Saturday, October 4, 2008

When the night feels my song, I'll be home : )

These past two weeks have been a never ending parade of serious highs and unprepared for lows. All of my days have bled into the quilt of life and I can’t tell the difference between the pink floral triangles or the sage green boarder- my whens and wheres are hazy at best, but my head and my heart are clear as ever.
I came to Njombe for my 1st two night stay to celebrate my friends birthday, dance, eat good food, and pretend that I am actually living in an English speaking country. They day and the party and the disco until 4am were all fantastic- just what this girl needed to rejuvenate…that was until I woke up the next morning and starting questing why I felt so compelled to down 20 packetties of Tyson rum in a single night…oh the choices we make! That day I had to shake it off like a good ol’ trooper and get ready for another day away from the village. I was invited by my friends Brie and Josh to go to a flower farm with them for the night. The farm is owned by this adorable Danish couple, Zoomy and Adena who like to entertain us crazy Peace Corps Volunteers and have a good time out at their farm. So, myself, Brie, Josh, Ben, Jess and Jonathon all piled into a cab and went about 20 minutes south to the town where Zoomy picked us up in his Ford truck and drove us the rest of the way into the dusty hills to his farm. I guess that I was just expecting to see a nice little house, maybe with running water, and a few field of sunflowers. I was beyond words, out of this world with total awe when we got to his house, a HUGE Grosse Pointesque home, complete with a kitchen, a stove, hot water, nice showers, flushing toilets, music, art…the works. Not to mention 15.5 hectares of flowers, and not just any old run of the mill flowers, Roses, precious, rare colored fire red and sun kissed orange roses. Beautiful! BEAUTIFUL. The day was spent wondering how the hell all of this wonderful got in the middle of Tanzania, how I got there, listening to good music, checking out the farm and all of it’s works (the roses are imported to Europe and auctioned off…really!) and in the evening we ate a delicious Lebanese dinner, drank cocktail, and gazed in bliss at the African night sky from a hot tub. Really. Still in amazement.
The next morning we got up (they have a totally separate guest house, also complete with all of the works) and went back to Zoomy and Adena’s and had a wonderful breakfast and real, like really not instant, fresh brewed, delicious coffee!
Then back to Njombe to go back to the village. I hopped a bus to Ikuna and by 4:30 that day I was coming down from an amazing life high, had finished unpacking and changing and was about to go to Mama Witi’s house when I started on my way down the path to her house and noticed that she was at the dispensary. She urgently needed my help. Well, my underwear to be exact- 2 pairs, and both of my hoodies. Why? Because our beautiful, very pregnant and very proud (which is highly unusual in a country where nobody knows that a woman is pregnant until they are walking around with a baby attached at the back or breast) friend, Mama Samwellie, was having problems giving birth. In fact, her baby has died, would I please go in and hold her hand while I (Mama Witi) tell the dad, Baba Samwellie (one of my friends from my health club ELIAJA) and call for a cab to come all the way from town so that we can go to the hospital in Kibena because she is really sick…
SURE, okay? What? Or how about WACK, right in my face. What to do 1st? Hold this woman’s hand after one of the most, if not THE MOST horrible experience of her life, or go and find her 2 pairs of underwear that say, “ I am clean, and I am sorry about your dead baby.” Ah! Who evens knows, I did both and then waited outside with Baba Samwellie while Mama Witi and Mama Samwellie waited in the dispensary room, crying and were then whisked away to Kibena leaving me with Baba Samwellie and the rest of ELIAJA to plan a funeral for the next day.
Early the next morning I went to Mama Samwellie’s house and watched people sorting beans and rice, cutting greens, making fire, while I stared at my feet and tried to figure it all out. Just the day before I was drinking coffee, eating pancakes thinking that life could not get much better, and suddenly I am thinking really, could anything be worse? The crying from inside woke me from my little trance and it was then that I started to feel the swelling of sadness and frustration rising in my chest. Not only all of this, but I can’t even understand ½ of what is going on. I can’t just go in there and tell Mama Samwellie how sorry I am, and how much I would like to just curl up in bed with her and cry all the insanity out. Not that it would have helped, but hey it’s what I felt like doing. So, in the end I had another day of a room covered in mats, women sitting on the floor, crying and not understanding why exactly babies die, and eating food with my hands while scraggly old women judge me with their sun dyed blue eyes, swollen feet and toothless grins.
The next day I made banana bread and gave ½ of the loaf to Mama Witi and the other ½ to Mama Samwellie with some flowers. I told her that this is what I would do if we were in America, and that just caused big gum drop tears to fall from her beautiful heart broken eyes. Ah. Tanzania, how you move me.
The rest of my week was spent at meeting for ELIAJA, celebrating my birthday, (which wasn’t a big deal, but Mama Witi, who is so amazing, made me a card and a basket and drank Chai with me…really, all I could ask for!). I spent a lot of time in the Kindergarden, cleaning corn with Mama Witi, visiting my neighbors, reading, writing letters and getting ready for my 4 hour blitz to town on Saturday to buy a bunch of veggies, go to the post office and use the internet.
Saturday was a GREAT SUCCESS, I got so much mail (that Saturday and today too) that I am still smiling, letters from Grandma, Tom, Scott, Mema, Dad, Erin, Aunt Marg, and packages from Scott, Aunt Marg and Devon- THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH THAT MAKES MY DAY! : )
Tomorrow I am getting more letters and another package from my friend Jess who’s address I 1st posted. I am pumped.
Any, last week was crazy. I baked 8 cakes with Mama Witi and Mama Ushinde for 2 send-offs (it’s like a wedding before the wedding and it’s only for the woman) and the whole village is up in arms about how delicious carrot cake is, in fact I think it is the only cake they are ever going to make from now on, which cracks me up. Yeah, 8 cakes and not a single slice for me! Haha, I could care less, I know what cake tastes like- ya know? I also danced a little for my village at one of the send offs and they loves it, it’s the new biggest request- white girl, DANCE!
On Sunday I got really pissed off, yes straight up pissed, at the head master of the primary school because he asked me yet again for money to help build the new school. I know it’s not his fault, its classical conditioning at its best, but I can’t deal with it, I hate being a walking dollar sign, that is one thing that I will never, ever adjust to.

