It’s been a while since I’ve updated anything on here, for several reasons, but mostly because I just haven’t had time to sit down and think. Moods are changing here, and as I face new challenges, the monotony of my old life comes back to haunt me. Money. I’ve spent a fair bit of it recently (nothing by UK standards) and I’m in need of a trip back home to rejuvenate the bankroll. This came to me as an idea a few weeks ago when I heard how soon Alex and Katie were leaving for their epic journey in America, and further bolstered when I looked back at photos and recollected my time back in Bristol over the summer last year. Put simply, I miss everyone, and coming back for a couple of months to work and hang out; reminding myself of where I’m from in the process, will be a good step towards my longer future here in Tanzania. Sadly no matter how hard I try I will miss Alex and Katie as they leave, something that saddens me deep inside, but I know I will see them again, the exciting part is where will that be?
This is not to say that I want to leave Mshiri. I’m still having the time of my life here, but as things move on, and new friends begin their own plans to return home, I am beginning to realise that I cannot just stay here forever without some sort of contact with home. So as it stands, I’m looking for work in Bristol, and planning to be back mid July and return to Tanzania in September.
Boring stuff out the way, I have had an awesome time of it recently. I’ve been out to Arusha for a weekend, been the only white guy in an RnB club and smoked cheapo weed at 5am in a cheapo hotel. I left Mshiri on Good Friday with Brayson to go visit his family and take in the tourist side of Arusha for the Easter weekend. The one part that let me down was Brayson’s holding back of the very plain fact that he couldn’t afford this. It was assumed that I would pay for everything, and that is essentially where my next three month’s supplementary money has gone all in one weekend. We had fun, it has to be said, and after taking in the surrounding beauty of the drive across Northern Tanzania to Arusha, I was massively plussed to find out that Arusha, being almost as high up as Marangu, is pretty much free from mosquitoes. Bonus. I, like most white people here, have some sort of magnetic attraction to these impossibly irritating creatures, so to find out that I don’t need to remember to put up a mosquito net or cover myself with horridly smelling DEET was a huge relief. We went out the first night and met with Tine, and her friend Mariam from Norway, and embarked on a club which can only be described as louder than anywhere else I’ve sat neatly at a table to drink at before. Were it a dance-floor-centric environment, it would have made sense, but we walked into a room that apart from the music would have been silent for all the drab faces that were looking at each other and not able to hear each other speak. Nevertheless, I went out for a cigarette, and bumped into a member of Tanzania’s undercover police department, who then offered to sell me drugs. Bizarre to say the least, but I’m clever enough to see entrapment when it finds me, and was happy to move along and speak to someone else.
It seems wherever I go, I attract this kind of attention, and it probably won’t surprise anyone that it’s my dreadlocks that do it. I’m not going to cut them off just to stop the hassle from the few people who see me as an easy target. I firmly believe that alongside this, there are those who would avoid trying to rip me off, because of the social credit that having a “cool” hair cut gives you. Either way, I am what I am, and Africa isn’t going to change me that much. I meet people who are volunteers from the western world, I meet local Tanzanians who are struggling to feed themselves, and I also meet thriving young people who make up the future of this country, and all of them contribute to my experience here. Despite the way I am treated, I do not discriminate over who I talk to or what I go about doing each day. Quite possibly for the first time ever, I’m not scared of doing so.
Easter Saturday was filled with family visits and photographs and lots of food. Everywhere I went I was given huge bowls of ugali or rice and made to feel very welcome indeed. Making new friends left right and centre, we ended the day by going to Triple-A club in Arusha, the biggest in northern Tanzania, and where the reality of the world and its faults become ever more apparent. This is a club where entry is Tsh 12,000 (about $8) and the drinks around Tsh 5,000. In a country where a beer normally costs 1,500 ($1) and people who are employed earn on average 150,000 a month, you can see how damn expensive this place was. For the first time ever, I was the only white person in a club of perhaps 500 people. An experience to say the least; and the music wasn’t that bad on the whole.
Feeling the effects on my wallet from the previous night, Sunday was a quiet affair, and although Tine and Mariam had returned to Arusha from their travels, I felt in no way inclined to go out drinking again, suffering badly from hangoveritis and really quite looking forward to getting back to my little house on the hill where everything was safe, secure, and ultimately cheap.
So back to Mshiri it was, fairly early on Monday morning, and I stopped in to see Happyness on my way back and pick up Zawadi. It had only been three days, but I swear she had doubled in size, and when I heard she’d been fed meat every day I was away, it didn’t surprise me. She’s growing up so fast, and luckily Happyness is falling in love with her too, so she has somewhere where she is welcome to stay whenever I’m away from the village. It’d be nice to take her with me when I go into Moshi, but the truth is she picks up fleas and gets herself into trouble the moment she leaves my sight and so she’s better off staying in the village where she is safe and can have an eye cast over her once in a while. Most of the villagers think I’m downright mental for the way I bring her up; as a house pet and as my best friend; but I just can’t leave her outside all night like everyone else does with their dogs here. It’s the main reason they’re so scared of humans and so badly behaved. I’m from Europe, and so Zawadi is going to be brought up like a European pet.