Adjusting Our Expectations

We have now spent several weeks in our village. We don’t have a schedule of any kind (which is wonderful), but a typical day is generally spent cooking, walking aimlessly around in hopes of meeting people and practicing our Swahili with them, hiking up one of the many mountains surrounding us, going to the market or visiting people who have invited us to eat with them.

We came to Tanzania with certain expectations about what we would struggle with, what the hardships would be, and what parts of the experience we would enjoy. We guessed correctly in some aspects, but in others we were quite far off the mark.

Expectation #1: It will be unbearably hot.

Reality: It is certainly hot in some places (like Muheza), but it sure isn’t hot in our village. In fact, it is cold. We searched long and hard for clothing in the United States that would ‘breathe’, that would be light and airy and wouldn’t show sweat. Then we got to our village where people wear ski masks and puffy coats and realized that sweatshirts and beanies would have been more appropriate purchases. Below is a picture that Andrew snapped while I was napping one afternoon.

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Expectation #2: There will be actual lions here, and they will be a real threat.

Reality: Its true, there are lions in Tanzania. But we live in the mountains, where they are not a threat at all. It turns out that our biggest animal problem here is slugs. Yes, you heard me. Slugs. They get on the dishes, in the toilet, on the walls, on my mirror. There is one specific slug that gets in the keyhole of our door everyday so that when we lock it, the key comes out sticky. It is an odd problem, and quite unexpected.

Expectation #3: We will likely be given the nicest house in the village and will feel guilty about it.

Reality: We had read this on several blogs before coming here, which is why we had this odd expectation. Some people were given comparably nice houses in their villages and had suffered some guilt because of it. Not so for us. Don’t get me wrong- our house is very nice and it is more than we even need. The surprise was that every house along the main road of our village has electricity- except ours. We didn’t want electricity, so the situation is great in our opinion, but what we didn’t expect was to be pitied by our neighbors. When they hear that we don’t have electricity they are outraged and the kind souls immediately declare that they will tell somebody (not sure who) to get it for us. At this point, we say no, no, it is no problem, we don’t need it, we don’t want it! Which leads to even more confusion- Why wouldn’t you want electricity? And the answer; ‘We want to be challenged so that our experience here is enriching’ isn’t quite within our capability of explaining yet.

Expectations #4, #5, and #6: The scenery will be beautiful, the people will be incurably kind and hospitable, and the experience will be rewarding beyond measure.

Reality: Thus far, true, true, and more true.

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