Before I write any more posts about Tanzania and our experiences there, I’d better dedicate one to these two!
I wrote in the last post in this series that Scott and I focused on same/different contrasts, but for our children Tanzania was pretty entirely different, DIFFERENT, and MORE DIFFERENT. We had talked a lot beforehand about what to expect and had hoped that our six months in South Africa would make for a more gentle transition. It helped, but even so there were plenty of unpleasant and confusing things to confront (in addition to many wonderful things too). Simon and Elsa Ruth handled all of it with a good attitude, sense of humor, and bravery.
Here, Simon P. finally meets Simon P.!
Elsa Ruth practices Swahili with Mr. Kwayu.
In keeping with cultural attitudes toward children, Tanzanians often greeted them lovingly but did not engage them in conversation. Even the standard questions about age and grade were always directed to us as parents rather than to them. Play time with other children was pretty sporadic because they were usually off doing chores or in another area while the adults drank chai. All this along with the fact that a lot of conversation happened in Swahili meant these two faced a lot of sitting quietly and waiting!
Not being in control of when or what one eats is a challenge to anyone – especially for three weeks! Food required a lot of patience and flexibility since we were guests in people’s homes for most of our meals. Our week on safari included lavish and decadent meals, but it wasn’t very child-friendly since dinner started at 7:30pm and there was certainly no separate menu for children.
At almost eight, Elsa Ruth is quite capable of walking – even in treacherous spots! What a saint she was rolling with it when people just wanted to carry her as an expression of love and care.
They were such splendid travel companions to us and each other. I am so grateful we got to experience those three intense weeks altogether.
But for accuracy sake, let’s also remember that there was plenty of this going on too…