Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Best day of my life? Quite possibly

First to understand the beginning events of this day, you should know that me and Brie had collected money from everyone in our training class to buy a new guitar for Huong, our friend who got her stuff stolen about a month back. Okay…begin:

Today started off quite normal. Wake up at 7:30, chai by 8, session to begin at 8:30 in one of the classrooms here. Oh, but how things change! After chai, I found out from Big Boy that we were finally going to be able to get Huong’s guitar from town. And even better news: in the process, we were going to miss the first session of the day (which, turns out, luckily, was “malaria guy’s” presentation on recruiting us, basically to help with his project as our secondary project. Oye.) So, me, Brie and Huong went with like the 2 coolest trainers, Makasi and Paschal. Oh, goodness, we love Paschal! He teaches us slang in Kiswahili while we teach him slang and abbreviation in English. Like today, on the dala ride back to the Msimbazi center, we taught him “LOL”, “You’ve been served” and “Bumblef***” It was so amusing. And hilarious. But anyways, we walked into town, which ended up as every Tanzanian adventure: with Makasi saying “just a bit farther” like 3 times and then, when we got there, half of the music shops being closed. Oh, good times : ) (I don’t think that I knew the true skill of patience until I came to Tanzania). So we found one guitar, bargained it down (thank you Makasi!) and then Huong said she would still like to look around, so we searched out another, which we found out was 50,000 more than the money we’d collected. Of course. And she still needed a case. But after bargaining for a long long time and just being super patient, Makasi again got it down to 200,000 - the amount we’d collected and me and Brie offered to split the case, which we got from 40,000 to 30,000. So Huong rode the dala back to the Center with her new guitar on her lap and we all taught paschal the slang and, oh, good times.

So then, we came in for Chai (10:30 chai, that is) and got ready to meet our Mkuu’s. I thought I was nervous, but once I saw mine, I realized that nerves were silly. They are all so happy to be getting volunteers for their schools (they had to apply and provide adequate housing…hence why we have very nice houses compared to the health or environment volunteers…so they are usually pretty enthused to meet us). My Mkuu was really friendly. He was very relaxed but he also seemed like he had things together. I discovered that there will be about 500 students at my school, which 13 streams, so about 4 streams per form. There are already a Bio and Chem teacher there and possibly someone to teach math and physics a little bit, but he’d really like someone to teach math and physics. I told him that I teach bio and he said we’ll see what we can do. There already is a bio teacher but, since I wanted to teach higher forms, perhaps I can take the upper levels of bio and then help out, like physics or something . IDK, I’ll have to go to site and see. I’m flexible. I’d take upper levels even if its not in the subject area I’m strong in. There are about 10 other teachers at the school and there are also students that board at the school too, which I was also happy to hear. Should be interesting. We eat chai and lunch at the school and then I need to bike to and from school, because it’s a bit far. The walk is through the village, so that’s a pretty easy way that I can get to know my villagers since I live away from the house. But my house is supposed to be really nice with 3 bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen and all that. And its in the compound by the Mkuu’s house. He said that he has a wife who can help teach me how to cook and 3 kids, one of whom is at boarding school. The other 2 are 10 and 6 and they sound really cute. I hope I can go over there and play with them a lot. That was one of the best parts of my homestay. So, we talked about Katesh, and how you have to go around Hanang mountain to get to my site because it’s between there and the village. Apparently its decently cold and pretty dry. But you can climb up the mountain there if you want, which is sweet. Also, although there is a local language, he said that everyone speaks Kiswahili, so I should be becoming fluent in that. Woot! : ) I spoke with him in English at first but he kept switching to Kiswahili so eventually we just finished the conversation in Kiswahili. He was telling me that I speak it very well but I think it was because (well aside from the fact that Tanzanians will say that anytime you speak any Kiswahili to them) I was talking pretty fast in Kiswahili because it got to the point where I could talk faster in Kiswahili and not have to annunciate each syllable of each word as much. And since I like talking a LOT and I like talking fast, I just used Kiswahili to fit my needs. Oh well, whatever works. But, so we also talked about how we were going to get to the village, which is usually a 2 days trip but apparently we’ll be making it in 1 (really really long) day. We leave at 5:30 from the bus stand (Ubungo) in Dar and travel through Moshi, Arusha, and then down through Babati (where Tiffany’s site will be) and from there we’ll get a private car to drive me to my site. So we won’t get in until like 9pm but that’s okay. At least I can rest and unpack the whole next day. Yay! And that’ll save me some money on a hotel. Oh goodness, I can’t wait to see my house : ) So all in all, I just realized that I was really excited to go to site and settle in and meet my fellow teachers and (hopefully) add to my Kiswahili, because my knowledge has been really really stagnant since shadow.

So after all of that and lunch, we all went our separate ways and I borrowed Kiki’s People magazine and read in the gazebo out front. Shaheenah came over and asked it I wanted to go visit a friend of a friend of a friend of her family’s with her and Hannah and it sounded like a marvelous adventure, so I sad of course. We grabbed a taxi and went towards the Hospital and Fire station and meet this super awesome, very well off Indian family who welcomed us like we were relatives. It was amazing. They had 4 young kids, the youngest three of which we played with while we were there. We chatted about Tanzania and Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam and football. And then, because they were Muslim, dinner time rolled around and we sat down for this amazingly wonderful feast beyond feasts. Since it’s Ramadan, they were fasting during daylight hours. So, at 6:36, they could eat again and so, lots of guests come over and their house girls prepare TONS of food and that was what we ate. OMG I haven’t been so full in, oh, probably my entire life. It was crazy. There were at least, at LEAST 30 different things to chose from. There were like 2 types of juice, a milk tea, water, soda, then for the food: 2 types of maandazi, sambusas, a heavenly cassava and sweet potato stew, pizza with beef on it, fried potato dumblings, chicken kebabs, chicken wings, crispy chicken strips, fried eggs with meat mixed in the yolk, 2 types of falafel, 2 types of rice, a stew with meet, another soup with meat, mini hamburger looking things, pastries with some type of nut filling and sprinkles, cookies. Oh my! It was lika midnight buffet but better. So great! Needless to say, I did try some meat. And it rocked. Those chicken kebab things especially. Although, while I heard the milk chai was good, I did not drink it because I’m fairly sure I’m lactose intolerant here. Milk sits the worst with me. So, yes, we feast feast feasted and then rested for like another hour because we could hardly move. And then, they gave us to go bags and offered to drive us home. But first we walked with the kids to an ice cream shop called “snoppy’s” and the parents meet us there and I ate an awesome (IDK how I made room for that) sundae called “4 heaven” while we played hand/clapping games and sang almost an entire song of Justin Beiber’s quite loudly. It was great : ) Seriously one of the best nights of my life. So unexpected, but so great. And, I finished the night by skyping with Kimmers, my fbook child, and Emma, a girl in Libertyville that I babysat girl. And also one of the coolest middle schoolers you’ll meet. So now, I can go to bed happy. Success.

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