About my life in Moshi, Tanzania
We came to Moshi in Tanzania with my boyfriend in the end of June to 2016 to volunteer as English and French teachers. I am writing this post while I’m here and this is our experience so far:
Time (what is it?)
One of the first things you notice here is the different perception of time and the ever-lasting calm and chilled-out mood.
We arrived at the Kilimanjaro airport. Our guy from the volunteer organization, Steve, picked us up there. It is a 45 mins drive from the airport to the town of Moshi. When we made our first stop in the city center, we got to learn the Tanzanian concept of “time”-as it doesn’t exist. We were supposed to get Tanzanian phone numbers, which one would assume to be quite fast thing-you just buy the sim card and you’re good to go- but no, not here. Steve talked to the seller, then the seller took our passports and made photos of them, then Steve saw his dad on the street (how random?!) and went talk to him….and voilà-an hour was gone. Same thing with the supermarket (where we went to buy just some water) and everything else-suddenly it was evening and we went to have dinner. Another example: I teach at a college and my class is supposed to start at 2pm. Until now, it has never started at that time. It´s always somewhere between 2:20-3:20 pm. Don’t get me wrong, as a chronic late comer, I actually like the slowliness very much, everybody is so chilled out, no rush, no pressure, because…why? It is a nice change from the always on-the-rush european lifestyle. You get used to it quickly and switch to the chill out man mode too. Hakuna matata. No worriez.
The food (rice, rice, rice and…rice. And ugali.)
Wherever you go, whether it is a restaurant (local one, not the tourist ones in town) or a school cafeteria, you always get a rice with either veggies or meat. Usually u can also opt for either ugali (maize flour mixed with water kinda thing-tastes like dough), chips or chapati (something like salty pancakes or indian naan). For the meat options you can choose either chicken or beef, typically in a red stew or a fish. Then there are plantanes, usually also in a form of stew with pieces of meat and from the veggie options beans (maharagwe), peas (njegere), lentils (choroko), green tomatoes and some other vegetables that I have no idea about. If this doesn’t sound good for you, go for chips mayayi-eggs and chips (omelette).Although simple, the food is really tasty. If you’re looking for a desert, don’t expect too much-only thing you can usually get is a doughnut or a samosa, heritage of the Indian influence here.
As we were gonna live in Tanzania almost 2 months, we had to find something that we were gonna eat for breakfast every day. I’m a big oatmeal fan, ain’t a good day without an oatmeal…! Well, you don’t find that in Tanzania. But there are other things, and that’s what I love about travelling-that you change your stereotypes, even though it seems like an impossible task to do at first. In Tanzania, I found the most delicious, amazing, awesome, tasty, supa dupa peanut butter I’ve ever eaten. 100% natural, pure peanut butter, just peanuts, nothing else. It surprised me how different it is from the peanut butters you find in a supermarket in Europe or in the US. Spread it on the tanzanian fluffy, slightly sweet, brioche-kinda bread, top it with sliced banana and voilà-you got a great, nutritious breakfast!
First thing you notice when you walk the tanzanian streets (at least those in our area in Moshi), are the children always yelling HIII! at you, some of them even come to you and hug you, give you high five etc. The people are extremely friendly and nice here. It fills me with so much positive energy every day. Even some older people greet you as you’re walking the street, no matter men, women, elders, teenagers, simply whoever. Some even approach you and start talking to you, asking where are you from and other things- what it seemed to me, just from pure interest and curiosity, ’cause, you still don’t meet a lot of white guys or muzungus here, and especially in the rural areas. That happened to me like…many times a day. And be prepared that these people like to take selfies with you! it’s like…imagine that there’s 500 people on the street and you are the only white person…so yeah, no wonder that all eyes are on you. But the overall impression of this is just great, everybody is so nice and positive and as a volunteer I see that the people really appreciate what I am doing here. I haven´t been in a bad mood here yet, negative thoughts and the blues simply don’t get a chance here! Hakuna matata once again!
