Sunday, August 30, 2009

my girly girl...

I am unsure how this happened but I have a girly girl! It is not as if I woke up today with one, it has been more of a metamorphosis over this last year. It was gradual, a process, and she does NOT get it from me....

I was the girl who once "borrowed" my Dad's electric razor and tried to shave off my brother's and my eyebrows in a botched attempt to look more like G.I. Joe's. I played fort building and war with mostly boys in our old neighborhood, heck I even peed outside virtually an entire summer! I wore goth, and died my hair black and green, and did other equally horrifying but UN-girly things in my teen years (sorry Mom) but alas I have a girl whose entire world is about pink. Now, I am sure there exists many photos of me wearing girly clothes....an Easter picture in all white lace with matching parasol comes screaming to mind but I contest I was too young to know better, or was under duress, or was offered gifts:) Ok, maybe at one time I was into all things girly but it was a short phase.

I think in tracking Anni's transformation to pink-lovin' girly girl it started with the Disney Princess backpack that my mom sent way back that also happened to come with a crown which happened to become almost permanently glued to Anni's head. Anni did not know who the ladies were and at first called them Wazungus; the white people. But she soon caught on (after some strategic product placement) and now I can safely say she is completely obsessed with anything pink or princess. Mostly I would like to blame this on my mom who sent many generous packages all containing something Disney Princess (and my mother in law who this week sent a package containing a Cinderella T-shirt to feed her obsession :). Annikah started with a book set containing each princess's story that she wants us to read and reread everyday, even though we "suggest" other books. She can retell any of the stories, knows each princess' name, and gives special emphasis when she tells of the "bad guys." She explains "Mama, them bad guys rip Cinderella's dress cuz them jealous" which, while showing grasp of character motivation, gets old when repeated 10 times a day followed by a request to watch the movie. She evens calls the Seven Dwarfs the "Hi-Ho friends" and can sing the entire song for anyone willing to listen. She can spot a princess on any product from 100 yards away and is always sure to point it out. But the point of no return came when we allowed her to watch the few movies we have on our computer. Yes, it is our doing as this became almost an everyday occurrence when I was really sick. Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, over and over and over.We tried to sneak in Cars or Finding Nemo but most of the time they were a flop. She also received a generous package of dress up clothes from a family at our church and can been seen wearing the "princesses dresses" and crowns at least 3 times a day while dancing in her room. Anything sparkly, pink, glitter covered, headband, bow-like object makes her day and a few weeks ago she suggested Pochantas as a name for her soon to be appearing baby sister...she is far gone I tell you!
Now, it is not that I completely abhor all things princess but c'mon, let's evaluate the story line common to most old school princess movies...
dumb (or at the very least completely naive) but pretty and kind girl has something befall and interrupt her innocent little singing to animals life.... She falls in love after seeing generic and equally devoid of emotion prince once. Lots of singing, some difficulties, and some amazing evening wear follow....fast forward...In the end prince comes and saves dumb but pretty and kind girl when tragedy befalls her and with one kiss and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

I am not really digging the damsel in distress gig but Annikah cannot get enough. I will resist my desire to break the myth of these stories at least for a bit since they make my daughter so happy. She will learn soon enough that he world does not really work that way and I have no fear that I will raise anything less than a strong little woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. I pray the only man she asks to rescue her is her Heavenly Father. And even if I don't love a good princess story I want to support her girly girlness of the moment because in her world it is valued. Even Cherished.
Tomorrow is her 3rd birthday and we will have a pink princess themed tea party here for her. It will be small since most of our friends and neighbors are fasting thus making a kid's party not that much fun (we will throw a BIG party like last year after Ramadan for everyone). When my mom was here she brought enough pink princess favors and decor to outfit the entire island so everyone will get lots of goodies and at Miss Annikah's request I will be making pink cupcakes. Anni colored the envelopes of the invites today and selected special stickers for each friend she is inviting. She also filled each goody bag and cannot wait to hand them out tomorrow. Yes, on Monday we will have a pink princess party because in Annikah's world right now pink and princess are very crucial. And because in Anni's lil' world pink matters, it is of monumental importance to me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

what could be better...

