport lights, there was nothing else in sight. Kind of wonderful, and at the same time very bazaar. Then everyone on the plane had to wait in a line to get an entrance Visa. I am convinced that this was just a way to take more money from us, because I still have to get a volunteer visa on Monday. Then I found my bags and went out to meet the coordinators. There were 3 people waiting for me with a sign that said my name, Ive never had a sign with my name on it before. there was also another volunteer who was on my flight named Paige. We drove into Arusha (in a minvan,not an elephant, much to my dismay), and up to the house we are staying at. It is really nice and really big. There were about 10other volunteers staying there, but some left the next day. The girls room has bunkbeds with mosquito nets, and a bathroom with a real toilet and a shower that sometimes has hot water. The view is amazing because we are on a hill over looking the town. I was really surprised when I got here by how chilly is it at night an in the mornings. It is also really windy where the house is, so when we go into town, it gets much hotter. The house has a cook named Isaac, and 2 security guards that watch the front gate. Moses, one of our coordinators, is from a town just outside Arusha so he knows the area really well and is really helpful.
Yesterday we started our orientation, so we just chatted for a bit and then walked into town. It is so interesting to see how the locals react to white people. No one has yelled "hey whitey!" at me but they do call us Mizungos, which means tourists. I did notice quite a few Mizungos in the area. We sort of stick out like aa sore thumb here, as I am sure you can Imagine. We are trying to adjust to the different modes of transportation here, so today we took a daladala into town. It's like their bus system,only it is a really old cargo van with seats, and people shoved into it uncomfortably, and a man hanging out the side window yelling as you walk by. So not really like our buses. I have to get used to is because that's how I will be getting to my volunteer placement every day. But I like to say daladala alot so it makes it fun for me. The exchange rate is really good here. The currency is the Tanzanian shilling which is in increments of 100 200 500 1000 5000 10000. Basically 1000 is the equivalent of 75cents. Last night I found out that a beer is 2500 shillings... aka 2$ give or take. Not to shabby if you ask me.
Today we went to the Masai Market where locals sell crafts and hand made jewlery. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT THERE! They all try to get you to look at their merchandise, which is all basically the same, and tell you "give best price! look! look!" so bargaining is going to be very exciting for me. We also saw the UN building where the Rwandan Genocide tribunals are being held. I am going to check it out soon,I think it would be really interesting. I am starting to get used to it here. The food is very different,but I am being open minded. I still am not adjusted to the time difference because both nights I have woken up at 4 am and stayed awake. We are 7 hours ahead here. I am trying really hard not to nap right now. As hard as it is to adjust to everything and understand my surroundings, I am really excited to see what the next 2 months hold. We are already starting to plan excursions that we want to go on. I know by the end I won't want to leave.
Anyways, I miss you all, and I will attach pictures when I figure out how.
ps. I added skype to my iPod, so if you have it add me (eafeldman) and hopefully we can chat.
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