23 August 2015

Back in the village. I think going away for a while did me some good. My village feels more like a home now. Almost everything is the same as when I left, and that made my return surprisingly comforting. No one broke into my house or courtyard while I was away! And even though the inside of my house was very dusty/dirty and full of cobwebs that kept plastering themselves across my face, arms, and legs, the rats did not claim their potential thrones. I think the lizards may be vacationing as well because I saw no signs of their shed skins on my floors or furniture. That made me happy!

There are only a few real differences I’ve noticed in the village. The plants are drying in this rainless winter season (especially the corn), there are a few new doors on houses or a fresh paint job, the temperature at night is warmer – I can no longer see my breath inside my house! (most days), and, of course, my good friend, the teacher who saved me my first night here, has left to live with her husband way out west in Kigoma. They tell me I need to visit them, and I might do just that some day. We’ll see. I’ll miss the rare relaxed atmosphere whenever we spent time together – so wonderfully informal. But this will give me the chance to branch out more and make other friends in the vil.

After I arrived back on Thursday, I spent that entire evening until dark cleaning my house, then I pumzika-ed (rested), listening to podcasts and writing in my journal. Friday was spent doing some more cleaning, organizing, and basically moving back in. There was also a wedding that day, and I went for the end of the ceremony. There was a lot of food, soda, dancing, gift giving, and speeches. As night crept closer, I continued to dance with some mamas. They were blown away by the fact that I could move my body to a beat – I’m not saying I was good, but, well… I was a spectacle to say the least. When some vijana (young guys) started taking an interest in me and trying to dance with me, the mamas saved me and led me into the room of a house nearby for more food.

They sat me down in the middle of a cluster of chairs in the middle of the room so that I was in the way of everything… I can never really exist in the background here. Ever. But that’s life. I was so so so stuffed from all the food they gave me when I arrived at the celebration not even two hours earlier, but they gave me another FULL plate, piling on the rice even after I repeated “inatosha, inatosha!” (it’s enough, it’s enough!). In addition to the rice and some cabbage, they also gave me an inordinate amount of goat meat, which was basically all just goat fat on goat bones. But that’s their way of showing me that they appreciated my presence. It was delicious (not so much the fat and bones, which I didn’t eat), and I was grateful, but I certainly could not finish. After attempting the second dinner I started saying my goodbyes and one of the mamas insisted she walk me home. No one believes it is safe for me to walk outside after dark – and maybe it’s not – though I do miss that liberty so often here…

Saturday was filled with reading (I hadn’t touched my kindle during my month away – too busy with other exciting things and spending time with friends), and also with organizing some of my many notes and materials from the trainings. Still haven’t finished with that yet. I fired up my charcoal jiko (stove) as well and cooked beans and rice, cabbage, and banana bread, and boiled lots of water to be filtered. I also went for a lovely walk, enjoying the cool breeze and sun, seeing all the familiar houses, farms, trees rolling hills, and being reminded of the unique characteristics of my village and of the people who live here. Previous thoughts, questions, musings, contemplations, and speculations returned…

Why do so many people in TZ choose that same bright but also dark blue color to paint their window frames and doors? I wonder how long the graffiti on that broken water tank has been there. Will they ever put a door on that house up there on the hill? It’s nice the way the sun shines through at dusk, but still… What made that family decide to have potted plants? They’re all decorative plants too. How many people actually have locks on their doors? I wonder where they got that stained glass. Ah, the markings of a broom in the dust – someone just swept their front “yard.” I need to figure out how many people use soap to wash their hands here. Oh, a new pile of cement outside of that house – building something, covering the bricks of the walls, or filling gaps between walls and roof? Where does that path through the pines lead? It’s like a path to an Adirondack cabin. When did that window break? How? I bet those kids make that wooden scooter all by themselves, so resourceful. They need some oil for that terribly squeaky wheel, though. How much pombe (homemade alcohol) do these people drink? They always have a cup in their hand. Wow, a new roof on that house, shiny corrugated iron, nice. And there’s a solar panel over there. It’s amazing how easy it can be to watch TV in the middle of nowhere…

Today, Sunday, I attended church, much to the joy of those I hadn’t yet seen since returning from my long safari. I was supposed to meet with the mwenyekiti (village chairperson) this afternoon to debrief the trainings and to just say hey, but he had to go to a neighboring village for the funeral of man who died in a pikipiki (motorcycle) crash last night. It’s really dangerous riding motorcycles here, especially after dark – some people don’t even use their headlights all the time. Accidents waiting to happen…

I’m getting my computer all charged up here as I write with the solar power at the school, and am looking forward to a movie night! A day of rest today, then tomorrow I will start to plan meetings with various village leaders and my counterparts to talk about all I learned this past month. I’ll soon finish sorting through all my notes to find the most important topics to discuss, and then will translate what I need into Swahili. There’s lots of work ahead. But it’ll be good to get busy.

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