Recently I was hanging out with several other volunteers, and a friend of a PCV who had just come here to visit. We were doing what most PCVs do when they get together (complaining), when the visitor from America asked, "Is there anything you all like about Tanzania?"
I don't know about the others, but I was kind of embarrassed by that question. Surely we don't complain THAT much right? We just don't get to see each other or speak English very often, we need to vent, etc etc. But could I come up with a lot of things I like about Tanzania? I could probably name hundreds of things that annoy, anger, puzzle, frustrate, worry, bother, perplex me, and/or make me want to commit violent acts. But could I come up with ten things I really, truly, without qualification, like about Tanzania?
Well, I am a master at making top ten lists. This task cannot vanquish me!
Behold, 16 things I like about Tanzania. In no particular order.
-Topetope (a weird fruit that I don't think has a name in English)
-In general, Tanzania is a beautiful country. Landscape-wise.
-The way Tanzanians dance. Hilarious.
-Kande: one of the few Tanzanians food I like. It's just corn and beans but it's delicious.
-Afternoon nap time. It's too damn hot to do any work at two in the afternoon anyway. Why not nap under a tree.
-Telling time by looking at the sun. I don't like wearing watches.
-The things you can buy on trees. Like a wide variety of used and almost-new clothing.
-The plethora of things you can buy out of bus windows. (See one of my other top ten lists for examples).
-Being able to just sit in silence with people without it being awkward. Sometimes it's just not necessary to fill the air with empty words. Sometimes you just don't feel like talking, and that's ok. I particularly like when you have been sitting with someone for a long time, and they will just say a random word out of nowhere.
-Tanzanian love for awesomely bad things- Music (ie Celine Dion, boy bands, soft rock radio). Dance moves. Kitenges with chicken heads.
-Not to romanticize poverty, but kids' creativity with toys. They can make a car out of a few sticks and some mud. Or they are entertained for hours chasing bike tires. Kids in the US just aren't entertained that easily.
-Not to romanticize poverty again, but Tanzanians' resourcefulness in general. They hardly ever throw anything away, use the same plastic bag over and over and over, and can fix/rig anything
-Huge generalization: People are really friendly and helpful, for the most part. Most people in my village are incredibly welcoming and generous. I don't think Americans are that nice to foreigners that move into their communities.