Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Kola Hill

I lied on my last post. It's called Kola Hill not Kona, oops! Either way, its beautiful. I wish I had a way to post pictures because the view is unforgettable. I met my host family 3 days ago and they are wonderful. They consist of my 22 year old host sister, Happyness, who speaks the most english and is a bit sassy. She's looking for an American boyfriend if anyone is interested... :) Also, Rita, the mom, who is kind but quiet. Her enlgish is highly limited, so I practice most of my Kiswahili on her. Then comes Rogers (pronounced Roy-ez) who is 14, loves soccer and incredibly sweet. He's walked me home from the daladala (I'll explain later) stop twice now. Lastly, Lightness (I don't think I'm spelling her name right) who is 7 and I just met yesterday because, I think, she was away at boarding school. She is so cute and sweet too. One of the first things we did yesterday when we met was play hand games. She taught me an African version of patty cake and eny-meany-miny-mo (spelling?) and I taught her the American equivalent.
Happyness does most of the cooking and cleaning, and the food is awesome :) The staples are ugali (mashed corn), pilau (rice with a slightly sweet brown sauce eaten with bananas), wali (cooked white rice) and beans, cabbage, and some cooked spinach looking dish served at literally every meal that tastes...well...interested. Chris and Mish, you would never eat it :) My host fam made it out of pumpkin plants leaves. For breakfast we have things like chapati (delish mix between a tortilla and naan), hard boiled eggs, cooked sweet potatos, papaya, andazi (like little donuts but much less sweet...they taste wonderful though!) and chai (tea). There is also Chai time from 10-10:30...which apparently occurs everywhere in TZ...where you have basically a second breakfast. It's interesting....I'm not opposed :) Also, I'm now not worried at all about not getting enough protein and such...I've had plenty. I've also started drinking milk here because they have their chai (which is really like an english breakfast type tea) with half milk, half tea and a generous scooping of sugar.
This is now our third voyage into town. Its a crazy crazy adventure everytime you step outside the little PC sanctuary they basically confined us to for the first part. There are Pikipiki's (like small motorcycles) zooming by everywhere and daladala's (small bus's) constantly pulling over and asking you if you need a ride. Cars and bikes frequent the main road "Old Dar-es-Salaam Road" in addition to the numerous people walking, many with baskets of bananas or other necessities on their heads. It's fascinating to watch. I've attempted this feat several times now and I never seem to manage. Inside Morogoro is a bustling center of dirt sidewalks, tons of dukas (little shops selling anything from phone cards to stationary to sandals). The drivers here have reversed the American road rules since the pedestrians halt to pikipiki's, which halt to daladala's, which halt to anything larger. Basically, if you don't move, you will get smashed. Don't worry Mom, I'm incredibly more cautious when crossing the street!
Our days consist of waking up under our mosquito nets, getting dressed and brushing our teeth, drinking tea (chai) and heading to our daladala stop. There we start class at 8 and have anything ranging from Kiswahili (which we have a lot of) to Health session (usually followed by a tantalizing round of shots :) )to security sessions to teaching info. Then, our day is broken by chai at 10, chakula (it means food but is actually just lunch) at 12:30 and we are usually done by 4, sometimes 5. Then we head to town or home because we need to get home by 6:45, when it gets dark. Living without a Western toilet, warm shower, gas stove, reliable electricity, washing machine and safe-drinking water has been an adjustment, but its totally managable. My host sister is going to teach me how to wash my own clothes this Sunday. Apparently there is quite a process. Eek! I haven't made it running yet because we've been so swamped, but both my host bro and sis said that they may come with me. (Mom, another thing you don't need to worry about)
For dress, the people here wear everything below the knee and covering the shoulders. The most common piece of clothing, a khanga, which is basically just a sheet of material that people drape around themselves to cover their legs (mostly), top or both. I bought one the other day that I wore today and I have to say, its comfy, but not the most movable thing. I'm pretty energetic, so mine has almost fallen off a few more times than I can count. Good thing I've got these leggings under it. This morning, it was the best when a woman literally stopped me on the street, asked me about my khanga and then readjusted it for me. I thanked her genereaously and laughed. Oh you must love the Tanzanians!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Habari!

