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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life and Culture

I have been here for three weeks now and man how time flies! I am starting to get used to living over here, but I don’t think I will ever get used to it enough to live over here forever! I love America more and more everyday. You don’t realize how or how easy we have it until you go to another country…particularly a third world country.

Something that I never had to think about until I got over here was Internet. In America we go buy a modem, or a router..hook it up and we are set. We pay a one-time fee for our Internet, or we pay monthly for unlimited searching, downloads and etc. Well over here, you pay BY the download/Megabyte. I didn’t realize how many things were downloaded. I mean, I know what a download means, like when I download music, download a movie or a pictures, but I had no idea that opening a page was a download, conducting a search is a download etc (I don’t claim to know a whole lot about computers anyway, so Im sure you are not surprised by this).  If the website has a lot of moving parts and pictures, then that uses a ton of mega bites, download a picture from a email is a lot, and skyping uses a ton too! That is just one of the things that you do not think about until you get over to a foreign country and since this is my first time overseas, I am learning so much. I know that when I come home I will have a greater appreciation of everything from the price of honey and Oreos to the Internet.

On another note I have been able to experience some of the culture here in Tanzania as well as make some friends! I went this cultural event with two girls I met and it was so much fun! They had traditional music, and fashion show, as well as some dancing! I wouldn’t say it was traditional Tanzanian dancing because the music was from American artists  like LMFAO and Usher, and they were breakdancing, which is known to have started in the Bronx…. but still, it was very entertaining! Below is a video of the music over here!
   (sorry, I cant put anymore videos up, takes to many MB and the internet is so slow! :) )

                                                       Fashion Show!
                                                        Tanzanian Band

My new friends! 
Left: Elizabeth Right: Amber

These next picture are some other friends I have met while here! We went out and had dinner at sunset. 

Being a tour guide by trade, I jumped on an opportunity to take a city tour of Dar this past week. I wanted to get a feel of where I was, what the buildings were, the history of the city etc.…Well, first off it was no Holland America coach, I am in the back of a Van squeezed with two other pleasantly plumb people and the AC barley reaches me. The driver does not speak English, so we are not getting told anything about where we were or where we were going. We stopped at the Museum of Tanzania, which was very interesting. Large building…very small exhibits. But it was neat to see. Then we went to the botanical gardens, lets just say my backyard is nicer than it was, so we cut that stop short and they took us to the nicest hotel in the city. We went to the roof and were able to take some pictures (see below) that was really cool because we got to see the entire city and the port. We ended the day with a buffet lunch from a different hotel. All in all it really was a great day and I was very thankful to the people who set up the tour and allowed me to go. I  really did enjoyed seeing the city and the main tourist attractions, but my snobby tour guide self was a little disappointed. I did get some great photo and some wonderful conversation from the plump people next to me.

                                                Somewhere down town
 This is all that was left from the 1998 American Embassy bombing. It is on display at the museum.
                                        The very first ATM machine in Dar.
                                     A wooden bike from a village somewhere
                                     A view from the top of the Hyatt of the port.
                                I think these are apartments. Notice the rooftop drying rack


I have done a little shopping as well this week..the fun kind of shopping! I went to the market for souvenirs! I bought a few pair of earrings hand made my African women…very cute and super cheap! I bought them for about $1.50 each. Not only is the jewelry hand made, but all the wood statues, masks and animals are hand made too!  I am 100% sure I am going to come home with way to much African stuff, its all so beautiful!! The good thing about shopping for souvenirs here is, most of these things are relatively inexpensive but you still get a pretty good quality product. You can’t beat $10 for a hand carved mask of a giraffe or $5 for a wooden hippo and since I several people to buy gifts for really helps my wallet out.
Side note: My brothers both want weapons…so Ross and Ryan, don’t you worry I found some AWESOME weapons for yall…I will ship them home before I leave because I’m pretty sure you can’t take a spear on an airplane.
I really do love buying things for people, especially when I know they are going to LOVE it. So hopefully if I bring you something back, you will be just as excited to get it as I am to give it to you!! Here are just a few pictures of the items I bought so far.
(ps, if you have any requests of something for me to bring back to you, just email me...and then send cash. Jk jk)

       My little Vanna White helped me hold the items I have bought for friends :) Thanks E!
                         The content of Africa carved with the animals you can find here

                                    I know someone who is going to LOVE this:)
                                       or the thing below, I haven't decided.

I dont really like the ones with people faces, kinda freak me out, but the animals ones are way cool!

I also have been taking language classes to speak Swahili! It has been so much fun. I never thought I would say this…but I actually enjoy taking classes, learning and studying!! (I have got to stop saying I will never) But there is a little thrill and joy of speaking the language of the locals and seeing their faces light up, or often times for me they laugh, when you actually ask for something or say hello in their language! Their whole demeanor changes and they are so willing to help and be kind to you. Now some of you reading this are thinking geez Emily where have you been? Or thinking how insensitive I am by not learning another language sooner, but you have to remember, this is my first time overseas…and I have never had to learn another language. Now I do, and I see the importance of it, and how the people really take to you for at least trying. A little bit goes along way!

