Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things to look forward to...

Rahma, Anya, Lazaro, Bahati before bed

I did my last 6 days working with the kids and now I just get to see them when I want to. Rachel is doing 8-5 for today and tomorrow, and then we leave on Tuesday for safari!!

We have gotten so much accomplished in the last week. We went from no safari, no place to stay in Zanzibar, no flight to getting all of them done. We went to Arusha on Thursday and had breakfast at Africafe. We had been wanting to have their breakfast because Rachel really wanted to have pancakes but they stop serving it at 11 and we are usually there later so we went early that day and have a really great breakfast. We also booked our flight to Zanzibar and paid for our safari. We leave for safari Tuesday morning at 8am and are going to Lake Manyara, Tarangire National Park, and Ngorongoro Crater. I am unbelievably excited! We had no plans to do a safari when we got here but everyone says it’s an absolute must, and everyone that we have talked to that has just recently been has seen all the big five. I am not a fan of zoo’s and I am so excited about seeing the animals in their habitat and getting to experience something that I didn’t think I would be able to do until I was much older.

We get back on Thursday night and spend the night at the home and then leave at 9am on Friday morning to go to the Kili airport and fly to Zanzibar. It’s about an hour and a half flight and as soon as we get there we are getting picked up and taken to our hotel on the other side of the island.

I have been researching a lot for places to stay in Zanzibar and we now have a place to stay in Paje, which is on the east coast and about an hour drive from Stone Town. We are staying there for 3 nights on the beach and it looks absolutely amazing. All the pictures I see from Zanzibar are breathtaking. Following that, we spend one day and night in Stone Town. We have a lot we want to do there and it’s a walking city (given that almost all streets are too narrow for cars). We will likely be very tired at the end. We leave from there and take the ferry to Dar and spend one night there because we leave so early the next morning to begin our trek back to the states! We are really excited about our route home too because we get to have a layover in Jo’burg and we really want to try and see something, though we don’t know what. Pretty much every minute of our time until we return home is filled with something and it is all really fun things but it’s so surreal how fast the time here has flown.

"Go USA"

Just to try to get a sense of the dala dala

So I am fully aware that I am about to use this word in the wrong context but I only include it because it was the source of a funny conversation between Rachel and I and it’s a good way to remember that. We have begun the process of our ‘desensitization’ of Africa yesterday. We went into Arusha for no particular reason other than it was Rachel’s day off and we didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. We ate at the Masai cafĂ© (has nothing to do with Maasai) but they have excellent pizza, and went to the Maasai market (does have to do with Maasai) and did any final shopping we wanted. So in regards to the word that I was using, we have never seen so many white people in Africa as we saw in Arusha, hence we are getting used to seeing white people again. As I told Rachel, “we are getting sprinkled white people so that we aren’t so shocked when we get back to the states.” Also, we saw this man at the Maasai market and he was wearing a camo shirt. Now we realized that he absolutely had to be from somewhere we knew so Rachel asked and he was from Alabama. He was with a group that had been on a mission trip to the south of the country and they were just doing some shopping in Arusha before they left. At the end of our conversation he proceeds to say, “Go USA.” Rachel and I kind of smiled and then looked at each other like really? It was incredibly funny to me in the context of where we were standing and what we were doing. We then went to buy some money for the phone (you don’t buy minutes, you buy money). All the way walking there we kept seeing white people and it finally dawned on us that it was Saturday (we don’t have any concept of time or ‘weekends’) and that’s why it was so crowded. We witnessed some more funny interactions with white people and had to chuckle to ourselves to realize how long ago it seems that we were those white people who don’t understand the money, wouldn’t ever venture without a group somewhere, were hounded by people on the street about “a great price on a safari”, and were too afraid to speak any Swahili to the Tanzanians. We feel like old pro’s in comparison but also realize how much there really is left to be seen. I feel that I can no longer say “the most crowded dala dala ever” because I keep getting amazed at how many people can fit into such a small van. Rachel and I really got the delight of a crazy crowded ride back to Usa. I really wish it was safe/appropriate to take out my camera and snap a picture of the scene but it’s not so we are left to trying to be descriptive. There were at least 18 people sitting and probably 10 people standing (me being one of them). I wasn’t entirely worried about falling over/out because I was so squeezed into the middle that I couldn’t have moved if I tried. Oh how I will miss that!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Great, great news

Yesterday they took the HIV kids to the clinic to get a check-up like they do every month. There are 4 kids here who are HIV positive, Rahma, Mousa, Amani, and Abdi. When they returned they told us that Abdi and Amani tested negative for HIV! It was so exciting. Often the kids test positive if they have the mother's antibodies in their system which can disappear after a bit. So only two babies here are HIV positive. I have included a picture of Abdi, Mousa and Rahma. I am Rahma's nanny and she is postive, Mousa is positive, and Abdi is in the nursery and is no longer positive!

This is Abdi (6 months)

This is Mousa (18 months)
Rahma (2 years)


I am very proud of Kimber and myself. We went from vowing to never leave our apartment, to never leaving without Ilse, to only leaving with each other, to going out alone (during the day). Last week I went to Arusha alone. I had been craving breakfast food and wanted to do some more shopping so I went after my early morning shift while Kimber was working the day shift. Our trip is so quickly coming to an end that we are both trying to make the most of every moment left.

I hopped on a dala dala (alone, not really alone, there were 26 people (25 africans and me) crammed into a VW size van, it was hilarous) around 8:30 and headed to Arusha. I felt surprisingly okay and not scared to be alone. (Side story: I went with Ilse last week to get her bus ticket to Pangani and visit and adoption lawyer. We went to a part of Arusha that I have never seen and only locals go to. I have never been more scared, uncomfortable, and clueless in my life. But I survived.) The dala dala took about an hour and I got off at the Sanawari stop. Walked to Africafe to have my pancakes, eggs and homefries I have been craving and guess what? Typical Africa style the stove was broke and they were not serving any hot food. I was so sad but settled on a Lemon Poppy Seed muffin that was really good. I also love their sweet tea. After breakfast I walked to the Massai market and purchased a few things I wanted to get before I left. My bargaining skills have improved and I think Africans respect you more when you are alone. It kind of shows that you are not scared and a clueless tourist. I think I got better prices on things since I was alone and not with a group. I spent about an hour there and then went to Precision Air to see if I could get some information about our flight to Zanzibar. There is always quite a line but I was in no hurry that day so I waited. I got the times and price of flights and headed off. I was very tempted to buy a USA Today while I waited but was scared it would end up being from like 1998. It is so weird having no clue what is going on in the States or the world. On my way back to the dala dala stop, I exchanged some money (one of my 20’s was slightly torn and they would not take it, so annoying), and stopped by our safari company to see how we needed to pay them (USD, TSH, or card). Believe it or not there are two safari companies called Bobby Safari and they are right next to each other, I went in the wrong one so had a hard time getting the information I needed. I proceeded to the dala dala and was back at COL by 12:30 when Kimber had her lunch break. We made guacamole sandwiches which were amazing (I have included a photo so you can be jealous).

