It was one of those events where we had enough cultural knowledge to misapply it.
Our church was having a sports day on a public holiday. They said it would start in the morning, but what ever actually starts on time in Tanzania?! We figured we’d go around early afternoon and get there at its height.
The advertised location turned out to be wrong, but we made a phone call to get the right information. This made us slightly later than we’d planned but as it turned out by the time we arrived, they were packing up. It had not even occurred to us that it would run to time and be over by 3pm.
Now, this church is pretty organised, so maybe we should have expected it. After all, church begins on time each week and features pretty high levels of organisation with rosters and even creatively expressed notice times. On the other hand, it always goes over the advertised 2.5 hours.
This is the complication of cross-cultural life, that you can’t predict what will be consistent and what won’t be.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.