Monday, March 23, 2009

Things I’ve Learned About Living in Tanzania

Riding in a bajaji is a cheap way to get an adrenalin rush

Men here know how to move their hips. Damn. But, even if they had hair, they wouldn't know how to flip it.

Running out of laundry soap is like playing with fire

Anything you consider your property is for communal use by anyone who enters your room

It’s hard to differentiate between groping and an attempt at “informal redistribution of wealth”

Salt is necessary with every meal

Sometimes the shower is dirtier than you

A Hot Pink Sports Bra and Gray Plaid Short Shorts

Today's rule: I can't go downstairs until I wash my sheets. Ug.
A set of twin sheets in a wet soapy heap stared at me from the bright blue tub, about one and half feet in diameter. I attempted to mentally prepare myself for the wrist pain ahead.
By the end of the scrubbing ordeal I had changed the water four times before it finally ran clean... I'm not sure which round of water landed me with soaked pj shorts, but I'd like to think that it was at least the water from the 3rd or 4th bucket. Success! My "clean" sheets are now hanging in the hallway outside my room, flapping in the wind against the dirty walls.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Did we just panda that mlima?! A week in Iringa

See the cross? Think we make it all the way up there?
...Might as well try.
Not only was there a cross, but an entire church was waiting for us at the end of our no-set-path-because-there-is-no-path hike.
Then the rains came.
At least we have shelter... fuck, stone shingles. They block the sun- the DO NOT keep out the rain.

We rented bikes:
My knees came above the handles bars each time I peddled and surely the seat was filled with rocks. Damn my butt hurts.
Rain. Again. One and a half hours of biking through the most beautiful place I've ever had a bike and a droplet hit my cheek. First we took shelter at a road side stand- ordered black current juice (sugar water) and waited. When it seemed safe, we decided to forge ahead (Isimila Stone Age Site was our destination). Ten minutes passed, I shifted forward and backward on the seat- no relief.
Seriously? Rain, again?
Quick! There's a cemetery, let's hide under the trees.
Woah, this really isn't lightening up.
"Karibu ndani"
We turned around and saw two young brothers motioning us out from under the tree. One took Samuel's bike and we followed them down a dirt path (that was quickly becoming a mud stream) to their home. A girl named Lilian greeted us- she looked no older than 20.
Lilian, Samuel, and I sat quietly in the living room. None of us having the same first language.
For over an hour Samuel and I looked around at the wall hangings and tried our best to decipher the meanings:
"Don't like it like a poor person"
That doesn't make sense...
More silence.
Our pants were damp, our bags were soaked.
The clouds still looked menacing but the thunder had mostly subsided. Back to the bikes.
We never made it to Isimila- maybe another day.

The trek back:
A peep of a horn would honk and moments later a huge bus would whip by within a couple of feet of our bikes, each spraying us with muddy rain water mixed with exhaust.
An opening in the clouds allowed for sun rays to illuminate individual regions on the mountain sides. With my eyes glued to one of these sun spots to my right, my bike drifted nearly running Samuel off the road.

Ah the sunflowers made the wet workout worth it. The mountains made it worth it. Lilian made it worth it.

Zanzibar as a slave port

The pit was about five feet deep. Rectangular in shape- 7ft by 4ft. Cement.
The tops of four stone statues with the most solemn of expressions, poked their heads above the rim of the pit. A chain link leash snaked around each figure's neck, binding all four together like draft animals.

I stood next to our guide, a Zanzibar native, looking down at the stone faces. I wonder what he thinks of all these white people wondering around this historical slave port site... taking pictures...