Feeling pretty motivated and positive today, for several days actually. Zinduka has its’ flaws and hang-ups, but is happening and I think it’s going well overall. Inspired to work more at clinic, new nurse=new work partner and new possibilities. Trying to plan malaria training of trainers with clinic workers, maybe Steph P., another PCV who has done this training will be able to come to help out. Maybe all this meditation yoga stuff IS helping my confidence? Have grand ideas of more sessions at health center on various health topics. Things are looking up and I might make a difference after all. Had a down day yesterday, my mom is impossible to contact and now it’s been at least 2 months since I’ve talked to family in the states. Mommy where are you?

Explained to Mbula not to sweep my garden – we’ll se in a couple hours if it worked or not. My pickles came out nicely, sweet and garlicky. Out of peanut butter – disaster! Not going to town again for 2 ½ weeks… What will I dip my one remaining carrot in? Maybe I’ll julienne them for stir fry.

Need to talk to women’s group about grant problems. Doesn’t look like we’ll get funded for project. Girls’ conference grant ALMOST approved. Maybe? I hope so, we are shooting for end of Feb and need to plan w/ our students. Also thinking of collecting donations for a basketball court or volleyball net for the community. Would love for the kids to be able to play sports w/ real balls on real courts, instead of rolled-up plastic bags on dust.

I’m excited about this malaria training, I really hope it works out.

Listened to Beach House this morning, as usual. Read Eat Pray Love, still in India part. Her views on spirituality are appealing to me. Still trying to meditate or do yoga every day.

Found first scorpion in house – teeny tiny guy, easy to miss, easy to step on. Verbally exclaimed ‘oh crap’ then squashed deliberately. Do not want a scorpion stinging me in my sleep. Also moved a rock in courtyard to find long slimy thing with no legs, but def not a snake. No idea what it is, same as the crazy guy Ilala brought to my door last year. Squirmed away once revealed.

Linnea is coming to visit me from Sweden!!! I’m so so so excited, SO EXCITED! We will have Abba dance parties, like old times, get scuba certified, climb Mt. Meru, go to Tarangire National Park to see elephants and Zebras, swim in Moshi’s hot springs and chill in my village. This is my dream plan at lest, we’ll see if we have time for it all 🙂 I can’t wait to have a visitor. I hope I have enough cash for this extravagant trip.

A while back I went to Tanga to teach the newbies in training. I did a session on understanding working partners, cultural differences, etc. All their fresh faces pumped me up w/ energy. I’m always nervous talking to groups, being facilitator, etc., so my usual nervous laughs and jokes permeated the session, but over all it went really well and I got a lot of good feedback. I’m much better at talking one-on-one w/ folks, but I need to practice public speaking if I want to succeed in today’s world so it’s good to get up there and bumble my way through it. I’ve been here over a year now, so the new guys look at me like I’m awesome, an expert. My Swahili baffles them, and my comfort level is envied (also my wardrobe :)). This was a pretty good ego/confidence boost. The second day I went back to my old training vill to help with their community meeting/map drawing activity. I helped facilitate a little and translate, but was hands-off and enjoyed watching them figure things out. This is a really good group, I had fun hanging out in the old vill w/ new people, in a non-stressed state of mind. Seeing all my old neighbors was so nice, I can have conversations, people remember me, young kids cry at first then get over it. My mama and baba did not get a new trainee this time around, probably b/c of my review – they are not bad people but the housing situation w/ all the people and noise and lack of privacy and downtime and help b/c mama and baba are so busy – was not conducive to learning and adjusting. Wonderful people though. I was sad to only be able to spend like 30 min with them because PC insisted on picking me up early to go back to Tanga. I intend to go back at lest one more time before leaving here, maybe stay the night? I feel bad for having been a recluse during training b/c of all the stuff I was going through, but now I can visit, no stress, have relaxed conversations, feel like a friend and not a burden.

All the stuff w/ the new trainees was awesome, but hanging w/ my fellow trainers not so much. Why do I feel so out of place and so disliked by my peers? Actually it’s mostly just one unpleasant person. Oh well. OH WELL I SAY! I have got to get over letting small things ruin everything else. Stayed at the haunted mansion guesti again, shitty but cheap, alone and it was quiet and non-dramatic. Met up w/ everyone one night for Indian, including Mel, a recent Tanga addition, gave her a haircut she likes, feels good to be able to help people be it w/ photography or hairdressing. When I arrived it was Tanique’s birthday – beers and swimming in the bay, meeting some newbies who actually have some freedom this year to be out and about – perhaps due to our class’s whining?

Anyways, this has all been about the week I actually taught. I haven’t written about the week all us trainers met to go over the training together – TOT, training of trainers. That week was weird. So weird to be back in Muheza w/ my peers after so long. I don’t have fond memories about my training, and this feeling of dread filled me as soon as I arrived at the standi. It was rough, but good to be able to put in my two cents about ‘free time’ and ‘American time’ to hopefully help the new class cope better. I still think everyone thinks I’m a whiner, but if even after a year I still think it was traumatic, them I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my imagination. Felt a bit outside the group as usual, but managed to find moments of fun and happiness. Still feeling solid after my return from America, but don’t think the general loneliness will go away until I’m out of this particular assignment and group of people.

