Thursday, January 29, 2009

My mailing address!! You'll make me so happy if you use this.

Adrienne Birt Attn: Mama Kaaya
c/o Links and Projects Office Rm 225
Central Administration Block
P.O. Box 35091
University of Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Road Home From Bagamoyo

I felt a couple of hairs being tugged. Upon turning my head to confirm who was behind me, I made sure to spread a smile across my face. My hair is different than hers: glossy, fine, and straight. Joviette, my Swahili TA, giggled in admittance that it was her fascination I had felt.
I faced forward again and lifted my ponytail so it was resting on the top of my seat and available. "Very interesting," she said in a small voice as she let her fingers glide over my head and run through my pony.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mama na mtoto

don't let his cuteness fool you...

Did we just go off-roading in a 20 foot bus from the 70’s at 2am?

We did! And it was sketchy. And there were men with large knifes by the side of the road when we woke up.

So the day began with Laura taking us both down to the floor of the mall upon fainting. She’s anemic, I didn’t know that! After getting a woman to help Laura to her feet with me we made it to the bathroom. I gave money to a woman doing her makeup and asked her to buy us some juice- thankfully that worked, and I had Laura drinking mini apple juices within minutes. After sitting in a stall for about an hour, I called Tacy and Mary for backup. The four of us trooped across the street to the clinic and had a malaria test and a CBC run on Laura.

Then came the longest wedding of our lives. From four in the afternoon to two o'clock in the morning,

Mama Africa: Friday, January 16, 2009

The day began with a chase. The path to class was “fraught with danger” (haha dad) as Laura and I ran screaming in different directions from a disturbed vervet monkey… Not a pleasant way to begin the morning.

After our first Swahili exam, Silver and Sunday (a couple of Tanzanian guys that live in the hall next to ours) took five of us into town to go to the National Museum of Tanzania- where I got to a see a pretty amazing Leakey exhibit!!

That evening some of the girls and I went to see Mama Africa- contortionists, acrobats, and the strongest, most flexible men I’ve ever seen flipped around in ways I cannot describe nor thought possible for hours. What a show. Getting home went less than smoothly though- Julie brought Rukia, an orphan she’s been getting to know over the past five months, to the circus with us… it was at least midnight by the time we go her back to the orphanage after our bajaji broke down twice. She fell asleep in my arms and I carried her in and out of bajajis for at least an hour. A cold Safari couldn’t have tasted any better after that night.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things that made my mouth drop open

1) We were leaving Mwenge, an open air market, and moments after jumping into a daladala we heard a thud. Did the door really just fall off? Is that guy really carrying it while running along side the daladala?
Granted every daladala I've ever seen is in awful condition... but never had one of the sliding van doors completely fallen off!

2) Tanzanian TV: For the first time the girls and I got a glimpse at a TV when we went to see Todd off at his research flat. The first music video that came on was Ricky Martin and Christina Agulara.

3) Mary and I got really drunk at our dinner with our Professor's family on the beach. Conclusion to this event: discussing strippers and bachelor parties with our Prof's son and nephew.

My Kiswahili TA

"Chini or Japi? When you see them, you cannot tell the boys from girls... Much better not to bring it up." -Kiswahili TA wa Mary, Laura, na mimi.

He's a great guy, but there are certain serious conversions we have that I cannot keep a straight face. Once Mary, Laura, and I have sufficient enough Swahili to communicate about politics and religion, class will be amazing. As for now, the four of us digress each morning for at least 30minutes into English to discuss whatever topic is at hand- be it vegetarianism, polygamy, and communism.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mama Kaaya took my roommate Mac and I to church… we had no idea what we were in for- we certainly didn’t know that it would be an all day event, including lunch with the pastor’s wife and son! Our three hour long, outdoor service (complete with singing, clapping, and lots of crying) commenced around 12:30. Without expectation, I followed Mama Kaaya and the woman who had led our prayer songs down a few winding dirt paths; soon enough we figured out we were being served lunch by the pastor’s wife herself. All together the church consisted of maybe 15 people… I was officially the first white person to attend.

Lunch was portioned from a single large bowl- fermented milk with chunks of corn at the bottom (surely the dish was more complicated than that, but if you can imagine runny yet chunky, sour but plain, yogurt…). After Mac refused more than one bite, the pressure was on to choke down my entire serving- I managed my mission just fine after the pastor’s son, not speaking a word of English, approached me and sweetly dropped a spoonful of raw cane sugar into my bowl and motioned for me to mix it in.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Salt stung my contacts, making my swim in the majestic Indian Ocean bitter sweet- similar to so many experiences I have had on this trip. The color of the water matched that of the sky; even the waves breaking reflected the white of the clouds. From the water, I watched my roommate ride a camel across the beach for just 2000 shillings.
And so our sixth day here in Dar es Salaam, our day at the beach, felt like our sixth week. There is no way I could possibly give an account of all that the girls and I have done and been through in our first week here… Seeing people smile, laugh, and hearing them welcome you to their country all while they are sweating more than you, carrying more than you as well as having much less than you hasn’t lost it’s element of awe yet.