...than 4 packages in ONE DAY!! I certainly cannot think of anything at the moment as I am too busy basking in the glory of craft supplies, new T-shirts, baby clothes and sun hats, had made pants for Anni, refried beans, Crackiln' Oat Bran, Parmesan cheese, gummy bears, thoughtful presents for Anni's Bday, and of course letters and drawings from friends that made me cry!!!!

A friend called yesterday morning and said he saw our name on a postage slip when he was at the post office and that was all the motivation I needed to go stalking alleged box-o-fabulousness. Despite the fact that there were no slips in our post box after a bit of sweet talking and a LOT of waiting in the end I left with 4 boxes-o-joy to bring home!! 4 packages people!!! Really helps since I was feeling really weepy and sick for the past few days. Nothing brightens one's day more than some fun stuff from America and it arrived just in time for Annikah's 3rd birthday. We so appreciate the great expense and trouble our amazing friends and family go to to bless us!! We love you all!!! Asante sana!!

Anni was super excited to have her sought after princess band-aids and quickly searched her entire body for an injury (she managed to successfully fake one on her finger). My mom can seriously find anything. She has the gift of shopping (one of her many gifts)!!!

Anni sports her new SPF 50 swimsuit from Bibi Rhoda

Anni quality checks the play dough and Cinderella lip gloss bracelet from some FF friends

Friday, August 28, 2009

birth

How babies make their appearance in this world is such an uncontrollable and miraculous thing. And the preparations, rituals, and events surrounding birth vary so much by culture. It is really amazing to me that this thing so necessary to the human race, that people everywhere experience can be so different and yet so similar. There are also many difficulties, things out of our control, worries, and vulnerabilities revealed in the process of having kids. Refining.

I am now 6 months preggers (24 weeks) and have about 100 days left to go. I know this because I am still counting down the days until I can evict this little girl from my womb. I know; horrible but I still feel miserable most days and as I told Jason through many tears yesterday I just hate being the person that every time you ask them how they are they report "terrible." It gets old. That is just not me. I feel like I should be at least dying of something the way I feel and the way it affects my emotions but I am ONLY pregnant!! Which only serves to make me feel like more of a complete wuss. I am usually able to get out of a funk with relative ease; go for a run, take a weekend off, pray and reflect, journal and read, watch a fav movie, and if all else fails eat some Mexican food. But I just cannot make myself feel better and everyday I am still throwing up, weak, and generally feeling craptastic I just feel sad. Really sad and I know I am being a drag. On some days I feel brave and optimistic and glad and encouraged we made the decision to stay here and work through all of this and other days I cry. A lot. And wish I was done being pregnant and somewhere I was more familiar with everything, with everyone, with life. On those not so great days I worry a lot. I worry that I will not connect with this baby as I did the moment I saw Annikah. I worry that because this pregnancy has been very traumatic for me, for us, I am looking forward to being done so much that I do not have the mental energy to be excited about having this little being entrusted to us. And then follows the Guilt. I feel guilt because mostly I just want to go one hour without being nauseous, one meal being able to eat what I want, one day just feeling like "me" and I just want to be done. I don't want to deal with this anymore. I have forgotten what "me" feels like but I am pretty sure she was much more fun than the present me (Jason assures me of this while encouraging me I will feel better at some point and this baby will eventually come out...no one has ever been pregnant with a 2 year old, right?). We still have a lot of decisions to make about the birth and after a few weeks and another scan to recheck the uterine blood cord flow we will better be able to make an action plan which hopefully will help me feel better. And I do feel better. I am no longer a permanent resident of my bed and everyday I am able to eat something and I am gaining weight. So things are looking up. The gift really is that no matter what we have have always felt His presence, concern, and care. Learning to trust, learning to accept whatever comes my way, and still chose to have joy is the biggest lesson I am learning.

Some of my local friends were over the other day and we were discussing pregnancy and the birth of our kids. We discussed everything and since many words were new to me they laughed as I ran inside to get my dictionary which proved to not be that useful (there was much acting out and pantomiming to their amusement). These times of sharing are precious to me a I learn so much and get to share about my experiences as well. There are two ways to say giving birth in Kiswahili; one is kuzaa (which when made passive becomes the verb to be born) and the other common word is kujifungua (literally "to open oneself up"). Yep; that is what happens!

