I’m learning a little Swahili y’all. Pole, pole – slowly. It was important to learn greetings right away because everyone here says hello. So far I stick to Mambo (what’s up) and Poa (cool). The people often just tell us, ‘say asante’ – thank you – and laugh when we reply like parrots.
We’re still in Moshi taking it easy on ourselves and our jet lag. After our yoga, tea and breakfast at Caitlin’s we head into town. Today we actually made it before noon. Yesterday Julia and I ventured a little on our own. We were both nervous (it’s hard for us to not speak the language), but I knew once we were out there we’d figure it out – which is actually my favorite part of traveling. Caitlin let us go like a worried, but confident mother dropping the kids off at the mall and we headed for the central market. A bustling and colorful maze of souvenirs, fruits and vegetables lined the outer edge of the market. Shopkeepers tried to get us to come into their stalls as kids pulled carts through the traffic. Open bags of dried beans, rice and spices filled the inside. (I’m painting a very romantic picture here, there was also of course the noise, dirt, honking, dust, hanging meat carcasses and haggling). After a quick walk through we paused to collect ourselves. I really wanted to go back in and take photos but I was nervous. People here are very wary of photography and either don’t want their picture taken or want money in exchange. But we made a plan and I refreshed my memory on how to ask to take a photo. I didn’t photograph any people and asked to shoot one woman’s bags of beans. All in all it was a success aside from one woman saying no photos allowed in passing. At least I got some good photos of Julia. Bartering has been a challenge since we don’t know numbers in Swahili and can’t exactly demand a certain price. So we overpaid for a papaya on the street, which was both embarrassing and totally fine with me.
Tomorrow we get to see Caitlin’s program. For those of you who don’t know she has started an NGO here. Not a small feat and something that makes me so proud when I remember her saying at age 20 in Paris, ‘someday I want to start an NGO in Africa’. Africa Volunteer Corps is a sort of Peace Corps for local Tanzanians who get placed with local NGOs needing volunteers. Check it out: www.africavolunteercorps.org.
Right now I’m sitting at a café drinking passion fruit juice (my FAVORITE flavor on earth), editing photos and people watching. La vie est belle.