how do you spell Misungwi?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How DO you spell Misungwi?

I have been back in the US now for about 2 weeks, and I think it is starting to feel normal again.

Tanzania had become home for me, I felt comfortable in my house and with my friends and at my job, and honestly coming back has left me feeling a bit lost. There’s no turning back – I could have extended my time in Tanzania had I wanted to, but I chose not to, and really am ready to move on with my life here. But I feel like I’m stuck somewhere in between, not fitting in there nor here.

After a few days back with my extended family, who were very supportive and a joy to see again, I went to pick up my new cell phone at the store. My first bizarro moment was, well, that it was a store and not a kiosk on the side of the street. The second was seeing about 100 phones that I would be expected to choose from, and each phone with 2 models and 5 colors. But what really messed me up was speaking to the salesperson – a nice, busy young man who clearly had quite a bit of experience at his job, and who was thus able to rapidly fire off about 10 questions and give the standard spiel about what they had to offer, all in about 30 seconds. I was left stunned, overwhelmed, and felt like what I imagine a speed junky would feel like after coming down from a high [I can imagine this thanks to Requiem for a Dream].

I miss fruit, I miss fresh food. I miss children. I miss cell-phone and soda and soap commercials, since that’s really mostly what’s advertised in Tanzania [certainly no car, erectile dysfunction, or pizza commercials – but oh wait, there IS beer]. I miss talking to people, my friends, riding buses with people [but not with the slobs who smack on sugarcane the whole ride], eating with strangers, going to the market. I don’t miss goats, but somehow miss chickens and cows walking in front of my yard or down main street. I miss most of the things I liked about Tanzania, and many of the things I didn’t.

I realized just yesterday that my hair has grown quite a bit. This came as a shock to me. Why, you ask, would this be surprising? Especially since there are mirrors EVERYWHERE here, whereas there were very few in Tanzania, and none were big enough to see more than an eye or your teeth so you can floss, so noticing these small details about oneself should be even easier? The main method in which I have judged the length of my hair and need for a haircut over the past two years has been as follows: after soaping up my head, how many small pitchers of water do I have to pour over myself to get all of the soap out? If it’s very short, 1 will do. If medium length, it takes two. And I know I need a trim when it takes 3 or more pitchers. Well guess what, I don’t need any pitchers here, I sit under the hot shower for about 5 minutes when I feel like it, 2 minutes when I’m in a rush, without any hesitation of ‘oh shit it’s going to be freezing cold’ and without psyching myself up to actually dump the cold water on top of my head. The water just flows, it is warm, and it is wonderful. And while I don’t need a haircut anymore, to conserve water or prevent dust build-up or cool things off, I still want one. I’m not sure why.

The other day I went to the dentist. I went to the dentist AND got a sandwich in town AND fixed up my resume at home. That is, count ‘em folks, 3 things done in one day. I felt like a superman speed demon task master champion. Then I told someone that, and they said, ‘that’s it?’ One thing a day doesn’t cut it here, I now remember.

So what is next? My immediate plans called for a couch and netflix subscription, but I am tired of sitting at home watching TV, and constantly catching myself looking for a place in town where they might sell roasted corn or porridge on the street. I enjoy the hot showers, but not fetching water from outside, which only took about 5 minutes, seems to provide me with more free-time here than I know what to do with. I need to get a job, get a life, move to someplace with enough noise and traffic and if I’m lucky live chickens as well, to flood my senses and get me back in the swing of things.

This will be the final entry of my blog, How do you spell Misungwi? I am done with my Peace Corps service, and starting a new chapter in my life. I could write some sort of paragraph here, about what I have learned and what I will take with me, the way forward, deep and profound life changing moments, yada yada blah blah and all that crap. Actually, I wish I could do that, but it’s not my style. Mostly because my brain hurts from all the TV I’ve been watching. But also because I don’t believe I could ever be able to adequately summarize what I know were and imagine will be two of the most amazing years of my life, in a nice neat concise anecdote. The life lessons, the memories, the profound [and more frequently not so profound] moments are the entries in this web diary, and I look forward to rereading it in the years to come.

I choose to end the same way I started – with a question. How do you spell Misungwi? Missungwi? Is there one S or two?

From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misungwi

"Misungwi is often spelled with an extra 's' to make it Missungwi"

And from the Mwanza-Shinyanga highway, about 50 meters from my house:

Only one s....

Whoops, maybe 2? And this is the Coke sign, which means I hold it to high standards, since Cocacola is responsible for half the signage in the country - literally, without Coke, Pepsi and the cell phone companies, you'd never know where you were. Don't understand the punctuation though, a period before the word??

The verdict - a single S confirmation?

PEACE

-brian

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