Monday, November 9, 2009

Days Go By

October 21st, 2009
Oh this past week!
It’s like pulling doubles at a fast food restaurant and trying to run a construction site, while also lobbying for a doctor in the village you live, however; Bahati Mbaya- Bad luck-you happen to be the only fair skinned resident with enough “power” to possibly make this happen.
It’s trying not to lose your cool when you get called out for really loving a select few and letting all the rest go unnoticed. In actuality, you just reciprocate the love that is given freely while attempting to deflect the hate, jealousy, and begrudging projected onto you by people who choose only to look at the pigment of your skin.
It’s like being a monster moving jungle gym at McDonalds except the parents never yell at the kids because the jungle gym comes with its own child care staff.
It’s never bathing, even after walking long distances to deposit money into a bank account under someone else’s name.
It’s sunburns and jiggers, cockroaches, and hairy caterpillars that make you itch if you touch them.
It’s planting a herb garden and forgetting to water it until you notice that the only thing keeping it moist is a strange layer of white that is the foam of consecutive nights of teeth brushing and spitting in dirt in the dark.
It’s the crazy sounds of a Baptist revival camp meeting a Jesus intervention and the magical healers from Pete’s Dragon.
It’s a lot of dancing and singing, cooking, cleaning, running around, eating of terrible foods, sleeping hard and waking early.

Damn this week is kicking my ass people!

Witi is still pregnant and totally useless. I’ve spent who knows how many nights now at the mgahawa with Mama Witi making Chipsi Mayai- Fried potatoes in an omelet- for late night customers, while Witi crashes out at 7 leaving the two of us to deal with the drunkards while Witi’s deep snoring wafts over the half wall from the attached room. Witi is so big she can hardly bend over to wash a plate so notions of carrying water, sweeping the floor with a hand broom , or moving 50lb bags of potatoes are pretty unrealistic. I’ve been going in the morning while Mama teaches preschool, leaving in the afternoons and then heading back in the early evening. It’s insane.

The Assembly of God Church has started its week of “villa-vangelism” and it’s more like something you would see on TV then anything that can happen in real life.
Exhibit A: A one legged man jumping and dancing around on his one real leg and one fake leg that wears a holy sock, singing “HALLELULIA JESUS SAVES” while 30 or more people are literally bum rushing the stage where a man with this deep raspy smokers voice proclaims that all sick persons will be healed- even those sick with the disease of prostitutes- if only they accept Jesus into their lives.
Seriously? I told Mama Witi I just wanted Jesus to heal my toe that is infected with Jiggers. She laughed her ass off, shook her head and said in English, “Helpless.” (Coming from a woman who knows about 50 English words I am more impressed then insulted) This Baptist-esque revival is happening approximately 20ft from the door of the Mgahawa and even if I am not there there I can still hear the singing, shouting and terrible keyboard sound effect of “Excellent!” and “Yeaaaaah!” from the comforts of my foam mattress. Can this be for real man? I think it is, or maybe I’m just dreaming, or maybe this really is Africa and you never know what the hell to expect.

In slightly related news, I learned a new phrase when I started conversation (AKA getting really pissed off) with the local construction men who need to be working on the school. “I’m going to light a fire under their asses.” Does translate into Kiswahili and actually also has a Kibena translation as well! It’s very possible that I have used this phrase to its absolute maximum at this point, and may have offended some peeps, but I will light a fire under their asses….or figure out a new plan.

November 8, 2009

The past little while has been really good for a number of reasons. Unfortunately one of them does not include the fact that I was there for the birth of Witi’s baby because that has yet to happen. The little monster is still in there juggling with her hormones, feasting on her daily fried potatoes and eggs, kicking around, making her back ache, her feet swell and voice raise at pretty much everything. I think it’s slowly turning into a giant in her body and eating all good and happy energy that she has ever possessed. This has yet to be seen. (Major props to all people who have ever lived with their significant other while they were pregnant, how you did not claw their eyes will remain a mystery to this girl).

One of the things that finally happened is some work at the school. I’ve been basically jumping around on my rooftop screaming, “GET ‘ER DONE BOYS!” While they stand like Larry, Moe and Curley pointing at each other saying, “Who me? You must be talking to this guy. I would never!” So, after using some sweet Swahili psychobabble, luring them in with money and then attaching it to the hook of my fishing pole, and casting it out into the undiscovered depths of “Work Ethic” and “Timeliness” I got them to finish the job they signed up to do. Awesome.
Actually, the construction is looking really good. The classroom, library and office are all cemented and we have enough left over (due to no calculation fault, just some abuse of the system) to cement the pathway and finally make this train wreck look nice. If all goes according to plan, which is highly unlikely considering that this really truly is Africa, it should be completed by December. If not, I just hope it’s done by the time I return in January. Pictures below:

