Thursday, 31 January 2013

Letter home..

Dear my wonderful parents-

Hey guys!  So, your lovely daughter here just keeping you updated on my life.  Hey, so guess what?  Remember how accident prone I was when I was little?  So much so that after I lost a sewing needle (with which I’d been using to repair old socks…yeah, IDK why either) and then that night got out of bed and stepped on it?  Remember how the tip broke off and we couldn’t find it until a week later, while playing soccer, I realized that the bottom of my foot was kinda sorta hurting really really bad?  And then remember how the xray showed that I indeed did have the tip of a needle in my foot and it had been there for a whole week with me walking on it and I was pretty darn lucky that it was pointed at the bone instead of talking a little trip to my heart?  So, I have some wonderful news for you both!  Not only am I still incredibly accident prone in Afrika as well (no shock there) I’m also not far off from having the exact same problems as my child hood.  Well, of course since you are probably just ecstatic to know, mom and dad, let me tell you.  I was running today as usual.  This was a longer run and about half way through I felt what seemed like a thorn in my shoe.  There are a lot of thorns around my house now that the rainy season has started so this was no surprise.  I kept going and it kept poking me but I just put it out of my mind because this was one of those ignorable pains, like running cramps or little sisters (just kidding, Mish!).  So, anyways, when I finished with my run, I went into my house and attempted to take off my shoes.  Only I couldn’t take off my left one because the further I tried to slide it out, the deeper into my foot this thorn dug.  Yes, the thorn was big enough and at such an angle that the only way it seemed that I could remove my shoe was to dig it deeper into my sole until I could actually slide my foot out.  I looked and looked for the source of this thorn on the bottom of my shoe but it was no wear to be found.  Well, after some debate, and, might I add, a little cringing at the thought of what I was about to do, I twist my shoe around my foot and slowly slid it out.  Whew!  It could’ve been worse but then I looked to discover the source of this agony and there it was, one little needle, about an inch and a half long, stuck in the insert in my shoe.  I looked at the bottom of my foot wear this little guy had been digging at the ball of my foot and there was the mark, a couple centimeters long, wear I ran with it poking me for about 4-5 miles.  Perhaps its time I get the nerve endings in my feet check out.  So, moral of the story, dear parents is that I’m all right and apparently my feet can survive numerous needles.  I’ll be home next jan…Mom, perhaps you should hide all pointy objects just like I was 3 again.

Love and miss you –

Your adoring daughter – Steph

Muddly Me Musings

No, I don't think that "muddly" is a word.....

Lately, as I’ve been spending the usual ever-increasing time at site, I’ve started to make some more of the lists that I love to compose in my head.  For this one, I think that I’ll list things that I love doing in TZ that I would hardly have the time or guts to do in the States:

-Spend hours at my neighbor’s house whether or not he’s there.  If he’s around, then I chat with him and his brother (they are my Dad’s age) about life and school and farming and corrupt politics and unnecessary violence and watch Al Jazeera or South African soap operas.  If he’s gone, I go and grab things that he’s let me store in his fridge or freezer, watch TV, cook with their oven or, for example today, I cleaned the dishes there and wiped down the counters.  One time I even took everything out of his fridge, cleaned it all out and then rearranged it again.  It’s the least I could do for letting me live a life of semi-luxury here and giving me access to cheese and meat whenever I want.

-Singing alone to myself (outloud, of course) using a flashlight for the microphone and composing accompanying dance moves…and this pretty much occurs every night

-Gardening and then being able to pick my fruits and veggies directly before I eat them.  Awesome.  Just awesome.

-Spending dusk watching the sunset from the huge rock behind my house.  If I finish my run earlier than usual, then I reward myself with taking a Turkish Airlines blanket and my latest book out to the rock just about 50m behind my house where I can read until just the right moment when the sun sets and the sky is literally everysingle shade of the rainbow.  There is absolutely nothing I’ve yet seen that could trump an Afrikan sunset.  It’s just beautiful.

-spending an average of 2 hours composing my dinner each night…this includes lots of veggie chopping (which occurs simultaneously with veggie eating), boiling copious amounts of water, running back and forth to my neighbors fridge to grab even more veggies, or maybe the mayo or the beans, cutting up fruit for dessert (which I also eat as I simultaneously chop) and, finally, (on fri/sat) doing all this while sipping on a glass of wine.  LOVE.

-also spending over an hour each day just talking on the phone.  How else will I get my daily dose of American-isms?

