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On red soil

On false impressions

Before arriving here, and even now, I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about life and times in Africa. After all, reading about it isn’t comparable to actually being here. That said I have to admit I have had to correct some of my own misconceptions. When coming to Tanzania, I thought…

I will get very tanned.
After 1½ months here I’m still the same colour as when I left Finland at the end of the summer. It’s not that the sun wouldn’t be shining here, it’s out everyday. But it’s the heat that beats me. If the temperature is always over +25 even at 7am in the morning when it’s barely risen, imagine the heat at midday when it’s shining brightly from right above you. Sometimes it’s sticky, sometimes it’s not, but nevertheless it always feels like a sauna when you go out. So you start avoiding the sun, looking for a shade wherever you go and enjoying the occasional breezes so much more.

I will lose weight.
Not gonna happen. I don’t even know why I thought it would, maybe all the studies on African famines somehow twisted my mind into thinking that there isn’t going to be enough good food here. Shame on me. If anything, the situation is opposite. Food here is heavy on carbohydrates, fat and other healthy substances. A normal lunch usually involves vegetables, meat/chicken/fish and without exception a big pile of either rice, ugali (hard white maize porridge) or ndizi (bananas). Add to that beer that costs illegally little (about €1.50 for 0.5 litres at the most expensive places) et voilá, dreams of weight loss are out the window.

I will get a culture shock.
Hasn’t happened yet. Of course there are things that don’t work here the way they do in Finland, and some things take a bit of time to get used to, like the not-so-pleasant smell of burning trash that occasionally meets your nose. And then again life in a city is always a bit more modern than in the countryside, the latter which I haven’t really seen yet. But people are people wherever you go and Tanzanians are particularly accommodating and friendly so it’s very difficult not to feel welcomed. Karibu (welcome) must be one of the most often heard words of the day. So…

Karibu Tanzania!

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