I feel like now that we have become so comfortable and confident we will have a much better time on safari and in Zanzibar. Don’t worry, we’re not being stupid, we are just able to really enjoy our adventures since we have figured things out around here.

We leave for our 3 day safari on Tuesday, I work the day shift tomorrow and Monday, then head to Zanzibar on July 2, have 3 nights in Paje, one night in Stone Town, take the ferry to Dar es Salaam for the night before we fly leave on the 7th, head to Joburg then home to ATL! I am so excited and sad and in disbelief that our trip is coming to an end. We both love these babies so much and can’t wrap our minds around not seeing them again or hearing their cries throughout the day. This has been an amazing few weeks, we have both been forever changed and wish we could stay longer and do more.

20 toddlers with vicious ants in their pants….

Last week when I was working 8-5 we were all out enjoying the sunshine and our juice. I noticed lots of monkeys on the other side of the yard so one of the nannies suggested we walk the kids over there. Keep in mind there are 3 adults and about 20 toddlers all with different levels of ability walking. So we tramp through the yard and get half way there with our stream of kids when suddenly a few start screaming bloody murder and their eyes get as big a saucers. I notice on of the nannies starting to scream too and grabs Anya and starts stripping her (all clothes off and rips off her poopy nappie). With in a few seconds all 20 kids are paralyzed, crying and screaming. They have all been attacked by millions of the meanest ants alive. I grab two kids and run them back to the other nannies outside and repeat until all the kids are on the back porch. They are all still screaming and so we then strip each of them as quickly as possible and pick all the evil ants off. They were covered in them. They had ants in their pants, shoes, shirts, nappies, face, hair, everywhere! And these ants move faster than anything I have experienced in my life and hurt in way I cannot explain (way way way worse than fire ants, they also don’t live in ant hills so you can try to avoid them). Its strange though because after they bite or sting they don’t leave a mark or welp like other insects who bite do. It was a miserable nightmare of a situation and when you thought you got all the ants off of a kid and were moving on to the next screaming child, the other kid started screaming again because you missed one or more. They were all scared to go outside and scared to put clothes back on. I wish I could have a picture of the scene. Lots of naked screaming kids with poopy nappies all over the place. Looking back now, it was hilarious. I can now laugh because all of the kids are ok and hopefully it will never happen again.

The monkeys I saw are really cool though. I later found out that they are Colobus Monkeys, very shy and somewhat rare. They are pretty big and have huge, bushy white tales. We have seen them a few times since and I have added a picture of them so you can enjoy them with out risking your life by getting flesh eating ants in your pants.

Taking Rahim to the Clinic

Rahim is one of the twins in the nursery and he is about four months old I would guess. He was the first baby I fed in the nursery who had malaria and was quite difficult but he is so cute. One of the nannies noticed that the front/top of his head/brain had some swelling and so we were all concerned. The swelling didn’t go down and he had a fever so I offered to go with Rahim and Susan (the British lady) to the clinic to get him some medicine since Bahtilda the nurse was off. Susan was going to drive and she needed someone to hold Rahim. We went at night and it was her first time driving here. Luckily, being from England she atleast was used to driing on the wrong (left) side of the road and knew how to drive a stick. We barrowed an ADRA car and were on our way. I felt a like Britney Spears riding in the front seat holding a baby. Rahim was not fussy at all and once we figured out how to unlock the car, start the car, and where each gear was (none of the lights in the car work and it was completely dark), we were on our way. Susan did a great job driving considering how crazy drivers are here during the day, much less at night. The clinic was not far away and it was the same one that Kimber went with Ilse to when she got tested for Malaria.

It was decided earlier that Rahim either had Meningitis or a really bad infection that was causing his brain to swell. A blood test was not really an option (given cost, time and resources) and since both diagnoses had the same treatment they just decided to put an IV in his arm and give him some meds. He was a trooper and I held him while they injected the meds. He only cried and tensed up for a minute and I did my best to comfort him. The doctor told the nurse to give him the meds at 20:30 and we were there at 20:00. So she made us wait outside for 30 minutes. The “local” news was on and it was strange to watch for multiple reasons, but they showed lots and lots of dead bodies. I could not understand what they were talking about but the pictures were rather harsh. Susan leaves for the Congo soon and so she assumed they were images from there.

While waiting I looked at the posters on the wall, tried to guess what they were about and looked at a large board that had information about the hospital on it. It is run and owned by some Italians and there are branches in Moshi and Arusha. What drew me to the board was a picture of when President Bush visited a couple of years ago. I have been reading Laura Bush’s autobiography and so I feel very connected to the Bushes now (ha!). Anyways, wish I knew more Swahili so I could have learned more about the clinic.

After Rahim got his meds we headed back to COL and needed to return in the morning at 7:00 for his next dose. I went back with Susan and we stopped for gas and had another smooth trip. I felt very motherly to Rahim since I got to spend so much one on one time with him and comfort him while he was sick. He is very sweet and a tough little man. His swelling has now gone down and he is doing much better.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Rachel lala? No? Rachel cula? Yes

*Sele finally took his lip out of his mouth

So it’s officially one week before we go on safari and I have done 2 of 3 days 8-5 of my last 8-5 while I’m here. I prayed a lot this morning and all during the day as well that I would have patience with the kids and take the time to be present with them. I was even praying while I was cleaning their nappies (mostly to get rid of the “this is so disgusting” thoughts out of my mind) and just had to laugh at the ridiculousness that 1. It takes me so long to do it and 2. I’m not wearing any gloves so needless to say my hands ARE NOT clean when I finish. I feel like a doctor when I wash my hands after because I don’t just clean my hands, I wash up my arm as well. This will be hard for anyone in my family to imagine but I have never been so dirty in my life as I have here J. It was cute though because Sele was the last one that I changed and instead of going right back outside the door to go play he stood there stone faced and watched me clean for like 10 minutes. He would not move his position, and it wasn’t until Lazaro came in there to tell him that he needed his juice did he reluctantly go.

In the mornings some of the kids are so tired after breakfast that they can’t keep their heads up, this morning being one of those. Anya fell asleep on my chest and so I just laid down on the mat (wishing I could take a nap too). I don’t know how she slept with all the commotion on around here but she did. Hope kept asking me if Rachel was sleeping upstairs because I told her that once and apparently that’s all she thinks Rachel does while not with them. Hence where the quote came from, and she deducted that Rachel was eating and not sleeping. All we do is sleep and eat J

After their naps, 1 of the older kids, Dorcas, who is potty trained wet her bed and pooped in her underwear. She was taken into the back laundry room beside the changing room and the door was shut. I don’t know what Helen (the laundry lady) did or said but when Dorcas came back in she was crying and apparently had the fear of God in her. That’s certainly one way of potty training. I’m always the last to find out these things (because I am usually still in the changing room cleaning nappies) but Anya apparently had lice again (yes, the one that was sleeping on my chest all morning) and she got her head shaved. She was SO unhappy and cried for like 30 minutes about it. At least now it’s easy to tell her and Nina apart. Though since they are my kids I can tell by their hair or clothes I’ve put them in. Needless to say my hair started itching immediately and I am going to get Rachel to check my scalp later. Yuck!

I took Nina outside today for a walk. I’ve decided that it’s a better way to pass the time than just sitting inside with them on my lap, which makes me tired. Then we sat in the grass and Ebony (the dog) came and sat with us and she pet her for a while. Rachel and I essentially tag team it on these days so I was headed upstairs when she was going down to do the night shift.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Attack of the ants...

So with just 8 days left at the home, Rachel and I both can’t believe how fast the time is flying. We have kept busy other than watching the kids of course. We went to the masai market again and got lots of stuff, even though I think we are going to go once more before we leave. We need things to commemorate our trip. I’m not one for ‘souvenirs’ but do like some of the stuff. I think we have finally made a decision about our plans post baby home. We are doing a safari for 3 days going to Lake Manyara, Tarangire National Park, and Ngorongoro Crater. Not enough time for Serengeti but alas I know I will be back to Tanzania so it will happen. We are either having 3 or 4 nights in Zanzibar, that has yet to be determined, but we are flying from Arusha straight there and going to do at least one night in stonetown and the other nights in Paje (on the eastern coast). It will be SO sad to leave the kids but I think it will be good to go on holiday and then leave so it’s not all at once.

This past weekend we did laundry and got veggies at the market again. Ilse and I went to Arusha on Saturday and cheered on Holland in the world cup and ended up staying around all day and watching 3 soccer games. That’s a definite downside to our work schedules being opposite is that rach couldn’t come with. We did have a nice long day in Arusha on Thursday though and had the most crowded, scary dala dala ride to date. I think there were at least 25 people in it and we couldn’t see out the windows. Everything was fine though and we made it to and fro safely.

We are both working this week until Thursday, which starts Rachel’s days off. Rachel did the nursery this morning and started her night shift tonight and I started back 8-5 for 3 days. We have a pretty busy week, with more soccer to be watched! When I got downstairs this morning and it was about time for breakfast I looked in the kitchen and noticed that the house was being taken over by ants. I am not even exaggerating either. I had never seen so many ants in my entire life and they were making patterns on the tile floor with all the different directions they were going. It was scary. All the kids were going nuts over them, and wanted to step on them. One of the nannies came in there and her solution was to start lighting them on fire. That was an effective method until she would get some spray for them. The weird thing about the ants is that when they bite you it hurts worse than fire ants but it leaves no mark, and its hard to feel them on you until they bite. Needless to say it was an eventful morning and the house smelled like a mix between ant killer and smoke for a good part of the morning. I took Sele on a walk outside today and that was nice. Other than that it was a pretty standard day of playing, changing nappies (I think I have mastered the art of folding and cleaning them), feeding, and more playing. I think I will go make dinner and read some more of my book.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy is happy today

Today my first day back to working 8-5 started. I was thankful for my time off, feel very rested and missed the kids! Kimberlie has now started her 3 days off. Tomorrow she and Ilse are going to watch the Holland futbol game in Arusha and I am letting them borrow my two orange shirts so they can show their support for the Dutch! I’m not sure why I brought two orange shirts but I am glad they are coming in handy. Kimber is also going to try to find out some more information about a safari while she is in town. She has been doing lots of research on safaris and Zanzibar. Hopefully we can get something settled soon.

I was writing postcards to people yesterday and found myself frequently writing “I hope you are having a great summer!”. After writing it I quickly realized I don’t think my summer could be going any better. I am in a beautiful country, with one of my best friends, making new friends from around the world, experiencing a new culture and most importantly loving on the sweetest babies I have ever seen who accept my love with out any hesitation.

I had one of the best days I have had since I have been here today. I got up early, felt well rested, talked to Adam, and headed down stairs to see 30 smiling faces. Even though Kimber and I are rarely together around the kids due to our alternating shifts they seem to know we are friends and associate us together. They asked Kimber where I was the last three days she just told them I was upstairs sleeping. So as I showed up this morning and Kimber left they asked if I was still sleeping (la la) and I told them no I was awake now. They then asked if Kimber was now sleeping and I told them yes, it was sweet.

When we work the 8-5 shift the morning starts with all the other nannies sitting around, singing old hymns in Swahili followed by a quick scripture reading and prayer. I try to focus on the prayer but I am too distracted by the kids screaming, biting, and fighting so I tend to try to pray with my eyes open. I figure God understands. The nannies are fine with letting all the kids be alone but I cannot relax. This morning they sang “How Great Thou Art” and another song that I love and inevitably get stuck in my head and have no clue what the words are, very frustrating.

The morning flew by and I was able to catch up with Ellie one of the day volunteers who is from Australia. It is nice to have someone to talk to and I really enjoy talking about Australia with Ellie. While I wasn’t there long with my parents, I feel in love with the place and really like the things I remember when reminiscing with her.

James face is not looking too great. He has some open sores on it that seem to ooze most the day. When he arrived he had Hookworm and so I told Bathilda the nurse about his face and she didn’t seem too worried. She put some cream on it and off we went. Hopefully it will start looking better soon.

So the last week I have fallen in love with a little girl named Happy. She is just the sweetest, most joyful, cutest baby girl I have ever seen. I really cannot express in words how much I adore her. During my break from 12:30-2:30 while my kids were napping I told Christina, Happy’s nanny that I was going to take her for a walk. Christina grabbed Happy, changed her nappy, put her in a cute pink outfit, washed her face, coated her in baby oil, grabbed a sweater and hat for her and we were off. It was sweet how Christina made sure Happy was at her best for our brief outing. Happy is about 5 months old I believe and a tiny thing, but she is sitting up well on her own and really interacts with you. Whenever we make eye contact or I say her name, I am not sure who is grinning bigger, me or her.

Once Happy was prepared for her little outing with me, I took her straight upstairs to our apartment and we hung out for about two hours. I loved having her to myself with out having to worry about sharing my attention with all the other kids. We talked to Kimber, I gave her a tiny taste of my Nutella and CranApple juice and we talked, played and giggled. I was excited the internet was working so we Skyped my parents and Meredith. I was glad they got to meet Happy and she was so precious. She even got to see Nolan and Barrett. What I would give to be able to take Happy home with me…. While she was all mine, I took the opportunity to learn how to tie a Kangas. It is a piece of fabric that the women here use to carry their babies everywhere. I purchased the fabric last week but wanted to put it to use. I still need a lot of practice, but with Ilse’s help Happy was secure in the Kangas and we headed out for a walk. The nice thing about the Kangas is that you can easily move her from your back, to your side to your front. I couldn’t stand not being able to see her on my back so I moved her sweet smiling face to the front so we could walk and talk. The two hours went by way to quick, but they were some of the happiest moments of my life. Ugh, I know this rambling sounds so corny and ridiculous but my heart was ready to burst with love. If I was married, rich, a Tanzanian resident, and many other things I would adopt her in a heartbeat.

Ilse went to talk to an adoption lawyer today, and it sounds like adopting Rosie is not going to work out for her. Many of the new laws that make it much harder to adopt from here are already into effect. While it is so sad that she cannot have Rosie right now, it is good to know she did everything she could to take her home. I was glad that she met with the lawyer today so that after my wonderful afternoon with Happy my mind could not wander too far and I could not realistically find a way to taking her home. While I did already have her new name picked out among, other things, it could have gone way further. So now I am free to love on all the babies with out wondering if I could do more for them. Right now, I am not able to adopt and I am sure that is all in God’s plan for my life. My mind has been forever changed to the thought of adoption so we will see what the future holds for me. All that said, when I brought Happy back today (she has been sick with really bad eye infections), the nanny Christina said to me, “It’s good to see Happy happy today”. She had been a bit sad from feeling so bad. While I cannot take Happy home with me, she will be in my heart, thoughts, and prayers forever.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"I think a Jack Fruit could kill you if it hit you when it fell from the tree"

June 16, 2010

So after coming to the ADRA offices to use internet 2 days in a row now, supposedly it is being fixed on Thursday or just needs to be reset or something. If someone would show us how to do that I’m sure we could handle it. Did that have a hint of irritation in it? Yes? Well there was apparently a conversation had with an ADRA employee about our internet not working over at COL to which the reply was “it’s working great over here.” Helpful? No. And another conversation had with Davona and Max’s son (who is not a very pleasant person, surprisingly) to which he replied something like “so?”. This is where my slight irritation is coming from. But that is neither here nor there. Internet or no internet, I just don’t appreciate rude people. It’s a nice 2 minute walk from our home so who am I to complain? No one, that’s right J. Onto another subject, some teens from a private school in San Diego came to the home yesterday around 4 and stayed until almost 7. They got to see a good portion of the kids day, they helped feed and then saw them getting changed and get ready for bed. I thought it was cool that such young kids were doing this at such a young age because it was nowhere on my radar at 17 and 18 years old. It was funny because they were acting similar to the way I was on the first day here. They were concerned about the kids needing to be changed as soon as they were wet (that doesn’t happen), and us picking them up by one arm (that happens A LOT), to them making a mess of their food (happens every time). Nevertheless, I think it was a good experience. After work, rache and I decided that we wanted some spaghetti so I took to the task of making the sauce. All I had was a can of peeled tomatoes, and a can of tomato paste and so I went to town with ‘seasoning’. I may have gone overboard with the pepper, but who doesn’t like pepper, right? I know for sure everyone at 1788 Monroe would have loved it J. It was no ragu but it tasted good nonetheless. Rachel even made us garlic toast. If we had lit a candle it would have been the scene from Lady and the Tramp. I think that’s the right movie. Once the sauce was tasted to make sure it was edible, we invited Ilse to eat with us because we owed her a dinner from a previous night. It was very nice dinner with the 3 of us. After dinner, Ilse and I decided to wash the dogs because we were going to let them sleep in our apt last night and we refused to do it when they smelled so awful!! And side note, Georgia has never been that dirty in her life! We went to Davona’s house and did the washing because that is where the soap was and needless to say but they didn’t like the bath too much, and they liked the brushing following the bath even less. The white dog had so much stuff in his fur that we ended up just taking scissors to it. I don’t think Davona will mind, and she won’t be back for 2 months so she won’t even notice. He may have some crooked fur on his face but he just wouldn’t sit still any longer for me to “groom” him. There was talk of taking an electric razor to him but I was not going to be blamed for any mishaps that happened with that. It was a funny night though, and we carried them back to the house in their little doggie beds. Don’t worry, we took pictures!

So after all that excitement last night, 530am came very early and I did a first this morning. Since my sidekick was nowhere to be found, I think she gave up on me. JK! I got all of their nappies myself and folded them, as well as finding all of their outfits to put on them. That may sound easy for those of us at home with neatly organized closets but this is anything but neat and certainly not organized. It is different bins full of clothes that can fit a newborn to a 2 year old. So I must go through everything to find tops and bottoms and dresses and onesies. Also, the dirty clothes are not labeled so I just have to check a bin for food stains. And by the time I get there at 6am, all the other nannies have gotten the good clothes for their kids to wear so mine may have looked a bit like ragamuffins this morning. That’s fine, they were properly changed and clothed. After that I sat and played with them until 8. Which was actually only 30 minutes of playing because it takes me an hour and a half to changed and clothe 6 children. Does that seem too long? I did bathe one of them, and clean their nappies. Anyways…after that I went back upstairs and was going to go straight back to bed but was too hungry so since I had to throw away my bran flakes because they tasted like cardboard (literally), I was left to my own devices. That’s when the thought came to me. Cinnamon toast. Just like the way mom used to make it, minus actual cinnamon sugar, so just cinnamon and butter on toast but it was good and better than anything else I’ve had for breakfast. Somehow I just can’t get into hummus, avocado, and tomato sandwiches at 8am. Other than that busy day I slept and then went with rach to usa to get bread and then to our 7-11 to get cokes and mandazi’s. Well I am off to work again, i.e. off to hoard some pj’s for my kids (the nice fleece ones that zip from the foot to the neck)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"#1 is my job, #2 is soccer, and #3 is my life"

June 15, 2010

Quote: Our personal driver Almas has his priorities straight

Last night we went into Arusha after Rachel finished with the night shift at 7. We had Almas come and get us since it was after dark. We were going to try and eat at the Blue Herron, per Ilse’s request, but like the 3 times before it was closed. I have no idea when this place is open but apparently we have really bad luck figuring it out. So we decided to go to the Greek Club instead, nothing resembling a club at all, it’s a sports bar. It would have been dead since it was a Monday night but considering there was a soccer game on (Italy vs. Paraguay) there were a lot of people there. We got some pita bread to start with some tzaziki. Loved every bite of it, and while they wanted some pizza I kept up the Greek tradition and got a chicken sizzler (like chicken schwarma). We stayed and watched about an hour of the game and Almas came early and watched about half an hour with us. I can honestly say that I have never actually watched a soccer match (is that what you call it? Game?) Anyways, I was more interested in talking about the looks of them than what was going on on the field, mostly because I didn’t have a clue what was going on on the field. I get that they just run back and forth and try to score, like most sports. It was very impressive but I would certainly rather watch a college football game. I enjoyed the eye candy though J. Maybe if where I grew up even had soccer I would care, but probably not. We didn’t get back until a little after 11, big no-no for the compound. But since Davona is gone and we had reliable transportation, we opted for a relaxed break away from the home.