One of my friends said she was never sick during either of her pregnancies while another woman commiserated with me because she was so sick that she had to move in with her mother because she could not function. Pregnancy is different for everyone. everywhere. Ramadan started this week and it affects every aspect of life here. Many rules and cultural traditions are involved; no one can eat or drink from sun up to sun down (you are not even allowed to swallow your own spit and it is law that no one can eat or drink outside), there are breaking the fasts meals and special calls to prayer throughout the night (ear plugs are my new best friend), even the TV channels change, and many spend extra time praying and celebrating with family. It is the holy month and many are earnestly seeking God. I asked a lot about what this time means to my friends, what traditions they follow, and how it affects their lives. It was great to be able to engage these issues so central to life here since last year I could barely ask for veggies at the market. I shared some of what Jesus had to say about those that seek Him. We were discussing everything about this month because women who are menstruating, breastfeeding a newborn, or pregnant do not fast. They are supposed to add the time later and "make up" for the lost time. They pointed out that even though I am pregnant I still cannot eat outside because (in their exact words) "you are not fat yet" so no one will believe I am. Argh!

As I have mentioned before many of our friends here are very shocked that I breastfed as they have a stereotype that many Wazungu sorts do not. We were discussing breastfeeding and I shared I had a low milk supply problem and asked about what women here (without access to lactation consultants, hospital grade breast pumps, and gram scales) do if they have that problem. A friend told me that her neighbor had the same problem with her milk and so she would bring her son over and my friend (who had a baby a few months older) would nurse him everyday when he was not getting enough to eat. The neighbor also began to eat tons of fish which I have been told helps with milk production (bummer since I am not a big fan and they were sure to say they would cook me fish after the baby comes so I do not have the same problem). But she did this for 2-3 months until her neighbor was able to produce enough for her son. Amazing. The women here are resourceful and they watch out for each other. Of course there is gossip and back biting as well which is unfortunately true anywhere but the separate spheres of life that men and women have mean that women really help and heal one another, they have to.

My good friend that lives down the street had her baby here on the island in a local hospital and shared what that experience was like. She had an ultrasound at 30 weeks and loved seeing the baby before he was born. She was in labor for 2 days and then went to the hospital. Her mother in law was there to coach and help since men are never present at the births of children here. The wife of our Mlinzi shared that she had Zawadi alone in a small hut. She said people were around but she knew when the time came to push, pushed her out, pulled her on her chest and tied the umbilical cord with a small rope made of banana leaves. Blows my mind! More of history has been defined by births like that then by births like Annikah's. But I am grateful for options. I told them a little about American hospitals and how birth varies (just like here, although no home birth I have heard of ever used banana leaves:) and how women can take classes in child birth. They found this very interesting as here is seems that the older women pass on the knowledge and depending on their age and experience they know very little going into the birth experience. They also agreed that I need to go to a hospital for this baby; they know as well as me that I am NOT that hardcore (I cannot even make rope from banana leaf and thus am completely unqualified)! I shared that Jason was there every step of the way with me in giving birth and actually was a pretty great coach. I told them he made me a CD of praise music and held my hand through everything and prayed for me. By far the most laughter came when I shared (I am sure to Jason's dismay) that his most infamous-never-will-live-it-down quote came right as I was pushing Anni out. He keenly observed OUTLOUD that "it smells like meat in here." Now, me sitting there with all my girly bits exposed, not looking their best I might add, did not appreciate this comment. Jason quickly said it was because of the blood and that it was just an observation. I curtly reminded him to keep such observations to himself, thank you very much. My friends thought this was hilarious and we all had a great laugh. They added "this is why men do not come here."

