Hello friends! Week 2 has come and gone- the thrill and excitement of this adventure has started to die down and I’m starting to miss home as well as my family and friends 😔
Apologies for the delay in this post – it has been quite a whirlwind of a week in which we were unfortunately faced with many negative experiences. We have since been recovering, adjusting and trying not to let these events taint our overall experience here. I have waited to write about these experiences for a few reasons:
1) I needed time to cool off and reflect on how I wanted to portray these events. In the days following, I was extremely angry and frustrated and did not want this post to take on the same time and place blame on any one person or action
2) It is extremely difficult and annoying to draft and layout a blog post on my mobile device
3) I am currently in bed suffering from what is likely food poisoning, the power went out not too long ago so I’m spending my abundance of time drafting this post in my notebook
Last Saturday, the Mikono Yetu interns, (Kathy, Megha and myself) went to our friend and neighbourhood Yogurt Mama Lily’s house to work on samples to test probiotic fruit juice, ugali and millet. Lily is quite possibly the most absolute sweetest person that I have ever met. She’s always smiling, laughing and never hesitating to make sure we are comfortable here. We had a great time with her working on the samples, observing the procedure for making fiti probiotic yogurt as well as watching some of the Royal Wedding (yay!!) before heading back to Rock Beach where I had a nice long nap planned for myself.
When I reached my room, I found it unlocked- bizarre, I always double even triple check my door before leaving. I WAS running late that morning so was it possible that I had forgotten? We had only been gone for a few hours so I figured that I must have been extremely careless and forgotten to check the lock before leaving. Upon entering my room, something seemed off- despite being in a rush that morning I definitely did NOT leave my bag on its side with its contents spilling out. With a sinking feeling, I turned my bag over to reveal my worst fear – my laptop and wallet were gone from their usual places. I had not forgotten to lock my door that morning, it had been BROKEN INTO!! I ran over frantically to Megha’s room next door only to realize that she had also suffered the same fate. Within minutes hotel staff had swarmed our rooms, searching for any possible evidence or explanation to these events. Thankfully, no one else was affected but we were all in an initial state of shock as we realized that someone had invaded the one place we thought we were safe in, our home for the next 3 months.
We spent the rest of the day at the police station, giving statements and trying to communicate with our limited knowledge of Swahili as to what had happened to our property and what could be done to get them back. We returned back to the hotel, disappointed, but holding on to the hope that the thief would be caught, as there were already a few suspects in question. It was also Kathy’s birthday that day so we welcomed the distraction of celebrating with Indian food and The Devil Wears Prada – although Kathy also received a birthday gift she never asked for that night – BATS! They had made themselves comfortable in the hallway outside our rooms and enjoyed perching themselves RIGHT above our doors and flying through the corridor at night. I’ve just decided to add them to the list of creatures that I’ve encountered during my stay here so far.
Our newest friends here!
The days following were spent in anger and frustration. The hopeful suspects turned out not to have any involvement with our case, any progress to find out new information or updates were extremely slow and our overall sense of hopefulness plummeted as both Megha and I came to the realization that we may never see our laptops ever again.
We are also still adjusting to the lifestyle and nature here in Mwanza. Crossing a busy intersection where speed limits seem to be non-existent (almost) no longer phases me. The slow and unreliable network connection has become second nature and frequent power outages have led to a lot of improvisation. From these experiences, I’ve learned two very important things:
1) TURN ON FIND MY MAC – even if you’re not travelling to a foreign country, DO IT and do it right now!
2) While it’s respectful to be understanding of cultural differences (as taught to us prior to departure) – it is also okay to be firm and adamant regarding some requests – especially if your health or safety is at risk. The ‘pole pole’ (slow) nature here takes some getting used to. Your food may not come as fast as you’re used to, people may not meet you exactly at the time they said they would, and closets with locks may not be brought to your rooms when promised. Would the outcome have been different had we acted differently? No one knows!
Food poisoning was the cherry on top to end off this eventful week and although I’m certain I’ll be fine in due time, this week has really left me missing home (shout-out to everyone back home for their messages of support and encouragement). I now feel ready to tackle on and approach the next week with an open mind.
Until next time,