I just love the overall mood here. Nobody rushes anywhere, nobody asks too many questions, nobody thinks about the future, nobody worries about anything, nobody is dealing with unimportant stuff. Let me tell you a short story. I have to walk some 30-40 minutes to the school where I teach every day. That’s quite a long walk so I usually use it for thinking about everything, my future, what do I wanna do, what am I gonna do when I come back home,the sense of life and…you know. Once a guy walking by told me “hey, you seem so busy, smile a little bit! If you won’t smile you will get older soon.” And when I explained to him that I was just thinking some things through, he told me DON’T think, just smile and enjoy everything around you. Fair enough. I guess he was right. Actually, why couldn’t I just turn off for a minute (30 minutes)? Why couldn’t we all…?
Lot of people think of the African people that when they see a white guy (muzungu) it equals money and dollar dollar, but it was not the case here. Nevertheless, whenever you buy something or pay in a restaurant (prices are hardly ever shown), you have the impression that they are trying to make money from you. You always hear the staff mumbling something in swahilii and then they come up with a totally random price, different day, different price (for the same item), so…yeah. The golden rule is to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. And once you learn to speak swahili, you become less vulnerable.
If you are planning to visit Tanzania for a longer period of time like us, note that if you live in a rather rural or out-of-the-city centre area, there are no streets or street numbers (which doesn’t really surprise you once you see the streets). Getting around in Moshi was either on foot (tanzanians are supposedly used to walk a lot, and I don’t mind it either), by taxi, a trcicycle-kinda thing, motorbike taxi or a public transport minibuses (dala dala). Those are the biggest experience, since they are suited for lets say 11 people with the driver, but there’s always like 25, standing, sitting on each other, squeezing in between or whatever, just get in as many as possible! The ride costs 300 TZS which is like 15 cents. You should definitely try it at least once, just to see how it is (feels), ehm.
The currency is tanzanian shilling and in 2016 the exchange rate was 2150-2160 TZS for 1 USD. So yeah, you’ll get a lot of bills if you exchange more than 100 usd. You can easily exchange them in an exchange office in town (there are many).
Some prices (in 2016):
– meal in a restaurants (local ones): between 1500-2500 TZS (70 cents-1,30$)- in touristic restaurants the prices are from 8000 TZS and up
– beer: 1500-2500 TZS (70 cents)
– bread: 1600 TZS
– peanut butter (1 kg): 5500 TZS (2,80$)
– ride with a public transportation minibus: 300 TZS (15 cents)
Places to see around Moshi:
Finally, for those who are just passing by and have a day or two in the area: there are a few nice spots around Moshi, the closest one would be Materuni waterfalls and coffee plantations, which is some 30 minutes far by car/minivan (dala dala). When I was told that we were going to see a coffee plantation, I wasn’t very excited to be honest. But, as it usually is, with no expectations, things get awesome easily. It was a great experience! The landscape itself is quite astounding, hilly, green, humid. You get to pick your the coffee berries on your own, and then you grind and roast them together with the local coffee makers. The final product was just delicious, of course. Everything tastes better when you see how it is actually made and when you participate on the manufacturing process! Not to forget about the waterfall-that one is pretty awesome too. Once again, the surroundings are truly beautiful, and if you dare, you can swim in the pool under it. Overall, a very nice half-day hike (with the coffee experience, a one day trip).
Another nice place are the Boma Ng’ombe-Hai hot springs, some 2 hours by car from Moshi. It is basically like an oasis, literally in the middle of dry, sandy nowhere. Prepare to get dusty. Really dusty. There is no paved road, just a dusty road, with lot of dust. Seriously lot of it. Ok, enough. The place is like a little peace of paradise there-a green lagoon surrounded by trees, with turquoise water and hot springs. There are some guys making the eggs and chips, which you can have for lunch. A great spot to just chill out a couple of hours. Unfortunately filled with (almost) white people only, but that’s not surprising I guess.
Don’t forget to follow my African experience on my instagram (terinka_d) https://www.instagram.com/terinka_d/ !
See our video from Tanzania here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKrkdgf9TBQ