We discussed how amazing it is that God created our bodies to be able to nature, grow, give birth to, and feed a life. We agreed that women are pretty hardcore (ok, I don't know how to say that in Kiswahili but we did agree on very strong). We talked of our fears, what happened after we gave birth, and the surprises of giving birth. It was refreshing and helped me focus a bit on mtoto mchanga's arrival and for that I am grateful. Again and again I am reminded that although outwardly we are so different we are really so similar. We are born, search after meaning, seek our Creator, want joy for our families, experience pain, love and live. Na tunazaa. And we give birth.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

entertainment options

One thing I really miss about Chicago is the entertainment options we had at our disposal. Now, if am honest I cannot remember the last time we actually went to see a movie back home especially since Miss Annikah's arrival. Babysitters and movie tickets were not cheap and on date nights we mostly would go to dinner so we could actually talk and catch up (and because we both LOVE to eat, duh!). But at least we had the theoretic option to to go out and see a movie if the feeling so moved us. No movie theaters here and unfortunately NetFlix has not made it to this continent. Of course we do have beautiful beaches year round so no complaints! Here our only option for seeing relatively new movies is to buy them off the street or from the local shops. These are legal here and seem somewhat legit...that is until you read the back or see the subtitles. You see what qualifies as English is less than say; academically sound. Once we even watched a movie where one entire scene was in Italian (a language NOT even offered on the DVD!). I had to share the following description found on the back of a movie we borrowed from some team mates. It is hilarious, ridiculous, and endearing all at once (I hope the picture is readable)....So if you had to try to select this movie based on this description whatta think?

Wait! It gets better. While Jason was off gallivanting in Asia I watched it one night and could not get the darn subtitles to turn off but no worries reading them proved to be better than the actual movie. This was my favorite one:

This was the actual line of the movie: I'm here because I got fired

This was the subtitle offered: I be not like fried man of squid

Yep, it is entertaining in so many ways!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the artist

Annikah has always loved art projects and being creative. She can only build with blocks for a few minutes, she gets bored easily playing with animals or cars, but she can sit for hours and paint. I think one of the most amazing things about parenting is getting to see who my daughter is, who she is becoming; what she likes, what she enjoys, what seems to feed her little soul and then try to help her develop and nurture her gifts. It really is just part of who she is and I have been a slacker in encouraging it more.

This is Anni's last week before she starts her new school. It is a local school started by a Korean couple and it is less than a block from our vocational training center. This is a huge blessing because we like the idea of her being so close as we teach and work at the school. It is also the same price for an entire month that her other school was for a week. We visited the school a couple times and although Anni will be the only Wazungu that did not seem to phase her. The teachers teach in English and use Kiswahili for songs, play time, and explanations if needed (and they said Anni understands enough Kiswahili to be ok). We go to get measured for her uniform tomorrow which consists of a T-shirt and little shorts that look like a skirt (since it is not a government school the girls do not have to wear head coverings). I have mixed feelings since I really do think she needs more planned activity, working in a group, and structure but also this means my little girl is growing up; too fast some days. We pray she thrives and makes lots of friends at her new school! Since she starts Monday through Friday after her 3rd birthday(coming up Monday!!!) we have been doing a lot during the mornings since she soon will be a "big girl" and in school. On the days I feel a bit better I always make sure this includes some art projects to feed her little creative being.

This week we made some grainy paint from powdered laundry soap, cold water, and food coloring and had a blast painting everything we could think of. Anni glued some different shapes of pasta down and painted them. Another day we use some laundry line to make a fish necklace including glitter and pasta beads: tres chic. We also made a fabric covered display board to proudly display her works of art. Here is to my budding artist!

the artist entrenched in her work

Anni shows off her new special artwork display made with cardboard, fabric, & clothes pins

Thursday, August 20, 2009

overheard while passing Anni's room

"baby, me need to spank you now cuz you dis-a-sect (disrespect) me and I am your Mama. That is not ok baby. (Anni whacks said misbehaving blue baby on the bum with her magic wand) Me come back when you say sorry. You know baby?"

Just when I think she never listens.....

to kupiga or to not kupiga...

Yet another post devoted to the language I am learning to love. Kiswahili and I have a love-hate relationship. Although frustrating at times as I fumble to communicate exactly what I want to say and to put the words in the correct order to speak at a reasonable speed in conversations, it is a beautiful and fun language to learn. The vocabulary is so different but as you learn more and more you can actually guess at many words and phrases you have never heard. Like any language the way you say things has so much to do with the culture and the more you learn about the people and culture the better you are able to communicate. There are far less words in Kiswahili but that means many words have a variety of meanings. Challenging but always interesting!!
The word kupiga is one of my favorite verbs and deserves its own post! When we first arrived we learned the meaning as to hit or beat but as we soon learned it is also used for a ton of other phrases. Our teacher last year told us there are 51 things you can kupiga in Kiswahili!! So we have learned if we are unsure of what verb you use to explain doing something start with kupiga, most likely you'll be right! I had to record some of my fav things you "hit"....

