We’ve been in Tanzania for a week now. We’re feeling pretty comfortable. Fortunately, we have enough experience in Africa that it isn’t all new and overwhelming and we can focus our attention on whether Arusha and the two hospitals are a good fit for us more than on whether we could live in Africa.
We finally have semi-reliable internet access, so we’re starting to catch up a little on sharing about our experiences.
Our trip here was pretty smooth, except for Daniel vomiting an hour into the trip and having a stinky car seat the rest of the way! He fell asleep shortly after, but only slept for about 30 minutes before waking up again. After that he was wide awake until we were just about to land in Amsterdam. At least he was happy. I don’t mind wide awake as long as he’s not cranky or crying. He slept for a few hours in Amsterdam and a few hours on the flight to Tanzania. The Amsterdam airport, by the way, is fantastic, especially for traveling with children. They have a baby care lounge that’s dark and quiet, and there would have been room to get him a bath if he hadn’t been sound asleep. They also have a playground where kids can run around and climb. We’re hoping to take advantage of that on the way back.
Daniel was so excited to arrive in Tanzania, and we were too! As soon as they opened the plane door, we could feel the warm air! We got our visas and bags with no trouble and then met the director of the hospital who had come to get us. He gave us a bit of geographic orientation and told us about the things we were passing in the dark along the way. I showed Dave where I studied Swahili back in 2006. Daniel fell asleep right away in the car and we were hoping that would transfer into bed when we got to the guesthouse in town, but according to his body it was just an afternoon nap. Dave stayed up with him for a while to read and play while I went to bed. Apparently Dave fell asleep on the couch and the next thing I knew, Daniel had climbed up into bed with me.
Tuesday morning we went to the town hospital (Arusha Lutheran Medical Center or ALMC) where had some orientation to the hospital and it’s history, mission and vision. Then we met with most of the surgeons (with chai and mandazi – yum!) and heard a little of their stories and how they got to this hospital. We were really impressed with the surgeons. They all seem very competent, kind and wise. They have a lot of experience and would be a great team to work with. As we heard more about the hospital, it seems like we share a lot of common vision and ideals. We’re finding out that some of the things that drew us to the hospital on the surface are reflections of a deeper philosophy that certainly resonates with us.