Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ohhhh man!

Home-stay Week 1
I woke up this morning to a rooster crowing, the sound of water being transferred from one bucket to the next, my neighbors singing and Mama Kabendela frying something in the kitchen- strange how these are becoming familiar sounds. No lies, I kind of dig it.
Well, this week started off more rough then the road to the Menzese Council Building (FYI, it’s a pretty damn bumpy road). After being placed at my home stay on Monday night and going into total “Holy Shit” overdrive, I had a fantastically huge mental breakdown on Tuesday night when I got home and I was basically alone in a huge house in the middle of Afrika. Wednesday was not much better, at least the evening, I came home from school and sat in my house while Myuma (the house girl) quietly snuck around. On Thursday I told the home stay coordinator that I HAD to move or I was going to lose my mind…well that didn’t work out as planned, not even close. He told me that there was no where for me to go, so they thought that instead they would just give me a bike, that way I could explore Mensese and make friends.
I must take a second here to insert a “lesson learned” here: Okay- a bike!?!?! Come on now, how the hell is that going to solve my problems??? Especially when I live in the side of a huge hill? Well, guess what, all of my initial thoughts were totally wrong. Somehow, someway, what I really did need was a bike. It’s not like I have rode it that much, but knowing that I can ride it makes me feel better, knowing that I can try and go somewhere is a great feeling (until I think about the horrible drivers, the sandy road and a million Tanzanians yelling MUZUNGU! haha) Really though, I totally have come to the conclusion that what is really best is probably not what you have your heart set on, even if you are Oh So Sure.
Since Thursday life in my new Tanzania mansion has been fabulous. I love Sarah, Meesh, Laura and Mary, my classmates. We are all struggling together in our Kiswahili class with Neema, who is very sweet and nice but we’re all having communication problems and “lack of a lesson plan” problems. Basically this week we, as a class, have sat around and asked how to say totally random things, gone to K Town Hotel for Chai and chapatie, asked more random questions, gone to K Town Hotel for pilau (brown rice), ndizi (bananas), and beans, then walked around Kilosa being totally random, gone back to class for an hour and then it’s time to go home…it’s great fun, but probably not a great way to speed learn Kiswahili. I would say that it is shagalabagala (Kiswahili for disorderly…it’s true!!) After class on Friday we all went and played futball, Frisbee and Duck, Duck, Goose with a field full of kids it was absolutely fantastic. All of the kids yell MEESHE and MARGARETIE (because every name and word must end in a vowel) and love so much that we go and play with them. Oh man, it is great.
Today the whole 48 of us got together for group training and some more vaccinations (oh yeah, so far I’ve gotten vaccinated for Yellow fever, Hep. A, Hep.B, Typhoid Fever, Rabies 1 & 2, and the flu- I’m not getting sick). It was really refreshing to see the whole group again and have the chance to chat with some of the good friends that I have made that now live far away from me. Everyone’s home stay is SO different! When I was walking home tonight a group of like 20 watoto (kids) ran up to me and yelled Muzungu!!! (which means white person, it’s not really derogatory) and they all started hugging me and touching my hair and grabbing my hands and they asked me in Kiswahili where I was going and I told them so they all decided to escort me all the way up to my gate, all the while holding my hands, touching my hair, playing with my rings, counting in English and Kiswahili and trying so hard to interrogate me when I just kept saying Sijaelewa (I don’t understand!)….it was totally the best ever walk home. Oh man, Afrika, it’s a beautiful place, after you get used to pooping in a pit latrine, eating rice at every meal, and never seeing cement/pavement…only this earthy brown dusty sand.
Well, before I hit it for the night I just thought that I would add a couple if funny/crazy things that have happened thus far, just to keep us all smiling.
~Tonight at dinner it was just Myuma and myself (Mama was at a party). Myuma and I are having a really hard time conversing but it’s great fun to try and we usually just end up laughing at each other. She is this beautiful girl/women who basically does all of the work at the house- I have SO much respect for her, it’s crazy. She is 15 and she is here all daying and I don’t think she ever leaves…anyway, tonight at dinner I had a hard boiled egg with my chakula (food) and I cracked it to peel it and it was totally impossible to peel so I was working it, tiny piece by piece, seriously it took at least 7 minutes and the whole time Myuma is just looking at me and laughing her ass off. Oh it was great, particularly because we can’t even talk to each other so I just laugh at myself and speak in English while she laughs and tries to help in Kiswahili. The whole rest of the dinner she would periodically look at my pitiful pile of egg shell crumbs and bust out in spontaneous laughter…
~ We have an mlinzi (watchman) at my house and the 2nd night I was here he was outside so we tried to have a conversation. He was telling me all of these words and I was trying to ask him questions and it was just really him bantering the crap out of me. Well, he started walking around the house and after a few minutes he come back with his flippin’ bow and arrow and proceeds to tell me the words to bow and arrow and then gets ready, like he is about to shoot something/someone and stops and looks at me and laughs and put it down they charades a man being shot in the head…it was totally classic : )

