On Sunday night, a friend invited me to watch Downton Abbey. I zipped over to her house in 15 minutes.
And I realized, as I was driving the approximately 9 miles to her house, that in Dar es Salaam, I have a friend who also lives about 9 miles away: My friend Kathy. And I also realized, that in the entire 10 years we have lived together in Dar, that I have never--not even once--zipped over to her house at 8:00 at night to watch a show together.
Because to get to Kathy's apartment takes a minimum of an hour, and usually around an hour and a half, even though it's about 10 miles. So....we don't get to see each other very often.
The population density of our current city is 1,300 people per square km. The population density of Dar es Salaam is 3,100 people per square km. With a fraction of the amount of roads.
I thought about how in Dar, I hardly drive anywhere at night by myself. It is stressful enough driving in the daytime. But here, I can go to Target or the grocery store or a friend's house after dark. It feels so....free. I'm still not used to it.
People ask me sometimes about what is different from my life in Tanzania and my life in the States. I struggle so much with where to begin.
Everything is different. Everything. Driving, I tell them. Shopping. The weather. My schedule. Language. Color. I am different there.
But those are such broad categories. They don't really describe how different it is. So here's something specific:
I would never be able to watch Downton Abbey at my friend Kathy's house, who lives only 10 miles away. (Of course, we'd have to wait for someone to send it to us on DVD first anyway.) But maybe, just maybe, if the traffic doesn't happen to be too horrendous, we can meet in the middle at an Indian restaurant.
And that's fun too. Just different.