Expat Diaries: Six Month Update and my Africa Bucket List

June marks six months since I’ve been in Tanzania. I really do feel like I’m finally settled in. I’ve thought about how so many things don’t faze me anymore. I no longer stare in awe at the women with the baskets on their heads or the Maasai dressed in traditional clothing with their machetes and clubs. I’m no longer uncomfortable lounging in my front yard as my security guard stands watch. I (against popular advice) am no longer afraid to walk places alone (as long as it’s daytime). I’m even 100% used to driving on the left side of the road; I’m actually afraid of having to drive on the right again when I get back to the United States.

If I could give any advice to someone moving to a new country, I’d say take as many pictures as possible when you first arrive. Keep a journal and write down what you’re feeling. Capture all the moments that seem strange to you. Before you know it, they won’t faze you either. You won’t think to take pictures of the zany billboards or interesting food choices. They’ll be so common to you; it’d be like taking a picture of a McDonalds in the United States.

Have I ever mentioned that I live in a country with no McDonalds? The first ever KFC just opened and it has been the talk of the town. Tanzanians and American expats alike have been anxiously awaiting its opening for months. I haven’t been there yet, but I suppose I will eventually. I’m not the biggest fan of KFC but I do like checking out American fast food joints in other countries. I’ve heard the chicken pieces aren’t as big (because they’re not injected with god knows what, or whatever).

Anyway, I’ve finally made a handful of friends whose company I really enjoy. They’re not just people I tolerate to avoid loneliness, so to speak. I’m actually a bit worried about what I’ll miss out on during my trip back to the States.

Six months has actually passed quicker than I thought it was going at the time. I still have so much of this country and region I need to see. I’m kind of free-flowing with this post, so I’m going to transition into a bucket list of things to do before I leave Africa.

1. Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. I think it’s the only thing that I will cry if I don’t get to do. We’re hopefully planning a trip for as soon as I get back.

2. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  Since I have no idea what we’d do with the baby for a whole week I’m really not sure this is going to happen. 🙁 I guess I’ll have to come back to Tanzania for a visit in a few years. 🙂

3. Visit a traditional Maasai community in Northern Tanzania/Southern Kenya

5. Visit Cape Town, South Africa. Of course the year we move to Africa is the year the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) chooses to cancel the Jeffery’s Bay contest. We won’t be planning a trip to SA until the 2014 schedule is released. If the event moves back to J-Bay next year, we’ll plan it for then.

6. Hang over Victoria Falls. I have a friend in Harare, Zimbabwe, so we’ll probably fly there and travel to the falls. When I was a kid I had to interview my mum for school, and one of the questions was, “If you could visit anywhere in the world where would it be?” and she responded with Victoria Falls. Maybe if she visits while I’m here we’ll go together.

7. Visit the Church of St. George in Ethiopia. (It’s that underground church from the 12th century. I would say “from when Christians were persecuted” but I think they are still victims of that today. Did you hear about that church that was bombed in Tanzania just a few weeks ago? Crazy stuff.)

I’m sure I can add more to this list, but these are the first things that come to mind. I’m just rambling, really. I think I’ll use the Expat Diaries as an opportunity for this from now on.

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