Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Other World

It’s been almost three weeks since we’ve been back. But it seems like longer. Now that I am fully awake and fully functioning, it feels like we never left. Sometimes my two worlds feel like different planets…they are so different that it’s hard for me to even imagine the other one from the vantage point of the this one. I forget, really, how different this world is, until I go to America and have the cold water of American life splashed in my face to remind me.

Some small examples of the “normal” parts of life for me here, that I forget are not really “normal” for most Americans:

• Wrestling to get my fridge to cool properly in the heat. We moved it about a foot from the wall, put a fan behind it, rearranged the food inside, turned the temperature gauge up as high as it will go….and still food is spoiling from not cooling properly. I start thinking we need to buy another fridge, and then, lo and behold, we have a “cold” day (70 degrees) from all the rain and the fridge starts freezing everything inside! I had to throw away a perfectly good bowl of (expensive) lettuce this morning because it was frozen….whereas two days ago, I couldn’t get it cold enough. This pattern has repeated itself a few times during the last couple of years.
• Getting the shocks on our car fixed for the fourth time in two years….replacing blown out tires for the second time in a year….gifts from the Dar es Salaam roads.
• Paying for all our bills in person, in cash….carefully planning this out since we can only withdraw a certain amount of cash per 24 hours.
• Taking an hour to drive less than 10 miles because of traffic
• Being responsible for organizing household workers
• Bringing Grace to the local salon to get her hair done….four hours (thank goodness for our iPod!) and $5 later, and it’s done for the next month.
• Going through a 10 pound bag of flour every week
• Lighting my stove and oven with a match
• Communicating often with those who don’t speak my language…or my dialect. Even those who speak English as their first language(British, Australian,Irish)often have a totally different vocabulary.

People in the States often asked me if I “like it there.” That’s such a tough question to answer. Do I like the inconveniences? Of course not. Do I like being away from my family? No. Do I like the beauty, the culture, the adventure? Yes, definitely. But even those reasons aren’t why I would say I “like” it here. I guess “liking it here” simply comes from the conviction, as I’ve said before, that this is where I am supposed to be. After that, it just comes down to just getting used to the way of life (it’s amazing what we can get used to, even when we think we won’t) and choosing contentment. I don’t always succeed in that. But most of the time, yes, I like it.

In other news….Almost all internet in the entire country (even all of East Africa and West India) has been shut off this past week….this has been a challenge mostly because we do so much local communication by email. Imagine….I’ve had to resort to phone calls! Since all cell phone calls (other than text messages) cost about 30 cents a minute, this is a crisis indeed! Thankfully, got a connection today and am trying to catch up…we’ll see if this connection, weak as it is, allows me to make this post.
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