Long time since writing. Pole. I think that I have a lot of catching up to do. Alas! I hate catching up so I think that instead, I'll just write what I'm thinking of, or the wonderful memories that I've had over the last 2 weeks and go from there. Let's see. Where to begin? First, I belive that I wrote all about a great week spent at my school. No teaching yet, but just trying to get into the swing of things and sort out stuff with my, now clean, house. That is how I spent today too.
My mom, aunts and friends are amazing seeing as how I've gotten a barage of letters from them. It's been truly exciting opening each one. Mom, thank you SO much for you long letters (I know you are used to writing that must but I love love love the updates! even on little things) and especially the little surprises inside. I've never been mroe happy to see random pics, sticks of gum and string. Thank you! Aunt Donna has been one of my most avid correspondents and I love it! I feel like I get to talk to her more now that when I was in the States. Aunt Flo sent me a beautiful card while Mary and Cass wrote the most long letters about life, love and happiness. Miss you guys! AND, Cindy rocked my world when I found her package sitting in the Singida post box with my name on it. It was Christmas in Tazania. And I love it. So thank you everyone. <3
So today I debated getting out of bed but after so many days of waking up late and being on the road, I thought I could use a little bit more time to sort stuff out. I've been busily writing emails, postcards and letters all day, and still feel like I could do it for 2 more days. But, I'll be good and go to school tomorrow. It's frustrating when there are things to sort out with your house like plumbing issues or the fact that my room and the bath room both don't have electricity but the fundi (technicians) can only come during certain hours. I don't want to get into teaching and then have to miss classes for things like this. Adjusting to site gets tedious.
As for my adventures. I went to Singida for banking and then decided to visit a friends site. We spent almost 3 days there doing a bit of painting, running, and a lot of lounging and cooking. It rocked. We ate some wonderful food which we cooked ourselves and she even made her first loaf of banana bread. We rock. The running trails were great there with rolling hills and not too much dust (more sand...good calf workout). Our last day, we decided to go fetch another volunteer who was like a 2hr hike away, from her site and set off on a path that she'd only traveled once before. Luckily, via asking for directions and just basic instinct, we arrived just fine and, even more luckily, the other volunteer was home. She doesn't have electricity in her village and her phone was dead so we couldn't call her before and tell her we were coming. Such is life. So, we grabbed her things and traversed back, using reliable landmarks such as "the big big termite hill", "the baobob tree right next to the other big tree" and "the dried up riverbed" for landmarks. We made it home right at dusk came upon us. Success. That night, we played mind puzzles and listened to club music. I love life. : )
The next morning early we took a bus along with countless chickens, old grandmothers and other miscellanous villagers back into Singida, my banking town. Mel was basically used as a pillow for the entire ride but one girl crammed next to her while I jammed out to my music and became covered in dust next to the window. We made it to Alana's house in Singida fairly easily and stayed the night there. Me and Kiki ran around one of the lakes until about night fall and then we sought out a rice and beans place for dinner. We only got lost once. Score.
Waking at 5:45 to catch out 6:15 taxi, we traveled to Dodoma (only like a 3hr ride) where we found a guesti (thank you Kiki for being our guide there) and spent most of hte day shopping in the market. I bought a sweet khanga with a print from the 2010 FIFA world cup on it that I later had sewn for me in Katesh (my mkuu introduced me to this fundi named Juma who was really friendly). Also, I bought some beautiful shoes that I'd been wanting from one of the nicest vijana (young people) that I'd come across. No marriage proposals or anything! (I believe I'm up to 6 now...)
After our nice day of browsing and such, me and Kiki went for a run while Mel and Alana and Athena slept. Then, around 8, we met up for dinner and drinks. The waitress at the lil restaurant place where we had a really great time despite the fact that some drunk on the way out tried to get some of our attentions by grabbing our arms, which Kiki was NOT having and told him to "Toka!" ...or "Piss off" It worked. Along with the waitress scooting him out of the bar. That's not too uncommon here, you just have to be firm and speak strongly and you won't really have a problem. Especially because once another Tanzanian sees that you are being harassed they will step right in there to help you. It's really nice.
The next day, we traversed the city with our luggage strapped on to find this so called pool that you could use for 3,000Tsh/day and succeeded. And it was AMAZING! I felt like I was back in the US. We tanned (and sunburned) and went swimming and read and just did nothing for hours. So great. Eventually our PCV's met up with us and we had a huge group of people there before everyone headed back to the training center (VETA) that we were staying out for the next two days. We showered, ate good food that we didn't have to cook ourselves and met a lot of new people. That night we all hung out at the bar before going back to our gorgeous, single beds with electricity, TV's, hot showers, Western toilets, goodness, where do I stop? Was this heaven? We spent 2 full days learning a bit out filling out grants, what projects other volunteers in our regions were working on and just learning more about the process of being a PCV in the field. At night, we'd eat awesome (expensive) food and one night I had Indian AND Chinese. The next night (our last there) we all went to this pizza joint with mini golf and played with beer in hand. And the pizza was definitely some of the best that I've had since being in Italy. Yep, that good. Thin thin cripsy crust and real cheese. Heaven, right?
As teh seminar wrapped up, me and a few PCV's decided to take the long way home and head up north to see some rock paintings that were located in Kondoa, outside Kolo. We grabbed a bus at 12 that morning and made it 5 hrs later in Kondoa. Since you needed to get a 6am bus to Kolo, we got a guesti, found food and crashed pretty early. The next morn, bright and early, we were on our way to Kolo, where we grabbed chai (with some DELISH chapati) and got a guide to lead us to the rock paintings. It was a little over a 1.5 hr hike there and, while the hike was nice, the paintings were anticlimatic. There were several sites and they included drawings with a medium of clay and blood. So they were red looking, and according to the guide, 6,000 yrs old, although we were skeptical of this fact. The view was really pretty though so just being there was pretty wonderful. We headed back to Kondoa that afternoon were we napped, ate and chilled. Something awesome happened on the way back to the guesti that night too that quantifies a "you know you're in Tanz..."
You know you are in Tanzania when...
You are walking home with a group of white people from a bar at like 10pm and, as you cross a random intersection, an entire crowd at Tanzanians just start cheering for you all. No reason or purpose, just the fact that you exist and they can see you makes them happy and they continue this thunderous roar until you are eventually out of eyesight.
If that doesn't randomly boost your confidence, nothing will. It was awesome!
The next day we all traveled to Katesh to catch our buses home and end our brief adventure. But not before we hooked up a projector in Justin's house and made popcorn and watched Men In Black on the wall at 10pm. It was wonderful and cozy and everything that one needs sometimes in a foreign country. So, alas, I'm back at site and happy. But sad to see the end of my first big journey around my region.
As I was getting a lifti home with my mkuu the next day, I remembered why I really love my site. Jeniva, a teacher at my school and several other people I've met before and they were just so happy and laughing and it just made me feel lucky to be here, with there Tanzanians that like me and care about me and are so positive and, yeah, it was a nice return trip. And I also discovered that my mkuu does the same tongue purring sound as me when he talks which really made me laugh. Except I couldn't expalin any of that to them.