Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I made the mistake of wearing a dress that showed my knees in Tegeta Market. Most people were very nice, but one woman kept staring and laughing at me. Pants and kangas it is! I bought several pieces of fabric today – I will post pictures as soon as I can. There is a tailor down the road that will make anything I want! A kanga is a traditional African skirt and they are great because you feel like a local AND you’ve got a piece of clothing that will last for several days before it is time to do laundry. I will probably get some pants made as well.
Instead of the dala dala Nina, Joseph, and I took a tuk tuk.. Everything was going great until the millions of pot holes and constant road work took over. I held on for dear life and survived! The ride back home wasn’t as dramatic, but I was ready to get home. While we were walking around the market I stepped on the back of Joseph’s sandal, so I bought him some new ones. I felt so bad! We bought him notebooks, shoes, and some socks to prepare him for school. He will get his uniform at school next week.
This afternoon has not been terribly busy. The power is still out, so there isn’t much I can do. Nina has really taken control of this large group and does it so well! I just ask questions when I can because I will be doing what she is been doing on a much smaller scale. Today she sent me some spreadsheets and has started copying me on emails so I can be a bit more informed.
Mom would be so proud! I had to get a phone while I was over here and I asked them for the cheapest one they had! It is super basic, but does what it needs to do. I am excited to have a local number.
Another thing I am super excited about is going to Zanzibar! The English group and I have been coordinating accommodations and I created a budget for everyone. YAY ME! This will be a mini-vacation because work won’t be paying for anything. The budget will make sure I conserve as much money as possible. Of course, all I have been buying these days is water, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Nina and I heard drumming from the beach and figured it was one of our volunteer projects, so we decided to head down there and see what was going on…and boy what a treat! The group - I can’t remember the name right now – performs traditional East African dancing and music. There were drums, dancers, and lots of fun was had by everyone. They are truly amazing. Some of the volunteers are going to help promote them around the city so they can get more recognition and hopefully more paying gigs. We are going to have a beach party in a few weeks where they will perform. Speaking of the beach…the Indian Ocean is beautiful! White sand and a great breeze…I am excited to get back there.
On the way home a little boy held my and Nina’s hand and we played “swing”. “One, two, three, SWING!” I use to love doing that on the way to church with my parents. The kids here love to grab you and walk with you, even just for a few seconds. Many of them love to show you their English, and some seem surprised when you shout to them, “Mambo!” They have the biggest smiles and I love to hear them laugh when I am walking places.
Waiting for dinner was excruciating! We had chips again! The ketchup here is very different, but nothing to complain about. The cats were whining so loud, so I left a little on my plate for them. It makes me miss my kitties so much :(
Because it is a Friday everyone is staying up to drink and socialize, but I am exhausted so I am headed to bed. The sun comes up so early (6 AM) every morning and it is so hot, so I try to get out of my room soon after after. Darn equator!!
Tomorrow it’s Coral Island with the Danish group! Lunch is fish and chips. You order your fish when you get there, and then they go catch it! Very excited! More about that soon.
All I will say is that if you want a tan, want to lose weight, and want to save some money…come to Tanzania!!! It is HOT, SUNNY, and CHEAP! All you will want to do is drink water and eat fresh fruit! A pineapple only costs 1000 Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh) – that is less than $1 USD. $1 USD is the equivalent to about 1500 Tsh (that’s rounding up a bit) – 1.5 liters of water is 800 Tsh!!! Because all of my meals are included with my salary, I have spent money only on water since I have been here.
Today shouldn’t include as much walking today. Nina and I will going to Tegeta Market to take a young boy to get shoes, clothes, and other school essentials. He is being sponsored by a former team leader and we want to make sure we get all receipts. While we are there I am hoping to get some currency , a phone, and some fabric for some skirts. There is a lady down the road that will make skirts, so I am very excited to have some lighter clothes – Mom and I didn’t exactly pack for this weather – and it will be great to feel more like a local.
To get to the market we will take a dala dala. Some of you may have heard about these crazy buses. They just keep packing more and more people on them, some bring their animals, and it can be very uncomfortable (and smelly). It is not advised to take one of these at night, but during the day it is fine.
Tomorrow I am very excited because I will be escorting our large group to Coral Island! It is just a small day excursion. People will have the opportunity to sun bath, snorkel, and just lounge. My responsibility is only to pay the ferry bus and for lunch. Other than that I plan on relaxing as well!
I am off to chat with some of the volunteers before their day begins. Will be back soon!