Rachel is off for 3 days now, and I start my night shift tonight for the next 3 days. On Thursday we are going to Arusha to try and see the criminal trials for Rwanda at the United Nations. Seems like it will be interesting. Our internet is running a long stint of being out again so we are getting a lot of reading done. Other than that it is business as usual in the apt. I have decided to come and use the internet at ADRA, which is Max's business in Tanzania and on the other side of the compound from the home. Max is Davona's husband if that wasn't clear.

"You just need to be free"

June 14, 2010

Quote: As told to me by a 23 year old nanny

I was starving around 10 after they had had breakfast and been changed and were just playing in the main room, so I decided to run upstairs and bring down a snack to eat. I was eating it in secret in the changing room when Juliette came in there and asked why I was eating in there. I told her that I didn’t want the kids to see because they would obviously want some. They are NEVER full!! She said to come into the kitchen and eat it so I did. Little did I know that all the nannies ate in the kitchen at that time in shifts somewhat. So I sat down and finished my snack (my daybreak blend…Thanks mom!) Then Juliette fixed me some tea and gave me one of her rolls. It tastes like a pancake though and is incredibly greasy, meaning so good! After I finished that another nanny gave me another roll. Nannies kept giving me food and by the end I had 2 cups of tea, eaten my snack, 2 rolls, and 4 slices of white bread with butter on them. Needless to say I didn’t need to have lunch that day. Juliette asked me some questions about what things costs in America and said that a lot of people here think that they can just go there and make money and live like they see people living in magazines and TV. I told her that it wasn’t the case at all and the majority of people don’t live like that and that things are very expensive there comparatively. She was shocked that an avocado was so much money, given that it cost approximately .34 cents to buy one here. It was fun to get to have some human interaction since its mostly silent or very little talking when we are all actually holding or doing things with the kids. Especially since I had my day shifts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday so 2 of the days there were no day volunteers that came so it was literally just the nannies with the kids. It’s different on the weekdays because about 3-6 day volunteers come in the morning and play with the kids. I also felt like I was being accepted into the ‘circle of trust’ with the nannies, or maybe not but I can pretend. They could have been talking about me the whole time in Swahili and I would have no clue J. I’ll take it though. I continued with the tradition today except I brought a granola bar and gave some of mine to Juliette, mainly so I wouldn’t be that ‘mzungu who eats our food’. Today I also got to talk with some day volunteers (there were actually 6 here today) and I would say by far we are lucky that we get to stay here for free and don’t have to travel up to an hour on a dala dala to get to work.

On another note, I feel bad for one of the little boys Jacob. He is an invisible child a lot of days, though I can see that sometimes everyone gets to be that way. But two days in a row he ‘went missing’. One day we were all outside and he walked into the large laundry room and no one noticed him missing for probably 5-10 minutes and then when someone called for him he came to the door and I was thinking how could he have been in there with no one noticing? Then yesterday we were all in the changing room, which is crazy because everyone is sharing 2 long changing tables, 2 toilets, 4 sinks, and like 30 kids to get changed and cleaned up so it isn’t that difficult to see that a child can go missing but the door to outside was open and Susan brought Jacob in the door and said that Justin (our gate guard) found him wandering around outside. Who knows how long he had been out there? I can’t really fault the nannies because I feel like it could happen to me as well, though I am terrified to losing one so I keep a close eye on my 6. I don’t want to be, not only the girl that’s slow at nappies, but the one that loses her kids as well. All that being said to say that its inevitable with 4 nannies and 30+ kids that one will be misplaced at some point. It’s just sad that lately it’s been the same one.

On yet another note (I have a lot to say when internet goes out; I go ahead and write it all and then post when possible) A couple came by yesterday to possibly look at adopting Rosie. That is a good thing for sure because she is a relinquishable child, meaning that her parents or family have signed saying that she is available to be adopted. Most children here are not though; they are likely going back with family, or to another children’s home for older kids. The sad thing is that Ilse really has a connection with Rosie and wants/wanted to adopt her and had been emailing with an adoption lawyer here in Tanzania to see about getting the process started. There were a few set backs because of the laws that are changing but people have been able to adopt even if they aren’t married so she was going to at least try. It is a good thing that this family lives in Tanzania and would be able to give her that experience, as well as having both a mother and father to raise her, but I know that Ilse could have given her a great life as well and loves her so much already. Nothing is set in stone though so anything could happen. Today was my last day of 8-5 this week so we are going into Arusha tonight with Ilse to have dinner and relax!

Uge time

So I finished day 2 of 3 working 8-5 downstairs in the main house and I have to say I was kind of dreading it actually. Just because of the long hours and I really don’t like being impatient with the kids just because I have had a long day. I think that was remedied though because I emailed Ash and asked her to pray for patience for me with the kids and if there was nothing else I could count on her for (there are many other things) but it’s praying for something when asked, and not asked for that matter. The first day with them was fun, though the mornings sometimes drag on between breakfast and lunch. Thankfully we went outside though and got to enjoy the nice weather (it’s a consistent 75 degrees during the day). When I walked in, the first person I saw was Lazaro and of course he wanted to be picked up. Even though he is the ‘man of the house’ he doesn’t get held very much for that very reason. When we walked into the main room he said hello to another nanny, Fridah, and said “Fridah? You know Kimba?” It was really cute and he continued with the sweetness yesterday. One of the other kids hit me in the face and I said no to him but that was it, I was going to move past it. Well, Lazaro decides it’s unacceptable and goes to one of the other nannies and informs her that Selemani has just hit me and needs to apologize. So the nanny tells him to say ‘pole’ (sorry) and he does and we all go about our day. The other nannies thought it was hilarious though that he was sticking up for me. I am not quite sure if the nanny I am ‘replacing’ is actually out of town. Clearly some things get lost in translation because I have tried to ask and I get nowhere. Either way, I have a great sidekick (more like I am her sidekick) who gives me clothes to put them in, helps me change them, and will clean the dirty nappies.

