Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Before I left for Tanzania...

I can hardly believe it, but it's been three years since I left Tanzania on April 24, 2011. The eight months I spent living there tremendously impacted many aspects of my life and how I've decided to live since then.

Since the anniversary of my return from TZ just rolled around again, I decided to write a blog post commemorating my time there, but I soon realized it was going to be really long, so I'm going to break it up into three parts: Before I Left, While I Was There, and Since I've Come Home. Here is Part 1.

In August 2010, before I left home for Tanzania...
  • the travel doctor who gave me my tetanus booster shot, my oral yellow fever pills, and a prescription for malaria pills had a stern and serious talk with me, telling me to make sure to take my malaria pills every single day, and about how he didn't want me to go anywhere by myself while I was in Tanzania (or anywhere in Africa). "Always have someone else with you wherever you go!" he admonished. I, not knowing any better, just nodded my head, deciding that that was probably sound advice.
  • the travel doctor also said, "You can get a rabies vaccine now, but it costs [some large amount of money that I definitely wasn't going to pay]. Or, if you don't want the vaccine, you should have a rabies plan in place, just in case you ever get bitten by a rabid monkey or dog. You will need to be immediately flown to Europe or North America, if you get bit, to get tested for rabies and get the shots to prevent you from getting it yourself." Again, I just nodded, reminding myself to stay away from monkeys or dogs foaming at the mouth.
  • my optometrist told me to never, never, never wear my contacts while showering. "We had a patient who went to [some country in Africa that I now forget] for a few weeks. She wore her contacts in the shower once and got [some kind of bacteria or virus] behind her contact that festered away there for days, eventually turning her eye green and causing her to have to be medevaced home to save her eye." Yikes, that sounded scary! I assured him that I would take good care of my eyes.
  • the glasses professional at the optometrist office told me I definitely needed to get new lenses for my glasses (in case of the aforementioned eye apocalypse). When the new lenses came and were put into my frames, the glasses guy carefully wrapped up the old lenses in layers of plastic wrap and handed them to me, "just in case something happens to your contacts and your new lenses. You'll have these as backup-backup."
  • I didn't know the capital city of Tanzania. All I knew about the country was that it was in Eastern Africa and the official language was Swahili. The only city I knew was Arusha, in northern Tanzania, which I would be living near. The only Tanzanian tribe I knew about was the Maasai.
  • I didn't know a word of Swahili, or that Tanzanians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • I didn't know the Tanzania currency or the exchange rate between the TZ currency and US or Canadian dollars.
  • I didn't know that the ADRA Tanzania property also included a baby home, and that there would be other volunteers on the campus throughout the time I lived there.
  • I didn't know people actually still cloth diapered babies or that just a piece of cloth could keep babies securely fastened to their mother's backs. Very fascinating for me to see and learn more about these topics!
And that is just a very little bit of what I didn't know before I left for Tanzania. Come back tomorrow to find out what my life in Tanzania was actually like!

And just because blog posts are nicer with some pictures, here are a couple from just before I left for Tanzania.

Jonathan came to visit BC for a few weeks in early-August 2010. Just a few days before we left to go to Maine for another week and a bit, we went boating with my parents and some family friends.
Boating on Kalamalka Lake in Lake Country, BC

We flew to Maine in mid-August, and I spent some time with Jonathan and his family before flying across the Atlantic. The last week before I left was spent camping with some of Jonathan's fellow church members and family friends on a remote island on a lake in western Maine. This annual camping trip has been a tradition for this close-knit group for years, and it was nice to be able to join them for this special time before heading off to Africa.
Walking back from a beach church service
at Metallak Island on Richardson Lake, Maine

Read Part 2 here - While I was in Tanzania... Part A
Read Part 3 here - While I was in Tanzania... Part B
Read Part 4 here - While I was in Tanzania... Part C
Read Part 5 here - Since I've come home from Tanzania...

1 comment:

  1. We keep learning each day we live.
    Thanks for the post again.
    It is good to read your stories and see the pictures.