Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mzungu . . . that would be me

"White person!" That's what the kids shout at me in swahili after they have said hello in English. My housemate assures me that when they do it, they are innocently trying to connect with me. I assured her that I was fine with the salutation given that indeed, they were right.

Today, I walked alone along the main road and through a bit of the market and I never felt so mzungu . . . to the point of even wondering if I might glow in the dark.

The people are great though. For about half my walk though surrounded by hundreds of people, I was definitely the only one worried about getting too red with the sun beating down. But several folks said hello in English or shouted "Jambo!" -- the one phrase absolutely critical for everyone to know here because it starts the beginning of a fairly lengthy ritual of saying hello and checking on everything from one's health, to family, to homelife.

I realized as I walked that I've lost the mouth-open wonder I saw on one woman's face as her tour bus drove through town. She had that glow that just emanates from folks who are mesmerized by the flood of new sights and sounds in travel. I'm not sad that's gone for me. Not sure on what continent it happened but now I just look at each day as a new adventure and that might be in the U.S. as well as from a foreign tour bus. I'm just as curious as I've always been but I in no way attribute greatness to the people I don't know in the same way that I once did.

People are people. Some stare. Some look away. Some say Jambo. Some shout Mzungu with a smile on their face and I'm sure some mutter it under their breath. People are people.

And no matter where you go, there you are.

No comments: