Week Five in Tanzania

THURSDAY August 11, 2005

Hendrik and Salma have a bit to do today so Paul is going with Annau to get some football shirts and I'm staying home to get some writing done. They'll be back later and, hopefully, we'll be off to see a movie.

10pm - Another productive day is finished. I got quite a bit of writing done. Paul got his shirts and found the music CDs that I had wanted and we went to see The Fantastic 4 at the cinema. The movie was pretty good and the theater is relatively new and was very similar to western style movie houses. So similar that you could almost forget that you are in Tanzania while you are watching the movie.

FRIDAY August 12, 2005

We tried to go see the Kunduchi Ruins today but they have been closed to the public. Apparently, someone wanted to make them into a proper tourist site, the government said okay, but then the two starting fighting so the government shut it off completely to the public. We did get to go and see the Village Museum. It's an open air museum that consists of traditional Tanzanian homes constructed in the traditional ways. Paul was happy that he finally got to see a mud-brick home close up and could walk through one. It's good to see all these things and see how each one is different, not only in style and design but in construction as well.

There are also many types of plants and trees here with signs telling you its official name, where you can find it and what its medicinal purposes are. The sad thing is that Tanzania has many good plants and trees, such as the castor tree, that are not being cultivated at all. Tanzania is really a rich country that has a lot to offer from important historical sites (which can also become money making tourist traps) to highly valuable plants and trees that offer many medicinal rememdies as well as being good to eat. Tanzanians, in general, are also very friendly but they also seem to be apathetic. They remind me a bit of the British, and maybe they learned it from the British, because they seem to be happy with the status quo. They whine and complain but there is very little motivation to do anything or to try to make their lives better. I've seen it in a small degree with Salma's family, but they have a bit of hope, and, to a larger degree, in the general population. It's a shame really because I can see great things that could happen to Tanzania if they could just muster the motivation and eliminate the corruption that permeates their society.

So, off my tirade now, we got some lunch at La Trattoria Jan and bought a couple of pizzas to eat at home tomorrow. We spent the last of our money on a DVD that had four movies (Kill Bill Vol. I and II, Paycheck and Torque) on it. The quality is really quite good as well. Then we returned to the rental house. Hendrik and Salma are spending tonight and tomorrow night at her parent's house. Tonight because Hendrik has an early meeting with his father-in-law's boss and tomorrow night because someone needs to be at the house while the family is away in Tanga. If no one is there, then there is a good chance that nothing will be left in the house when they return. That's a contrast to home as well. We have been gone for five weeks and I am reasonably assured that my stuff will be there when I return. My mom is only checking on things once a week and all is well. If you leave a house with no one around in Tanzania, it's likely that all your possessions will be gone when you return.

SATURDAY August 13, 2005

Today was a nice, peaceful, relaxing day. Paul went for a long swim in the pool. I have just finished typing up everything that I have written since I came here. It took me nearly twelve hours nonstop but it's finished. Everything was good until about 6:30pm. Can't have a day without drama, you know.

First, the lights got really bright, then dimmed a bit. Then, the power went out. This lasted a few minutes and then everything worked again. Then, the power went out again. So, we go outside to see what's going on. Everyone in the compound came out of their houses and were milling around for a bit.

 Well, it seems that we have some idiots who fancy themselves electricians. The guys that keep up the houses here were messing in an empty house, supposedly getting it ready for new tenants. Now, they aren't electricians but they still thought it was a good idea to open up the wiring and go fiddling around. At first, they tried to tell us that the power outage was not their fault. However, everyone pointed out, over and over, that it couldn't be a general power outage because only our compound was affected and the lights that line the inside walls of the compound, as well as the lights around the pool, were still working. There was hemming and hawing and lots of claims to not understand english well enough. Then, instead of fixing it, they all left. Not all at once though. First one left, then another, then another, until they were all gone.

We waited another hour for the owner to show up, by which time half the compound had left to go to a bar, and he fiddled around with something to get things fixed. Shortly after 8pm we got our lights back. I was quite happy as well because as soon as the power went out, the mosquitos made a beeline to me and started biting the crap out of me. I am now sporting nine new welts just in time to be go home.

SUNDAY August 14, 2005

7:45am - We are supposed to be going to the beach today. Hendrik said we'll be going around 2pm so there is a bit of time to get things cleaned up a little around here. It's not too messy at all but I get the feeling that Salma is a little bit of a clean freak so we don't want her coming back and freaking out. I've also packed up most of our things and I can only hope and pray now that nothing gets broken on the trip home. I'm pretty sure that everything is secure but, since I won't be handling my luggage at the airport, all I can do is pray that it arrives safely.

