Tanned, rested and ready...

Habari za leo, rafiki?! All is well in Tanzania again. I have to say that I have read back a little of the last post and I sound a little crazy. i should eat before I write. Aw, who cares. If you know me you know I'm crazy anyway. It is just that I have to rush and write so quickly, so it comes out weird. My apologies. Pole sana.

Firstly, I was able to read the comments, finally, and I really appreciate them. I will probably not answer them individually because it will take so much time, but to those of you who want me to speak, I absolutely will. For those of you who have suggestions on organizations to help with micro-loans, I will be really happy to talk to you when I return. For those of you sending prayers, good thoughts, vibes, and whatnot, asante sana. Several people have also asked more about women's rights in Tanzania. One of the things that is often repeated by our Tanzanian counterparts is that the more education a woman has, the more likely she is able to say no. A single independent woman can say no much more easily than a wife, because she is contracted to her husband and if she refuses, the men assume she thinks he is unfaithful. We'll be talking about this in school this week with the kids. Our counterparts are all men and women in their early 20s who are almost all preparing to go to university, so they are well-educated already. I have some statistics I can share with you later. I'm sure I'll continue to write on this blog about the experience when I return so that I can share some of the things i have written and learned along the way, but don't write here.

Oh, Larissa, I love your photos of the dogs. They are beautiful! I'm jealous that you can barbeque at my house with my dogs while I'm gone, but I'm so happy they have a mom while I'm away! Thanks for putting those photos up. And I showed the picture of Stanley to some of my friends here.

And on that note, I DO have friends. Turns out the kids like me after all. The kids are alright....
They say I'm like wine, better with age, but I think we are all like cheese, just getting stinkier.

So, the rat situation has been resolved. My intuition was right. The homestay coordinator, Mama Frida, came with me to the homestay to gather my things. She wanted to see for herself because she couldn't understand how my place could have rats. She thought it couldn't be so bad, but figured if a grown woman was crying about it, she should check it out. Well, it turns out that my Mama had tricked Mama Frida by showing her her daughter's house instead of her own. Mama Frida was livid. She was very kind while I was there, and explained in Swahili that I was afraid of rats so I would need to go. When we got back into the car she expressed her horror. She said no one would ever be placed in a home like that. HSe requires that the homes be at least cement or brick, and almost all have electricity and running water. She was extremely apologetic. I was just happy it was resolved. She couldn't believe I had even stayed a night there. Hakuna matata, I told her. Whaddya gonna do.

I went to my new homestay and almost cried with joy when I walked in. It's directly on the Nairobi-Moshi highway, which is great, because it is right next to shops if I need water or cell phone minutes. It's next to a BP, even! There's a big, comfortable living room where we can sit together and watch the news (in Swahili) and I have my own room with my OWN bathroom! It's a squatter, but it's MY squatter, by golly! And it even flushes. It has a shower head, although the water is really cold. This morning I used the shower head to wash my hair, but washed my body using a bucket bath. That's what most people use. I also did my laundry this morning after soaking my clothes all night. You use the same space to use the bathroom, bathe, and wash your clothes. I'm starting to get used to it. Boy, won't everything be nice when I get home. I'm sure I'll never complain about my house ever again. At least for a few months. :)

A few friends and I had dinner the other night and started to talking about Africa. Those of you who know me well know that I romanticize everything. I know I do, and I've romanticized Africa for a long time. I thought that i would come here and everything would be slow and chill and I'd relax and get to regroup and reconnect and reground myself, take a break from the hectic life of school and work and wedding planning and enjoy myself. But I tell you, It's not like that. Tanzania, or at least Arusha, is not a place where you slow down. It's a city, bustling with activity. Here every day is about survival. For me, for many Arushans, for everyone, it seems. My friends agreed. I'm sure it's a generalization, but the three of us felt that way. I've started chewing my fingers again, even. Only a little, I promise. And perhaps it will slow down and be more comfortable after having been here a while. The volunteers who've been here 5 weeks or so seem to have settled in. I think that'll happen just as I'm leaving. We talked about why we are all here, and the various things we needed to get away from, look for, or forget. Everyone has a story. One friend and I had talked about how we initially thought we'd want to move here. Now we're not so sure! I'll have to rethink that in a few weeks. I'm sure the whole experience is different if you have a home. Your own home that is yours and yours alone. With a flush toilet you can sit on. It has been eye-opening, indeed. This will surely change me, but I'm not yet sure how.

Monday we went to our school. I am at the rural school in Nkoanrua (N-kwa-ROO-uh). It is a truly beautiful site. The walls are so colorful and the landscaping (plants in buckets wrapped in tinfoil, I mean) is really nice to look at. The classrooms are basically what you would expect. Chalkboards, wooden desks with metal bottoms, metal chairs, and cement floors. Which makes for a really loud and incredibly painful cacophony when everything is moving around. i can only imagine what it will be like when the kids get there tomorrow. We've been planning our lessons. One of the girls I am with is leaving next Tuesday, so I'm letting her do most of the teaching until then, but I'll do some. It's going to be a really good time. We have games and quizzes and all sorts of ways to teach about HIV, OIs, STIs, condom use, communication, relationships, assertiveness, peer pressure, and more. We address gender issues, taboo subjects, and just have fun. Myself and another volunteer named Kyle (who has 'musical inclination' via experience playing the saxophone) have been put in charge of music and drama every day. We have no idea what to do. Tanzanians love American hip-hop, so we figure we'll do a rap musical about AIDS. Sound good? We thought so too.

Today our bus got a flat on the road up to the school, which is all uphill, bumpy, and dirt. We walked the rest of the way up the hill, which took us 35 minutes. It was nice exercise for the morning. We found a 'smooth' road to go back on, which just means that your head doesn't hit the roof every 10 seconds.

Upon out return I went to the mzungo place and had a chocolate shake. It was a nice treat after this week of madness.

I have to go back to the old hostel now to find my Peace Corps Life Skills manual which I accidentally left there, so I know what I'm teaching tomorrow. Then I'll head home and study up until dinner, which they have around 8:00 or 8:30, and I think that's even for my benefit.
I may have my first dalla-dalla experience today, which is the public transport here, where you may find a person or a chicken (kuku) sitting on your lap. It's only 200 shilingi, which is about 15 cents.


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