After our car broke down and some local guys at the market were trying to help me I learned you even "hit the fire" of a car to start it.... kupiga moto (literally to hit the fire but means start the car)

Here are some other things you "hit or beat" in Kiswahili...

kupiga deki- (to mop the floor, doesn't it sound like on board a ship?)

kupiga tarumbeta (play a trumpet or horn)

kupiga kelele (to make lots of noise,we learned this one early on!!)

kupiga mswaki (to brush your teeth)

kupiga picha (to take a picture)

kupiga debe (to spread gossip)

kupiga sindano (to get a shot or vaccination)

kupiga makofi (to clap)

kupiga chafya (to sneeze)

kupiga miayo (to yawn)

kupiga hodi (ask for entrance, the greeting you yell when you are at some one's door to which the response is Karibu (welcome))

kupiga pasi (iron clothes)

kupiga maji-(which literally means to hit the water but actually means to drink too much alcohol...yeah figure that out when you are first leaning a language:))

And that is only about 1/5th of the things you can kupiga...anyone know anymore please add them! I am always eager to add to my kupiga or things I can beat or hit repertoire! Ah, language learning.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

well done J!

Jason arrived home safely and although a bit worn from the travel he was feeling great and had a fabulous time! Admittedly it was hard to hear about him enjoying some Western treats, clean malls, amazing shopping, and fabulous and super CHEAP Thai food bought off the street but I was so excited he got to explore a new place. It also helps that he said he missed me and so wished we could have experienced it together. The truth is that I am still feeling pretty miserable and would not have been able to enjoy the food or explore with him as we usually do on trips so I am glad he got to get away especially after all he has done for our family in the last 6 months. It was also great timing as he really needed some time away to recharge, rest, and refocus on our work here. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that one of my love language is gifts; I love making or buying them for others and I love receiving gifts that show that someone I care about was thinking of me. Jason definitely did well: he knows me!! Seriously everything he got me I love and would have picked out for myself which is the sign that; as I suspected all along, I have an amazingly caring, thoughtful, and observant hubby that really knows me!

Here is Jason & our team leader trying some fried grasshoppers off the street!


So this post is not at all about his trip (I'm trying to convince him to post on his blog some of the awesome temple and shopping pictures but he is sooo busy with work so we shall see). No, selfishly this post is all about the fabulous gifts I got from his little jaunt to Asia. In addition to Thai prepackaged foods (so I did not feel so left out...maybe after the pregnancy I can enjoy them), canned mushrooms, a cute purse, necklace, some clothes for the baby, really pretty lights for our bedroom, picture frames, and a really cool snake toy for Annikah...here are my favs:
my husband got to enjoy a hazelnut latte while reading a book in Starbucks &
all I got was this lousy T-shirt!
silk robe...beautiful and so luxurious!
these sandals are so cute and a PERFECT fit!! Pretty impressive!
the only thing better than a real Tiffany's necklace is a bootleg one bought off street vendors for 1/8 the price (and that my hubby bargained and got a great price)
Anni's sweet outfit with elephants..."Papa, you my best friend for bringing me this"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tumemkosa Baba......we miss Papa

but we are hanging in...


Jason has been gone almost 2 weeks, my first time alone on the island for more than a couple days. I think it has been a good time of reflecting for me. Whenever we are separated I get to appreciate just how much I have grown to love and depend on him and how very grateful I am that he is my husband. Over the past 8 years Jason and I have become a team and since moving here our lives have merged more than ever as we focus on similar work. Our family has definitely spent more time together and I really miss him. I miss feeling his sense of protection, his ability to make me smile even amidst my puking, his body next to me at night, the numerous and practical things he takes care of so that I am free to do other stuff, praying with him when I feel scared or worried, watching bootlegged TV shows together at night from under our mosquito net, getting to see him with Annikah, processing how different our lives are here together, just sharing all we share together.

