Sunday, June 29, 2008

Safari Tafadhali

Well, it’s 8 pm and this girly is hungry, but it’s not diner time in Tanzania so I guess I will just have to tap out some sweet update of what my week has had in store for me…oh and what a great week it was!
First off, I must tell you all how totally beautiful Tanzania really is. Every morning as I leave my house I am blessed by the powers that be to be able to look out over the mountains of Africa and watch the sun rise, the dawn come into being and a city, in the heart of the mountains come alive! It is wonderful and amazing and totally worth all of the hassle of learning a new language, eating new foods, having tumultuous diarrhea, and letting people laugh at me when I just have no idea what in the world they are saying to me. (I am pretty sure that they are saying, “Hey you fat white girl, give me some money or I’ll pop the tires on your bike!”…whatever, ignorance-for now- is bliss). Not only is the actual country totally beautiful, with huge banana trees and countless fields of sunflowers, but the people themselves are always a sight to be seen with clothing made of fabric from Mother Love herself! People here are always a rainbow of colors and patterns with the panache to pull it off…man how my eyes love it and my being envies those who can truly pull it off. I love Tanzanian style! It is truly classic, I am talking 50s poodle skirt classic here, but with a little more flair and A LOT less leg : )
Anyway, my week has been great. Ever since Monday night’s too drunk to handle life incident, things have been fairly sober, in a good way. My Kiswahili skills are improving at a pace slightly faster then tortoise (AKA Kobe) but I am okay with that. Basically, if I can confidently go to my village, make friends, buy food, buy a bus ticket and feel safe then I think that all of training has been a GREAT SUCCESS! In only two short weeks I think that I have mastered the making of friends and the skills to buy food at the market-without being totally ripped off. Yes, Peace Corps is realistic enough to prep you for the fact that you are a white person buying food from poor African people and they are going to raise the price because they can.
Today my CBT group (Community Based Training) went to the market to buy supplies to make Chapiti, this AMAZING flat bread that is typically served with morning Chai. We told Neema, our Tanzanian teacher that if she taught us how to make it we would teach her how to make Guacamole, which she had never heard of. So the 5 of us (AKA a bunch of young white American girls) went to the market and purchased a kg. of flower, ¼ kg. sugar, 3 eggs, oil, charcoal, 2 lemons, 2 avocados, and water. It was fantastic. When we got back to school (AKA Mama Chacha’s house) we made the chapiti dough outside, with the pigions that Mama Chacha keeps around flying all about, with the crazy well water-which we probably should not have used, with the overly loved bowl, and rolling pin, and a sweet wooden board, and then we cooked the flat bread- all 10 pieces- with the tiny charcoal grill/stove/whatever. While that was all cooking I got the crap together to make guacamole, and Meesh cut up the hot pepper while Mary cut up the tomato and Laura tried to peel the avocado that I kept giving her…Lets just say that we started the WHOLE adventure (shopping and cooking) at 8:30 am and we finally sat down to eat around 12:30…hahaha! Oh crazy, I love it! This is the real life story of how long it takes to buy and prepare food in Tanzania. In many ways I find it fascinating and in many other ways I find it to be totally scary and a lot of friggin’ work. (Side note: When we got back we told Neema and Mama Chacha how much we spent on everything and they told us that we actually got it all for the same prices that they would have, which is very calming, to say the least).
After our delicious meal of chapiti and guacamole all of us took a nap and then woke up to learn some totally random hospital words and then go out to lunch and walk around Kilosa town. It was pretty fun. Meesh bought a phone and then we went to our new 2nd most favorite place in Kilosa, Jema View Point- a sweet bar in which we always run into fun people. Today we ran into some of our friends from another village as well as my Mama’s secret boyfriend, that’s right ladies and gents, my Mama has a secret boyfriend (in fac,t I think she is with him right at this very moment!)
He is actually pretty great. He speaks a little English and likes to at least give it a shot. He works for the Health Clinic as a driver and he is all around pretty chill, in fact he reminds me a lot of most of the uncles now that I think about it. He has a keen taste for beer and is always friends with everyone who is at Jema View Point (JVP) because he knows everyone! I would tell you his name, but this will be posted on the World Wide Web and I would just really not want to totally piss my Mama off…if in fact, she ever started reading this very journal. In any case, he is a good guy who likes to drink beer and all of my friends were pretty pumped to finally see my Mama’s man friend-who does not know that I refer to him as my Mama’s man friend, but I guess that some things are best kept a secret.
After JVP I came home, and I actually just finished dinner which Myjuma (I asked her to spell her name for me) so kindly prepared. It was rice, cabbage/carrot/tomato/onion and ½ of a banana. It was only the two of us for dinner…I really have no idea where my mama is, but I did tell Myjuma that I was not going to go to church tomorrow morning (I need a jumakupumzika-DAY OF REST) so hopefully my mama gets the message and she doesn’t kill me when I don’t wake up for church tomorrow morning.
Before I go I want to highlight some other points from this week:

