My assignment is to learn Swahili, basically. So I spend two hours a day in language school learning the names of things and how to describe actions. Then I spend time with my host family in the afternoon, and later I prepare my next lesson and study some more. I go to church morning and evening: every day I understand a little bit more.
It’s a strain not being able to communicate. My missionary contact says he’s never seen anyone adapt faster, but I’m still frustrated. My ability to speak runs from simple greetings to simple questions (with, hopefully, simple answers). At church I hang out with the bishop, the priest, the deacon, the housekeepers, the kids, and a Greek couple who is helping construct the new cathedral. The bishop and the priest speak English pretty well, and it turns out they also speak Greek fluently. So if I ever want to talk to this Greek woman, I have to find a bishop to interpret for me. I asked her if she spoke Spanish, and she thought that was hilarious.
In my free time, I hang out with the housekeeper’s daughter, Dimitra, who is about ten, or with the daughters of my host family. The oldest daughter speaks English very well, so we have a bad habit of not speaking Swahili together. She’s showed me some of the sights around here and let me help cook a meal on their two tiny charcoal burners.
Tanzanian men love white girls. They greet me politely and take the time for long conversations. The sober ones explain that they like meeting people from foreign countries with different points of view. The drunk ones (don’t worry, this has only happened once, and in a place I won’t be going back to) tell me, “You is mzungu (white)! Mzungu is good!” Then they tell me I have a lot of money and they will do anything for me.
Comparatively, I do have a lot of money, though that’s hard to believe. I could afford to take taxis everywhere and eat in nice restaurants if I wanted. It’s more fun to see what the locals do.