Annikah has really missed her Papa as over the last 5 months, especially with me being so sick, she has become even more (if that is possible) of a Papa's girl. In her usual dramatic flare she delivered my favorite line last night while putting her to bed... "Mama, me never see my Papa again. (sigh for emphasis) Ever." I reassured her that he will indeed return in just one more day but that did not seem to quell her sadness. Once I mentioned that I think he would bring her a present she seemed much less traumatized:)

I must say I am pretty self sufficient here...more so then I thought especially in my sicky-self condition. Things that would usually go on the honey-do list I have tackled myself over the last two weeks; I changed two fuses, fixed the Internet several times, survived a pretty nasty shock trying to fix an power adapter box, dealt with a car breakdown at the market in town while throwing up out the window (with the help of Doro; another Mama that stayed here on the island), got up to check what we thought was a attempt to steal our car in the middle of the night (it was just our stupid cat climbing on top and thus setting off the alarm), and even killed at least 5 cockroaches. Yep, me & Anni; we are just fine but we miss Papa and we want him to come home soon and although I can handle being alone it is just not the same. Our family is not whole without him and I miss my partner and best friend. Jason and I could not be more different but in that we have searched out strength and God has granted us blessing. It may make for a bumpy road but it is so worth the journey. We miss Papa and are ready for him to return tomorrow!


We did keep busy and although I have no camera I stole these pictures Doro took (and 2 from a friend's camera phone).

Anni showed her friends her fav place

lollipops at the pool...really does it get any better in kid-dom :)
petting the mtoto wa punda (baby donkey)
we visited the butterfly center..a girly fav


we went into the nice Italian place in town for gelato...AND they had a new flavor..BLUE!

We also attended an ALL DAY wedding (that we got the invite for about 15 hours in advance...always!) We were there starting at 1pm until about 9pm and when we left we were one of the first to exit and the Bibi Harusi (bride) had not even gotten there yet! We did get to go home to change clothes in the middle of the day but it was a long and crazy day. We ate pilau (spiced rice) together and I wish I had a picture of the HUGE pot used to cook enough for about 200 people...seriously Anni could have laid down in and still not touched the sides, it was amazing! Anni loves the way everyone uses their hands here and shares one big plate and was eager to dig in. I was impressed that my 5 1/2 months preggers self was able to sit on a mat all day, even eat a bit, dance, and keep Anni occupied for that long. It was an honor to be invited and we had a blast!

Friday, August 14, 2009

a girl is wounded...

"Mama, me really hurt my hand. My finger is sooooo hurt. See, me need a band-aid"
(upon examination is looks a tad red but notta; no mortal wound, no blood, no scratch)
"Anni, I think it is OK, you are tough" (I add a Mama kiss that usually solves most minor pain issues)
"No, Mama me really really need it (said with much emphasis for dramatic effect). Me need a pink one with princesses"
"Ok, if you think you need one but we only have plain ones"
"What? (said with shock and general disgust). Plain ones is stinky"

Well then.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

some random never before seen survivor shots

otherwise known as pics I wanted to post...
counting with some of the kids from our neighborhood...Rhoda even learned 1-10 in Kiswahili!

One of the awesome things about having family visit is that they take lots of pictures that sometimes we do not take, I guess because things have ceased to be "new" to us and because I am not a fan of being seen as a tourist and so I miss the great cultural shots sometimes (fortunately for big events we are always told to bring our camera:). But it is great when people come to visit that are tourists and can snap away! Like these shots Jim took of a visit to some of our neighbors. I love these kids, even if they relentlessly bang on our gate and beg for "Mama Annikah" to let them swing:)

aren't they adorable?

