Observations and good vibrations

Thanks for all of the comments so far. Keep them coming! I wasn't able to load the ones from the last post after three minutes so I gave up. I haven't read them yet, but I like to see them. I have a LOT to write today so I'm going to try to do it in the next 35 minutes.

Firstly, I think I was a little premature on the judgments of people. I'm just feeling lonely and insecure. :) People are actually really nice, even the young ones. Especially the young ones! We're having a good time together. Fo shizzle. I'm already feeling much more comfortable in Arusha. It's not a constant anxiety as it has been so far. I'm starting to understand the layout of the city and feel comfortable getting around. that was not the case the other night, but more on that later. First, random observations:

Random Observation #1: Irony of all ironies, the word for bread in kiswahili is mkate. Oh, fortuna!

Random Observation #2: A Masaai (VERY traditional tribe in Tanzania) man dressed in the traditional red plaid garments, replete with staff, ear stretchers, beaded necklaces and sandals, standing on a street corner shakig his booty to whatever was on his iPod. Hilarious.

Random Observation #3: When I walk alone, sometimes I feel like "An American Girl in Arusha," grasping my shawl tightly around me as everyone stares and comments. You know what photo I'm talking about. I don't really wear a shawl.

Random Observation #4: For public health communication geeks only: One of the cell phone companies here has a poster around town that says "Spread the word, not the disease" with images of their cell phone and a condom. Pretty cool. They really need a media campaign here, but can't do it without the support of the government. I'll talk more about that someitme. If you get a chance and dont know about how Uganda's AIDS rates went down, look it up. Totally fascinating and awesome, and I hadn't learned about it until I was here.

#5: There are the neatest birds here. I dont know if they're magpies or ravens, but they're huge, and black with white chests and a white band around their necks. When they fly and caw they sound like geese. There were three in the yard this morning and Merry (my roommate the vet) pointed out that one of them has a droopy right wing which is broken. I think he lives in the compound since he can't fly. I like him.

#6: The traffic exhaust here is incredible. Black smoke shoots out of every tailpipe. Talk about black snot. It's really hard to breathe sometimes. Its gross. And speaking of gross (sorry colleagues), I used the pit latrine for the first time the other day, and I peed on my feet. Now I know the key is to squat lower. The bathrooms have spouts for water and buckets though to wash things down, so I was able to rinse them. I guess every woman's got to do it once!

#7: I forgot to mention the best part of the blackout the other night: the stars. I may have mentioned that Africa is dark? It's really dark. So pitch black that you cannot see a person in front of you. But if you look up at the sky, it's astounding. I've never seen so many stars. And, theyre different stars. I don't recognize any of them. Constellations, I mean.

Lastly, I had my first moment today while I was walking in the sewing district getting fabric, watching the seamstresses on the sidewalks pumping away at their pedals, with Tanzanian drums blasting out of someone's speakers, and dodging smokey dalla-dallas, of I'm in Africa. My heart pitter-pattered a little bit. It just felt right.

Dont' worry, I'll still come home.

I have a huge story about getting lost walking home after the last blog I posted and mozungo (white people) restaurants and David Bowie and eating a salad, but the last person here with me is finished and I don't want to walk over the bridge alone. Its getting dark.

I wish you all could be here with me. When I post next I will be moved in with my homestay family. I'm sure there will be more stories to tell.

4 Responses on "Observations and good vibrations"

  1. elm88a says:

    Wow...you are definitely where you are supposed to be. That is so cool, cliche, but still awesome. Your case study looks great...it is totally brilliant, but I might be biased! Love ya!

    Nancy says:

    Asanti, Kate. The experiences you've shared so far are amazing. I love the images of the darkness and the stars/constellations. I hope you'll share your story with a group when you come back, and I hope every day is wonder-filled. Be safe, be well.

    Stephanie says:

    I'm so glad that you are keeping a blog about this experience! It's incredible, and I'm so proud of you! :) Be safe, and keep writing! You're doing fabulous things!

    Stephanie McCarty

    michael says:

    hello kate I am so proud of you. God you are brave and yes i am sure you are doing good things. please keep fresh batteries in your head lamp and I love you and look forward to your next post
    Michael Drummond