12 November 2015

Another week gone. It truly felt as if time did not exist for most of this week. All the things I planned to get done on my own did not end up happening as other village randomness took over, with last minute notification. Luckily, I was smart enough to let go of my personal plans for work immediately, knowing that I would not have the chance to address until maybe the following day – labda kesho. And so I let the villagers sweep me away, I was ignorant of the time, I allowed the mid-day meal to pass me by, and I ended up on my couch as dusk spread, feeling uncertain if it was one day or many that had passed in the previous twelve hours. While it was nice not to be hindered by a focus on time, it left me feeling a bit dazed at the end of each day, slightly uncertain of where exactly I stood in the world.

Today has been nice because I’ve been able to rule my day thus far, and it has been lovely. I slept in – something I haven’t been able to do for a long while – until 8:11am! Then I made delicious gluten free cinnamon pancakes and warmed some honey in place of syrup. I also had a mango, perfectly ripe. Then I spent the day doing whatever I fancied, which involved a lot of catching up with other volunteers via text, and dreaming about plans in town and at the nearby lake, along with some reading. Now I am in the middle of cooking what will hopefully be a delicious tomato lentil curry (with other veggies thrown in – carrots, onion, and green pepper), which I will enjoy over rice. The lentils are now cooking over the charcoal, and I have snuck away to the primary school to write this entry on my now charged computer – solar power is so nice. I look forward to a movie later.

You might be wondering what last minute activities have filled my days so completely this past week. I’ll write about a few… Yesterday was the send-off for a young women to be married tomorrow. It was basically a wedding without the ring, which I didn’t realize. I thought it would be a short gathering at the church with some food. I forgot that nothing ever happens in a short period of time here. While I got more than I had bargained for, it was still a very fun event. Lots of singing and praying at the church, then a procession all the way to the parents’ house where there was the tarp-covered bamboo structure, the sawdust covered ground, the cloth covered tables and sofa for the bridal party and honored guests (including me), and the wooden benches for everyone else. Also, the DJ was there with his generator-powered speakers etc. Luckily, we ate before the present giving, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the energy to dance my way up with the rest of the guests to present my present of 2,000 tsh (that’s about one American dollar, BUT it was quite enough). I think my real present was dancing up the aisle for everyone to see – they loved it – based on the reactions, I’d say I have some real talent.

Another day that ended up sweeping me off my feet as time did not exist involved three events: one of my doors being replaced (finally!), my rescheduled watering workshop, and a long (as always) village meeting. The door took all day to be replaced and created an amazingly large mess inside my house… Also, while it looks great, at the moment I can only close the bolt on the inside, while the hole for the bolt to slide into on the outside is not lined up and therefore the bolt is useless… You’d think they would think to test that sort of thing before packing it in for the day. The other door will be replaced… sometime… The best part about these new doors is that they’re tall enough so I won’t bash my head! I still hit my head on the door into my kitchen room at the very least once per week, but soon just that door will be the bane of my existence.

Here are a few pictures! A very good friend of mine, definitely one of my favorite people in the village, helped me out once again with his craftsmanship.

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The before and after pictures – lots of gaps before, as you can see… But now I think those deadly snakes will have a much more difficult time gaining entrance.

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And this is a picture of my back door, which will be replaced… well, sometime.

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Next up, the watering workshop.

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It went really, really well, and people are still thanking me for such a good seminar/training. They say, “Now that is good education.” I simply showed them what poking some holes in a plastic bottle can do, but, you know, I’ll accept the praise if I must. We made the watering can equivalent, along with a slow-drip irrigation bottle (poke a small hole in the bottom/side of the bottle, then you can manipulate the cap to play with the pressure and have the water come out at a slow drip). Here are the signs I made to help explain the process and reasoning during the workshop.

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I had a great deal of help explaining the details from my water training counterpart (white and purple jacket). He was great. My counterpart from early service training (purple and black shirt) also came and was a big help with signing people in – there were 32 people.

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Here are some other pictures from the workshop.

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After the training was the village meeting. They talked about a committee for selling vocha (phone credit – you buy vocha, put it on your phone, then can talk/text/buy a bundle to use – no monthly or yearly phone plans here), the priorities for next year’s development (water, zahanati – health center, the roads, and classrooms at the primary school), and many more random topics. Unfortunately, one older man stood up and very bluntly asked why the water situation hasn’t gotten any better yet. People started laughing because, well, we just formed the water committee, and he’s a Tanzanian! How can he expect things to happen so fast?! My guess is, since he loses himself in drink from dawn until dusk, he probably thinks more time has passed than in actuality. At least others laughed, meaning they know these things take time.

Another day that seemed to pass me by involved spending a lot of time with my neighbor. She’s one of my favorites. She cooks lunch for the students at the primary school every day – kande, a corn and bean soup, kind-of like chili. She also has a great reaction to everything I say. And if I say something funny she does this awesome eyebrow twitch that ends in them being raised sky high, combined with the biggest open-mouth shocked smile… She’s great.

Anyway, she dug up a few sweet potatoes for me, explained that all the land surrounding my house is mine (not the school’s or the village’s) and that I need to plant some corn!, we talked about the garden I am planning in my courtyard, and I showed her how to throw a frisbee (though she was too scared to toss with me, so her son stepped in and I taught him). Later on another friend arrived, then we got to talking about why I wasn’t cold in the shade at that moment without a coat on, and I explained how I am used to much colder conditions during some months in America when there is snow and ice. They didn’t believe me that the snow could accumulate so much, that the world could be white and all the leaves would fall, so I went and fetched my photo album that has a few pictures of snowy conditions. This attracted the attention of other neighbors, and I was soon narrating my photo album to a sizeable group. They loved the stories.

One picture was taken inside of a kitchen, so I explained some kitchen appliances – stoves and ovens, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and microwaves. This was my favorite moment. Their disbelief and amazement reinforced the fact that life here is so very different. They asked what women do all day if cooking and cleaning could be done so quickly and effortlessly, and the thought of being able to freeze food to eat days, months, even years later was shocking. Also, to be able to heat food in a matter of seconds…?! It was a good conversation.

Well, I think those lentils need some more water, and I am sure by now the charcoal has burned low. Off to continue cooking like a Tanzanian!

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