Now I've been here for almost a week and am getting into the swing of things at Light in Africa and how things are done the Tanzanian way. Floors are washed by dumping a bucket of water on the floor and using a squeegee to maneuver it out the door, a surprisingly effective technique requiring both rhythm and technique.
Things are also easily misinterpreted. I taught the kitchen staff how to make cheesy garlic bread yesterday. When we ordered garlic bread, tuna and salad for our dinner tonight they had placed the tuna on top of the bread in the oven. When they showed me we did some creative adaptation of what was already there by adding mayonnaise and cheese on top to make a sort of casserole on toast. There goes my figure!
Today I've been thinking about what the travel clinic said to me about visiting Tanzania, the do’s and don’ts and realizing just how many of them I break in a single day. Suggestion one is absolutely under no circumstances should I interact with local animals. We have some dogs and a few litters of puppies on the property, I've already bathed two of them and regularly hold one in my lap while pulling out ticks, fleas and other sorts of bugs from their faces, bodies and ears. I've already treated some puppies, the mama dogs have let me do a bit to help but the male dogs are still cautious.
The kids help me by holding a cup of water to drown the bugs and showing me where the bugs are. I have the kids and my friend Jamie checks me for ticks afterwards. So far none have made it past the first check. The doggies know me now and happily greet and follow me around when they see me.
Suggestion two through five, wear your seatbelt, don't swim in fresh water, don't drink the water, don’t eat off the street, beware of saliva, blood, etc. Today we went to visit a gorgeous natural spring and swimming hole in the middle of the desert. The water was clear, blue and turquoise, there were even fish there that would nip at our feet. We hired a taxi and took 4 older boys with us from a orphanage nearby. So we had my friend Jamie, myself, a staff member, taxi driver and 4 boys in one car about the size of a Toyota Corolla. We had 5 people in the back seat and 3 in the front. Seatbelts did not even enter the conversation.
And of course, the swimming in fresh water that followed. It was such a gorgeous place and we spent a few hours there. I of course, unintentionally, did swallow some water. We brought sodas but no opener, not to worry; one of the boys opened the bottle with his teeth! We also had mangoes but no knife, luckily one of the vendors nearby let us borrow his large possible rusty knife that had 2 out of the 3 screws missing. Nothing in Tanzania is beyond a solution!
To be honest I didn’t realize just how unhappy the travel clinic folks would be to hear what I've been up to. But its now 5:30pm, it was a wonderful day and I feel absolutely fine! I do believe it is important to be careful and safe. Who wants to spend their vacation being sick with diarrhea or something worse?
But at the same time, I am in a developing country and things aren’t always perfectly clean or perfectly safe. It’s not the US and expecting or insisting that it be that way is a good way to have a miserable time. I have found it best to be cautious and just go with the flow.