28 July 2005

feel the rhythm

this is the third time I have written this post today.

Today was as close to being a "normal" day as is possible.

I'm now taking Swahili lessons twice a day. Yes I'm overzealous but I have to finish 2 terms in the space of one. My first class is at 8am so I leave just after the sun has risen. Each morning I walk, alongside school children in green skirts or shorts, to the beat of a mysterious drum. I don't know who plays this rhythm or where they sit, but the beat is definitely reminiscent of Jumanji.

My teacher, Dr. Salalah is a crazy woman. She is full of stories and good humour, but when she laughs she laughs so hard that I see the madness gleaming in her eyes. This weeks cultural class is about polygamy. I'll tell you how that goes tomorrow.

After class, if I have time, I will sit and have sweet tea with two women who sell food from under a tarp. The tarp is supported by sticks and the ground on which they work is a shimmering black. Kind of like a volcanic beach in the middle of a grassy field. It got that way from the daily build-up of charcoal chips from the charcoal bundling station beside them. I've gotten to the point with my swahili where I can (attempt to) make jokes. No matter what I say, the people love it. I think they're really just laughing at me. Kids laugh at me a lot too, at my expense I'm sure. Often I'll be minding my own business and will look up to see a group of kids laughing hysterically and pointing at me. I can only smile back though, cause I'm clearly causing them to have a grand ole time.

Today I had a full body massage. It cost 6 dollars for an hour. It was very up-close and personal...but good nonetheless. Man I could get used to the prices here. Did I mention that beer costs 80 cents for 550ml? And good wine is only $1-1.50 per glass. A bottle of the local liquor, Konyagi, is only $2.50 for a 40. I don't go near that stuff though.

Sometimes I'm not sure how serious I want to be on here. I have seen a lot of moving, eye-opening and utterly frightening things. Still, this doesn't seem like the right venue to talk about them.

I will say though, that yesterday I was leaving the apartment with some kids who had come to pick up yogurt. One of the girls slipped and cut her head on a metal banister. It wasn't a big cut but for some reason it bled profusely. Within 30 seconds there was a large pool of blood on the floor below her. Jon and I grabbed medical supplies and rubber gloves of course. Some people from Kivulini helped us and we took her to a nearby doctor. I ended up buying her some iodine, the nurse patched her up and she was fine. The thing is, several of the mamas we work with are HIV positive, as are some of their children. There is no way to tell if this child was or not. I have never been bothered by the sight of blood until this time. I was actually afraid of the blood. I wasn't anywhere near it, so don't worry...but it was so strange to suddenly realize that a human fluid can be such a danger.

So much of what I am around is too big for me, too complex. But I am learning. I am also learning what I can't do.

It's odd how some things are starting to feel normal. I see monkeys pretty often. There is one that lives outside of my school and he eats lunch at the same time as the teachers. He's pretty big. His butt is blue.

Today the seamstress arrived with a custom made skirt I ordered. I pulled it on over my pants to see if it fit. As soon as I had it on, the women made me turn around so they could see how my butt looked. They examined me closely and seemed quite satisfied...or so I thought after enduring squeezes and pokes. They said, however that I needed to eat a lot more to be a real African woman. Teddy, the shopkeeper explained(in swahili of course): "See, look at Pendo's bum. It's as big as this fridge!"

Pendo, loving the compliment (obviously) replied "But Teddy...she's as fat as this cupboard!"

"But you," said Teddy, pointing at me, "You're just like a giraffe."

I'll take a giraffe over a fridge, thank you ladies.

So yeah, Serengeti tomorrow. I will be safe and promise to take at least a half gig of pics.

It's almost August. Although my restless self will never slow down to the Tanzanian rhythm, I'm doing my best to go with the flow.


Molly said...

I just started reading your blog. Very interesting.

Zija - drink life in said...

drink life in with Zija or
Its about your health

ETC'd said...

each post I am so impressed with what you are doing

the strength you have to participate in such an experience inspires every friend, family member, and reader of this blog

Dallas, we all miss you so much - but I'm sure there are people in Africa that appreciate your presence more than any of us can fathom

thanks for sharing all your pictures and describing your experiences

i get excited for each coming post

b said...

I, personally, haven't been impressed with a single thing you've done. This serengeti trip is your one chance to toally redeem yourself, in the form of pictures. Pictures of lions fighting cheetahs, zebras fighting elephants, monkeys riding giraffes while hunting gazelle, and all of the other interesting things that happen naturally in the wild African wild. That's right, I used wild twice.

Hahaha, in all seriousness, have a great trip. The last part of the above paragraph, was, however, serious.

drink zija?

love brian

Gillian Edworthy said...

have a great trip dal! i look forward to seeing all the pictures...


dallas said...

I love how adbots have weasled their way into my comments section. Thanks everyone. Cross your fingers for me that I see some lions!

Paige said...

Brian... amazing, as usual.

Dallas... it has just come to my attention that you too are a fan of Gone With the Wind. My soon-returning roomate Terra (she was in Halifax the past year) and I are also HUGE HUGE fans. We must organize something this year involving the celebration of this book/film...

dallas said...

yes Paige...I am probably one of the most devoted fans ever. I even have all the Scarlett and rhett barbies. GWTW could make for an interesting themed party...I really look forward to it! Post O-week, we'll get started!

b said...

guess who's not coming?