Well it’s Earth Day, and I am inside staring at a computer screen rather than out enjoying the natural beauty of our world – but it’s for a good reason: the rainy season has truly come to Dar. It’s been raining all day, pretty much non-stop, so I’ve resigned my self to an indoor baking/chores/computer/TV sort-of day. I have to admit, I am not too bummed about it. I have been going going going since the start of March – the beginning of my extension – and it is good to at long last have a truly quiet day to myself. The rain pattering outside the windows (yes, I have real glass windows in my new house, and, yes, the rain just patters rather than pounds because I have a real roof and not the noisy tin of the village houses) is very peaceful and soothing, and I am relaxed and quite content. I only wish I had a cat to offer me its simple companionship.
After my time spent at the pre-service training in Dodoma, and after a week of busy meetings and preparations for the Peace Corps Global Food Security Summit, I departed Dar to head to DC – my first time back to the states (and traveling anywhere out of East Africa) in over 2 years! It was a really great trip. The summit was very productive, and it was interesting to see some behind the scenes happenings at Peace Corps headquarters. I also had ample time to roam around the streets of an American city and wow my senses again and again.
Sidewalks as wide as some of the streets here in TZ, crosswalks, plenty of trees and green spaces, beautiful memorials on the mall, museums that could take a lifetime to see fully, delicious and diversified salad and food truck options, a peaceful sort of hustle and bustle (may seem contradictory, but it makes sense to me!), coffee shops, gluten free awareness, Trader Joe’s, super nice hotels with full kitchens and great beds and bathrooms, other Peace Corps people from all over the world who are friends after a simple introduction, and lastly: obtainable anonymity! It was a great week.
My Mom was able to join me for the weekend following the summit, and we spent full days roaming museums and the zoo, driving to visit a relative for brunch, shopping in outlet malls, perusing bookstores, and eating yummy food together. Such a wonderful mini-vacation!
I have to admit, while it was an overwhelming trip back to fast-paced, big, merchandise-filled America, I was sad to leave. It was such a refreshing break from living in Tanzania, and I wanted it to continue. It was so nice walking the streets of DC, not having to worry about getting hit by a car or motorcycle or bicycle, or falling into some random hole or tripping on excessively uneven “sidewalks”, or being overwhelmed by the amount of people brushing past me, all looking at me, maybe some watching to see if they could pick my pocket… And the amenities of America! Drinking fountains, recycling, reliable electricity and running water, and automatic flushing toilets that I forgot existed and made me jump the first, second, and third time I used them… Alas, I’ll just have to wait for my full month of home leave in June to return to that world!
However nice those amenities and worry-free aspects of America may be, though, I am pretty sure at the end of my home leave I’ll be very much ready to return to Tanzania. The culture of time and hospitality, the friendships and relationships with Peace Corps people and others, and the work I do here will be calling to me. This world will be calling again, and I’ll answer it.
In other news, in the past two weeks I assisted (maybe more than assisted) with the week-long mid-service training of last year’s Health and Ag class, and the completion of the pre-service training of this year’s class. Lots of work! But worth it. And now I will let the sounds of that warm tropical rain seep into me as I watch it land out on the patio (yup, I’ve got a patio too!!), bubbling up, rippling out to shake the surface of the puddle that could be considered some microcosm of some reality. But let’s not get too ridiculously metaphorical here… Happy Earth Day, happy Saturday, happy weekend, and cheers to rainy days.