I returned to Tanzania just a week ago, and I’ve been amused by the variety of things that I didn’t realise I had forgotten:
1. The habit of not drinking from taps.
Here it is important not to drink straight from the tap; water needs to be filtered before it is safe to drink. Before returning to the UK this was perfectly normal to me, and in fact it took quite a while for it not to feel wrong to drink from taps in the UK or to brush my teeth with tap water! However, it seems that I now have to re-learn that habit!
2. Quite how noisy the birds are.
It’s wonderful how the birds here never seem to stop twittering and tweeting, whooping and chirping – it’s never silent! I remember now that I found it strange how quiet the birds were in England, but over the last year it became normal. Also, here we don’t have sealed panes of glass in the windows, so you can hear the birds throughout the house.
3. How loud the rain is on a tin roof.
It can be deafening! Well, perhaps not literally, but it can make it difficult to hold a conversation! But, it being rainy season does mean that there is luscious green growth everywhere.
4. The words for ‘sickness’ and ‘to swim’.
My Swahili is returning bit by bit, and generally I’m doing fine in everyday conversations. However, I keep stumbling in the middle of a sentence, realising I’ve forgotten a basic word.
When talking to a taxi driver in Dar es Salaam about life in Musoma, I was telling him the lake is beautiful, but if you swim in it then you’re in danger of catching the bilharzia sickness. However, I couldn’t think of the word ‘sickness’! The nearest I could get was ‘pain’. I also realised later that I’d said ‘to shower in the lake’ instead of ‘to swim’ … whoops! He seemed to understand me though.
5. How good fresh mangoes and passion fruit taste.