I tell you what, I am going to come home knowing how to do so much, cook, drive on the other side of the car on the other side of the road, speak Swahili, change a diaper, color inside the lines, and appreciate EVERYTHING about America, even the smallest of things J

Have a great week, and remember don’t take anything for granted over there!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A little extra!

This is dedicated to all of my friends from Alaska. You will appreciate this road. All I have to say is... 

Here are some more pictures of my life over here and Dar es Salaam! Enjoy.

                     This little safe looking thing is called a Bajij. Its basically a 3 wheeled go-kart.
And this is a view from inside a bajij.

                                                        Driving down the road in Dar
                         These billboard look extremely out of place, and they make no since at all.

                                                            Family outing to the mall!
                                                         Ellis is super cool in her shades
                                 Hey! Even people in Tanzania are Saints fans!! WHO DAT!


The Mall. This might be the nicest thing in the city.

Oh, don't worry about it, I'm just taking a nap while driving.

  These guys walk up and down the street selling RANDOM items, for example, this man is selling maps. They also sell car jacks, steering wheel covers, dish towels, cell phone cases and accessories, inflatable pools, and holographic pictures of Jesus. Get them while they are hot!

     Just a view of driving downtown. Notice which side of the road we are on. Still getting used to this.

 Oh, just a typical Saturday, go to the mall, preform minor surgery on your dog in the living room..              
                                              (Betsy is a licensed veterinarian.. no worries!)

I will leave you with this image, butter on a shelf. Mmmm.

Have a great week ya'll!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Beach and Shopping

Habari za mchana! (Good Afternoon)

I have been in Tanzania now for a little over a week and I am still getting used to living in a foreign country, as well as living with a 3 year old and a 3 month old. Both are HUGE adjustments for me! (side note, I will do a entire post on living abroad later.)  I have babysat kids of all ages, but living with them is another thing! I guess this is a way for the Lord to start preparing me to have my own family and kids one day. I must need the extra practice J 
But all in all I really enjoying ALL the new experiences!

My day to day activities include playing with Ellis, (we really like coloring together) help entertain Henry, go to the store, run errands, work out P90X2 STYLE BOOOYAA! and then we end the day with play time or a movie! Since living with two small children limits our outings, and I have only been here a week both limit my ability to go places. But  I know the longer I am here I will get into some more interesting things, but for now, its beach and shopping!

Now I know what you are thinking, but no..I am not clothes shopping, although that will come later,  this is a every day grocery kind of  shopping. Since everything is pretty much fresh here, you have to buy it that day and eat it with in the next two or three days. Things do no keep very well here because the food is not filled with chemicals or preservatives, so we have to go to the store several times a week. I find this very interesting and fun because it is a whole different kind of grocery experience. We go to one place for eggs, one for fruit, another for meat, and another for veggies. This takes up quite a bit of time. Dar does have "real" grocery stores, but the prices are almost triple what they should be, especially if the product is imported. This is why we shop at so many different places, plus it is much better to shop locally! I have a few pictures to show the prices of some normal items you would find in a American grocery store. These items were found in the "real" grocery store. I will put up pictures of the local markets later.

This is imported from America, it is 20,500 shillings,which is about almost $13! For gross slice cheese!

These are Avocados and they are DELICIOUS! They are actually way cheaper here than in the US, they are about 500 shillings or 0.31 cents

This just cracks me up. DOOM!!!! Take that roaches.
 This is a British magazine. Its 34,000 shillings, which is about $21.50! I don't think I would want it that bad.
This is what is ridiculous, a box of cereal is 17,000 shillings, which is about $10 bucks!
Corn and Chocolate anyone??
Yes, these were really packaged together.

Not all of the food and other household items are that expensive, you can find some really cheap food here, point in case, the avocados, but the things that you are used to having, like turkey, chicken, beef, pork etc is very expensive and very rare to find, especially to find it clean. This means we do not get alot of protein in our diets so we eat alot of eggs to get protein as well as black beans. It is a treat to have chicken at night, or a slab of beef. That was one thing I did not think about missing when I was over here, but boy do I! So does my hair, it tends to fall out alot when I don't get enough protein. So if I come back bald, you all will know why.

Some other items that I never thought about as a "luxury" item, chips, oreo's, nuts, cheese, ritz crackers, well any kind of cracker...etc. Just little stuff like that. This does not mean that they do not have these items over here, it just means that I am not willing to pay over $10 for these things, especially a sleeve of only 15 oreos! This is why they are considered a "luxury" items.