At the end of the week we arranged to all go to the sand bar – a literal bar of sand that appears and disappears w/ the tide. We hired a boat, a heavy wooden mass with a canopy and a large central table, to take us out there. We frolicked quite literally on the sand, searched for interesting shells and crabs and sea urchins, Brandon chased Valencia w/ a crab, she ran, we drank wine and huddled around Tanique’s small iphone speaker, the boat crew stopped on the way out to meet a lady on a long dock who handed over a pot of homemade pilipili then lit up grills on the sand bar, creating a delicious meal of fresh fish, veggies and ugali. The tide came in fast and unexpectedly, forcing us all to run for the boat, the crew scrambling with the hot grills, dumping ash in the ocean and cooling the tools in clouds of steam. The lead guy was quite cute, I think he was maybe hitting on me? I can only hope.

Our sand bar time was quite short, so they took us over to some mangroves to swim and frolic some more. Even more interesting shells and crabs abounded. We had a headstand contest in the water, Brandon surprising us all with leg movements reminiscent of synchronized swimming. Nora was a clear winner. I always get water up my nose. We were all out there as a group, but away from the prying eyes, vicious stares, catcalls and begging of every day. A memory to keep for ever. Glenn brought his guitar for added ambience.

After TOT I ended up back in Babati on my own, on a Sunday. I ran all my errands and noticed how much calmer Sundays are in town than weekdays. I felt like I owned Babati. I walked around in jeans and my NIPO shirt like a boss. I bought my peanut butter like a boss. I drank chai like a boss. I GOT MY MAIL LIKE A BOSS. Harassment rolled off me, this is my town.

Maria came to meet me then go to my vill. We waited forever for my bus to leave b/c they lied about the time – STOP LYING TANZANIA! We watched a guy flop around a big basket of chickens, making them squawk endlessly, squeal and step on one another’s heads. Several eggs gell out as they were rolled to and fro. The guy picked one up, dusted it off, cracked it, separated yolk from white in his hands, all while Maria and I are wondering to each other ‘what is he doing?’ Then he eats the thing and we audibly gag and make faux vomiting noises. He laughs and says ‘for health!’, but we counter – ‘Gross! Bacteria! If you die, sorry dude!’ – all in Swahili of course. Yuck. Another thing not to be forgotten.

So anyways back to when I did teach – on the way back home is topped in Morogoro to hopefully meet the newer ed class at their in-service training. I was staying w/ Tyler T, and this was the weekend I realized how awesome and easy to get along with and talk to Tyler is. Tyler, Raychel and I met up w/ a bunch of folks at a bar, but they all left for food at the training site, leaving Tyler, Raychel and I on our own, drinking beers, konyagi + juice, (not together of course). It was so much fun; one of those evening that just WORKS, you know what I mean? Tyler and I went back, talked til late in the night, listening to a hodgepodge soundtrack from his ipod – Hank Williams, Hey Mercedes, Flaming Lips etc. It was good.

I never finished talking about shadow w/ Jenna. After a night in her austere house, we woke, dressed, prepared our things to leave alter on, met with Boi and her VEO, were introduced to some other people, learned about all the projects and groups already active in the community and took a walk to get to know the lay of the land. Jenna will be the first volunteer there, so everyone was curious to see two white girls walking around. Two young girls on a walk tried to show us the way back to the clinic, but for some reason lead us to another clinic super far away. Why doesn’t anyone listen to the words that come out of people’s mouths here? Do we all speak in vain? Well we got a nice walk out of it anyway. The landscape is beautiful, similar to my village. Mountains to the west, plains to the east. Apparently there is a cashew farm somewhere. For breakfast the VEO Ayubu took us to a local café where we had the best beans I’ve ever had in country. I’d kill for a café like that in my vill.

We finished our tour, said our goodbyes to the doctor and other acquaintances, closed up the house and made our way on foot to the village where my bus passes from Kondoa. We were told it was maybe 5k, but it ended up being maybe 8 or 10 in the hot sun in the desert. It was early enough to not be too miserable, but chafing ensued and our bags were heavy. I was mostly fine, keeping up energy for Jenna, who had a harder time. I like to hike and walk and sometimes forget it’s not for everyone. We made it in one piece, had warm sodas and lunch at the junction village, fell asleep under a mango tree and awaited my bus, which was packed to the gills when it got to us. We bumped along the road for a couple more hours, always squished because no matter how many empty seats there are, someone always wants to sit next to the white people. No matter how hot and sweaty we all are. But we made it, got to my house, made plans to visit all my important families and dance Kirangi, got comfortable at home then went for dinner at Mama Hussein’s 0 more incredibly delicious beans – it was a good bean day, good bean luck. We had a mini dance party w/ the kids, got full, laughed and drank a couple cocktails at home, and zinked out early.

Next day was sweet rice for breakfast, lunch with Samweli + Mama Daudi, dinner w/ Mama Iyami, another dance party, and killing time walking around in between. Jenna commented that I greet everyone, which is sort of true. I greet my friends, and I feel I have a lot of them now. The Kirangi dancing fell though, but we visited the mama’s house where it usually happens. Zinduka also fell through, so to Jenna maybe it seems like I don’t do any work, but we ahd a good time anyway. I locked up the house next morning, 5am and we hopped a bus to Babati to meet some other folks w/ their shadows on the say back to Muheza to finish training.

I think I have written enough for today.


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