Daily Life in Zanzibar

This is for the people who have never visited or lived in a third world country. This is for the tourists who have no idea what daily life is like in the developing countries that they visit. This is for the people who live here in Zanzibar, Tanzania. This is a full account of my activities on Wednesday January 25, 2012.

I woke up at 6:30am today. Well, no, technically I woke up at 4:30am when I heard the Muslim prayer call from the Mosque right beside our apartment building. I fell back asleep though, and got up at 6:30. It’s actually quite a good system for me. I like to be half awake before I actually get up so that I don’t oversleep and so that I feel as though I’m sneaking in extra sleep time.

After I got up, I got dressed and went to go rinse my face and brush my teeth in the bathroom. I could almost write a whole blog about the bathrooms here, but I’m sure some of you would rather not have a detailed account of my bathroom activities. I’ll just be brief then. The bathroom in our apartment has a toilet (Yay! – some bathroom’s only have a hole in the floor) but the toilet doesn’t flush so we have to pour buckets of water into it to “flush” it. There is also no shower, but there is a tap in the wall where we can easily give ourselves a bucket shower. It’s quite similar to the kind of shower you would take when you’re camping. That is of course if you are tenting in a campground without showers. And to make it easy to clean, the whole washroom is tiled, so I don’t have to worry about getting water all over the place. So I quickly washed my face with the bucket water, and brushed my teeth with some of my bottled water–as foreigners get sick from drinking the tap water here.

I always try to be as quick as possible when in the bathroom since there are 8 of us living here, sharing one bathroom. My homestay family is wonderful though. It took a bit of time for me to adapt to living with a big family again and with a mom who checks in on me often, but I’m more used to it now. I am actually really enjoying having 3 “brothers” and another “sister.” My homestay brothers are a lot of fun: Mudasir is the oldest and often walks with me to the corner store at night to keep me safe and practice the English that he is learning in school. He’s really smart. Muzakir and Muhammed are the two youngest and they happen to be playing with a couple of pink balloons right now (they love balloons, especially since we drew pictures and wrote their names on them). Their sister Fatma hasn’t been around much, but she smiles a lot and helps us with a number of things during the day.
Now that I’ve gotten through the first half hour of my morning, I’ll try to expedite the rest of my day for you so that you can get back to what you were doing before you started reading this.

Sida (the other volunteer who I share a room with) and I walked through a field, some garbage, and a small sandy area with beautiful yellow and blue flowers to get to our daladala stop (bus stop). I smiled at a couple of school children on the bus who blushed and hid their faces, then paid the 300 shilling fee for the bus (which is probably about 15 cents in Canada), and got off at the stop outside the YCI office.

Today was the first day of our “Emerging Leaders” class, so after getting to the office, we quickly got all of our supplies together and then walked for about 15 minutes over to the classroom at ZANGOC (a group of NGO’s). The class was essentially an introduction class, with a fun ice breaker and a short power point presentation. Most of the participants can understand English quite well, so they picked up on my silly jokes, but since it was the first day many of them were quite shy when speaking English. A few of the participants expressed an interest in understanding more about their civil rights so that they can help to educate and change their communities, so tomorrow I’m going to read up on human rights here in Tanzania! :) I’m actually excited!

After class Sida, Aziza (a local volunteer here), and I took the bus and walked to the post office in Stone Town. We stopped at the Stone Town Cafe for lunch as a treat after our first class and I had yogurt with muesli and fresh fruit – mangoes, pineapple, banana, and watermelon. It’s amazing how delicious and fresh all of the fruit is here. I haven’t seen any grapes, apples, pears or peaches here, but every tropical fruit that you can imagine is here somewhere.

Back at the office we spent some time working on our other assignments before we packed up at 6pm to go home. This time of day is probably my favorite time for riding the bus because the air is cooler and the breeze is wonderfully refreshing as it washes over me.

When we got home I rinsed off the dust and dirt from my feet before I started to hand wash my laundry and hang it to dry. I then sat down to have dinner on the floor with my homestay family. Dinner was Ugali (the national dish of Tanzania) and a stew of potatoes, liver, okra, and spices in a tomato sauce. We also had fresh squeezed mango, passion fruit, and banana juice which my homestay mom made. It was delicious! Then the power went out, the fans stopped, and we could feel the heat again, so we went up on the roof to enjoy the breeze from the ocean close by.

After I had cooled down enough, I came inside to shower, and here I am. Oh look, the power is back! It’s never out for too long. And some days it doesn’t even go off at all. These power outages sure make me realize how rich developed countries really are. We have so much and we’re often still unhappy with our lives, even when people in the third world live so simply. There’s a lot to be learned from the people here in Zanzibar, and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can!

Kwaheri! Bye!


3 responses

  1. Wow! it sounds like an eye opening experience! Are you finding that your lighter skin, hair & eyes attract a lot of attention? I’m interested in knowing some of the more “odd” civil rights in Tanzania.
    Stay safe, learn lots.

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