22 October 2016

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things

A while ago I wrote about visiting Uganda and eating a bunch of tasty vyakula (foods) there, and now I'm thinking it's odd that I haven't written much about vyakula vya Tanzania. In fact, there are a lot of "little things" about life here that never fail to bring a smile to my face, yet that I haven't shared. Sense by sense, here is list of my favorite things in Arusha.


- view of Mount Meru

- kanga, kitenge, and the other varieties of colorful fabric: I wore kanga to work today!

- chickens bobbing heads and digging in the dirt for their food
- the "lane of peace": The bus park in the morning can be hectic. Kondas (conductors) might shout destinations at you or grab your wrist to try to bring you to their bus. Finding what I call the "lane of peace," where one can walk in open space without konda bugging, is a morning highlight.

- jacaranda trees in bloom: Here some flowers from a huge jacaranda tree have fallen to the sidewalk. I love seeing the bright purple above my head, contrasting typical shades of green and brown.

- superb starling: I've probably mentioned this bird before. He's so beautiful and shiny.


- African music: Tanzanian music is called "bongo flava" and it's really fun to dance to. In Tanzania, other African songs are popular, many of them coming from Nigeria. I mention this because I think most of my favorite songs here are Nigerian. To get an idea of the music I'm listening to, you can check out this playlist I'm making on Spotify
- birds chirping
- spoken Swahili: Soon I plan to post a video of myself speaking Swahili for anyone interested in my progress (i.e. my mom). Stay tuned! (Mom.)


- Maasai blanket: This article of fabric is a genuine phenomenon in Tanzania. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I truly believe my life has improved with the Maasai shuka in my life. It's a very portable, fairly thin, and surprisingly warm blanket coming in many patterns, almost all of them checkered. Maasai shuka have many applications, including a bedsheet, and shawl, a table cloth, a wall hanging, a skirt--the possibilities are endless and I can't rave enough. I currently own two shuka, but I'm sure that number will multiply before I leave Tanzania. Unfortunately, the best way I can describe my happiness in a shuka is with this silly selfie.

- front seat of the daladala: This feels amazing only relative to the crammed back seat. Without this comparison, the front seat feels like any reasonable car seating situation.
- cow's noses

- paka! They're so small and cute here. When people have them as pets, I tend to temporarily abduct them for snuggles.


It's possible that unpleasant smells greatly outnumber pleasant smells in Arusha--if you don't count anything that's edible. I haven't included anything edible here because stuff that you can eat that smells good also tastes good, which brings us to...


As promised, vyakula vya Tanzania!
- sambusa: I don't eat a lot of meat, but this East African-style samosa (delightfully spiced meat stuffed inside a puffy yet crunchy wrapping) has me hooked. It's often served with a spicy sauce called pilipili, made from tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, hot peppers, and some other good stuff. On average I'd estimate I consume around 15 sambusa a week. Sanae and I learned how to make it from a wonderful woman at work. Here's the result of our lesson!

- chapati: This is like a tortilla, but thicker and much more oily. It has Indian origins but is now a staple of life in Arusha. I often eat chapati as breakfast or with lunch.

- chai ya maziwa: Translating directly to "tea of milk," chai ya maziwa is savory, gingery, cinnamonny and sweet all at once. I drink this with my chapati every morning in the restaurant next to work.
- kahawa: Coffee here is amazing. In fact, many plants in the area export to Starbucks and the like. There's also a pretty good instant coffee called Africafe. Below is coffee at Burka, a huge coffee plant near work. The raw beans might be exported or are there roasted to different degrees and sold.

- street corn + pili/lime powder: Many women grill and sell corn on the streets. Some of them, if requested, will rub the cob in a powdery/flakey pepper using a freshly cut lime half as a rubbing tool.
- fresh fruit juice: It's common to find juice from passion fruit, tamarind, mango, and even avocado.
- Stoney Tangawizi: This is a ginger soda ("tangawizi" means "ginger"), but it's much more flavorful and tangy than something like ginger ale. I've never seen this in the U.S., but if anyone knows where I can get it in Boston, please inform me immediately so I can avoid accidentally breaking any import laws by stuffing a bunch into my suitcase.

- nyama ya kusaga: Again, I don't like meat, but this spiced, minced beef is delicious.

With all these nice gems in Arusha, it will be hard coming back to Boston. So far, Tanzania is winning my heart.

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