Check out Jim with the panga (machete)!! He really thinks he is a survivor now!
This was on our visit to our school site...
Rhoda posted more pictures and descriptions of the progress on the school
Mmmmm meat! Check out that cow's head! I'd say walking thru the fish & meat market is a bit of a challenge for anyone used to shopping where everything bloody is long dead & under cellophane:)

reward: dinner on our first night together out overlooking the water
a native...in her natural habitat

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

a word about transport

When I first visited Ghana, Africa years ago I distinctly remember being shocked at the roads, vehicles, and general methods of transportation. I guess in living here I am gotten used to the situation and although I much prefer American roads getting around here is always an adventure. I have blogged about this before but first, there is never anything too large to be taken by bike; computer, refrigerator, couch, ....you name it! Then, there seems to not be any sort of limit as to how many people or stuff can fit into any sized vehicle. Also, animals, people, piki-piki (motor bikes), cars, trucks,and bicycles share the road and often there is no lane, per se. Maintenance and safety standards are a bit sketchy at best as well. Jim and Rhoda got a taste of all of the adventure of traveling in Africa on our road trip to Arusha but we could not let our Survivors leave Africa without riding the infamous dala dala. Since Miss Anni LOVES riding it she was more than happy to show them the ropes and we made it easy by only taking a short ride from town back to our house; the route we take all the time.

We were completely convicted on our evil plan after reading the travel advisory* they were given before coming to Tanzania. Jason and I laughed out loud and it must be preserved here for future giggles:

In-town transportation is best accomplished using taxis or hired drivers from a reputable source. Travelers should be wary of using the ubiquitous microbuses (dala-dalas), which are frequently overcrowded, poorly maintained, a common site of petty theft, and whose operation is generally unsafe.

My absolute favorite is that they use the word ubiquitous!!! This section about driving was also included and explains why we dislike driving here at night:

Drivers are advised against nighttime travel. Roadways are often not marked and many lack both streetlights and shoulders. Pedestrians, cyclists, and animals are often encountered on unlit roads after dark, as are slow-moving trucks and cars traveling without lights. Carjacking and other related crimes are more common during the nighttime hours. Traveling in rural areas after dark is strongly discouraged.

In urban areas, it is common to find main arterial roads paved and maintained, while secondary streets are severely rutted and passable only with high-clearance vehicles. Traffic lights are often out of order, and care should be exercised at any traffic intersection, whether controlled or not, as many drivers disregard signals.Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles pose serious traffic hazards
.

We cannot say that any of it is untrue although we do find that here on the island they are fairly safe and people are always very helpful especially when I travel alone with Annikah and heavy bags from the market. Our Survivors were up to the challenge and although Rhoda did wonder why we did not leave after it seemed the dala-dala reached capacity...as we have learned "there is always more room"! So Jim & Rhoda are true Survivors having ridden the feared dala-dalas and lived to tell the tale; a bit sweaty, a lot crowded, and worth it for bragging rights!

*The travel advisory also advised that they NOT walk in places where there are chickens....might as well recommend NOT COMING TO AFRICA!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the survivors last few days

I have been a complete slacker in posting the rest of our brave Survivor's endeavors.....here are some more pics of their last few days with us. We miss them dearly!

our Baba & Mama of the island meet J's parents, this was the family we lived with when we first arrived and they take such good care of us and; as always, were happy to show us some amazing island hospitality!
Rhoda got a chance to see the kitchen where the women spend most of their time,
we chat while rolling chapati
They FINALLY finished a park right along the ocean by the old section of town

it opened on Bibi & Babu's last day!
beautiful!!
While we love our house, neighbors, and friends it can be hard to relax at home so we rented a house on the beach on a different part of the island for a few days (it helped that it was ridiculously cheap, of course a little sketchy but hey!). The big attraction was that it had a pool and no unexpected "hodis" Here are Babu & Bibi enjoying their reward!
Anni and Babu with the "boat"
some of the guys on our team
We invited our team mates over one afternoon for some food & fun!
the guys trying to balance on the air mattress

J practices scuba diving in the pool
Romy & Anni..best buds!

A challenge/reward was tasting street food... a bit risky but sooo worth it! We took Jim and Rho to the night food market in town.
enjoying Tangaweze soda (ginger)
local food...shrimp, fish, shark, octopus, lobster, chips, plantains, etc
trying one of our favs...juisi ya mua (sugar cane juice)

freshly squeezed of course
We also took them to one of Annikah's fav places, where surviving the safety standards; or shall I say lack thereof, is the challenge! Here Papa & Anni ride on the ndege (airplane)...it no longer goes up and down but it does go pretty fast around and Anni loves it! local ice cream cones for 8 cents...we like them but I do not think Bibi & Babu were impressed

Bibi makes homemade play dough with Annikah...a HUGE hit!!!