We returned to our home in Tanzania a couple days ago, exhausted from travel, thoroughly jetlagged, and grateful for a safe journey. We’ve been unpacking, resetting internet and phone service, greeting friends and colleagues, and marveling at the sights, sounds, taste and feel of life here.
–Mandarins are in season. These are very sweet, easy to eat, and contain many seeds. A handy plate is a must.
–The small bananas (sometimes referred to in US markets as “baby” bananas, a misnomer as they are this small when full-grown) are just as sweet and tasty—much more so than those generally available in the US—as we remember. Mark took a quick look through our patch of banana plants, and we now have FIVE huge bunches growing! We have no idea how we will deal with them all – but we’re pretty sure our gardener does!
–Pineapples, too, are smaller, sweeter, and more tasty than counterparts available elsewhere.
–The fall rains have begun. As I write this, it has rained for nine hours, and it is still raining. This shorter rainy season should come to an end in late November or early December, just in time for all the holiday tourists to arrive.
–The rains bring cool and damp weather. Many in the US picture Africa as hot and dry all over—one big continent where it is always and everywhere breathlessly warm. When travelling in the US, we are often asked how we are handling the “cold” fall weather, as we are thought to be acclimated to high heat. As we live on the slopes of a major mountain, the image of hot and dry Africa doesn’t fit our context. Overnight temps are in the low 60’s year-round, and daytime temps range from in the 60s (like today, when it is raining), to the high 80s-low 90s (in January and February, before the longer rains begin). Houses are not heated, and it is almost always colder inside than out. The weather calls for many days and nights of bundling up. We made a few trips to secondhand stores when we were in the US to stock up on fuzzy socks, flannel pjs and sheets, and sweatshirts for use on these cold, damp days and nights.
–We are getting back into the groove of the practices of life here: filtering water; turning on the water heater when we need it hot (and turning it off when we don’t have such a need), and sleeping under a mosquito net.
–While we live on a university campus, we still hear many more sounds of the local fauna than we did in Columbus, OH. On our first night back, along with a host of insects and other birds, hornbills and colobus monkeys were active. The hornbills are all over campus, and are apt to call anytime of day or night—often in our yard. They are both loud and argumentative with others of their species. We hear the colobus from up the slopes of the mountain. Although we haven’t seen them, we hear them often. Their call our first night was a lovely welcome home. Take a listen for them on this audio recorded near our home—you can hear hornbills calling right before the colobus get going, around 3:30 on this file (https://soundcloud.com/listeningearth/colobus-monkeys-call-in-the ).
–The campus is still pretty deserted, as classes have not yet begun. We look forward to the return of students and colleagues in coming days. Our calendars are slowly filling with assigned courses, faculty meetings, and supervisory sessions. As we prepare for the coming academic year, we are grateful for our time away and for the chance to return to this amazing part of God’s good creation.