Tuesday, May 5, 2009

happy africa

It’s been ten weeks since I stepped off the plane and into the dry heat of Dar es Salaam’s international airport. I had spent the better part of the nine hour flight mentally preparing myself for the transition from London to the third world (a therapeutic process involving a Lonely planet guide, a half-dozen mini bottles of alcohol and more than one WTF-am-I-thinking moments). In short, I was a haggard and hungover mess as I dragged myself through customs and wrestled by bags off the luggage carousel. Welcome to Africa.

I had planned to be the most wide-eyed, travel-smart, pickpocket-proof Westerner to ever walk through the arrivals terminal of Tanzania’s airport - but in all honesty, it was 7 am (23:00 in Ottawa, 04:00 in the UK), I was sweating through my levis, and all I could think was how do I say coffee in Swahili.

I know it’s an anticlimactic, desperately un-poetic, beginning to my great African adventure, but it’s a fitting introduction to my story (and this blog), since most of my experiences here have been as distinctly un-African as being born with blond hair and blue eyes. I can’t write about lions, or pygmies, or hungry-eyed orphans, because the Africa I see every day is far less fierce and frightening than what my mind (and the public services announcements) have made it out to be. I sincerely doubt that this continent will be the death of me, but for the friends, family, and passers-by frustrated by the distance and digital delays, here are the notes to my life on this distant continent.

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