Paper 1 - Africa
© Virginia Caldwell September 13, 2005
|Stepping out of the Dar es Salaam airport onto African soil for the first time, my heart was flooded with a confusion of emotions. I had been waiting for this moment for so long, but I was terrified. It felt like time was in slow motion until we arrived and then, in a split second, we snapped back into reality.|
| I was traveling with a missions group of about twenty white Americans, and when we walked out of the airport, we were swarmed by at least forty Tanzanians. These beautiful African people were draped in vibrant blue, yellow, and purple cloths that stood out against their dark skin and they all seemed to have a strong body odor.|
I was unsure of what to think, but then they greeted us and welcomed us more warmly and whole-heartedly than I had ever experienced from any American. At this point, I was no longer afraid, but in complete culture shock. They were so different from anyone I had ever experienced before.
|After about an hour of being greeted, we were led to the parking lot and told to get on this beat up taxi van. The van was filthy, had a smashed up windshield, ripped seat covers, and a lingering body odor. All twenty of us piled onto this fifteen person van along with our luggage, and then sat in the heat and body odor for probably twenty minutes before we headed for the road. I did not expect the adventure ahead.|
|It was different enough that the driver sat on the right side of the vehicle then drove down the left side of the street, but the fact that the vehicle could go wherever it could fit was terrifying! Our driver weaved in and out of cars, went over curbs, and honked at pedestrians assuming they would get out of the way.|
Pedestrians were everywhere! Women crossed the street in their bright colored cloths balancing bulky sacs on their head, with babies strapped on their backs, and a basket in their arms. Men would be on bicycles with ten feet of hay piled on the back.
Other taxi vans loaded with people, even people leaning out of the windows to make room, would honk at us, pass us, and then almost hit someone. It was thrilling like a roller coaster, except I didnít have the assurance I would make it through alive.
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