December 17, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Alexandra Barrett

I am writing this from the airport as I prepare to fly away from one of the greatest adventures of my life. Over the past 3.5 months, I have learned so much about the world. I know this for sure, even though I don't know how much I have changed and don't think I will until I'm firmly back into my life in the States.

I have spent the last couple of weeks crossing a couple of things off of my Tanzania bucket list. It's not done. I literally have a mountain (Kilimanjaro) on that list that I'll just have to come back for. But I had a great time in the process.

  • My friend Mandy and I visited a waterfall on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
  • I had Thanksgiving dinner at a guest house in Moshi (all cooked on one gas burner). My attempt to cook pumpkin pie on the stove ended up weird but tasty all the same.
  • I ate my favorite foods, like chips mayai and maandazi, one last time.

It has been incredibly hard to say goodbye to the friends I have made here. Somehow they became so important in such a short time, but I guess we saw and experienced a lot together. We supported each other through the difficult times and laughed together through the great. My one saving grace is that they all live in the States. All I have to do is hop on a plane, bus, or train and I can see them again.

I visited my host family and the family I stayed with over my Independent Study Period over the last week to say a final goodbye before I go. It was crazy because when I visited my homestay family, though I was only there for a few hours, I was already back to the food catering that I had done when I started with them. It was like I was a sister who had come home from college and was jumping right into life at home in Ngaramtoni. My family in Bangata, where I did my Independent Study Project, welcomed me with open arms and made me promise to come back and visit when I can. It’s awesome to know I have two homes here in Tanzania whenever I need them.

Tanzania has been such an incredible ride. It was really, really hard and inspiring and sobering and transformative. The lessons I learned from this semester will be carried with me forever as I try to search out my place in the world. The one thing that makes this farewell easier is the knowledge that I will be coming back. I don't know when I will have the time or money to make that happen, but there is no doubt that I'll be back in Arusha before long. I can't leave such an amazing country where I have made the memories I have without the promise of seeing it again.

So though I am sad to hop on this plane and fly home, I know I'm heading back to family and friends. Besides, this isn't goodbye, it's see you later (tutaonana baadaye in Kiswahili).