Monday, November 12, 2012

Site Announcement... I'm in Dodoma!!

Big news here, just found out where I'll be living for the next 2 years. I'll be in the Dodoma region, a couple of hours outside of Dodoma city, which is the nominal capitol. I'm in the area this week shadowing another volunteer to check out my new house and get introduced to the area. Dodoma is pretty much in the middle of the desert, so the next two years will definitely have some fun new challenges. Water being the main one... So far my shadow week is off to a good start. Visited the capitol, which was fun and I'm excited to be living in the area for the next couple of years. Visiting my house tomorrow, which I'm super excited for. From the picture I've been given I've got a thatched roof and my house is up against a hole... Reminds me of a hobbit hole, which is perfect. I'm trying to stay as optimistic as possible about my site and go into it knowing that it will be what I make of it... So hopefully it'll be a great fit for me and I'll be able to do effective work.

In the meantime I'm enjoying electricity, internet, and American cable TV courtesy of some Italians that own a compound in my shadow host's village. Great break from village life. Hopefully I won't get too comfortable... I even at ice cream today! What?!?! That exists in the middle of the desert? Yes, it does. As does feta cheese... yet to try that but I'm pretty sure I could eat a whole package in one sitting, so maybe I'll put that on my to-do list later this week. Oh, also had chinese food the other night. So good. Much needed break from Tanzanian fare. Brace yourselves for food craving posts in the future... Living off of rice and beans sometimes leaves one with intense food cravings.

After this week I'll be back to normal training, then in exactly a month I'll be swearing in as a volunteer! So soon! So send me mail now so that it gets to me before I move. The prospect of a shower and western toilet is too great to continue writing... So bye for now!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1st Training Update!

It's only been a couple of weeks since I left the US, but it seems like a lot longer - in a good way though! I moved in with my host family about 1.5 weeks ago after staying in Dar for about a week. At Dar we were given time to get over jet lag and slowly transition to Tanzania. Lots of logistics stuff, cultural training and a bit of language practice. We also got to venture into the city for a day to get our bearings. I'm not sure how to describe Dar. IT's a sharp contrast to what I've seen of other parts of TZ. The only way I can think of describing it is as the TZ equivalent of the capitol in the Hunger Games, haha. Obviously not as elaborate but the infrastructure and people are distinctly different from those outside the city. We also got to take the public transportation into the city, aka daladala, which is pretty muhc a minivan style vehicle that they stuff with as many people and things as possible. It was about as crowded as the T after a sox game, except with less head room. I can't imagine being fluent in Swahili like the other volunteers who have been here a year and helped us navigate the area.

Village life is going well. Lots of language learning. My family is great - we've got cows, so it reminds me a lot of Vermont, haha. I have an teenage brother and a younger brother and sister (6 yrs old) who are great. The younger kids are super cute and I spend most of my time at home playing with them.

Don't have much time left, but the best way to get in touch with me is through letters. I also have a phone now,  which is free for me to receive texts or calls. My number is +255786620691. Feel free to text/call (but remember im 7 hrs ahead of east coast time).

That's all for now!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Last Goodbyes

The time has finally come for me to say goodbye to my family and begin my journey in Tanzania. I'll be flying out to Philadelphia today, spend the weekend with friends and then begin my Peace Corps experience at staging on Monday. My bags are packed (not nearly as heavy as I thought they would be!) and the final goodbyes have almost all been said. I'm excited to get this adventure started and the huge support I've gotten from friends and family has really helped make leaving easier. Thanks again everybody for all your support and kind words!!

To give you an idea of what is ahead for me, I'll be starting my Peace Corps business in Philadelphia Monday for staging (basically an orientation type thing) then I'll be flying out to Tanzania on Tuesday. I'll first be staying in Dar es Salaam for about a week getting adjusted, then it's off to training which will be  in the Tanga region (North of Dar on the coast). I'll be living with a host family during training, which will last until December. During training I'll be learning Kiswahili and various agriculture-related technical skills.

I'm sure y'all are anxiously awaiting actual updates about my Peace Corps experience, and I'll try to update my blog as often as I can (which I know won't be nearly as often as some of you may like...). If anyone would like to send me letters during my training, here's my address:

Peace Corps/Tanzania
P.O. Box 9123
Dar es Salaam

In the meantime I'll leave you with some pictures from last weekend's adventure at Acadia National Park. Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

2 Weeks!!

In 2 short weeks I'll be on my way to Philadelphia to start my crazy adventure as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania! My to-do list is shrinking and I've almost finished getting everything on my packing list... although I don't think I'll be completely convinced I have everything until I'm forced to board the plane and whatever I have is what I have...

I'll be spending these last few weeks in the States visiting friends and enjoying the New England fall. People have been asking me a lot about how I'm feeling about my departure, and honestly it changes every day. Some days I'm anxious to just get going, other days I'm a nervous wreck, freaking out about every little detail around packing. I'm also starting to make small life changes that I hope will help me adjust to life in Tanzania (re: diverting from my vegetarian ways). The other night I ate fish for the first time in 5 + years!!! Next step: chicken. I'm hoping that by subjugating my body to these types of foods now, my stomach will be slightly less shocked when it encounters Tanzanian food. I'm sure I'll be updating y'all to that lovely transition as well in the months ahead :)

I'm looking forward to sharing my adventure with y'all and I hope you enjoy my various musings along the way. I'll be posting my address soon so if anyone wants they can send me awesome letters :) Email is also great too!

But for now, I'm off to Vermont to take in as much Vermont-ness as I can before leaving!