-opening up the door for my neighbor kids and actually inviting them in.  Yesterday I impromptu-ly tutored my neighbor’s niece and today Monika and Alana came and coloured.  You just don’t have time for kids in the States unless it’s planned

-lying…okay, no, telling indirect truths…in order to solve my problems.  This problem of the week concerned my neighbors that were supposedly watching my cat while I traveled.  Seeing as how little weight he had on him and rumors of him being beaten, I figured that it was time to reclaim my key that I gave them.  As the week progressed, I started noticing that things were missing from my house.  At first I blamed it on my own forgetfulness until my neighbor’s niece started asking me about these things, my candles, my favourite tea cup, my cookbook (which is in English and my neighbor only speaks Swahili….question mark?).  Realizing that I wasn’t nuts and they’d just taken these things without conveniently telling me.  The final straw came in the middle of the week when I tried to fix my extra bed frame in the spare room and couldn’t due to the fact that they’d broken the back part of my hammer when they’d used it months ago.  Deciding it was time to do something I finally asked my neighbor about one of the items.  Her response?  She told me she’d no need of them, so why should she take them?  No mention of the other items…so, as my mum taught me, I decided to kill them with kindness. I walked over there with a plate full of fruit and thanked them for their work.  Then I brought another of my cups to exchange for the one that I wanted.  She gave me all of my stuff back with a little guilty smile and I accepted with a pretend appreciative grin.  The next day, I sat down with my headmaster and told him the problem.  He’d even admitted that the corn that he’d kept in the extra room of mine, he’d taken it all because my neighbor had started putting her corn and beans in there too and he’d noticed it but they’d never even asked me.  A bit ridiculous.  So, in cohort with my headmaster, we deceived a plan in which we go over together to ask for my key back but I pretend like this is news to me and he tells them that the school needs a copy of the key.   I love this, and am also super relieved that soon I will not have to question myself everytime the sugar looks low or I seem to run out of pens unexpectedly.  However, today, my headmaster calls me in the morning and says “Don’t come to school yet.  I’m coming over.”  So I wait and 10 minutes later he pulls up and hands me a whole new lock set and 4 accompanying keys.  I was ecstatic when he tells me “Use this set and when your neighbor asks, tell them that I replaced all the teacher’s locks and that I only gave you one key.”  And he hands me the lock and keys.  Wow.  I have the best headmaster ever.  Therefore, solution: found.  Bent truths: a few….but overall…a very Tanzanian solution.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Well hello folks – goodness it’s been forever and I apologize for the delay.  You know that thing that gets in the way all the time of us keeping each other up to date, yeah, that one, life.  Well, I sort of let it get to me too.  Whoops.  But I’m around now.  In fact, since I’ve been constantly impeded over the last few days while attempting to type even the most minute of emails, I figure it’s about time to get on blogging.
So, I can’t quite remember when I finished my last post (and ironically enough loading my previous blog entries takes forever so I’m going to avoid it) but before I left for Christmast, here’s the big news:  MY LIBRARY GRANT GOT COMPLETELY FUNDED.  I must have plenty of more- than-wonderful friends because within a matter of weeks, I raised over $4000 to help my school establish its first library.  I was so ecstatic when I found out that I called my headmaster at like 10pm just to tell him.  Luckily, he was just as happy as me and didn’t mind being bothered so late.  Unfortunately, I hit this goal right before my big month long stint at home for the holidays so that project has been on standby until my return.  Now that I’m back, we have our first meeting this Saturday to finalize a builder (our last one was given another project at the school recently) and then start the renovations.  We have to finished cementing the inside and outside, paint both parts as well, build some furniture and then buy the new, updated and not-falling-apart textbooks and dictionaries the students are craving.  I can’t wait!  It will be a long and grueling process for sure…it always is when money is involved here…but it’ll so be worth it.  So, whether or not you were one the donors, thank you for your support on this project!
In other news, I had an amazing time at home.  I travel to and from I would’ve gladly substituted for teleportation but luckily it went really smoothly and I arrived safe both ways (and didn’t lose a thing…which should shock some people even more!).  While home for the break, I got some much missed family time with movie nights, cookie baking and even a trip to the Kriskindlemarket in Chicago.  My mum really did a wonderful job being there for me and taking me around to fill up on the all the shopping that I so missed.  We had lunch dates and mall visits and multiple over-an-hour grocery store trips.  I’m pretty gosh-darn lucky. J  As for friends, I got to see almost everyone that is still around the area, and even some people that aren’t, so, while it was incredibly busy, it was so wonderful at the same time.  Made me really look forward to the day when I’ll have to leave my home here forever and go back to first world indulgences.  While I do miss things about the States, I really do like my life here as well.  Ultimately though, if I had to compare, nothing beats speaking really fast abbreviated mumbled slurred English about TV references from your childhood while cruising around with some friends.  It really just feels like home and that’s a great feeling to revel in.
Okay, enough about the States.  I’ve been back at site for almost 2 weeks now and all is back to the way that it was.  It’s like I never left!  My cat still tries to eat all my food, I still wake up to lots of dead bugs on the floor and my neighbors are still constantly trying to highjack food and other various eating utensils covertly from my house.  I do feel a lot more refreshed when it comes to teaching though, and that is a really renewing feeling.  Before I left I felt so bogged down everytime that I had to step into a classroom and overwhelmed when the students just didn’t care but now I think I’ve hit a good medium between trying and letting go.