Other things that have occurred that are sill significant enough for me to recall:
---I covered a burn victim in Neosporin after he told me that he just used the simple remedy of honey and eggs to treat his chest, arms, hand and face.
---I took a weekend adventure to my friend Brie’s site. She lives about 30k from me and had an AIDS testing day. An astounding 275 people were tested and I am proud of her and proud of the people of Image. The feeling of standing with a bunch of people waiting to find out if they should plan for their children’s wedding or their own funeral is slightly unnerving at best. At worst its looking another human being in the eye and knowing they just got the equivalent of a one-two punch to the heart.
---For Halloween I had the pleasure of an American guest from the village of Luduga. Her name is Sarah and she’s great. Keeps me sane during insane times. We made a bunch of delicious food and had an entire day of what we imagined life in Morocco to be like- sitting around on mattresses, under homemade canopies, reading girly magazines from last year, sunbathing, drinking cokes and eating copious amounts of spicy food. Afterwards we got bitched out for sn ubbing our duty of attending every village wedding and not going to work at the mgahawa. Haha, this is NOT getting out of hand!

---One of the village corn mills burnt down. This was such a huge concern that a new one was bought, installed and a new roof build within 3 days after the incident. Food actually is a priority here. Good to note. Also good to note, do not fall asleep with candles lit when you live in a house with a straw roof.

---The rainy season started and it never occurred to me that when it rains it smells totally wonderful outside, especially at night with all of the eucalyptus trees and the fresh earth all exposed. However, it smells terrible inside especially in a large glorified van with a bunch of old people wearing unwashed clothes who just came from a room with a smoky
---I made a package of Veggie Chili that my Dad send me last year. After I made it (which only took half a day considering I started with dry beans and went from there) I decided I wasn’t all that hungry, even though it was pretty delicious. What’s a girl to do with a good 5lbs of chili when she’s not starving but bring it to the local drunks? Duh! It was a huge hit, especially with my favorite guy, Chuzi, who blows a whistle everyday and shouts from the village square when he is finished making chicken soup (a daily crack up, most days he is already too drunk to stand). He recently made village headlines by deciding that his customers (he owns a moonshine hut) were too hot, so he got a bucket of water and proceeded to water down his tin roof. Genius! For about 3 minutes…
---Making friends with fickle Tanzanian children is usually a huge disappointment. Typically they scream and cry at the unsightly appearance of the freakish looking pale person. All of this screaming, crying and snot dripping usually happens while they are strapped onto their Mama’s back with a long sheet of filthy fabric and their Mama is yelling at them, “Greet the white person!” and cracking up. I cannot say that these run-ins leave me with a warm feeling. This was all until a recent success. One of the most Mzungu wary children is an adorable little girl named Johari. Her mom is especially intense with the whole “shove your kid in my face and maybe she will like person X” theory of child development. A while back Johari’s mom went away (okay, she’s making money “selling bar” in a town…I cannot even go into that right now) and Johari and I made a peace treaty. It started one day while I was dancing outside he mgahawa. It may or may not have been just me dancing solo, but for some reason it cracked this 2 year old up. Now we’re a traveling dancing duo and let’s face it, it’s pretty damn cute.

---My next door neighbor has two things that I covet. One is the cat, which I now borrow on a nightly basis in an attempt to annihilate the rat kingdom that has become my home. My neighbors second valuable is a TV that shows nothing but shit ass Tanzanian crap, but it makes sounds, it’s bright, it makes me feel all warm and I just am attracted to it. Like a drag queen to sequins, I cannot help but want it. Bad.


Patricia said...

My dear friend Margaret, What can I say but I am glad that you can stay sane during the insane times. You are having so many experiences that I have only read about in novels. You will truly be so wise beyond your years ( although you were starting out), you will be a shaman, a priestess, a scholar. My advice to you is kidnap the cat, kill the rats. Love and keep the faith kiddo, Patty

Faye said...

!! I miss you so much. The picture of you with Johari is so beautiful. The light in your eyes exudes happiness.
Keep on rockin'!
I was just talking about you today, I am always thinking about you. My friend Akiko wants to meet you! lol.

Take care, I love you.


chrisc said...

Dearest Margaret: The pics are great!! Specially the school progress!!Way to go my amazing daughter!! Love & Hugs Dad

Pete said...

hey margaret, you may be on your way home by now, i hope. hang in there. we'll try and order you up some snow. we're all waiting to see ya soon.

Mr. pete

mom said...

Time for a new blog. I have read this way too many times. /so, all of you girls...take a minute to share with us some new stories. I know you have them. So great having Kate home..but she had partied way too much.Think she went back just to catch her breath.Missher already. Hugs to all. Carol