Friday, January 14, 2011
What a day! I was so worried about not fitting in or meeting anyone, but that quickly changed. I wanted to show how willing I was to get acclimated to my surroundings, so I told Nina last night that I wanted to go to a few of the project sites. Lucky for me the large, Danish group that is here just arrived a few days ago so it was their first day out on the different projects. Team leaders generally escort the volunteers on their first day anyway, so it worked out. They were as nervous as I was as we walked down the dirt road for about 30 minutes. Ann, an English woman, has been here for about 2 weeks and she walked with Vivian, Christian, and me until the road split – Ann went to a nursery and we walked to the left and found One School. The school was nice according to African standards. There were 4 classrooms with children packed in each. We met the Headmaster and found 3 other English girls and an older English woman painting some swings and a slide. They just needed to be freshened up a bit. Vivian and Christian were thrown right into a classroom, helping one of the teachers correct the students’ English – though the teacher was not always correct! I ended up helping with the painting and had a great time getting to know the English group.
We headed back to the volunteer house around 11:00 to wash up and have lunch. I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew I needed some carbs from all the walking we had been doing. They had chips – that is fries for us Americans – and some chicken and a fresh salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. I am still weary of leafy greens, and I wasn’t interested in meat, so I dug into the chips! I have heard that many things that are cooked here are fried, so I will need to be careful!
After relaxing with the volunteers – and several liters of water later – I felt so much more comfortable and was ready to do some more! With four volunteers we headed to a new project that Nina sought out recently – another 30 minute walk. The project was at a fairly wealthy school that would bring in street children and orphans in the afternoon. But when we got there we quickly saw there were no children…and we soon found out the person Nina had been in contact with did not bother to let others running the school know. She had to explain – several times – who Art in Tanzania was, what we did, and why we did these things. In the end it worked out and they told us to come back on Monday and they would have kids there.
Lack of communication is common in Africa. It is hard to get things done around here because people don’t share information and people don’t have the basic necessities to share these things. Word of mouth is essentially the only way Art in Tanzania lets the community know that a new project has developed. I haven’t experience it yet, but I can see how this could be very frustrating.
We rounded out the afternoon with a “staff meeting” at Kari’s house. Kari is Finnish and is the founder of Art in Tanzania. He lives in one of these giant homes in the area. We sat in his living room on a couch while kids were running around and people were in and out of the house. Nina had a list of things and I added something if I felt it was important.
The biggest issue was future placement of team leaders. Nina will be traveling to Zanzibar and I will be going to Arusha and Karatu. They are about nine hours north of here so I will have to take a bus. I am excited because it will be much cooler there, not as many mosquitoes, and there won’t be as many volunteers at any given time. It is also very close to the Serengeti and Mt. Kilimanjaro so I know it will be beautiful! I will not have internet on site, but from what I understand it is very close by. It will also be more like a house than a hotel – what I am currently living in. Kari says that Karatu is brand new and no one has lived there yet. I will update as soon as I know when I leave.
We walked home and I was totally exhausted. I had a snack bar Mom packed for me, and before I could even debate whether I wanted to take a shower or not, the power went out. Oh well! What can you do? I mingled with volunteers and anxiously awaited dinner. Man was it worth it! It was some type of curry – pretty spicy – with white rice and then slices of banana for a treat. It was so good. The lights came on soon after, but I was too exhausted to do anything but fall in bed. It is so hot at night, even with a fan it can be hard to get comfortable. It is also easy to forget that I am sleeping inside a mosquito net!
Ah, but at the end of the day I am just grateful that I have a bed to sleep on.
FUN FACT: Did you know that the sister city of Arusha is Durham, North Carolina?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
First day. Exhausted. I tried to sleep in but it was very noisy and SUPER HOT in my room. I came on outside about 9:30 AM to see a group of volunteers finishing up breakfast. I found Nina, the only team leader on site at the moment. She has been going over some basics and answering questions. She has only been here for a month, so I feel comfortable since she was just recently in the position I am in. Today is a public holiday so schools are closed and the volunteers are getting a Swahili lesson. I am very excited to get back into speaking it with the locals. Though most of the people I will interact with will speak English, they appreciate the effort and I am sure it shows your willingness to work with them.
As I type I am sitting outside and it is very relaxing. The radio is on and with this constant breeze from the beach I almost feel like I am on vacation! The humidity, however, is off the charts. I cannot stop sweating. Good thing I am used to this type of weather :) I am drinking loads of water but I have not really had an appetite. I am hoping lunch will be good, then I think it will be time for a nap!
The shower did not work when I got in early this morning (3 AM) so I have officially not taken a shower since Monday morning. Luckily I have a mother who knows best and packed me plenty of wet wipes for this occasion. YES, I have toilet paper (I know you wanted to ask)! Of course that is the least of my worries. With water and power going and coming as it pleases, there will be days when I won’t have water or internet. Who would have thought that internet would be more important to me than food…go figure.
I was a little overwhelmed when I got in last night and had a few tears. There really is no way to comprehend 6 ½ months away from your family, friends, and pets. I knew leaving Jon would not be easy, but my first reaction is always just to call and say hey. That usually helps when we are apart. But with my current cell plane that costs $4.99/minute to talk, I really can’t do that! Skyping will have to suffice, but I know it will not be easy. Between the power outages and the actually time difference of 8 hours, talking everyday is out of the questions.