Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5, 2012 - Six Months in Dar (part 2)

Part 2 of the series: Settling In

There were three very hard parts about getting settled in Dar.

First, we moved here at the peak of the hot season, which felt even hotter considering we came from a Danish and New England winter!  There was nothing we could do about this except suffer a bit and let our personal thermometers adjust.  I would say this was a particular challenge for Noah.

Second, we did not have a working generator at first so the first two weeks were even hotter without electricity (we have power outages every single day here – sometimes on and off all day long) for air conditioning.  We had food going bad without a cold fridge, and we had jet-lagged kids who couldn’t sleep in the extreme heat.

Third, getting sick!  So many new/different bugs/germs/parasites/whatever in the air/water here that it was a hard transition for me and the kids to make (not sure why Kristoffer had it so easy!).  If you'll recall that first month of living in Dar we were regular guests at the local clinic.  I am sure the extreme heat didn't help either!  Luckily, after that month it has been much easier. 

But other than that, I think we've done well.

We tried to go to anything we could get ourselves invited to (to the yacht club with friends, to Happy Hour, to someone’s house for tea, to a meeting of diplomatic spouses…).  As my mom told me once, it is best to cast your net wide in the beginning.  The trick to finding people you want to spend time with is to meet A LOT of people in the first.  So I think we did pretty well this time around – also because in Nairobi we were not good at doing that in the beginning and it took us a long time to have friends there.  This time we decided to push past our family’s “home-body” nature and be as extroverted as possible! 

Another aspect of settling in to Dar has been figuring out where to get stuff.  Since there is not one place that has just about everything (like Nakumatt in Nairobi, mostly), here you have to know where to get the best fruit (and all of it is not in the same place) or the certain groceries or the diesel or the luku, etc.  This required some effort but did not take THAT much time because we live on a small peninsula and do not have so many options.  Now I know which grocery store sells pesto and which one doesn't, where the cheese is best bang for your buck, where the best apples and oranges are, which guy charges too much for mango, etc.

After 6 months we feel pretty comfortable here in Dar - I would even go so far as to say we feel at home here.  Grace has recently told me, "I don't miss my old house anymore!"  I think I am almost there too (but, wow, I did really love our Nairobi house) and I know Kristoffer definitely shares her feelings.


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