Saturday, February 26, 2005

I love Africans!

It's impossible not to be happy living in this beautiful country! The Tanzanian's I meet on the street are just always happy and smiling... its contagious!! Everyday when I'm walking around the city, or when I'm at work, or whatever else I'm doing, most of the people I meet are trippin on happiness! Compared to most western countries, its almost an extreme here! Even the foreigners here are happy and smiling all day (something which I generally don't see when im in Europe or at home).

Yesterday afternoon a friend and I went for a killer run around our neighbourhood. We did some off-road action (jumping over streams and running past goat herders) and ended up running through banana plantations, dodging chickens on the dirt paths in what is the real Arusha (not the developed part where the UN has its offices). It was incredible! To the left and right are houses made of mud and clay bricks with make-shift roofs, and in the doorways are parents with their kids waving and smiling and greeting us! Within a few minutes of jogging through these poorer parts, we heard kids yelling 'Muzungu!!! Muzungu!!!' (which is how they refer to white people) and they started running with us! We had a whole group of kids filled with laughter running behind as if we were the pide piper! I couldn't wipe the smile off my face - which made it difficult to breath (try running at 4000ft altitude and laughing at the same time... its not easy!).

Since not so many white people live in my area, we totally stand out. Even just walking to the main road to catch my ride to work in the morning is an experience. You feel like a rockstar with everyone coming saying 'Jambo!' "Hello!!" "How are you?!!" and just wanting to say the few words of English they know. Making friends with the locals is easy... they're so pure hearted and friendly. It's a great place to learn humility!

Actually at times I almost feel bad for the special treatment we get. For example, one afternoon a couple of us were heading back home from the township and were taking a dala dala (which is a standard 15 seater mini van where they squash about 30 people in, often hanging out the doors and windows). Quite often when its that full, and they see that some white people want to get on, the ones in the front jump out and let you sit there, and they wait on the road for the next van to come. I've started to get in the habit of telling them to keep their seat and I hang off the side, riding in true African style - when you get over the potential for danger, its actually a lot of fun!!!

Africa is an amazing place. You have to come and see it for yourself!!


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