Saturday, December 17, 2011

Love Me Some Africa

I have yet to make it to my village in the mountains but I did make to the swearing in ceremony at the U.S. embassy.  So, I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! Hongera na mimi! Chilling at another expat family's house; three kids, two dogs and a swimming pool!  We are going on three weeks in Dar now and I've gotten to know the city a bit, riding the daladalas and vijagis around, talking to the locals, been to a few eateries, shops and even a dance club.  Been doing a lot of dancing with the Tanzanians cause they know how to dance, and you know this!

Baba, me, Athumani, Mama, na Mbwana
 Sad fact: I did not get to say goodbye to my homestay family in Tanga and things just won't be right until I get back there to visit them.  Mama did send me a chapati maker and a gown which my Bestis packed up and brought to me in Dar.  They tried to tell me the hardest part of the Peace Corps is the training.  Unless they mean leaving your homestay family, I beg to differ.  I had an amazing family who welcomed me into their home, fed me and cared for me. Let me tell you about them, because they deserve to be written about.  My Family name is Njuga which actually translates to ankle bells that are worn while dancing; so I am from a family of dancers; Hell Yes!  They are Muslim and hence named me Fatuma <3.  I may have to change that when I get to my site because the people there are mostly Seventh Day Adventists but we'll see.  Baba is a social worker in a village a couple hours motorcycle drive away.  When he comes home he helps the kids with their homework and me with my kiswahili and keeps everybody in line while watching soccer of course.  Mama takes care of the family and the home and keeps us in line when baba is away.  I got to hang out with mama a lot; cooking over the charcoal jiko, washing my clothes by hand and the dishes with sand and talking about the stars and the moon.  I have one dada (sister), Mariamu, who is 22 and helps mama out a lot around the house and taught me about the bush babies who get drunk off the palm wine and fall out of the trees amongst many other valuable things.  She left to stay with bibi ya mama (grandma on mama's side) so I didn't get to spend as much time with her at the end there.  Then there are my three kaka (brothers).  Athumani is 12 and is the baby of the family which you can tell.  He definitely gets favored my mama, but he's a sweet kid and although a little shy always willing to help me out with whatever I need.  Joji, who is 17, is the oldest brother.  He wants to be a teacher when he gets done with school and he will be an awesome teacher.  This kid is sooo patient with me in learning kiswahili and has the most encouraging smile when he tells me if I'm saying something right.  Then there is Mbwana.  I know you're not supposed to pick favorites, but I love this kid.  I think he is probably the best friend I've made in Tanzania.  He is 14 years old and an aspiring doctor.  Kid is intelligent as hell and a bit of smart ass which is probably why I like him so much.  He spent almost every evening with me watching soccer, music channels, bad soap operas, and WWE (kid loves WWE, it's hilarious!) while helping me study my kiswahili.  We also played a lot of dice, the game "10,000", and kept playing by kerosene lantern when the lights went out.  That's the Familia ya Tanzania and luckily my site is only like a 5 or hour drive away so I'll be visiting frequently. 

Athumani, Joji, Mbwana na mimi
 I just needed to pay tribute to the Fam.  Anything else I have to say here after will be a little trite and inane so I'll end the post here.                

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Staph, the Tely and Me

Well, as I like to believe, all things happen for a reason.  And through this reasoning there must then be a reason, why I have in this lovely season acquired an infection in my trusty left leg.  I am about two weeks away from swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and should be partying down in Morogoro where the river babbles past the front door steps, the fruit bats chatter all day until dusk and the sugar cane is soaked in booze-filled ziploc baggies.  However, this past Tuesday night I awoke from the throbbing swollen pain of what I had tried to pretend was just a spider bite.  Upon reaching the hospital in Dar, it was confirmed that I had cellulitis which is kind of exciting just because I can't say I've ever had some crazy huge painful infection stemming initially from a mosquito bite which I scratched.  I got to spend three nights in the hospital while they fed me antibiotics intravenously and gourmet meals orally.  I watched lots and lots of t.v. while my trusty left leg lay elevated above me.  On Friday morn the Doc told me I needed to go, to the expat's house where I would stay until we would meet again this next Tuesday.  So here I am, in an air conditioned home with electricity, running water, home entertainment center, internet, refrigerator and a ping pong table.  How I long for a cool bucket bath, some coconut beans and rice cooked over a charcoal jiko and a good game of dice played by kerosene light.

But I did get the chance to start this lovely blog, which may not have happened if I hadn't of gotten this blessed infection.  And so I believe it was all meant to be; the Staph, the Tely and Me