The rains have started! Every day for months now I’ve watched the sky and wondered, will today be the day? We’ve had a couple teaser rains, sprinkles really, but I was told we’d get a BIG rain to signify the real start of the rainy season. And it came. And it was big. I wondered if Hurricane Sandy had made it all the way to the eastern coast of Africa. The sky was dark and heavy. Branches dried from the months of drought flew off trees and into my house. I never close my windows, but rain reached halfway trough my house so I thought it was a good idea to make an exception. It was cold; I wore a sweater and my shuka blanket. Lying in bed at night after the torrents had lessened, windows opened once again, I felt a faint spray ever one in a while. Moisture! Water!
All day yesterday I hung around the house in leggings and a t-shirt, not even bothering to dress completely because the sky remained dark and the rains came and went, never completely ceasing. I new everyone else would be doing the same thing, so I made a day of cleaning, blogging, writing, reading, mending and watching the rain. I cooked a yummy tuna pasta dish, using my last can of American tuna and ate that throughout the day with a glass of wine always at hand.
In addition to the awkward giant ants I normally fixate on, the rains brought a plethora of other interesting bugs out from their dry season hiding places. The flying ants are not my favorite, but again and again I found myself side by side with this prehistoric relic thing; it seemed to be following me around. It’s a very large, ping-pong ball sized thing, not really a beetle, not a spider, and kind of slow and lazy as I poked it and tried to move it on several occasions and it looked merely perturbed. The best description I can come up with is friendly triceratops spider beetle. A spiky crown on it’s head, 6 legs, fat, soft spider body, and docile to boot, I rather like him. I found him waiting at my door in the morning, then in my charcoal bag when I cooked, then again in my bathroom. I’ll take a picture sometime. I hope he sticks around.
I’m going to backtrack some to talk about TOT training in Muheza. I left off last time with my arrival in Babati with Tanique and Danielle. The next day we hopped an early bus that we had hoped would take us all the way to Muheza. Upon leaving Babati, however, it was apparent that the bus was not in the best condition – evil smells came from the front end. But it was a good road, paved, so we hoped for the best, assuming the bus people knew what they were doing. Apparently they didn’t. One hour outside of Moshi we broke down. But they didn’t tell us we broke down. We sat around for an hour, waiting patiently because this is TZ and these things happen, while they banged around under the bus w/o explaining anything to anyone. Eventually all people affiliated with the bus left, with NO explanation. We didn’t even know what they had left for quite some time. Anyone and everyone who could afford to hop another passing bus to Moshi did, leaving only a few mothers traveling with children on the bus. We decided to hop a bus to Moshi too and eat a delicious meal until things could get worked out. Standing on the side of the road in the middle of NOWHERE was making us cranky. Really though, to abandon your bus w/o explaining to anyone what you’re doing? Horrible! And those poor mamas – crying children, no food, can’t afford to go anywhere else… Well we got to Moshi, went to the bus office and tried to figure out the situation at hand. The office was next to Aroma Coffee – a legit coffee shop w/ free wireless! I was in America for a few hours, even had a real coffee. The guy at the bus office was a low-level employee that couldn’t do anything for us. The truth came out that the driver and kondos had gone to get some part to fix the bus and no one knew how long it would be. We waited at the coffee shop until it closed at 2pm, then waited another hour or so before it was just too late – we would end up traveling mostly at night = not sage, and who knows if the bus would even make it. Failing in our efforts to be reimbursed the fare from Moshi-Muheza, after much complaining to the office guy who obviously had no pull, we just went back to the standi and got another ticket on another line for the next day, hoping to be reimbursed later by PC. We checked into a guesti, then soothed our weary, annoyed minds with all that Moshi has to offer – dinner and wine at the Indian/Italian restaurant, a three-way split of pizza, pasta and paneer. So full we could hardly walk, we ended the night with a couple episodes of 30Rock. The next day we hopped another bus and made it to Muheza without incident, arriving at training a little late but in one piece.
Going back to Muheza was a little weird for me. I remember training as this horrible, traumatic time, and a lot of that came rushing back at me, especially when everyone else reminisced about how wonderful training was for them and how excited they were to be back and see their families. For the first time since coming back from America, I had an emotional moment as I recounted training from my point of view during a session on how PCTs might be struggling to adapt and how trainers/LCFs can help them. I felt again like an outcast, but this time I could show them that it was TRAINING that was hard, and not my inability to cope. For example, I never cry in front of my villagers now because I have time and space to digest things that are happening. If I am overwhelmed, I go home and chill. There is NO chill time in training, and I made it clear that it is very important that volunteers have down time, perhaps outside of the hectic homestay environment. Others agreed and stressed that a little America time, w/ just your CBT mates is necessary to stay sane. By the end of the week, Muheza and training weren’t so intimidating anymore, and I was excited to come back and teach my session.
Muheza still sucks though. Out of all the towns in TZ that I’ve been to, Muheza is the worst by far. People are rude, obnoxious, sleazy, aggressive and hostile and the town is dirty and chaotic. The bank never works, and neither does the one grimy internet café. I thought it seemed that way during training because everything was so new, but nope, Muheza is an awful place. Right when we got off the bus at the standi and were waiting for PC to come get us, I was reminded of this – we were sitting on a bench and instead of being greeted, etc., the normal protocol, people just stared at us blatantly and without smiling. One kid, teenager rather, stood 3 feet in front of us and just stared an unfriendly stare, blocking our view of the standi and everything else, for a good 15 minutes. Finally I think I said something like ‘say Shikamoo (the greeting you say to elders), it’s bad to just look at people without greeting’, and he sauntered away. Ugh, Muheza is like… hell.
Today is another chill day in the vill. I gave buttons to my tailor for this shirt he’s taking forever to make, went to buy flour and yeast, stopped by Mama Iyami’s to hang out for a bit, drink chai and eat corn on the cob with Zulea and Iyami, then came home to write more and bake bread. Oatmeal bread is on its’ first rise. I think I got all the bugs out of the flour. The rain seems to have motivated the mice and rats in my attic as well as the bugs because last night I was awakened by a scratching and climbing creature somewhere on my mattress near my head. All day I’ve been ‘surprising’ various piles of mice and rat-friendly stuff in an attempt to find and execute the little bugger. Dear rodent creatures: if you stay in your attic haven, I will let you be, but if you intrude on your downstairs neighbor, I will find you and stomp on you with vengeance. Consider yourselves warned. Mr. friendly triceratops spider beetle, you’re ok just hanging out in my choo for now.