I am also learning how to cook while I am over here! It's not that I can't cook, it just that I have never really had the practice or time/effort to cook. Especially just for party o'one. So I just don't cook. However, being over here you have to cook. Everything is fresh and you have to take the time to prepare it, and if you don't do that, you don't eat. For example, anything that does not have a "peel" on it, has to be bleached. Food may be fresh here, but that does not mean that it is necessarily safe and clean. If you are going to cook it or bake it, its fine. Bleaching is exactly what you think it is, open up a bottle of bleach, pour about a caps worth in the sink and let the food soak for a few minutes. Everyone knows how to bleach food right?? Maybe its just me, but it kinda freaked me out at first. It's all good now, totally safe. The meals we cook at night will usually last until the next day, so we will eat it for lunch. There are some things that will freeze and keep for weeks,  like meat, chicken, beans, etc.. so when we have these items, we make them last!
Hopefully when I get home I will be able to cook like a master chef! OR at least know how to cook a few things here and there and wont look so undomesticated.
If you have any recipes you want to send my way to try over here, bring it on! And in the mean time, I will also learn how to make a traditional African meal. Wish me luck!

Now, onto the real fun stuff THE BEACH!! This is where I do spend alot of my time and I am not complaining at all! Joe and Betsy belong to the Yacht Club, which is just a private beach club and it is THE only safe beaches here, and it is beautiful!

This is a local beer

                     A view from behind the a few of the "Yachts" looking out onto the ocean.


                            Its 5:00 o'clock somewhere.

The beautiful yacht club beach!

These are some metal swings held up by some wood beams on  Coco beach, which is not the safe beach. I wonder why. Glad I got my tetanus shot!

I hope ya'll have wonderful and blessed day!!
Tutaonana baadaye
(see you later)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baseball, lost luggage and peacocks.

Jambo!! (swahili for hello) I arrived in Tanzania super early on Thursday morning after about 36 hours of travel, I was pretty exhausted!! The first and second flight I was so excited I couldn’t sleep! Everything was so new and exciting to me. I have never traveled overseas before, so I wanted to experience it all, even the airplane food! Which is not that bad!!  By the third flight, I was over the excitement and I popped an Ambien and passed out. But before that, I had about a 2-hour layover in Amsterdam. I had the chance to talk to some guys who were getting ready to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro! I am dying to hike it and had some questions about it, so I struck up a convo with them. They were extremely nice, helpful and made my two-hour layover much more fun! I was asking where they were from and how they all knew each other, just trying to be nice, and Dave, of the three informed me that they were baseball players! I had no idea who they were until I googled them when I got into Dar, but as a good southern belle who loves baseball, I did tell them GO BRAVES! They did not care for that so much, but they were still very sweet ha-ha. The guys were R.A Dickey who plays for the Mets, Kevin Slowly who plays for the Rockies and Dave (don’t remember his last name) who is one of the bullpen catchers for the Mets!  They are supposed to email how they did and some helpful hints for when I hike. Now that I know who they are, that would be really cool! Haha I’m such a dork. 

Upon landing my cousin Joe was there to pick me up and help me though customs and security. We stood in the baggage claim area, which is about the size of someone’s living room with a conveyer belt in it, for about 45 min waiting on my bags…they never showed. I was expecting this to happen due to the fact of how many transfers I had and how far I was traveling. I packed a carry on with shorts and a few t-shirts and my toiletries in it. I’m such an experienced traveler right?? My bags finally showed up a day and a half later. All is well.

There are a ton of things that are waaaaaaay different here in Africa than in America, but the first big thing I noticed was how everyone was driving! It’s on the "wrong" side of the road and on the "wrong" side of the car! I’m not sure I will ever get used to that. While driving home form the airport, I kept finding myself pushing the brake that would normally be on my side, but I was mostly doing that because of the crazy driving that was being done by my cousin Joe. There are no rules for driving in Tanzania, or lines, or stop sings, or common curtsey. It’s every man for himself, and I thought it was hard to learn how to drive around in Atlanta, GA!

Since today is just day three of being here, I am still pretty jet lagged. My body has no idea what time zone its in and I am all out of whack! Hopefully I will get some rest soon and figure out what time zone I am supposed to be in. On top of the jet lag and lack up sleep, there are Peacocks in front of our compound that really like to make themselves known in wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure if you have ever heard a peacock, but they sound a lot like a dying cats.  Not exactly the most pleasant alarm, but I feel like it’s better than screeching monkeys!

I will leave you with some pictures of my humble abode for the next 4 months!

                                                                   This is the living room

                                                              Coach, the family dog

                                                  "dada" means lady or miss in Swahili

                                                     This one should be easy self explanatory

                                                 Bedroom equipped with mosquito net :)

                                                              The front of the house

                                                                   back porch

                                                                   The playroom

                                            The kitchen, they have a maid and cook. Yup.


                                        This is my little cousin Ellis!! She is my new best friend.

Ill be back soon with more pictures of  Dar Es Salaam. 

Usiku mwema!
(good night)