Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stuck in the Middle

Published by Carly at 3:29 PM

The events of this week had me thinking back to the first few days after I arrived in Tanzania. Why, you ask? The first few days in country the medical office gave every volunteer a host of shots, including rabies, and I am now so glad they did. Despite being vaccinated I still found myself, once again, making the long trip to Dar. This time for post exposure shots to rabies.

How did it all begin? Well on Monday night around 8pm I was in my house and I heard a cat crying outside my back door. Thinking it was my cat, I opened the door and in came a mangy kitten. After spending about 20 minutes trying to get it out of my house, I stupidly picked up the kitten out of frustration and exhaustion and it bit me as I went to throw it out the back door. Immediately after I realized I was bleeding from my pointer finger I called the the PC medical duty phone, my father and another volunteer. The office told me I had to come to Dar for a post exposure shot as fast as I could. I was not too traumatized by the situation, actually my dad and I had a great laugh after the incident.

The next day I found myself on a bus to Iringa and then the day after on a bus to Dar. The whole trip took about 30 hours, but I am glad I came-- better safe than sorry. During the 30 hours of travel I realized that I would not be in Dar for one night like I thought, but rather four nights for a series of two shots. Really glad I was prepared with enough clothing-- not, but thankfully the expats who let me stay at their house are also nice enough to let me do some laundry. I landed at the office around 3pm received my shot and went on my way. Since then I have really just been bumming around. I ventured to the only mall in Dar which has a supermarket and a big store, ala Walmart. At the grocery store I mainly just cruised through the aisles looking at all they had to offer and buying a kilo of cheap oatmeal. In one of the aisles I ran into four Tanzanian teenage girls. It was funny to hear them speak in English and to see them acting like teenagers in America, “Can we get tuna?? Do we really need canned corn? Ah! I love pickles.. I'm getting a jar”. I couldn't help but listen to their conversation and laugh to myself. A far cry from the village, but not from America. I have also been catching up on Downton Abbey. I now see what all of the fuss is about!

As some of you may know this is not my first trip to Dar, so I should express to you all how much I hate traveling to and staying here. Most volunteers would think that I am crazy because Dar has nice American food, air conditioning, iced coffee, grocery stores and lots of other Americans, but those are are the things that cause me to feel like I am in limbo. In the village, at my site, I am comfortable knowing that I will be eating rice and beans for dinner, the electricity may go out, I have to get a bucket full of water to wash clothes and take a bath and when I am craving food I cannot have it. In Dar all of those things have been “westernized”. I can turn on a tap and water comes out. I can walk down the street and pick up gum, a diet coke or a box of cereal. In these ways being in Dar is just like being home, but in many ways it is also torture. There are things that are not American about Dar, such as the price and availability of goods, transportation, security and the lack of familiar faces. My use of Swahili also usually goes unnoticed here and I end up looking like a stupid white person trying to impress Tanzanians. I either want to be in America or at my site. I hate the limbo of Dar- half village life, half America.

On the upside I do get to do some nice things in Dar, like watch TV, go to the beach, visit the PC staff, eat great food and have a proper hot shower. However, when I am here I think about home and how much I miss it or the things/ work I am missing at site. Thankfully this past week my school had exams and this coming week is Easter vacation. After that there is about two months until my mom comes to visit for two weeks!! Super excited!!

Well I best be off. Need to get my last rabies shot this afternoon, then I am on a bus home tomorrow. I hope everyone is doing well. Best of luck to my brother Jordan and the Holy Cross Men's Crew Team who open their season today and to the Brown Women in their home race against Radcliffe.

All my love from TZ


PegTraub said...

Can't wait to see all of the places you've talked about - only a few weeks away now!

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Glad the adventure to Dar is over and back to business of teaching.

- Dad

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blogs for months and now just realized I could send you a note. I am sooooooooo technology challenged. Carly, I am so happy that your Mom is going to visit you. It will be fun showing her some of the things you experienced in Africa. I know she can't wait.
Aunt Leanne

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