I was a bit nervous about our re-entry to Tanzania, so I’ve been quite surprised by the overwhelmingly positive feelings I’ve had in the last 24 hours since we touched down. We don’t have a place to live yet, and there’s still a whack of adjusting to do, but here are the things I’m remembering about life in Tanzania, and loving.
- Care for mothers and babies. As we were going through passport control in Dar, Callum was crying and the officials allowed me to pass the checkpoint without the processes so I could get to the seats on the other side to feed him. Actually, they didn’t just allow it, they suggested it, and did the processes with Arthur on my behalf. So sensible, and kind.
- Tolerance of children. Elliot is an mtundu, and people get that. With good humour, the officials instructed him to stick close to me and be still, and when he didn’t, one of them played with him.
- Roadside stalls and sellers in traffic. It’s like a drive-through that comes to you. It’s hot, the traffic’s not moving, and your child’s going crazy in the car? No worries! Someone will be by in a minute selling cold water, or even better, ice cream!
- Humidity. As much as humidity makes the heat feel even hotter, my skin and hair are so much happier out of the dry Adelaide climate. (Mine you, this is the ‘cold’ season!)
- Swahili. It’s all come back! Sort of. Every now and then I get stuck on a word, but I was able to have a whole conversation about maternal grief with our taxi driver whose daughter’s just had a stillbirth. It’s fascinating watching Elliot pick it up again – he’s only got a couple of real words at the moment, but he’s inserting them into babble-like sentences that have the rhythm and sounds of Swahili.
- Feeling more creative. In Australia I felt like there were so many things to keep tabs on I didn’t have much brain space, but in Tanzania I’m already feeling more relaxed. Perhaps it’s that in Tanzania you can’t plan for things. You have to take life as it comes, and that creates space where previously you were constantly having to think ahead.
- Arthur seems lighter. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is or why, but there’s something about him. Maybe it’s the creativity thing as well. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s that for all our talk of tolerating ambiguity and how hard it is, it’s also familiar and we know how to do it. It’s like we belong in the middle space.
For the last six months, our work in Australia has involved talking about Tanzania, and it’s felt unreal, like another world. So most of all, I’m enjoying that we’ve stopped talking about our life, and started living it again.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.