I haven’t been on hiatus, I’ve been on holiday! Actually I’ve been working a lot, but I did make it across the border this past weekend for a little rest and relaxation. One thing I realized during my 24-hour stay in Tanzania was that my Swahili is permanently Kenyan-ized. I’ve already accepted that I’m nowhere near fluent by Kenyan standards, but I’m a disaster by Tanzanian standards. You see, after their independence, Tanzania embraced Swahili as the national language in order to unite their country as a common people, no longer colonized and no longer a collection of tribes — they were Tanzanians now! Kenya chose both Swahili and English, and while people here do speak Swahili, it’s kinda a watered-down, English-ized version (“sheng”). Kenyans even make fun of Tanzanian Swahili because it’s a chore to speak correctly, it’s boring, and it even sounds funny because it’s so polite. And I know it’s terrible, but I do too.
To back up kidogo (a bit), I went to Tanzania to get a new visa — both Kenyan and Tanzanian. My one year, multiple-entry Tanzanian visa expired earlier this year, and my Kenyan one will expire in mid December. Sure you can go to the embassy in Nairobi but that’s no fun. Border runs are fun! Besides, Arusha is only five hours away, so it’s like living in San Diego, California and going to Mexico to eat tacos for dinner. Besides, I’m a local in Arusha by now. I’ve been there two times before so I’ve got the hang of which hotel to stay in, where to eat, and how to get around. I’ve always liked Arusha because it’s a mid-sized town with lots of local life buzzing around at night, finger food is plenty/cheap, and I’ve never felt unsafe there.
I went with a buddy of mine from Tala, Sammy. Other than the visas, our main goal was to get some stuff you can’t get in Kenya:
- Chips mayai — eggs cooked with fries, ends up kinda like a pancake
- Pineapple Fanta — apparently used to be available in Kenya
- Pepsi — they are seriously losing the battle to Coca-Cola in Kenya
If you live in East Africa, like finger food hot off the grill, and you’ve never been to Arusha, you’re crazy! Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!