October 29, 2008
The life and times of Ikuna never fails to intrigue me: analytical, critical, over thinking, always comparing and contrasting, never taking the time to think things all the way through, usually caught in the moment-the phrase-the single word that has my brain reeling at 100km per hour from asubuhi mpaka mchana. It’s little wonder that I can’t sleep, and when I do it bogged down with the thickness of dreams, making my mind a swamp of the American life I knew and the African life I’m trying to conquer.
All that being said, it sounds like a dark, drab place. This girl needs some Prozec, HELP, get her out of here! Okay, that’s seriously carried away.
Really, it’s neither dark or drab, maybe a little stinky at times but that because I only bathe on a weekly basis. Things here are actually really good. I just need to learn how to breathe, how to calm myself down when I start feeling like I might kick the next person that I see staring at me because I am this random white girl. I need to find the off switch on my mind and just kick it into cruise control for a little while. I need, I need, I need!
Ha, my list of needs is sick when I can look around a see list from here to the moon of the valid needs of my neighbors. Bah, you can take the American out of America but you can’t take the American out of the American.
Highlights of the past few weeks:
Went to town and had a really out of contol, hilarious and all in all grand time saying adios to the education volunteers that are COSing right now. It was great until I came home on Monday and was sick with a nasty cold. I stayed in my house all day Tuesday and read the entire novel of The Other Boleyn Girl (all 600+ pages), then I went to see Mama Witi and give her the shoes for Joshua and Olie, who freaked out over some sneekers, and we went to the dispensary to see her brother who was really sick.
I guess I should just stop going to the dispensary all together because the next day he died. I can’t even process that. I meet a man, shake his hand, make some jokes about all the food he has to eat now because there is a mountain of food next to his bed, then the next day he gets up, goes for a bike ride, gets back in bed and dies. Can someone please explain this to me?
The rest of the week I was sick and I finally went to the dispensary and got some medicine and started getting better. (After reading all of Memoirs of a Geisha!). On Saturday I planned to go to town with Mama Witi because she had to go to a meeting for CCM, the biggest political party in TZ, and she said that we had a free lorry ride. So I woke up, ready to go to town and do a bunch a work I forgot to do, and get this guitar I bought from my friend Ben. Then I found out there was no lorry. We were going to use the regular coaster that I always use (Sembula Exp!). We waited for like 5 minutes and this logging truck passed us going in the opposite direction and for some reason Mama Witi and the three people we were with thought it would be a grand idea to get on. So we did, and ended up going all through the back roads, past every village here to Makambako-which is totally North of Njome and I already live North of Njombe, in a logging truck that is speeding around and over heating and I’m losing my cool. Then we get to Mak and we have to wait on the side of the paved road for a bus or coaster that is passing and on it’s way to Njome, did I mention I woke up at 6am to get a free lorry? So we waited and finally a bus came and we got on and got into town like ½ later the we would have if we had just taken Sembula. Haha. Oh man, I was defiantly doing some deep breathing.
Just as we are getting into the bus stand Mama Witi, who is excited as hell to be in Njombe with me-her little mzungu, taps my arm and says “Ninaona Ben!” (I see Ben!!) She has never seen Ben, how in the world can she…Oh wait, he’s the only really tall white guy carrying a bunch of bags and a guitar. Haha, that’s how it goes here in Tanzi, you get all revved up, ready to lose your cool and then something stupid and funny and excellent happens and you just have to laugh.
So we chased Ben, went to the Posta, parted ways, I played around in Njombe and did some work and then I waited forever for her to get done with her meeting. Then we had no ride home and I had to front a bunch of money for a cab and again almost lost my mind until we got back to Ikuna (at like 8:30, which is the middle of the night here) and Mama Witi made me come to her house for dinner, and I sat there eating ugali with Eliza watching her fall asleep in her food, thinking of all the hard work that she had to do today and all I did was go to town and have fun and then feel angry. It’s the little things I tell you!
So, Eliza, I want to talk about her for just a second because she’s such an amazing kid. She is 12 and will start standard 7 next year (that’s usually the last of education that most kids get, if they get that far). The girl is this tiny little thing with huge brown eyes and this almost invisible scar on her left cheek that runs from the corner of her eye and looks like a little tear trail. Which is ironic because the first memory that I have of her is her holding my hand and the two of us crying at a funeral for her baby cousin. Anyway, she sees me everyday and always greets me with a really proper greeting, she’s always shy, until I say or do something outrageous and then she just cracks up and rolls her eyes at me. She has all brothers living with her which means she’s in charge of a lot of cooking and cleaning for them, and still she comes to my house at least once a week to tell me that she is going to carry my water for me and sweep my floor- which I never let her do. The best part about her is she just knows when I am ready to lose my cool, for example, when I walk though the school yard and 400 kids and whispering “mzungu” over and over, but nobody will say anything to me, Eliza always comes out of her class to greet me and thank God for that reminder, I am a person and not an alien freak from Venus! So that’s Eliza.
Aside from my outrageous trip to Njombe this week has been extremely laid back. I have been playing the guitar, or at least giving honest attempts. I planted ½ of my garden and dug up enough medical waste to alert HASMAT. I’ve been doing a little less reading and a lot more writing.
I went to the headmaster of the primary school today to talk about all of the things that I would like to start doing and when we can get them going, but it looks like I need to wait until January when the next year starts to do a lot of it. I am going to start a health club, tutor English, do a creative writing club and try to organize some girls sports. That’s just with the school. I also want to do a whole village AIDS testing day, especially after the conversations that I have been having with the villagers about why in the world everyone in this village is dying. I’ve got some other stuff I want to do with the villagers, but I won’t bore you with the details.
So, I am wondering how the election bit is going in Michigan? I have to say, I did my part as a US citizen and actually voted all the way from Tanzania. My villagers have been ever so curious to know what I think about the black man trying to become the president of the United States, Do I really think that he can do it? They say “Americans don’t really want to look at a black man for the next 4 years” (that’s seriously verbatim). They have no idea who the hell John McCain is, which gives me hope that Obama can do this. They don’t understand why we have only 2 parties, when they have a bunch but only 1 ever wins the elections, and they love, love, LOVE when I explain to them that I did vote, using the mail, and I chose Obama. Haha. It’s so exciting for them to think of a person with African roots being the president of all of the Americans. I can’t even begin to tell you what a thrill that is around here. So, I’m nervous and hoping for the best. I want to see Obama take this. I want to have a little reason to hope that in 2 years when I come home the whole of the US is not going to be this completely broke ass crapper and I’m going to have to start selling Butter Burgers or something crazy like that for the rest of my life!
Last weekend I got some excellent packages and I want throw a HUGE thanks in here to Aunt Heidi and Uncle Bruce, Katie and The Flemings. I now smell great (well I can cover it up with lotion), can read with a candle for more then 20 minutes before it burns out, clean my ears, and have every piece of juicy Hollywood gossip a girl could ever dream of! Thank you all SOOOOOO much. My friends are getting jealous of the volume of my packages so just know that your love is being shared and appreciated by other Peace Corps Volunteers and some random Tanzanians too!
Well, that’s all she wrote. Have a great Halloween! Eat some candy corn for me! And go vote, I did it and I’m 8,000 miles away!!!
Bicycle license plate of the year: DON’T SYP ME