I don’t know that it has been revealed how that is done but it’s quite the process. To be simple and not go into much detail, we take the nappies with poo and there are 2 toilets on the counter with flushers on the wall and we have to flush and use a toilet bowl cleaner to remove any excess from the cloth nappies. I try to not do this as much as possible, though I am not as lucky as Rachel to have 4 potty trained children in my care. Each of my 6 kids is a 6 nappy a day kind of kiddo. Maybe that’s why I have a sidekick, though not likely at all given that the other nannies change 3 babies in the time it takes me to do one. I still haven’t mastered the large safety pin through the front of the nappy.

Well I realize that’s quite enough about the changing room. After just 12 days here I have found that I do certainly have favorites but for different reasons. While I would say I am a little girl lover at home, I much prefer the little boys here. Maybe because they are so sweet and gentle, unlike most little boys I know who don’t really show affection as much. I can be in the room and if James scans across and sees me, his little face lights up and if he’s not being held then he will run over to me. That alone is reason enough that he’s a favorite. Selemani (sele) is not as extroverted and you have to work to get a smile out of him but it is definitely worth it. I have finally gotten past Lazaro asking me what my name is and tonight he even told Rachel that I was in the room. Success!! I feel like he gets held less because he is the oldest boy so I like to hold him some while I’m down there. I can safely say that there are at least 7 kids that I would take home in a heartbeat.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pictures, pictures, pictures....

Many of you have requested pictures and we have been trying hard to get them up for you. The easiest way we have found is to put them on my shutterfly page. I have added a link to the right and we will try our best to update them as often a possible. Enjoy!

The Naughty Corner....

So in the last 12 hours I have managed to master the implementation of the "Naughty Corner". My kids that I am in charge of are the oldest ones, most older than two. They are: Lazaro (potty trained!), Rahma (potty trained!), Clinton, Bahati, Hope (potty trained!) and Dorcus (potty trained). Believe it or not, two year old in Usa River, Tanzania are not all that different from two year olds in Georgia. Last night my patience was tested. My sweet cuddly angels turned into normal, tempermental, terrible two year olds. I was bit, hit and spit on multiple times and each time they had that look in their eye like they knew exactly what they were doing. It is hard to punish a little one who hits you with a smile on their face but when you can clearly tell they have vengeance in their eyes, it is time to enforce some consequences.

Here at CoL they use the "Naughty Corner" like some of you may have seen on the show Super Nanny. When a child does something naughty (like hit me, bite me, or spit on me) you tell them to stop and give them a chance to say they are sorry ("pole"). If they don't, you tell them to go to the naughty corner (which is when they collapse and start throwing a fit, so you have to drag them), make them put their nose in the corner and you have to stand there for a few minutes so they stay. After a few minutes, you ask them if they are ready to say sorry, usually they are but if not they get to stay a bit longer. If they are you let them out of the corner they rub your head or whoever they are apologizing to and say pole. They you hug so they know you are not mad any more and life goes on. I can take a lot, but being deliberately spit on and bitten by a kid is not okay.

So now along with caring for them we are trying to make them good people, ha! I do understand their frustration and it is hard to punish them but we have to. At that age they are having a hard enough time communicating their thoughts, feelings, and anger in their own language much less trying to communicate with Kimber and me in ours. I'm sure they are hungry, uncomfortable and sick of their toys being stolen by others, but they have to learn a better way to deal with it than hitting, biting, and spitting. We will see how it goes...

There have been more cases of lice and a few of the smaller ones have scabies. Woooo! I watched on e of the nannies braid Rahma's hair yesterday and was fascinated! Kimber and I are still feeling fine, sleeping and eating well and my nails are still growing! I cannot believe we have been here almost two weeks. Time is really flying.

I started a new book, East of Eden by Steinbeck. It was left here by someone else and Kimber told me it was on the list of top 100 classics to read. It is okay so far, but when I read it I feel like I am back in Mrs. Schmitzer's AP English class in High School. I have really enjoyed being able to read what I want not what I have to since I am done with grad school. It has been quite a while since I have ready anything for pleasure only.

I am on the night sift for the next few day and Kimber on the day shift. I will be braving the market alone tomorrow so we can get some more food. I have started drinking a Coke in the afternoons and that has given me a little more energy on my longer days. We get Cokes from our little "711" but we are only allowed to get as many Cokes as empty Coke bottles we bring back. We only have two bottles so I guess we are stuck only getting two Cokes forever, which means we go almost every day. I don't quite understand the system but we aren't going to fight it. I realized yesterday that I missed the introduction of Chik-fil-a's spicy chicken sandwich. I was so sad. How is it? One of my friends had a picture of it on Facebook and it looked wonderful. The only other thing I am sad about missing is the opening of Toy Story 3, but I know I will see it as soon as I get home (don't tell me anything about it).

I "accidently" sleep without my mosquito net two nights ago and woke up with two bites. Oops, lesson learned. Brian said it was okay though, so if I get malaria I blame him. I am just sick of getting tangled up at night and I hadn't had a bite yet. Last night I feel asleep to the nannies blaring "La Bamba" out our window, I thought it was hilarious and then fell asleep to more weird dreams. I am off to nap now then back to get the kiddies ready for bed from 5pm-8pm, hopefully no more "naughty corner". Miss and Love you all!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Are we really here?

*Just a sweet picture of Anya, Clinton, Bahati, and Hope*

I hadn’t done the nursery before so I was excited to get to do it at least once while I was here. It was just an 8-12 shift and then I had the rest of the day free. I haven’t changed my tune about liking older babies but the babies were cute. I like the twins Rahim and Rahman. They are lively and smile a lot. I definitely liked the change of actually having diapers and wipes to use! That is a big change compared to soaked cloths. But it was a bit much sometimes with the crying in there. By the time you get finished feeding and changing 12 of them it’s time to do it all over again. And the fact that they aren’t robots, meaning they want to be held and played with, not just fed and changed. Though they are content with that for a while. The nanny in there was nice and at around 1045 she shared her tea and bread with me. It tasted like a pancake biscuit. After the continuous process of feeding, burping, and changing went on for 2 rounds it was time for me to go. I had a mashed chick pea sandwich with avocado for lunch and it was very tasty. I was going to help Ilse with her research but the baby was not cooperating so we decided to do it another day. After lunch and some light reading (of Instyle) Ilse and I got in a cleaning mood and swept the whole apt as well as washed the dish cloths, and wiped all the counters down. It’s kinda like once you start something you get a little crazy and need to finish. Rachel and I weren’t feeling making anything for dinner so we went to Tanz hands for an early bird dinner because they close at 6. I think today is just a wash of bad eating. 2 mandazi’s, a milkshake, and a coke. Oh well. Rachel is on day 4 of 6 working and tomorrow I start day 2 of 7 working so we were preparing for not being able to leave the compound for a few days. Anyways…not much to report

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 Malaria parasites? Is that bad?

