17 March 2010

Alas and alack, this is Africa after all

I'm back in Dodoma. "Wait", you might be thinking, "her last blog post said she should be in Nairobi right now!" Well, in Africa, very little works out quite the way you think it will.

The Morogoro leg went exactly as predicted. We did meetings with the key staff of the Mennonite church there about starting up a program. They're at the very beginning baby stages of starting, so we encouraged them in their work and gave them advice for raising money locally and building sustainably. It was actually really refreshing to see them so passionate about meeting the needs of the people in their community. It reminded me that as we develop programs, we lose that attitude of being willing to do literally anything to get help for these needy people. As time goes by, volunteers need to be paid and staff need larger offices, and we forget the desperation of not having anything to give to the poor except our sweat and prayers. Our host family was very very kind, but Katie ended up sleeping in the bed of the baby, and found out halfway through the night that the baby pees the bed. No rubber sheets here!

When we got to Dar es Salaam, we learned that a) the fundraising we had been told was scheduled was indeed not scheduled, b) the church we thought we were speaking at was not aware of the fact, and c) our work visas were indeed still missing that elusive last signature, so no fundraising, no Nairobi. We took Katie to the airport, watched some cable television (which was like crack to me...we got to see CURRENT episodes of Project Runway, House, Fringe, and Lie to Me...all favorite shows of mine back in the States), watched a bunch of Tanzanian movies, met a Tanzanian movie star, enjoyed air conditioning, WAIT, WHAT?! That's right we met a Tanzanian movie star. We had been watching these seriously mediocre Tanzanian films with improbable plots, when one night the star of two of the very movies we had been watching walked into the house where we were staying! At risk of embarrassing her, Mama Askofu was a little star struck and tended to babble. We were invited to come to watch him film one day next week, but we will no longer be in Dar. Too bad.

In the middle of all that Dar stuff, we got to go to Zanzibar to see my friends Nashon and Kessy, whom I had met at that conference I spoke at in January. We didn't have much time there, but we saw a lot of cool stuff, toured the old slave market, and bought spices for CHEAP. Turmeric powder, about 5 oz, was 1000/=, or about 80 cents. Be jealous! (If you're not jealous, next time you're at the grocery store cruise the spice aisle and check out what you'd have to pay for the stuff.) Leah bought them out as gifts for home. I bought star anise, for no other reason than that it smells good like licorice, and some Zanzibar coffee powder, which also smells good, but we can't figure out how to drink because it doesn't appear to be instant coffee like everything else we drink here. I bought a huge bunch of lichi, which I haven't had since I was in Cambodia, but tastes so good. We bought a bracelet for our friend Clyde from some Maasai men who were friends of my friends, and we chatted with them for long enough that they let us take a picture with them. Then one of them very, very seriously began negotiating with Kessy for Leah's hand in marriage. He kept insisting that the number of cows needed was no problem, but he wanted her. She started to laughingly suggest an outrageous-to-her number, 500, but I warned her that we would shortly see a herd of 500 cows cresting the horizon in Dodoma, and Leah would have be expected to marry this short, squat, ugly, earnest Maasai man. Still, the pictures were great. Watch for my soon-to-be-changing Facebook profile photo. On the two hour ferry ride home, we got to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade...with no sound. I've seen that movie roughly 25 times, so I narrated the whole movie to Leah, which I'm sure she was delighted with. Who wouldn't be?

Now we are home, and, although we regret that we have to put Nairobi off for another month, we are happy to be home, sleeping in our own beds. Dodoma feels very cool compared to the 100 degree plus temperatures in Dar and Zanzibar, and we were missing our co-workers and friends and kids after only one week. Apparently we really are settling in here!

1 comment:

thatoneguy said...

This post makes me happy. Especially the part about the spices. And, as you may have heard, Jodi just wrote a book, which begins by talking about trading cows for wives. It's one thing I haven't seen on Craigslist, yet...