Difficult times plaguing my mind as i begin to settle in and consider myself a resident here. For no want of trying, i will always be an outsider, a Mzungu, but in order for me to be me, i am going to have to learn the language. So it’s time for me to take this very seriously. Learning a few phrases at a time, and then practising them like crazy whenever i meet anyone, is the only way. I have a new phrasebook, and lots of people around who are glad to help me, but it will take a long time. Katy told me that after 17 years she can speak and get by, but by no means is she fluent, and even her husband Dilly, who is a chagga and who has lived here all his life doesn’t fully understand all the language used in the newspapers and colloquially outside the village. The problem is that Swahili is the broader term for a whole group of bantu languages spoken in this part of Africa, from Kenya down to Mozambique and across to parts of DR Congo; here in Tanzania it is Kiswahili; and despite strong attempts by the governments of these countries to standardise the core Swahili, many regional differences still occur.
There are some language teachers in Moshi, who charge very reasonable rates for an hours’ lesson, and i fully intend to get started as quickly as possible. To be perfectly honest, at the moment, i am struggling to feel at home, this is the first time i have ever been so completely isolated in my own cultural upbringing, and it could go one of two ways: I either learn to communicate, or forever be an outsider. This aside, i also need to give myself some more time, as i have really thrown myself in at the deep end here, and every time i wake up i have a feeling of loneliness and isolation, but this is to be expected – i am not here on holiday with my friends, i’m the only new person in a very rural community.
Day by day, i am trying to get over my fears, and become myself again. I’m starting to realise that i am extremely shy, more so than the children who i talk to who seem deadly scared of me. Time will help, as i know i can deal with this. If i didn’t think i could, then i would not have come out here in the first place.
Tomorrow i head into Moshi and will seek out the mountain biking centre, and hopefully meet some new friends; sign up to some Swahili courses, and finally see if i can’t find myself a bottle of Savanna cider to celebrate the next step in my development.
Been wanting to hold it back, but i can’t help it, i miss everyone, have a yearning for all things that could have been, all the choices that lead me here, and the people i have left behind, but a growing passion for all that will be as i continue this journey. Truth is, i am not alone, but i have never been any good at asking for help, well, now is the time to start.