Africa has been like i expected and better. The people have all been extremely nice. Around every corner there is a surprise or something to be learned. At time adapting has been very difficult such as learning how to hire a taxi and negotiate a price or getting used to the currency. The hardest part for me has been saying ‘no’ when someone wants a phone number, email or to sell me something on the street. It seems everyone wants to talk to you. It has also been difficult to throw plastic water bottles in the garbage since their is no recycling, it is hard to get used to the litter in the ground and it has been difficult to get used to all new brands and flavors of food. As time goes on and i begin to understand the way things are here i feel myself relaxing and just letting go of many of the small things that initially bothered me.
I have already been starting to notice the differences between our lifestyles and priorities between Canada and the people here. Everyone really does do the best with what they have and everyone is very happy in doing so. For example, when we first arrived in Mongu the children came running up to the bus and were the most happy group of children i think i have ever met. They did not seem bothered that is was over 30 degrees outside, that they had no shoes or that they had holes in their clothes. Some of the children were even carrying thier baby siblings on their backs while playing outside. Although I have experienced many differences and struggled with communication understanding the culture I also realized we are not all that different. Some nights we have spent socializing with the people here and i am thrilled to know we dance the same, listen to the same music and wear the same kinds of clothes. Being able to connnect with people who love here has really helped me to feel less far from home. another item keeping me feeling connected with home has been my cell phone and the internet, i was amazed to be able to use it so much. In Lusaka we were all very fortunate to have wireless internet and cellphones so we could communicate with our families. Unfortunatley this luxary did not follow us to Mongue, we are all holdi ur phones in the air and walking to the end of the driveway to try to get reception.
Once arriving at our compound we met some of our housemates (the spiders and small bugs). It was very reassuring to crawl under my mosquito net at night and be tucked in safe from the critters. We are enjoying our little kittens that we adopted from Lusaka. they got a bath! We have also gone on a tour of the hospital where we will be for the next few weeks, or longer. It is very different from hospitals at home. Everyone was very happy to meet us and made me feel very welcome. The nursing students that we will be working with and learning with sang us a song when we visited them in their classroom and it moved me, i never expected that. I am thrilled to be here, slightly terrified and uncertain about what to expect day to day. All in all i am finding the journey extremly insightful.
So i have been taking the good with the bad and i can confidently say there has been a lot more GOOD since i have been here. Now Mongu will bring another whole new perspective, i am ready for the challenges that lay ahead and excited to meet more people and enticed to learn about their culture and way of life. Many luxaries of the city have faded away as we drove 500 kilometers through a National Park to Mongu. Now my goal is to try to understand a new way of life and a different perspective. Since i have arrived in Africa It really has made me question my way of life and really had me thinking ‘what is actually important’.