I have officially started learning Swahili (Kiswahili in Swahili) and I can acutally say more than 2 words! Yay! Maybe because my happiness over the next two years depends on it, I've been trying a lil harder than Spanish. Today was another day packed full with lectures and lessons. There's been no time to go online which is really sad, but maybe also really good because then I don't think about how homesick I am and how much I miss home. This internet cafe closes at 8 so I only have like 15 more minutes. Eek! And so much to write. Here goes:
I used my first choo (bathroom...but not in a Western sense) today. It is basically a hole in the ground where you squat and are expected to use your left (that's important) hand and some water from a nearby bucket to wipe yourself off. PC volunteers usually bring toilet paper instead...I kept with that trend. No dirty left hand for me.
Mish, you'd love the food here. It's allll carbs. I've been struggling to get more protein from the hard boiled eggs and beans, which are basically 70% of my diet right now. I finally ate one of my two remaining Clif bars because I'm convinced I lacking a LOT of vitamins. I think that'll change when we move into our host families.
Speaking of which, we drive to Morogoro tomorrow, have Chakula (meal or lunch) and a Swahili session and then get dropped off at our host families at 2:00pm. OMG I'm so nervous! IDK the types of amenities they'll have there but I will learn the essentials for living in Tanzania over the next two months of living with them. They will teach me how to cook, clean my room, wash my clothes, use a charcoal iron to iro nmy clothes, light a kerosene lamp, start a charcoal stove...Oh boy, life is going to be different.
I will be living with my host family until August 24th, but I won't receive the site of my post until August 5th (so please don't ask until then!). Then I will meet my headmaster of the school where I'll be working and get my house and such. Apparently like a ton of PCV's here hire a houseboy/girl to clean their clothes, wash their house and cook their food. It cost like 20 American dollars/month, and supposedly that's over paying.
So, as I said tonight is our last night at this Christian compound. I plan on enjoying a African beer or two...there are some good ones at the bar here. A milk stout that's awesome...comparable to a Guiness...and lager that starts with a "N" that's super yummy and this famous one called "Tusker" that's started in East Africa and named after the elephant that killed one of the owners. There's also a wedding going on here so we'll have some sweet African music to jam to. I voted Pictioary for tonight (the past night have been consumed by a various combinations of cards games (Uno, Peanut butter) and Mofia, Psychology...oh all these games that I didn't think I'd seee again after leaving day camp. :)
Okay, hopefully I can write more soon. Miss and love you all! Habari za jioni!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

(READ SECOND)

