Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Africa Journal: 2/8/2010

February 8, 2010

What a big day. A LONG day.

We left Dar Es Salaam on the very back of a bus around 10:15 am, and drove all the way to the middle of Tanzania - 7 hours. I had so many thoughts going through my head. I hoped to write them down, but I know that probably wouldn't happen. I had the feeling I used to have all the time when I was younger - so hopeful, so sure of the bigness of life.. and just in love with it.

I loved riding on that bus.

Tanzania is the greenest (most green?) place I've ever seen. Everywhere you look, something is growing. Towards Dar it's very tropical. I saw monkeys on the side of the road! There are huge mountains that rise up from nowhere, then land that stretches for as far as you can see. In the cities and towns, everyone has something they're trying to sell. This is called "piece work:" work that you can do to try to earn enough to get through the day. Buses are swarmed with people waving ears of corn, tomatoes, bananas, cashews, peanuts, sodas, mangoes, bread, carrots.. this is their livelihood. An American would call it pushy, obtrusive, but this is the way they must be. And it doesn't look easy, by any means.

In rural areas and villages, there are huge plots of land, and there might be one woman - she looks so tiny in the vastness of the field - swinging a hoe with a baby on her back.
An old woman or man will set a few bags of charcoal at the edge of the road and wait to see if someone will stop to buy them.
You see huge herds of animals - goats and cows - being herded, but by who...? Then you see a tiny child walking behind them with a stick.

Everything is picturesque - Groups of uniformed schoolchildren walking together or sitting under a tree being taught by a lone adult; villages with women carrying buckets on their heads and babies on their backs. I though so many things.. that I now don't remember.

Now I'm in Dodoma!
Mama Askofu picked us up. She is a remarkable woman, I could tell from the moment I met her. Welcoming and laughing. We came to their house - the Muhagachi house - in what is a kind of middle/upper class "neighborhood."  It consists of two larger rooms, with a few smaller rooms on the side. The only thing that I am even the slightest bit apprehensive of are bathrooms.. but it's not unfamiliar. I've done it before. :)
The rest of the family living in the Muhagachi household are Baba Askofu's mother, "Bibi," Mama and Baba's two daughters, Grace and Peace, and three other relatives, who I assume are nieces and nephews: Shangwe and Kibero who are around my age, and Justin, who is about 10.
I played cards with Peace, Grace, and Justin tonight, and they are really fun. The whole family speaks English, so it has been easy to get to know them. Plus, having kids in the house definitely makes me feel at home ;).

Tomorrow I go to the office/church and start seeing how things work! I'm excited that they have internet there, so I can let my family know that I am alive. I can't believe I've only been in Tanzania for 4 days.

-Kait (My new name, as of lately..)

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