www.crossculturalsolutions.orgIt has been very difficult to put my experience into words. This has been my first experience traveling beyond my continent, and the way I did it, by volunteering to work with an organization, was a choice that I would make again. Africa is really a different world. This is a good thing. We go into this continent with the idea and hope of spreading our way of life onto the people we surround ourselves with, but really, the lessons to be learned are the ones that involve adopting portions of the African way of life. Every culture out there, every culture, has good parts and parts that need improvement. I have found a love for world culture, a wanderlust, so that I can learn other cultures and create my very own from the best parts of all of them (according to me).
Where we lived, ate, slept, etc. was a wonderful home. There were somewhere around 20-30 people living among two houses. This may sound very busy, but we all respected each other's space, and it was GREAT to always be in good company! The houses were named after the Kilimanjaro peaks: Mawenzi & Kibo. There was room for six to a room, but we had less volunteers this time of year, so I shared my mosquito-net haven with two other lovely ladies.
The food was fantastic! Breakfast was usually a bunch of bananas (that were tiny), our African crepes (large flat thin pancakes), a bowl of watermelon and pineapple, and an extra treat of some kind (hard boiled eggs, veggie omelets, scrambled eggs, banana bread, etc). Lunch and dinner were a fantastic array of foods always with a side salad of cucumbers and tomatoes and a side dish of watermelon and pineapple. Meals would have a grain of some sort: rice, ugali (made from corn), plantain bananas, or potatoes. Either a meat (pork, beef, mzungu chicken, or white fish) or lentils - or a little of both - would be offered, often cooked similar to an Indian style dish but without the spicy heat. I was lucky to be able to be an assistant in the kitchen for one of our dinners. There were some meals more complicated than others, but overall, the cooking style stuck to the basics. Everything was fresh, nothing processed, and the original flavor of the food was featured.
But fun was definitely had at CCS! Just across the street, a genius woman decided to open up a bar called "Mzungu Bar". It was an awesome place to get your 20oz beer for just $.67! She was also an awesome seamstress, making skirts and bags for the fashionistas.
But our view just outside our complex was just beautiful. Mount Kilimanjaro - the tallest freestanding mountain in Africa - would peak out of the clouds to say good morning to us, after the roosters woke us all up! This was quite a site to see.