I went to post that last one and the screen said "Server not Available" I almost freaked. Luckily, upon resending, it worked. Whew!
Anyways, after our duties with PC were done, we decided to wander the compound and see what ouroptions were for a good time. Our first stop was the internet cafe...where I'm currently writing this, although it's a few hours later. We foundout the cost of 1 hour of time on line (1500 shillings...aka $1 :) ) and I attempted to ask when they closed. The woman behind the desk knew much less swahili that anyone that we'd encountered before so she looked at me utterly confused while everyone else (and there were like 10 of us!) just let me struggle to reword my sentence so she'd understand. After about 3 rewordings, we summoned the power of our "Swahili phrase books" that we'd een given only hours before and frantically started looking up 'When do you close" to no avail. We found that the word "Basi" meant "What time..." so I wrote that on a piece of paper the woman gave me and drew a picture of a door closing next to it. Pictionary here I come! My ingenious was lost as she, and the rest of us, bursty into laughter as she attempted to dicipher my note. No luck. :) It was hilarious to see her laughter so hard at what I felt was a very very good depiction of a closing door :) finally, after a lot of miming, she realized what we were asking and told us 8pm. Thus, I'm on the computer at 6:40...typing you this. Oh the joys of the language barrier! :) Tanzanians are actually amazingly patient and friendly when it comes to learning their language, so I think that we are really luck to be here, in this country. Poa! ("Cool!")
After that ordeal, we wandered over to the bookstore where, while my co - pCTs were browsing...I popped my head in to a class of 6 Koreans who are doing the Korean equivalent to the Peace Corps called Kioca (I think). We started talking and it turns out they've been here since Friday, already know their placement sites and are going to be doing lots of different jobs...one's a nurse, other teachers, etc. So cool. They leave here Saturday.
Finally finally finally, we made it to our final destination: the bar. :) We each grabbed beers or cokes and went to the mess hall (Canteen) to relax. Eventually like 15/20 people gathered and we spent the time recounting the days events, asking the PCV's what teaching in TZ was REALLY like (I'll go into those answers on another post...that could take a while...) and just being really ridiculous. I discovered that I could twirl my skirt if I spun fast enough. Hey, 18+ hours of flying, a lot of foreign food and bathrooms without toilet paper can make anyone a lil goofy. :)
But in reality, while I'm still tired, overwhelmed, and definitely sad (I really miss home and all the people I love...) I couldn't feel like this is more me. I'm happy. Things aren't perfect. I have a long, dirt road ahead of me, but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. I hope I continue to feel that way. I know that the nights before bed are the hardest because that is when I miss everyone the most, but luckily, the day always always comes no matter what.
Until later - Karibou - Steph

Dar-es-Salaam

So last night we landed in Dar and we're all super tired, jet-lagged and hot as hell. It was 9pm here, and apparently the winter, but the temp was 72. We debated whether we'd really chosen the right PC location. JK :)
So we had our quick intro to the staff, took our first dose of malaria proflyaxis (spelling?) and were told what to expect in our rooms. Still, we probably weren't prepared enought for the tap water we couldn't drink (I washed my face with bottled water...yeah), the lime encrusted shower head, and the toilet with a button that says "Stop" and "Flush" on opposite ends. So, welcome to Tanzania!
It didn't actually feel like we were in Africa until the morning though, when I woke up to (not my watch alarm clock...which apparentally isn't not loud enough to wake me up) the sound of the birds and the sun. I rushed out the door to our breakfast at 7:30 only to be greeted by a TON of fried corn and rice concoctions (so the rumors are true...hmmm...oh no). I tried some of the chapati (fried dough that looks like a super dense pancake...and kinda tastes like one too) with marmalade, some gross muffin-looking but actually drenched in oil thing that I tried and that was the end of that, and bananas and apples. Apparentally there are a lot of bananas here. Who would've guessed.
After lunch we shuffled to the conference room (really just a big open long class-room looking room) where we got told what to expect and what was expected of us. Andrea is our country director and so far she seems great and upfront. It's amazing the lack of BS you have to deal with when you leave behind a minimum wage job. I forgot the real world was decently grown up. :)
Then, to business! We got told about the rest of our vaccinations, our medical interviews, our bank accounts that we were to open that day, how to get a phone, how to spend money, when we'd meet our host family, about being sworn in (as official PC volunteers..Andrea said that not everyone makes it...) and how much Tanzanians are going to laugh at our butched Kiswahili.
So, most of today was spent dealing with those logistics. Also, I learned that "I love you" means "Nimekuzimia", so I'll be using that a lot now :) Yay!
Oh, and I also had my first adventure outside the compound when I realized I didn't bring enough toothpaste and one of the PCV's here (we are techinically PCT's ... Peace Corps Trainees) had to take me to a little store (if you can even call it that) outside the wall and help me buy some. The brand they sold was called "White Dent" and looked pretty classy :) And it was approved by the TZS...whomever that is.
(Okay, i'm going to post this now b/c the power goes out and I don't want to lose all my work) I'll continue the rest in a minute.