June 23rd, 2008

Let me just start this story by saying that I had no intention of getting drunk, really this is all sheer innocence!
So, today, Monday was pretty much just like everyday last week. I got up this morning and took my bucket bath- a fantastic way to bathe that I suggest for everyone, even those who have running water. After that I got dressed and came out of my room to drink coffee and eat breakfast by myself (Cultural note: Tanzanians do not eat breakfast and they think it’s crazy that Americans eat food right after they get up, I agree with the Tanzanians but my Mama doesn’t understand so she always has food for me in the morning…oh well, I tried!) After eating breakfast I usually brush my teeth and hit the road. This morning I think that all of my neighbors were mad at me because they did not greet me as I walked down the road…why are they mad? Who knows. Am I being hypersensitive? Probably. I didn’t really mind, I just decided to Shikamoo and Hujambo and Mambo them instead of waiting for them to say hello to me and everyone responded, so maybe they were not mad, but just testing my Kiswahili skills…
School was pretty casual, as it has been. Neema, my teacher is so beautiful and funny, but she is having a hard time translating from Kiswahili to English and the 5 of us are obviously having a hard time translating from English to Kiswahili…it’s just a funny situation. At about 10am Mama Vicky, a Tanzanian who has been working with PC for a while and teaching Kiswahili, came to our classroom to observe, but we were on our way to Chai so she came with us and drank Chai and ate some rolls at K Town Hotel-our home away from home. When we got back we learned some more and then played “Kiti Joto” AKA “Hot Seat” which was funny and difficult and it took a long time. After Mama Vicky left we just hung out while Neema growled at us, a norm in our little Tanzanian farmhouse classroom, then we decided it was time to go back to K Town for lunch. Sowa (okay), so we order the SAME thing EVERY time we go to K Town, which has been Tuesday through Friday of last week and today and EVERY time Neema and the waitress have a little argument about the price of the food, it’s crazy- dude we all get the same thing! (Cultural note #2: Tanzanians don’t ever write anything down so when you get food you have no idea what the bill might really be…at this point I just have to laugh because it’s not worth getting crazy over)
After lunch everyone was tired so we all took a mini nap and then learned a little more and then told Neema that we were finished for the day. After that we worked on the song that we are going to sing tomorrow for Menzese A,B & C local government leaders…yes, that’s right we are singing a made up song in Kiswahili about the Menzeses to a group of old men and women who REFUSED to smile at all the last time that we met them…basically, I can’t wait, it willl be GRAND. Meesh even busted out her rhythm eggs! After singing our song for Mama Chacha, who friggin’ loved it, we decided to celebrate our song writing skills and all have a beer (or two). Whilst at the bar/outdoor cafĂ© we successfully made friends with the Messiah man who tends to 5 cows everyday, the waitress Amelia who is totally adorable, the other Messiah man who is always sitting in the courtyard by the latrines and I personally made friends with about 8 kids while I was walking home- again, they decided to walk me up to my gate.
Cultural note #3: When drinking beer in Tanzania be careful. One beer is ½ a liter and One liter of beer is kind of a lot after not eating for a while and walking around in the Afrikan sun- you will defiantly feel good.
So, I got home pretty early, I would say around 6 30 and Mama’s secret lover man was over. He is this really nice guy who drives her car for her because she gets scared of it and he lives just down the street. (I’m not sure if I mentioned this but Mama K is a widow, her husband actually died in some car/motorcycle related accident 9 years ago). I can’t recall the car drivers name, but he is really nice and he can speak English so we chatted it up for a minute and then suddenly WHAM Mama comes in the room with another beer for me. Sowa (okay), I can drink beer, but I was already buzzed and feeling ready for some dinner and then some homework and then bed, so after beer #3 I got up to work on some homework before dinner annnnnnnd I passed out. (Not before finding Myuma ,the house girl and telling her “Nilikumis!,” “I missed you!” which made her smile SO much and the she hugged me, which I love) Haha. By the way, I am already tired all of the time because I am still adjusting so I wasn’t that surprised when I woke up in a cold sweat. I was kind of shocked to see that it was 12:30 and nobody woke me up for dinner! So, here I sit now, eating a Power Bar wondering, how in the world did I end up drinking today,that wasn’t supposed to happen! Oh wait, I’m in Afrika, anything goes and “time is the servant and tool of the people” (according to our book).
Oh how I love it! Well life is good/great/nzuri and I am so happy that I am here, even with all of the insane cultural and language changes, it all takes time. Pole, pole- which means slowly, slowly- is my new motto, along with Hakauna Shida- no problems- and SHAGALABAGALA- which mean CHAOS….
Please write me because I would love to hear from everyone!


