This time next week I will be on my way home to America, the beautiful land of Mexican food, cheese, cheesy pizza, rocky road ice cream, malls, movie theaters, movie theater popcorn and my horses. For six weeks, I will be enjoying it all!
It’s been two years and two months since I arrived in Tanzania, and I’ve been here the whole time without visiting home or home visiting me. So it’s reasonable I have a few worries about how I will adjust back to American life and relate with my family and friends. To help ease any initial awkwardness, I’ve made a list of Do’s and Don’t's for how to deal with me post-TZ. Please read and prepare yourself as necessary.
Do feed me! Seriously, my diet the past two years has consisted mainly of starch: pasta, potatoes, rice & beans, ugali (balls of flavorless starch), more rice and more pasta.
Don’t be offended if I can no longer handle some of my favorite dishes. Living without the flavor and richness of American meals has affected my palate….and bodily functions. So also don’t be offended when I have to follow your scrumptious food with Pepto and Imodium. Oh, and I am use to poop being a popular and appropriate topic of conversation….
Do take me out in public! I can’t wait to see what has changed over the past two years.
Don’t be jealous by my new celebrity. I have grown accustomed to being special and everyone watching my every move. People in TZ are always interested in how my home is, how my work is, what I’ve had to eat, where I’m going, where I’ve been and telling me how pretty I am. I don’t expect this to change just because I’m back in the US.
Do take me shopping! I have long lists of clothes, tech stuff and house gadgets I need to bring back so I’m ready for serious shopping.
Don’t hide when I haggle over the price. If I’ve learned anything in Africa, it’s that the first price is just the starting point. And I find it hard to pay much more than 33cents for a pair of pants. I’m excited to bring this form of commerce to all my fav groceries and department stores.
Do treat me to things I want to do and see! Sweet friends have already been offering to let me plan where we go and what we do when we visit.
Don’t get too frustrated when it takes me half the day to decide what it is I want to do. And then another hour to decide what to order off the restaurant menu. And I’ll need at least three hours to pick out which deodorant I should buy at WalMart. Options are a rarity in TZ. When I find a selection of more than five shampoos to pick from, it all becomes overwhelming and stressful.
Do ask me about my villagers and their culture! I’ll probably talk your ear off…..though best to give me direct questions. Remember options are overwhelming!
Don’t forget your manners. Yes, villagers live a much simpler life, but they are not idiots. And they don’t go around throwing spears at each other. And, please don’t ask me in-depth political questions. I really don’t know all the answers to Tanzania’s problems nor do I want to debate them.
Do spend time just sitting and chatting! I want to hear all about your life over the past two years!
Don’t be weirded out by me sitting in your lap. Personal space no longer exists to me. I may also prefer to ride shot gun in your car along with another friend, the dog, all our purses, our shopping bags, the produce from the Farmer’s Market and whatever else fits in the seat, under our feet and on the console. There’s always room for more!
Ok, that’s a good start to help us back into being friends and family members. I’m sure if you simply follow these guidelines we’ll have no problems and you’ll agree with my new better ways of thinking.