I am here for almost 3 months now so I it is time to learn some Swahili. Every evening I go and sit with the gard and we talk about the stars, food and other things we can talk about in our limited Swahili/English communication. He is a great teacher and we always end up having interesting and fascinating conversations. When people ask me what I studied or what kind of work I do they often respond very surprised. Being a musician is not a very respected profession in Tanzania so the idea that I finished my masters and earn my money by being a freelance musician is a strange idea for them. What shockes them even more is the fact that I am 24 and single. I should at least have a boyfriend if not be married and have children. The idea that I have had boyfriends and lived on my own in London is a confusing and almost unacceptable thing for some of the people I talk to. This is of course not the case for all local people but things like arranged marriage are still common in Tanzania. An other common thing in Tanzania is lying. There is a lot of lying and I had my first full experience during my safari.
A previous volunteer had introduced us to a local friend of him named Kelly. He told us he was a safari guid and made us a good safari deal. The safari was amazing full of beautiful wild life, nature and sunrise. Besides Kevin, the other volunteer, Kelly and me there were two more people in the car. The driver and the cook I was told. Kelly never told us about a cook and a driver but his english is not perfect so we assumed it was a misunderstanding. The driver/guid was a very nice guy and in a conversation with him he told me the truth (I think). He was the real guid and he often worked together with the cook. Kelly asked them to go on safari with us pretending that Kelly was the safari guid and the owner of the car so he could make some money as well. A strange but kind of funny lie we thought and we did not really mind as it was a good safari deal. This changed when Kelly came to us and asked for 80$ more because he made a mistake in his calculations and forgot to put in the fuel to get back to Moshi. We already payed all the safari money so of course we were not going to pay more especially because we now knew Kelly was lying to us from the start. The real guid told us Kelly had used part of the safari money for himself and assumed that we would pay more when he would ask for it because we are his friends. When he found out we were not going to pay more he realised he had a problem because the money he spend was actually the salary for the real guid and the cook. Even though we kept asking questions Kelly kept lying and he never admitted any of the things the real guid had told us. He told us he would take care of the payment of the real guid and the cook but as I am still in contact with the real guid I know Kelly changed his phone number and disappeared. Right now I am not sure what to believe anymore. I had a very long conversation with the real guid about trust and lying and how these things work in Tanzania. He told me he is happily married and he wants to start his own company in a honest and professional way. I trusted him and I still think he was telling the truth but after a while he started texting me more and more and then there was a text saying ‘nakupenda’ which means ‘I like you a lot’ or ‘I love you’. This was very disappointing and it definitely took away my last bit of naivety.
I have learned a lot from this Tanzanian safari experience. Lies, big and small, to look better, to hide something, to family and friends, it happens all the time. Luckily I have also met a lot of amazing and trustable people. In Arusha, a big city 2 hours from Moshi, I met some amazing artists and musicians with whom I hope to work in the future. I am not sure though when I can travel to Arusha again because of the elections. On Sunday everybody went to vote and now we are waiting for the results. People are very nervous and we have to be careful because no one really knows what will be the situation when the results come out. The ruling party has been leading for a very long time but now the opposition party is very big and might get more votes. A lot of Tanzanian people would like to see a change but we will have to see what the results are and if the ruling party and the people will accept it. Tanzania does not have a violen history though so I hope things will stay calm.
We have school holidays now so at the moment I am exploring Moshi together with Gemma. Gemma arrived two weeks after me and will work for the school for at least two years. We try to go to a different place each time. In some places we can sit and dance without being disturbed but in others we will have a circle of guys around us in 5 sec. This is why we always make sure we never go out alone and we take care of each other.
Next month is going to be an exiting one as I go traveling around in Tanzania and Kenya! I will write an update when I get back :)
Geerte de Koe