freshstart85 said...

Margaret Mary,

You crack me up you crazy girl. I am so happy you are finding you way through your challenges in Tanzania, I am so proud and extremely freaking jealous of you.

I love you and hope to talk to you soon


aunta said...

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret,

Let the adventures begin!! Next time tip the 1/2 liter to us folks here in the U S of A and we will do the same!!

I love you girl, and keep the stories coming,

Aunt Anne

Nathan C Tomson MA, ATC said...

Hunny, you cracked me up with that bike comment:)! You are too funny. Thank you so much for including me on your bloglist. We just returned from eight days in Orlando at Disney World. I know you are cursing me right now, but we are glad to be back in the Mich. Looking forward to continueing to read about your Tanzanian adventures. Much love the Tomson family. Connor is almost 11 months old and crawling everywhere. He has six teeth and shows them to everyone. It gets us things, so I let him ham it up.

Mema said...

Margaret Mary - My heart soars knowing that you are happy and healthy, but also heavy with missing you. I laughed my butt off when I read your recent journal entry -keep them coming. I love you and think of you every day.


beth said...

oh my! - glad i am on your list... i did write my first letter before i received this blog. Lets see how long the letter takes!
I am so proud of you and glad things are finally working out for you.. Nothing can stop you now! You go girl.
Keep them coming --great writing! talk to you soon
love Beth

Rose said...

Hey Margaret;
You are just too funny. I really enjoy reading your blog, it's very entertaining, and very informative to say the least. Things are starting to wind down at Jewell Photo, the shoots are all but over and the photos on the shelf are not as many, my days are numbered until the fall. Oh well, guess I'll ride my horse for a month or two till the season picks up again. Keep writing, i've become addicted, and I am trying to keep up with the words, never know when I might need to speak the language, lol. I have some crazy Jewell photos to send to you, you are in a few of them, but not sure how to send them as this is the only form of communication I have with you at this time??? Looking forward to more posts from the other side of the planet, Take-Care! Rose

T-Bone said...

Big Sis,
I am extremely happy that you are doing a hundred times better than you were....I hope you are having a great week and you better work on your kiswahili girl. I miss you and can't wait to talk to you soon.
Much love, Tom