Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yay, your first pictures!

This happened when we had to go to the radio was all too much fun.

This is what we do in class

This is me giving my friend Andrew a haircut...hahaha, I don't even know how to cut hair.

So this is a random picture my buddy Sarah took of some Mosai's a GREAT shot, but the guys weren't too happy.

July 16, 2008 (Wednesday)
Oh Tanzania.
A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep. Why? Because I had “It’s getting better all the time…better, better, better…” running through my head. I was smiling too much thinking about how life is getting a lot easier here and also laughing because it made me think of Steve Bidigare, his love of the Beatles, and all of the BBQing that is probably going on in my backyard right now with the Garfield gang and Bidigares.
Ah, anyway, I just really wanted to emphasis that everything here is totally amazing. By totally amazing I mean, the other night I ate a fruit with dinner that I didn’t even know existed (it’s called Stafeli) and it was by fa,r the best fruit my lips have ever known.
I have been meeting a lot of great people on my way to and from school these days. The other morning I had this pair of middle age women in tears when they asked me where I was from and I told them that I was from Tanzania. What can I say? It’s good to stretch the Kiswahili skills to the max because then I had to explain why I’m from Tanzania, where I was BORN (which doesn’t necessarily mean where I’m from) and what in the world I am doing here…it was a good 7 am warm-up before school, to say the least.
I have finally met everyone who lives at the bottom of my hill. I guess that I should explain that I live at the top of this huge side stoop/hill before you get to one of the mountains. We have a neighbor on each side of the house and then it’s almost ½ way down before there is another neighbor, and when you get to that point there is a whole little neighborhood gang. I guess the people with money and cars live at the top because people without cars probably wouldn’t want to try and get all the way up here a million times a day. Anyway, every morning there are these two mzee (elders) who are chilling on a straw mat, like mid way down the hill. Every morning I “Shikamoo” them (what you say to old people) and they sometimes hear me, sometimes not, I don’t know but I think the man is blind…Well, the other morning I totally freaked them out by walking over to their straw mat and shaking their hands and telling them all about me and who I am and what I am doing and then actually kind of understanding their questions. I felt really good to finally just get it done and meet these people that I know I will see EVERYDAY until I leave Kilosa.
Most of my great run ins have been with kids. The ones on my hill are stellar. They will come up to me and hug me, and if they are really little ( like 2 or 3) they will put their arms up for me to swing them into the air. Hahaha, I can’t even imagine what their mamas think when they are watching me from afar. I have been teaching all of the kids who call me Muzungu that I actually called Margaret. Well that is great except for one huge flaw in the plan, now a whole slew of kids are constantly yelling “Margarite!” When they see a white girl. Hahahaha. Well, I tried.
Today walked a 7 year old girl to school named Gifti who lives at the bottom of my hill. She was totally adorable in her white button up shirt, blue skirt, and loved Mary Janeish shoes. She was carrying a broom and a Korie Oil jug full of water, so I helped her our by carrying her stuff and holding her hand and trying to chat it up with her in my terrible broken Kiswahili. I told her how she reminded me of my cousin Anna who lives in America and she laughed. I will just pretend that she really knew what I was saying and thought that the idea was a stretch.
Aside from meeting a bunch of random kids and mzee, I have been spending a lot of time with Myjuma. Oh man, she is so classic. I want to box her up and send her to America because she is thus far the most honest, true, hardworking and wonderful person that I have met. Seriously, the girl is 15. She has been working for Mama K since January. Her family lives kind of far away in Singida. Not only does the girl wake up every morning at 5 am (after she’s been up until at least 11 doing dishes), but I don’t think that she is every actually allowed to leave the house. She is kind of like a Cinderella and I totally hate it all for her (because she doesn’t hate it, she never whines, or rolls her eyes, or refuses to do something…she just does what she has to do, EVERYDAY). Honestly though, I don’t think that she actually ever leaves this house. I have never seen her at the market because Mama has a lot of her stuff delivered here, and she is here every single time I get home- no matter what time it is, no matter what day it is, she is here.
So, basically, I have been coming home from school early just to chill out with Myjuma, and by chill out you must picture the following scene:
It’s like 7pm and it’s dark. Myjuma is outside in the back cutting up something for dinner while chickens run amuck, a couple of cats lurk about and 3 of boniest looking dogs ever, whine for food. I usually come out and sit on the green bench next to the jiko while Myjuma is cooking and we will talk about our day, our lives and usually revert to singing. I will sing “Build Me Up Buttercup” and she will sing a church song, or we will look up dirty words in the Kiswahili dictionary, the other night we named the cats Simba and Shagabagala. Last night I wrote a song about mosquito nets (to be performed on MATI day…) and then I sang it to her. We basically just sit and make jokes about Mama and Parsons. I told her that I actually understood everything that everyone was saying, but I just don’t like to speak very much and she about died with laughter.
The other day I gave her ½ of my Twix because she didn’t know what choklati was…and she wasn’t just yanking my chain to get some candy, she really had no idea. Basically, Myjuma rocks. She told me today that she is sad that I am going to be gone on Saturday and most of Sunday! I feel like if this story were any more heart warming, it could be turned into a Lifetime special, but really, she is so amazing and I wish that I have a large enough Kiswahili vocab to let her know that because all women should know when they rock.

