11 July 2005

time to play a little catch up

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Ahhhhh, the internet is finally back up here at Kivulini. Now I have the luxury of sitting in my own building and typing without watching the internet cafe clock count down at a rapid pace.

So, where can I start?

FridayWe did a lot of work today, most of it involved trying to get in touch with the Western Heads East people back home. We haven't really heard from anyone (except my supervisor, Sandy) which is, frankly, cause for concern considering they've sent me to freaking Tanzania. After sending a rather angry email to a certain housing exec who hadn't answered any of our emails or called, we found out that he'd gone in for "emergency sugery," which I found out today was for appendicitis. Oooops. But still, we need help over here and it's not coming through at present time.

To take my mind off the project, I went out for Indian food at the New Mwanza hotel. Between 5 of us, we ordered 7 dishes. They arrived at the table in silver pots with little candles warming them. I ate a lot. An "expensive" meal here is only $10 Canadian, so it's pretty sweet.

I had been invited by Kivulini to an event, but I didn't really know what the nature of it was. All I knew was that pendo told me I should wash my feet for it. (SIDE NOTE: It's not really my fault they're dirty; I wash them like twice a day but there is mud and dust everywhere here and it sneaks into my shoes). As about 15 of us piled into the Kivulini van, we turned to Markus (a large, jolly yet opinionated man from Switzerland with a shaved head) and his wife yohanda and asked,

"So, Markus, is this a wedding or something? Where are we going?"

He replied (in an Arnold Schwarzenagger-esqe accent):
"I don't know. I have no clue what's going on or where we're going."

And yet he was there, dressed up. And so was I. This kind of thing happens a lot when you don't speak the language.

It turned out to be a Tanzanian wedding for the Kivulini Secretary. It was very interesting and beautiful. the odd thing was that neither the bride nor groom smiled at all the whole time. I asked about this, but apparently it's a tradtion of sorts. Dinner was heaping platters of rices and salad, which you pile on a plate and then eat with your (right) hand. I spilled everywhere. Within 5 min my tacky, 1930s VV shirt (see below) was covered.

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The wedding party.

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Low-tech security protecting the church.

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me, Pendo and Teddy outside the wedding.

The wedding ran long, so I missed my aeorbics instructor's kickboxing competition. Today he told me that he won though, so that's good.

At night we headed over to Tunza Lodge in response to my friend Ian's text "Fancy a sundowner and some lovely food?" Lovely it was. I sipped Amarula (you can get it in Canada but it's really cheap here) and had the most amazing food I've had since Brian and I had boconcini pizza in Little Italy in May. Real butter. Wow it was great.

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sunset at Tunza.

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red hibiscus

Got up bright and early to catch the ferry to Ukerewe island. Described in The Rough Guide to Tanzania as "One of the doziest places around," it was just that. Nansio, the main town was pretty tiny. We were the only wazungus there, and received many open stares. To entertain ourselves, we rented bikes to tour the island. After riding about 50m I realized my bike was incredibly busted and should never be ridden by a female. I wanted to see the island so I kept riding, but received many injuries.

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brand power.

At night I watched the mist rise on Lake Vitoria as locals did their washing and bathing along the shore. Afterwards we returned to the hotel bar where I had a few Amarulas and then settled in for an evening of televangelism on the hotel t.v.'s only channel.

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A misty night on Gallu beach, Ukerewe.

MondayWhile eating breakfast, I became quite concerned to see the ferry leaving the docks 3 hours early, considering it was the only way to get back to Mwanza. I kind of panicked, thinking I would be stuck on the island wdithout enough money for another night at the hotel. After drilling the hotel staff, we found out that a smaller boat would be arriving in a few hours to take us back "home" to Mwanza. While we waited for the ferry, I was speaking with a tiny old lady who had helped us get tickets and find the proper boat. She was very kind to me and and when I handed her a small amount of money as a thank you, her face beamed with gratitude. She said, "Chakula na chai kwa leo!" (this is food and tea for today!).

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In a bit of a creepier moment, when we were sitting on the curb waiting, a stumbling drunk man wandered up holding a half-full beer bottle. He yelled at us to give him money and got right in our faces. I avoided eye contact and continued writing in my book until he ripped the pen out of my hand. Jon took it back from him and the man started yelling. He was really making a scene and people were starting to gather, but we didn't want any trouble so we tried to ignore him. Suddenly, he reached down and grabbed my face and one of my braids. I was stunned, but he backed of when Jon stood up to defend me. He shook his bottle at us, made a kissing noise at me and stumbled away. Not a good way to end a nice trip. Fortunately, the ride home was uneventful. I listened to The Dears on my discman and daydreamed for 3 hours.

It was surprisingly comforting to step back onto Mwanza soil and walk the familiar streets home to the apartment on Uhuru st.

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Bismark Rock, Mwanza port.

This week I have a lot of work ahead of me in order to make sure this project stays sustainable. I also have my first test at Swahili lessons! Tomorrow afternoon, Pendo and I are going to the Maasai market to order some custom-made bracelets. I'm also buying some fabric here to have clothes made. I only brought grubby stuff thinking I would blend in, but people put a lot of care into appearances here, so I look pretty scruffy in my oversized linen pants. It's a gradual adjustment, living in Tanzania as a Canadian...from the inside out!

I've been here just over a month now. The time is flying but I miss home more than ever. It's certainly a challenge to be in love and be an ocean apart.

I also miss cartoons and hot chocolate and riding functional bikes.

Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!


Laura said...

Dallas, i'm absolutely in love with that picture of you on the 'misty night'.. so beautiful.

i'm glad you're having such a great time in Mwanza. can't wait to see more pictures!


b said...

yes, each post brings more amazing pictures. keep it up at the gym, just in case another sketchy situation happens.

invitationinside said...

wow the sunset picture is absolutely looks beautiful sorry to hear that you are getting so dirty! how is it going with minimal makeup/hair stuff there? how are you holding up...haha kidding...well missing you tons! you sound like you are really having an enjoyable time.

Pranay said...

amazing pictures, beware however of standing to close to a lake or river like that, hippos lie in waiting as do crocs and snakes.

But other then that keep it real.

Anonymous said...

Some of your pictures are very "Cartier Bresson-esque" especially the wedding one. really cool stuff.

Gillian Edworthy said...

dal - it looks so beautiful there - the pictures are amazing, your such a natural photographer!
i miss you! enjoy every minute!

cheers dudette