Today we were welcomed to Africa, and it was beautiful… I LOVE IT, I can’t even. We woke up to the view of beautiful palm and other wonderfully tropical trees and some interesting noises from birds. We had omelets, homemade bread and homemade orange juice for breakfast (so delicious). Soon after breakfast, we began our journey into the city- viewing all the beautiful, colorful, and tropical flowers along the way, vegetation we could only dream of seeing in Michigan. We arrived first at the Blue Heron, the restaurant where we ate lunch. The restaurant was pretty americanized and we had some delicious pizza and “chipadi” which is similar to pita bread. We explored their shop and all of the beautiful handmade goods. Once we were done eating, we met our guide outside the restaurant and headed downtown to exchange our money. The exchange rate is pretty crazy, 1 US dollar is about equal to 1,600 Tanzanian shillings. On the streets, people approached us from everywhere trying to sell us their “handmade” goods. I made a friend, Flank, who chatted with me the whole way to our next destination, the kanga shop. Flank helped me with some swahili, which was both much appreciated and much I needed. I told Flank we were teaching at the schools, and he told me I was a “mwalimu,” a teacher, and that we would be mwalimus for each other. He was so right, we were both asking and sharing with each other information about our countries. We talked about how different our seasons were, and he told me that their current weather, a humid (but so wonderful) 70-80 degrees was cold- that’s why everyone was wearing sweaters. He asked me if we had snow in Michigan, which is seriously a loaded question! The only snow in Tanzania is at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. I loved chatting with Flank and was so inspired by his openness and his genuine spirit, I want to be like that! There is so much that you can learn from people just by having a ten minute conversation, and I love that! When we reached the kanga shop (kanga is a type of patterned fabric used for seemingly everything here, but most specifically for clothing), there were swarms of more men selling their “handmade” goods and observing the mzungus (white people). I bought a coffee bean bracelet for 5,000 shillings, which was not the greatest deal, but whatever, hakuna matata! Our final event today was exploring the maasai market, with even more handmade goods and even more people hopeful that you will buy their products. When you tell someone, “hapana asante” (no thank you) for their “rafiki discounted products” (friend discount), they kind of make you feel like you are letting their world down, until you tell them you’ll be back, their faces light up, and they make you promise. The people are just awesome and I love how they get so excited just in seeing us and when we use some swahili. I love it here and I can already tell that going home will not be an easy feat. I’m very much looking forward to meeting more people, forming relationships, and embracing the wonderful Tanzanian culture. Until next time, kwa heri (goodbye)!
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