I’ve just opened up a new journal, journal #1 having been completely filled with words and ticket stubs and letters and pictures and other scraps of memories. I’ve covered this new journal w/ khanga material left over from a skirt. Now it is ready for my musings.

The election happened, I was spared all the silly ads and propaganda, and it ended in my favor 🙂 I’ll assume my ballot made it stateside, but I’m satisfied either way. People in my village are happy too, but they don’t know the issues at stake, they’re just happy a ‘Kenyan’ is still prez of Marekani.

It was also my Marekani Mama’s birthday on the 6th! Happy birthday mom! We couldn’t chat b/c I forgot all about daylight savings :/ But I didn’t forget!

I’ve been biding my time in the vill, did a major house cleaning yesterday – got rid of countless termites, spiders, cockroaches, anthills, dust bunnies, swept and mopped everything, all in order to prepare for my shadower – a new volunteer that will be my ‘neighbor’ next month. Her name is Jenna, and I’m super excited to have a visitor. I’ll meet her in Dodoma, we’ll go to Kondoa, then to her site, then to mine, then to Babati, maybe Katesh? And then I’ll send her back to finish her training in Muheza. I’ll then hopefully visit Nora’s site – which is somehow cosmically linked to mine since Samweli and Mama Daudi hail from there, then head back to Kondoa for an amazing Thanksgiving w/ the missionaries.

These next few months are going to fly by. After Thanksgiving I head to Muheza to teach, then I have a couple weeks in the vill before our girls’ conference, then it’s Christmas, then New Year’s to spend on Lake Malawi, then it’s Mid Service Conference in Dar – then it’s the middle of January already! Maybe 2 years isn’t so long after all.

Friendly Triceratops Spider Beetle (FTSB) came out o hiding yesterday to strut around my kitchen. He’s so interesting! I was also startled yesterday at the clinic by a big turquoise lizard with a neon orange head. The rains have brought out all sorts of oddities.

I planted some jalepeños, carrots, basil and chives. I’ll wait another week for the rains to really start – apparently there is usually a pause after the 1st monsoon – to plant dill, squash and green beans – thanks mama for the seeds! I also have this rogue vining plant taking over my garden. At first I thought it was cucumber, but now I’m not so sure. I’ll wait for the fruit to mature in order to find out. The tomato plans continue to bear delicious, sun-scorched fruit. I’ve been burying my organic kitchen waste and mixing ashes from my stove in the soil to improve my crops – we’ll see if it helps my hopelessly anti-green thumb.

The girls’ conference grant came back to us with a million edits – still so much work to do! I’m worried we won’t finish before out planned dates. Fingers crossed.

I finished reading ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ – fabulous read with an interesting, perhaps tragic story of conception. Read it! Now I’m on to Angela Carter’s ‘Night at the Circus’. Someday I’ll pick up ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, which has been loitering on my nightstand for several months.

I can’t wait to get out of the vill tomorrow! I started packing a week ago, then had to unpack and repack several times because I needed things. I’m so antsy, stir crazy: my mending is done, my house is clean, my journal is written in, my list of letters to write is shorter – I need a village break! I gave myself a hairbut, rather a hairhack, and for not looking, it’s not too bad. I never liked my hair long, so now it’s gone! Chop chop chop. It’s super curly and big like I like it – the Tanzos think I go to the ‘Saloon’ every day now, or they think it’s a wig. Great fun.

Had a good conversation about women’s development and empowerment w/ a bunch of dudes on the road yesterday. We talked, or I talked about how it’s important for men to encourage women to study, get an education, find good work etc. before marrying and having children in order to secure a good future for themselves and their families. We talked about the difference in America, where we wait longer to marry and have kids in order to study or work. One guy asked me how he can get a white wife because he like our skin color – that is an annoying but common question that I answer w: if you say that to a white girl she’ll walk away. We (hopefully) marry for love and not skin color. We also don’t point out or greet people by their physical attributes – hey white fat girl I love you! I tried to get into the ‘respect women’ etc. thing, but it kept going back to – how do I get to America and get a job and learn English and get a white wife? Well sir – start at home! Get an education, learn English to start off, no one is going to hand you a platter of opportunities so you can go off and get a white wife. Ugh, that’s when I start to get annoyed. Make your own plans to get where you want to go. No one, especially not me, can do it for you. There is no magical pill or tree of money that will get you there. P.S. poor people in the USA often sleep on the street. You may be poor, but you have a house, a farm, and zero bills. This is an American homeless person’s dream. Learned helplessness – I will not help myself b/c I heard some NGO or rich white guy gives handouts to solve my problem for me – is a big problem here.

End semi-rant.

Off now to Zinduka, our 4th practice 🙂 It’s still going well, and I think I know all the kids’ names now – it’s way harder to differentiate kids here than in the US, they all wear identical school uniforms, and it’s the law that they all have shaved heads, guys and girls alike. And they often have the same names, which can help or hinder my ability to remember who is who. Amina, Halima, Amina, Mohamedi, Abdallah, Abdilahi, Hassan, Hussein, they’re all so similar I get mixed up. One girl, Umi, is a small quiet thing, but she has some lungs and a brain to boot. she offers thoughtful comments to the group, unlike many who merely regurgitate what they learned in school or repeat their peers (that is the nature of the TZ school system so you can’t really blame them, tools for critical thinking are mostly avoided in favor of memorization). I’m hoping by the end of this, the shyer girls and boys will have come out of their shells. Asha especially, I want to get her to say something. Anything… time will tell if we’re successful.


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