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Home and Away: Losing direction of the home ice/pitch advantage

No, despite the title this is not really a post about sports. With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about sports.

The NHL season has started up again back in Canada and I am again faced with the fact that I care less and less about my favourite childhood hockey team – the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go Jets Go?  I am transitioning from being a fairly big NHL hockey fan (though I will always love the WJC, Olympics, and other major tournies) to being a football (soccer –henceforth called football – wow, see how legit I am??) fan. It’s one more sign of being at ‘home’ in a new place I guess. I have always been a footie fan since living in Northern Ireland in 2004 and deciding to make Liverpool my team but it’s a lot more difficult to be a serious fan in Canada. Matches start at 10am on Saturday morning (if you can find somewhere showing the game), little coverage in the press, and fewer people to talk about it with. Now it is reversed and I am completely surrounded by football over here – proper kick-off times, games on every TV in the bar, lots of press coverage, playing football on the weeknights, and the same thing everyone is talking about at work or in the streets the next day.

Appropriately for this, an unfortunately high percentage of my wardrobe here in Tanzania (I argue it’s the most comfortable thing you can wear in this humidity – but others may just see it as a weakness in fashion sense) is made up of football jerseys (Barcelona, Liverpool, Ghana, Bayern Munich, Argentina, Celtic, Toronto FC, Spain, Valhalla FC…). I guess this is all just adapting to one’s surroundings – that and it’s a pretty damn lonely hockey conversation in Dar es Salaam.

It’s been about 5 weeks now since I’ve been back in Tanzania. Did I tell you I was returning to Tanzania again? Yep, I’ve returned for Year 3 (standard entry-level CBA contract you know) – the last of the three original “Canadians”/musketeers left on this side of the equator. The first year was for the adventure, the second for good career move (and more of the first), the third is for a little of both of those…but let’s be honest, it’s mainly for the girl. Maybe this guy is finally getting his priorities straight??? ;) Looking forward to the year ahead!

Speaking of timelines, it has also been 3 months since last blog update which isn’t exactly keeping my promise in this post of doing a better job and promising exciting photos and stories (seriously though, the mountain gorilla one is pretty cool – you should probably harass me until I finally put it up). If it’s any consolation, most of my posts last year were about 30 minute reads and the size 3-5 regular blog posts – so if you average that out I didn’t do too bad…. The last weeks in Tanzania in August were hectic, the time spent back home sure felt hectic, and the first weeks here I have hardly hard time to sit and think let alone write (probably I just need to manage my time better…). But that is just how life is, busy, deadlines, other priorities, and time continues to fly on by.

There is also something to be said for things just becoming more “normal” after a few years and you find fewer reasons/inspirations to write about. We have two new Canadian interns here in the MEDA Tanzania office this year and I enjoy seeing them here and thinking back to my first months adjusting with eyes wide open and a zest for exploring anything and everything new.  In one of my very first posts on this blog I wrote of my experience in the first month that “the ordinary has just become extraordinary on a more regular basis”. I think that there was certainly some truth in this and perhaps I have just started to see things once again more through that ‘ordinary’ lens. A place like this can certainly offer plenty of the extraordinary but it can also wear you down fast until sometimes you just want to stay in on the long weekend and watch a complete HBO series on your laptop. At first I feel a bit sad when I think about that – but then again I think it is entirely normal. What can be a life-changing experience or a heart-stopping landscape for one is another person’s daily life or view from the backyard and it works both ways my friend. We all learn to get comfortable as natural coping mechanism and sometimes that even includes getting a little bit jaded with things and there is nothing wrong with that.

The original purpose of this blog post when I started writing it (only took me 791 words to get here) was to talk about the feeling and definition of what is “home” when you live abroad for a period of time. I found myself interchanging the two places defined as home quite a bit when I talked to people before, during and after my recent trip to Canada. Was it that I was returning home for a one month visit or was it that I would be returning back home to Tanzania after this short visit in Canada? From where I came or from where I currently am? I still don’t really have the answer. Maybe it is a bit too scary to call one place home and still know you will likely be moving on from it soon enough and might again become a stranger in a new place. You make many new friends and forge a new life while away but at the same time almost everyone still has the friends and ties from where they came. You need to try to make the place where you are now as much of a home as possible and I have been very fortunate in that regard – but of course all the while keeping close to your original home. The interesting part is when you feel comfortable and happy and yet not quite completely…for lack of a better term, at home when in either place but still somewhere in-between. For now, it can often feel as though I simultaneously have two homes – and at the very same time – not really one at all.

Cheers,

Dan

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In case you were wondering…

I’m still alive…..Just have not been so good at updating the blog lately.

My apologies for that, I’ve consistently been breaking my goal to bi-weekly/monthly get some kind of an update on the site. It hasn’t been an issue of not having much to write about …there have been a number of amazing trips, dumb/entertaining stories, and even the rare insightful idea that pops into my head. I would regale you with tales and excuses of busy days at work, no power and internet at home, a healthy dose of travel keeping me away, and that lion which ate my laptop – but in the end I just haven’t been making the time. Never fear though, I don’t have any plans to let the site die a slow death of neglect and promise to get back on track. I can change baby, I swear, I’m a new man. Please just keep visiting my site to check-in, I promise things will be different if you just give me another chance.

So what can we expect to see?

Here’s a preview of  both what I’ve been up to since my last update in March and perhaps what you might see on the site soon!

Ethiopia!

Rwanda & Burundi

Roadtrips & Weekend Trips!

Nairobi, Kenya – Leaving tomorrow for a week of work in Dar es Salaam’s big sister city.


Point and Shoot

There have been a couple of cool developments these past months on the photography side of things as well. Some of the photos I took last year have gotten a bit of recognition which is always nice. Not that I want to make this all about me or anything – but every once and a while you gotta let the world know.

A photo I took in November 2009 while on a field visit in the Ruvuma region in southern Tanzania was selected to grace the cover of the 2011 USAID President’s Malaria Initiative Annual Report to US Congress. I don’t want to brag or anything – but I think this might mean that Obama himself might have even flipped past it while bored in some meeting. Or at least some members of Congress gave it a glance. Okay, at a minimum a lot of poor Interns had to see it while reading the report on behalf of their Congressman/woman. Fine – a proud contribution to a paperweight in some fancy offices and libraries in Washington D.C. It isn’t my favourite photo or really too special but hey you take what you can get!

Speaking of the big international aid donors – A couple of pictures I took on this same trip made it into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria’s photo exhibition as finalists in late 2010 but the link is now down.

Another cool win in this area came last month when a Tanzania bookstore chain held a photography contest for their 2012 Novel Idea Calendar. They asked for a max. of 20 entries of People, Landscapes, Ocean, and Wildlife from Tanzania which would make up their Tanzania tourism calendar for the year ahead. I managed to place 2 photos into the final 48 of 1,300+ entries and in the end managed one of the final 12 spots with a picture taken from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on December 2009′s climb with Pavan! Just call me Mr. June from now on…

A quick sample of some of my other entries (I only have the Zanzibar ones online at the moment) which didn’t win but just might entice you to come visit.

So, sometime in the future I promise some more posts – Ethiopia, Rwanda & Burundi, Roadtrips & Weekends, and more Dar es Salaam everyday life are all on tap.

In other news – I’ll be back home in Canada on August 23rd for at least a little while – so if your based there, I’ll hope to see you soon!

Given that I arrived here in Tanzania in September 2009 – was back last July/August – and now will return again in the summer  - this makes for approximately 28 continuous months of summer weather and counting….

Cheers,
Dan

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