10:55pm - Okay, so a little slight mix up in plans today. We were really going to go to the Golden Tulip Hotel to swim in their pool but it was raining and we couldn't see the point in paying 6,000 shillings to swim there when we could do it here for free. So, instead, we just tidied up a bit and then went to Chummy's house for dinner. Her mom invited us and she made some great food, including banana soup, which I'd never had before. It was really good and didn't really taste like bananas at all. Hendrik didn't join us because he is sick with something. Salma had to take him to the doctor's this morning because he was throwing up all night. So, they are staying at Salma's parent's house again tonight. Hopefully, Hendrik feels better tomorrow. He says he's better now but an extra day's rest can't hurt.

Also, after dinner, Chummy gave me a very nice bracelet and a kanga. The kanga is black and white with the Tanzanian flag and a portrait of President Nyerere on it. It was a complete surprise, as I wasn't expecting anything at all and I'm deeply touched that she went out of her way to get me a gift.

MONDAY August 15, 2005

8:25am - Paul is taking advantage of the morning by swimming in the ocean and then he's going to take a quick dip in the pool. I've got most things packed up to prepare for our departure tomorrow. It's going to be a tight fit but I think we will be able to get everything packed. Later today, we're supposed to go to the beach as well as have some ugali and octopus at Salma's parent's house. For now, it's just some final cleaning before we head out this afternoon.

TUESDAY August 16, 2005

Well, so far so good. We have arrived in Dubai with no major problems. We were a bit late, which, in the end, is okay because that's less time hanging out in the airport. We took off late because, well, you can't be on time in Tanzania. We also had to wait in Nairobi again for people to get their shit sorted out, which is annoying. If I can get to the airport on time when I'm with Mr. I'm always late to everything, then so can everyone else. I'd leave them behind personally. 2am - we got some good stuff at duty free and spent less than we thought we would. We tried to get some sleep in the quiet lounge but some dumbass american girls took that to me everyone has to shut up but them. So, we didn't get much sleep and I am a bit cranky right now.

WEDNESDAY August 17, 2005

8pm - well, we are finally home and we are both happy to be here. It's more a matter of just wanting to get here after we started our journey. At this point, I have been awake for 47 hours and my tolerance levels are at zero. We were on our flight from Dubai to home for just over 14 hours and I didn't get any sleep. I tried, however, we were unfortunate enough to be stuck with people in front of us who couldn't decide if they wanted their seats reclined or up and also couldn't decide if they wanted to be in their seats or getting up and running around. Of course, getting up meant that they had to grab their seats to get up, thus shaking my tv screen on the back of their seat.

The people behind us also could not decide if they wanted to remain in their seats or not so the back of my seat was constantly grabbed and shaken on the multitude of times they got in and out of our seats. The people to the left of us had two little kids, one of which I was convinced was satan. I probably shouldn't say much more because I might go to hell for saying I wanted to smack the living crap out of this kid. Yeah, I'm going to hell now.

Normally, I would chalk this up as just a minor annoyance, especially since you are stuck in a flying tin can for 14 hours but add to it that I didn't have any sleep either, and I was highly ticked off. Asking politely for people to stop only increased their activity, followed by grins and giggles. So, now I've passed out gifts to my mom and grandma, which they really enjoyed and I was greeted by some other annoyances that, at this point, I don't give a crap about. I really just want some sleep.

THURSDAY August 18, 2005

So, I'm home and have dealt with my annoyances. Well, one is just funny. First, we had no hot water so I got a cold shower this morning. Ah, well. No big deal. Just like I've had before. But, the problem was a stuck valve on the hot water heater so that's all fixed and we'll have hot showers from now on. Also, our nice neighbors have moved (we knew this before we left) and we will miss them. Our neighbors next to them, however, are also gone. This is because they decided to cook something on the stove and then left the townhouse. Brilliant. They burned down their kitchen and that townhouse is now empty as well. Anyway, Paul and I are off to the mall to get some tissues.

5pm - well, we never did get any tissues. We did pick up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas though. We kind of had to because it's going to be pulled pretty soon. EB Games said they are the only store in the mall that is still carrying it and they don't know how long they will continue to do so. We were hoping to wait for it to drop to twenty bucks for a used game but that's probably never going to happen. We just had to be happy paying $33.


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