Monday, July 21, 2014

Diary of an International Transition: Arrival Day and Day 2

The five hour flight from Dubai to Dar es Salaam seemed really short after the other parts of our trip.

But the contrast between Dubai and Dar is enough to boggle the mind.

Dubai is one of the richest cities in the world, and the airport is practically a small city.  It has three terminals, and Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world by floor space and the largest airport terminal in the world.  Yeah.  Imagine huge glass ceilings and gigantic sparkling pillars and marble floors.  And Dubai has only 2 million people.

Dar, on the other hand, has over 5 million people.  However, its one and only airport's arrival terminal consists of two rooms.  Two.  Rooms.  You walk into the immigration room straight off the tarmac, and go from there into the baggage claim/customs room.  Our flight had over 200 people on it, so you can imagine that we all got up close and personal in the airport.

Talk about culture shock.

We arrived around 3 pm but didn't get out of the airport until 4:30.  Things go a little slow in there, especially when waiting for 13 pieces of luggage.

Our wonderful friends Ben and Lauren (and Zawadi!) were waiting for us....what a welcome, wonderful sight after so many good-byes and so many hours of travel!  They also made us dinner and brought us groceries.

And today was our first full day.

We are back in our previous house, the house Gil and I have lived in the longest since we've been married.  It is such a huge blessing to come back to a house, and we are so thankful for the family who stayed here while we were gone.

Today we spent our time unpacking, arranging, organizing...you get the idea.  We went to the Voda store to get our phones working again, and picked up some groceries.

It's all very surreal.  One part of me feels like we never left, and that somehow last year was a very long, involved dream.  Another part of me feels like all of this is very familiar, but not where I belong, and that somehow that was a different person who lived that life in Tanzania.

It's weird.

Long time habits that I had forgotten about are coming back to me.  How to smash the cockroaches in my cabinet.  To laugh, not scream, when I pick up my toaster and a gecko runs out.  What type of mayonnaise to buy.  What sweat feels like.  How to convert shillings.  Swahili.

They say that when people first move to another country, the first six months are the honeymoon period, when everything is exciting and adventurous.  Then they start hating everything for a while.  Eventually, they adapt and come to a happy medium in their new life.

I think that in re-entry to a country where you previously lived, you skip the honeymoon and go straight to the hatred.  Ugh.  The traffic.  The insane drivers who seem to have no value on human life or property.  The ticks (spent an hour today de-ticking our dog).  The cockroaches.  And to top it all off, we had no electricity today from 10 am until 7 pm (and no back-up systems currently working).  It's almost as if Tanzania was laughing at me.  Oh yeah?  You really thought you wanted to live here?  What were you thinking?  

Thankfully, I've done this enough times to know that the "hatred" phase won't last very long either.  I know I will get used to life again soon and maybe even be brave enough to drive in a few days.

You call me out upon the waters 
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand



I didn't take any pictures today.....a little too overwhelming.  But here's a post from a few years ago with pictures of our house, if you are interested.

Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.


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