Other randoms:
 This week I decided that I have a slight ant problem and am trying to work that out with constant sweeping (yes, we actually sweep the red dust called a road, just for fun, everyday!) and moping. Will keep you updated.
 I have officially been grossed out by bugs, it’s not the ants on my table or the bees in my overhang, it’s the 2 ablino cockroaches that I found in my choo (which- Aunt Marg is a bathroom) at 3am that creeped me out. That, and I think my bat problem is getting worse. Who knows?
 2 of the volunteers from my group have decided to go home. They were actually both in my region and I am pretty bummed, but I also feel that if that is what they want to do they have my full support. You know, life is about doing what you feel is the right thing to do, and being here is by no means an easy choice. Plus, even thought they are leaving, they have made it here- they tried and that’s so much more then a lot of other people could do- so Luke and Christine, if you read this know you’re missed and I hope that the states are treating you well!
 I finally have a real door for my courtyard- after a 2.5 week wait!
 I visited my waterfall again and I can’t wait for someone to come and visit me so that I can show it off and be proud!
 I miss you all and I am thinking about the pumpkin carving parties, Devon’s Wedding in a few weeks, the fall, the leaves changing, the cold, apple cider…everything Michigan and good that I love, as it starts to get really hot and dusty here in the streets of Njombe where crazy men drive broken down pieces of crap vans, filled beyond capacity with people, food, furniture and animals, all on the opposite side of the road.

As always, Peace and love, love, love! I am trying to write back everyone who writes me, but I’m on a budget so be patient!


Rose said...

Happy Belated Birthday Margaret, (I think your Birthday has passed, if I remember the date correctly). The weather here is cooling off and the colors are as you mentioned, starting to turn everything from yellow, to orange and red. We had some rain, so some of leaves did not get to turn before they were tossed into a whirlwind and thrown to the ground still green and wet, but for the most part Michigan is sporting some pretty awesome color! We miss you, hope you had an enjoyable Birthday. With Love;

Patty said...

Margaret- Happy belated birthday! I think of you even though I don't communicate often. You make your life sound like a movie. It is great to read how different yet how the same we all are. One thing you said reminded me of Eat, Pray Love, when she was in Indonesia...they thought that since she was American, she was rich and she could build them a school...and you are very rich, in many things. Enjoy and keep your fabulous outlook on life. Peace and Love, Pat

aunta said...


I think you were sent on your journey to the field of flowers simply to rejuvenate so that your soul would be able to handle the next tragedy. Just like here in good ol' Michigan, life is mixed with love and loss. So glad you are able to see and appreciate the little miracles that your journey has presented you. We miss you. Still haven't sent your birthday gift. We needed to get ink for the printer so that we could send some pictures. It will be coming soon!! Besides, you wouldn't want all the gifts coming at the same time!!

We love you,
Aunt Anne

Pete said...

peace, margaret. glad to hear you are well.

keep up the great writing, really, it's great.

we all think of you often. we'll carve a pumpkin for ya.

- mr. pete