I heard the laundry lady Helen outside singing “this is my story” and it made me think of church as a kid and of home. Definitely the small things that make you smile. Though it took Rachel to actually name the song because I thought it was “blessed assurance”. Anyhow, I had today off but I helped Ilse with more testing at 8am with Kurwa and not any progress with the development in her either. After that Ilse and I decided to take 2 of the babies to Tanz Hands for milkshakes and cake. I wanted to take James and Ilse took Jacob. It was a lot of work but it was fun. They were uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do but they got used to it and I got James chocolate cake and a chocolate milkshake. He loved it! I’m glad that he at least got a treat one day, but I would love to be able to take him back! After we got back, Rachel was upstairs for her lunch break and we both had avocado and tomato sandwiches. It’s not happening soon but we may get tired of avocados one day. Rachel and I walked down to the 7-11 (as they call it...see picture!!!) and got a coke and mendazi so a treat.

Ilse wasn’t feeling well so she wanted to go to the clinic to check for Malaria in Usa so I offered to go with her. I didn’t want her to go alone but also I wanted to see what this ‘clinic’ was like. It was an open-air place with about 8-10 different doors (see picture). We saw the doctor and he asked her some questions and wrote the answers down on a white piece of paper and then we went to the “laboratory”, which was a room with a cabinet of different liquids in jars and the nurse in there did not wear any gloves when she was getting some blood from Ilse. She also was using a microscope that looked like one I used in high school. We had to wait while she looked to see if it was Malaria. Then we went back to see the doctor, who wrote a prescription on the white piece of paper because Ilse apparently has it. Though, I have heard that they always say its Malaria. Anyhow, she went ahead and got the meds (they cost 15,000 shillings, or $10) because they couldn’t hurt. We also went to the market at Rotterdam and got some essentials (chick peas, bread, and long life milk). When we got back the Internet was working so I got to check my email and just relax until Rachel got done. It’s dinnertime yet again, so one of us will write soon! Love to all our family and friends who continue to read!

"I want to marry a mzungu, how do I get one?"

June 8, 2010

Since it’s been a few days since we have updated I will just give a brief overview. On Monday Rachel worked in the nursery and I did my night shift which is difficult getting up at 530am, but I think I like it better because you get 8-5 off so you can nap or actually do something during the day. I think I did both on Monday and I got to read more of my book that I was soo very into and actually finished it so I’m going to start one of my 8 other ones I brought. I helped Ilse with some of her research with the kids. She is working on her master’s thesis in child development so she is testing the children and then comparing them to the WHO statistics to see if they are developing above, normal, or below average. I was there for ‘moral support’ for the kids to nudge them along or for them to sit in my lap and just console them. It was really sad because some of the kid’s just wouldn’t/couldn’t do any of the tasks that children their age should be able to do. I felt bad because I just wanted to help them and do it for them, which actually made me feel how I suspect a parent would feel. It was what I would have absolutely thought that they could do. Some of the tests she even did below their age group so they really should have been able to do them. I don’t know why I was surprised though because they don’t do any sort of pre-k program like some 2 year olds in America do. And when they do play with toys, it is not any sort of learning toy or game. I also wonder though about tests like these that are created for ‘westernized’ children’s development and what, if any, of these things do the kids need to know for the lives that they will likely be leading one day. Anyhow, that is a tangent that I don’t need to continue, it was just depressing that they wanted to play with the toys more and were so upset when it was time to move on to the next one. They do get bananas though (as a treat) when they get finished.

The night shift from 6-8am was good except that Batilda (the nurse) gave all the babies vitamins. That, by itself, is not the bad part but the fact that these babies treated it like it was the greatest piece of candy or chocolate they had ever had. Not one of them put the whole thing in their mouth and chewed it up. Mind you, it’s the hard gritty kind, not the gummy kind. So the baby I was holding Jacob wasn’t in the room while she gave them out so he got his late, while all the other kids were getting their second ones. So when they all had left the room I saw one on the floor and decided that he should get a second one as well. Believe me, someone else would have grabbed it if I hadn’t. So he probably chewed on it for a good 10 minutes before it was completely gone. The fact that something as tiny (literally) as a vitamin is that big of a deal to them is depressing to me. On another, funnier, note. Hope, the sister of Lazaro, who is 2 1/2 old got a hold of one of the nappies and was in the main room making one of the other girls lay back so she could “change” her. It was so cute! Then, when the little girl had had enough, she got a raggedy Ann doll and proceeded to do the same thing to her. I guess some things are universal!

On my last day of the night shift, since I have from 8-5 available I went upstairs and took a 2-hour nap while Rachel helped Ilse with testing another baby for her research. We decided to make the big leap and go into Arusha by ourselves because we wanted to go to the Masai market and also Tanya and Renate told us that they had booked their flight to Zanzibar and we wanted to look into that as well! So around 1130 we made our way to our stop (Danish) and hopped on the first dala dala. Thankfully we had a seat because we did not want to ride for 40 minutes without a seat! It was a fine ride there. The windows of the van are so that you can’t really see much of the scenery, which is why I was happy to get to go with Davona the other day and take pictures out the window. I certainly wouldn’t want to get my camera out on the ride at all. You already attract enough attention as a mzungu (white person) that we don’t need anymore. We saw these 3 Masai men out the window that were laying in the grass on their stomachs and that was funny to see grown men doing that. Then this other Masai came up to them and started doing push-ups and that was weird. There was a very nice man on the dala dala that was dressed well and had on a baby pink collared shirt with cufflinks. You don’t often see well-dressed people on the dala dala. Although the man sitting next to Rachel had on a bright green sweatshirt (both Rachel and I in short sleeves) that said Michigan across the front. She told him that she used to live there and he thought it was funny. The only way we know our stop it is there is a United Nations sign and we asked if it was the Sanawari stop and they said yea. So we started walking towards what I would call the center of Arusha but only because that’s the only part I know.

