Sunday, December 23, 2012

The old familiar

After a long and rejuvenating vacation to Cape Town, South Africa, Jon and I have returned to Tanzania this afternoon. Dar es Salaam at this time of the year is becoming that hot and humid grossness that gives instant shock when returning from the cooler weather of Cape Town. Stepping off of the South African Airlines plane, I was smacked in my face with humidity. I was still donned in my jeans from the plane ride and the humidity caused them to instantly stick to my legs. Immigration was easy, I'm a resident; I go through the quick resident line that never asks any questions. One of the scariest parts of traveling? When you are watching everyone else's bag but yours go through the black flaps over the conveyor belt, hoping and praying the next bag will be yours. They showed up, thanks to dedicated airline workers.

When you exit the baggage claim, you are quickly greeted by a dozen taxi driver who all want your business. Their first offer is always laughable, the quote in US dollars and for about twice as much as what I know we should pay. The best way to get the fair price is to immediately speak in Swahili. Immediately inform them you live here, you know the price, and stop telling me the "white person" price. The old familiar. Haggling and negotiating to get a fair price.

We hop into a taxi and we head towards our friend's house where we'll spend a few nights through Christmas.The driver feels reassured we can show him how to get to the home of our friend, I'm showing the locals where to go.  I barely keep my eyes open, I have been awake since 3:15am and traveling for 12 hours at this point. The few moments I allow myself to see what's going on around me, I realize again, this is the old familiar. I'm not scared of the taxi driver's wreckless habits anymore. A mini bus is trying to merge into our lane while a landrover is also trying to do the same and we're in the middle? No worries, this taxi driver of mine does this all day, every day. It's about having some trust with him. The people trying to sell stuff to me through my taxi window? No thanks, but I'm not worried you're going to snatch my purse out of the taxi anymore.

Watching large crowds of people wait for their mini bus public taxi service known as a dalla dalla, yep, I'm home. As the taxi driver continues to speed to his maximum and slam on the breaks as we nearly rear end the car stopped in front of us, I watch Jon's eyes widen and relax when we don't cause an accident. It's the old familiar, but sometimes, we have to remember that car accidents are a common occurrence and we shouldn't get too comfortable.

I'm back for the next 6-8 months in Tanzania. I'm hoping I can remain motivated to finish this out. The new school year begins in January again, it's the old familiar, I know what to expect and so I should experience far less shocks than the first year.

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