On Tuesday we really truly did sing our song for the local government officals. Oh man, Meesh and I with the rhythm eggs, Lara holding down the bass and Mary with the soprano…we have decided to call ourselves Manzese”A”capello. Our song was about how we were unsure if Manzese C- one of the districts that we saw on a map, even exists and then we all sang about who we were staying with and in the end we can together in harmony to sing that we had wrote the song just for the government officials…it was a hit (at least that was what the Peace Corps translator told us, hahaha). After our song the head district woman decided that she wanted to tell us about Manzase C because she thought that we had some misconceptions about it. I guess it’s only on the maps for political use. Anyway, we were also asked to sing our song on Thursday to the whole group of PCTs and all of the Language and Cultural Facilitators…who also loved it. John, the man in charge of everything that we are doing right now asked us to please write a serious song about HIV/AIDS to sing and also a song to sing at the end of training...being random is apparently a GREAT thing when one is working with Tanzanians.
We also did a presentation of haikus on Thursday. They were pretty amazing. We had to present about some of the changes that we have faced going into a new home and living in a new culture. It was pretty funny. Here is an example: “We poo a lot more, Our Mamas take good care, Hakuna Shida (Kiswahili for no problems).”
Also on Thursday I gave my friend Andrew a haircut at MATI…actually the 2nd haircut that I have given since I have been in Africa. I guess it’s a skill that I am supposed to have because I never told anyone that I knew how to cut hair…it just kind of happened.
Other randoms:
-At JVP there is a bathroom behind the building and when you walk through the alley there is a totally random place in the wall where they keep a goat…weird.
-Neema has named the ½ finished house behind our school after me because I go there many times a day to find my Zen
-I showed Myjuma my markers the other day and it was the first time that she has ever seen such things
-I got my first piece of mail! And it was actually a post card from my friend Jared from Germany!!!! How fantastic!
- I get to wear pants on Thursdays and Sundays!! WOO HOO!

That’s pretty much it for now. I need to charge up my computer and hope that it doesn’t start melting the power converter like it did last time…The starts are totally BEAUTIFUL, I get to learn a whole new bunch of constellations and that is always fun. The most noticeable is the cross, which I have decided is actually a blood diamond, it’s kind of like the Big Dipper of Afrika.
Well, I love and miss you all and I hope that you enjoy the journal : ) Keep in touch and know that you are all in my heart, here in Tanzania !


Mema said...

Margaret -you have truly grown so much in just another week. You are doing a great job of keeping us posted and I know that all your loved ones are enjoying the read. I love you, miss you, and as you know, think of you every day. Keep journaling as many of us look forward to it every week. Stay happy and healthy. Mema

Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting so frequently. I love that you are still absolutely crazy and truly doing what the peace corps stands for, representing the US? Wait? do they think we are all crazy and random? anyhoo I love you and I hope to talk to you soon I will call you this week. Take care love and try not to poop so much especially when you have to wipe with a banana leaf that could really chap your ass.

Love you,


LK said...

All I can say is WOW Margaret!!
Just seeing your blog for the first time today, and I feel as if I can see the beautiful people, sights and sounds, not to mention lmao at your stories. I'm supposed to be busy working, but when I started reading, I just had to read all of it.

Keep 'em comin' Margaret! What an unbeleivable adventure you are on. Have fun and stay safe.

Love and Miss You!!

Aunt Lis, Undle Joe and Ben

Christine said...

I'm loving the blog! Your stories are making me laugh...and cry! I can just imagine you in these "situations"! Keep them makes it feel like your not quite so far! I'm proud of you girl!
Love, Aunt Christine

Patty said...

Margaret- What an incredible adventure you are on girl!! I just got back from the mountains of North Carolina! They do everything pale - pale there also. We Northerners do everything a little too fast and tend to be impatient. It is very hard adjusting to the Southern US, I cannot imagine how it must be for you. Keep the faith and thank you for your very entertaining blog! Love, Pat

Sarah Navis said...

Oh Marg,
You always have a way with words that gives me a feeling of peace and serenity as I read them. I love your blog it makes me feel as if I am right there with you. Let me just tell you that I am SO proud of you and it sounds like your experience is going so fantastically!! You are amazing and beautiful!

I love you so much and I cannot wait to read more about your adventures!

Chao chica!

Pete said...

margaret, i finally had a chance to read your great blog. what an exciting time. i can almost picture the people and places you talk about.

i know from talking to your folks you've were having a tuff time at 1st, but it sounds like things are going much better. i'm glad.

keep it up and i'll write again later.

mr. pete

_________________________ said...

WOW! Thank you all so much for your comments. I means so much to me to know that you are reading and enjoying. I will try to keep writing as much as possible and I send each of you my love! : )