Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Arusha, the other last day: Movement, and Lack Thereof

I wake early, and have a lonely breakfast, missing the companionship of Christy and Tuma. At 9, I meet up with Mathew, random Tanzanian street-hawker-artist turned friend. We had chai and chapati, and then he gave me a little gift - a bracelet with my name woven into it! Then I bought a bunch of his batik paintings. It was interesting to just chat with him, hearing his views about the growth of Tanzania, how he was saving up to go to tour guide school so that he wouldn't have to be a street hawker anymore, and asking me questions like "Do you have sun like this in China? A Canadian friend told me there's no sun like this in Canada." All summer I'd been watching the lives of young people on the I had a view (however narrow) of the life of a young person in the big city of Arusha.

I then got him to walk me back to my hotel, and then to the Precision Air shuttle stop. This was not the kindest thing for me to do.. I am sure he lost some love amongst his fellow street-hawkers to be stuck with the mzungu (foreigner) with a huge backpack and laptop bag. But it succeeded in that I wasn't pestered at all for the entire walk.

On the shuttle I talked to a couple more people. As I went through "immigration" I saw two guys asking the immigration agent about an ATM, looking desperate, and showing off some fine American English. I touch one of them on the arm, "what's going on? Can I help you with anything?" It turns out that neither of them had the cash to pay the airport tax ($10 USD). Is that all?? I asked, giving them a $20 bill. One of them actually bowed at my feet with gratitude. It turns out one was a hopeful-med-student from Texas, the other a Wake Forest PhD studying savannah grass in Serengeti. Later as we chatted they told me about how they'd "just made it" to the airport and used up all their money. "Men.." I muttered under my breath, earning sour looks. It was fun to compare our experiences, though, and find out how different it had all been (aside from shared food poisoning incidents, enjoying ugali, and being thoroughly sick of having "mzungu!" yelled at us all the time). Then, they went off on their Ethiopian Airlines flight to Washington D.C., leaving me grateful that my adventure was continuing on.

I then learned that my 4:00pm flight had been moved to 6:45pm. I twiddle my thumbs, watch the light change on the trees in the parking lot outside, and ponder things like, "why is the word for 'bird' the same as the word for 'airplane' in Swahili?" and "Will my flight get moved again, making me miss my connection?" and "is that couple sitting across from me reading the 'Shades of Grey' books together going to engage in S&M in the bedroom later?"

Important questions, I know. So, I wait for time to pass, a strange feeling after wanting so badly to stop its progression just two days ago. It is the nature of being human, or of being Jen, to want one thing when I cannot have it, and when I have gotten it, to not need it any longer. At least when I have what I want, I am happy. And right now, I shall force myself to enjoy these extra hours in Tanzania.
Tags: travel - tanzania
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