CBT news:
Well, this week has been a killer for the CBT of Manzesa A. It started out rough when Meesh jacked up her knee dancing and was unable to leave her house until a car came to pick her up on Tuesday, and then I crafted her a leg splint using my Leatherman (thanks dad!) and my natural sweet skills (hahahaha!). Mary got a little bit of pink eye on Tuesday. Laura and Sarah are both having “unmentionable” problems, and I am hanging tight. Because everyone has been sick, broken or other wise, this has not been of the most productive weeks ever in school. Thankfully on Tuesday we all had to go to MATI for a meeting with all of the health educators on peer education, which made the day worth while. Whilst at MATI I gave a kid a haircut because he let one of the barbers in town do it, and well is was awful. No worries, it still looks like hell, but at least he isn’t going to fly away or sprout a mullet (That was haircut #3 since departure, on Thursday Dave, the mzee of the group, wants me to cut his hair…oh man, I love it).
Today we all went and saw a witch doctor. It was pretty much what I had imagined, expect for the part where I am sitting right behind the man and his cow hide covered ass is 6 inches from my face the whole time…sweet. Really though, it was interesting. Apparently he believes in God and witchcraft at the same time, and he is smart enough to know that he doesn’t have a cure for AIDs, but stupid enough to think that he knows via his divine powers who does and doesn’t have AIDS.
Today we also had our interviews with the man that is in charge of placing us at our sites for the next 2 years. I have no idea what I have gotten myself into, but I think that I can expect to be living out in the middle of nowhere, near or on school grounds, in a very very hot place. Just a guess. I want to leave it up to fate more then what I think I want, so I just told him to put me wherever he wants. Haha! It’s more exciting that way.
I don’t really have much more CBT news to share. This is the week of many a mid test and it’s a little nerve wracking, but whatever, I am trying really hard, and that’s all that really counts.
On Saturday we are going to Mkumi National Park and spending the night. It is going to be super fun for more reasons then I can even begin to go through, but expect a full account afterwards.
On Sunday my little bro is turning 20. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOM! I can’t believe that you are going to be 20…what in the world is going on? ) So if you see him around wish him a happy birthday for me. : )
Afrika is beautiful, I leave my house every morning and watch the dawn fog lift from the valley below me and I think…am I seriously here?
Then I see a flat bed loaded with people flying down the dirt road and I remember, yeah, I am really here!
Peace and Love, I hope to attach pics soon!


quickstop586 said...


Reading the blogs was one thing, but to see some images now of where you are, well, it's not entirely mind-blowing but it definitely paints a better mental image. Myjuma seems great too, kind of like the little sis you never had. Enjoy the time you have with her. Glad to see things are still going strong. Hope to talk to you soon.



aunta said...


We loved the pictures. It is so good to have some visuals. Would love to see pictures of the family your staying with. I'm sure that those will come soon. We got your mail. The girls were very excited. They now have an assignment to write you back. Hopefully, those will be coming in the mail shortly (I know that it takes some time). Really wish I knew what you could use. I'd love to send a package of goodies, but don't have a clue what you need or want for that matter. Talk to you soon.

Love, Aunt Anne

PS. Anna wants to write a little something, so here goes:


I miss you soooo much and hope your having a great time in Tanzania. LOVE you and I love the card. Hope to here from you soon.

Love, Anna

chrissy said...

Love the pictures! Glad to hear life is great. This weekend we are competing in the Beer Olympics and we have chosen to be Team Tanzania! I will let you know how it turns out!!!

Patty said...

Dear Margaret, I read this story and thought of you: There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and had a wonderful day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "Hmm," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and had a fantastic day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a ponytail." So she did and had a really great day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YEA!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!" She knew, as you do, that you have to adapt and roll with changes--attitude is everything!!! Yours is fabulous! We are all blessed to be sharing it with you. Love, Pat

Rose said...

Hey Girl;

You are such a nut, makes me wish I was there enjoying the crazy times with you, who knows you could give me a haircut hahaha!

Love the pictures!



Mema said...

Hey Chickie -

You come a long way baby! You look great and it makes me happy to know that you are happy. Send some pictures of Myjuma and Mama. We love you, miss you and as always are very proud of you!!!!

abidigare said...

Your stories are truly inspiring. We love to read them and the pictures are nice to see also..You look great! So glad you are doing so well, and, so happy..
Miss & Love you
A.B & S.B

abby said...

I am so glad things are getting better for you! It's crazy to believe you are actually there and preparing for service... sweet! Thanks for the writings, it's been good for me to read before I head out to my own Peace Corps service in Turkmenistan. Keep writing and more pictures would be great!

Pete said...

hey margaret, love the pics. just got back into town yesterday, and had a beer with your mom and dad.

glad to hear all is well. can you lend a hand on some of the pronunciation ? is it my-jooma, or me-ooma ?
stay well, mr. pete.

Nancy said...

Margo, I wish you could bring Myjuma home with you. It's hard to imagine a 15-year-old who works so hard. It takes my fifteen year old about a season just to clean her room! Sleep is very important for teenagers. I wonder what the life expectancy is there.
Regardless of the hardships, your post has such an important message - living a joyful existence has nothing to do with indoor plumbing!

Your dad stopped in my store the other day. He was on his bike. It was great to see him.

Are the stars amazing there at night without all the electric lights we have here? I wonder where you'll be next. I'll map quest it.

Keep writing. I swear I can hear your voice, with inflections and everything, in your writing.

All is well. You are Loved...Nancy