We went to the airline offices and Precision air told us it was going to be $177 to fly one way to Zanzibar but we wanted to check out the other places and get other prices. The only other airline that flies to Zanzibar (that was on that street) was Coastal Airways and they were charging $125 for the flight so at first we were going to go ahead and buy that but we had to pay cash and we certainly weren’t carrying that much around so I went to the ATM but then when I came back Rachel said that they were also charging us for every kilo of our luggage. Anyone that saw our luggage before we left knows that we were coming very close to American standards of 50lb per bag so needless to say it was going to be between 30-50 extra dollars. It was also at that point that I looked and saw that it was a flight on a 13 seat plane and our bags were going to need to go 2-3 days before us and ‘wait’ for us in Zanzibar. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE flying but I am also afraid of heights and am not quite sure that my first time on a tiny “plane” should be in Africa and over water. Call me risk adverse, whatever, but I don’t make rash or pressured decisions, certainly not ones that are costing me almost $200, so we opted to think about it. From there we got a taxi to take us to the Masai market. (this is Mt. Meru from the main road in Arusha)

It was not at all what I was expecting, though I don’t recall what exactly I was expecting. It was 3 rows of ‘stores’ that went back probably 20 stores deep, all sharing at least one wall. We started at the front and made our way back and while it was pretty much the same things in all the shops, some of them had more woodcarvings, while some had more paintings, or jewelry, or shoes. I wasn’t planning on getting anything just yet but I realized that I would be coming back and I didn’t want to get everything on one trip so I got some shoes, 3 wood bangles, 3 beaded bracelets, and a scarf all for under $25. I can safely say that I have never haggled before (mostly relying on whoever I was with to do it for me) but I think I did a decent job. I felt bad though that I was arguing (bargaining) over less than a dollar, but I also didn’t want to get ripped off and be that white person that they talk about in the guidebooks that always pay far more than anyone else for things. It is them who is used to this, not me. I never offered less than half of what they were asking, and guidebooks say to at least offer less than half of what they tell you. Anyways, it was an exhausting experience somehow. Saying no over and over, as well as just the actual walking around. I would like to go back because there was a painting that I really liked but needed to think over. Remember, I don’t like making rash decisions and the boy was staring at me while I looking at it so I needed to get out of there. Rachel also wants to get some shoes and apparently Christmas presents as well. She got a couple beaded bracelets, some wooden spoons, a Masai warrior slingshot for Adam, and a safari animal set made out of banana leaves. She got a zebra, giraffe, elephant, and a tree. We haven’t picked out their names yet but they sat at the table and had dinner with us last night. Don’t judge us, we don’t have TV or Internet most days! Long story short, we are going back so we might as well of started the process.

We walked back into the main part of Arusha and were pretty tired and hungry so we went to Africafe. It is (not literally) a whites only establishment. They are a bit overpriced but we wanted something to snack on so it would do. I will also add that our bill was 20,400 shillings, which is roughly $16 total so that is what we now consider overpriced. We both got iced teas that were served with lime, mint and sugar syrup on the side. I love me some sweet tea but I wanted to try it unsweetened, and that didn’t exactly work but I only put a small bit of syrup in there. We also both got samosas as a side that were yum! I can no longer say that I don’t like tomatoes. I got an avocado, cheese, and tomato sandwich, and enjoyed every bite of it. Rachel got a tomato and cheese sandwich with fries that were great as well. Whoever said we were going to lose weight is sorely mistaken! We have eaten very well here for sure.

We needed to get back to Usa since I had to go work from 5-8 with the babies. It was clearly ‘rush hour’ at 4pm to get dala dalas to Usa so we passed up at least 10 that were standing/crouching room only with the guy still trying to get us in them. We finally got in one that we had a seat in, though the seats in them are not exactly large enough since 6 people would likely squeeze into a space where 4 seats are. On top of that there were at least 6 people standing on the one we got on. The van door wouldn’t even close so the guy that is used to get people on them, as well as another passenger were standing on the running boards of the van holding onto the luggage rack while it was going at least 40mph down the road. We won’t die from getting malaria or HIV here; it would be from riding in the dala dala for sure. We did make it safe and sound back to the compound, and I worked my 5-8 while Rachel relaxed back here. I was in a dinner making mood so I made brown rice with green pepper, onion, tomato, and cilantro of course. We sat with Ilse and chatted and had a nice time.

We have decided for reasons that will become obvious that we are taking a bus to Dar Es Salaam and riding the ferry to Zanzibar. We wanted to at least price compare and for the bus it is about $15 at most. Enough said. We can totally do the bus experience. We are regular travel wiz’s now that we have braved the dala dala alone. Rachel has taken up some light reading of the “Rough guide to Tanzania” so she is researching things for our safari and trip to Zanzibar. If you don’t feel comfortable with us riding the bus, feel free to make contributions to us via our checking accounts. If you need the account numbers, let us know!

For those that made it through this monster of a post…wow! You must have been bored or just really love us! Either way, thanks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lizards are our friends, poisonous caterpillars are not.

Today I was back in the nursery from 8-12. Someone donated some diapers and I was so beyond excited that they were the kind that Velcro closed, not the plastic-maybe-stick-once-and-never-again diapers I used on my dolls when I was little. These diapers are softer, they stay closed and they contain much more than the others. All the babies seemed to be doing well today. I think Rahim is getting over his malaria and Clara’s thrush is better. Now if we could just get their lungs clear so they can breath! Emmy, one of the smallest babies has a hernia that Susan another volunteer discovered. She pushed it back in and hopefully it will stay but we will see. Today I was working with a nanny whose name I could never get right, but she shared her tea and half a piece of buttered bread with me which was nice. She also seemed to talk to the babies and interact with them more than most. We have upped the ounces of formula we are giving the babies and that has helped them stay a sleep a little longer so we can get them all fed before the first one gets hungry again.

Kimberlie and I have both been having weird dreams. Not nightmares at all just a little strange. Two night ago I dreamed about trying to decide what to put James in for our Christmas card picture! Most the others are too strange to explain but I’ll keep you posted. Not sure if it’s the malaria med or just being somewhere different causing them, who knows.

I have tomorrow completely off and Kimber is on the night shift so we both have from 8am until 5pm off together. We are hoping to brave a dala dala and head to Arusha without Ilse for the first time. There is so much we want to see and do that we have to start braving it on our own.

I brought an old phone and purchased a sim card to go in it but could not get it to work. Sweet T-mobile locked my Nokia so I cannot use it. But Ilse had an extra phone that we got working and she is letting us use. So we have a phone and we know a number for a great taxi driver/DJ/tour guide, Almas.

Today for lunch we made guacamole with some avacados from the huge tree on the property. They are the biggest and best ones we have ever had. It was so good!

Last night I got to talk to Adam and Candace for the first time since being here. It was nice but we had bad connections and lost internet very quickly. The internet only seems to work at all late at night here, it is so slow and rarely works.

Today was the first day that we have been cold. All the other days it has been really nice weather but I woke up chilly this morning and it has stayed cooler all day. Our room tends to stay warm so I think we slept better last night.

Kimber just got home and is cooking some rice and beans for dinner for us. Sounds like they ran out of nappie pins downstairs for her babies so they told her to just wrap the cloth diaper tight and put the cover over it then some underwear. Could be an interesting morning for Kimber to see how that holds up through the night.

We realized we haven’t really talked to you all about what the kids eat. When they get up in the morning they all get a bottle of milk, then have breakfast which is porridge, lunch which is porridge, some juice, dinner which is porridge and before bed the older ones get a “snackie”. We have seen pancakes, cucumber, or bread with peanutbutter for snackie. One night when I was on night shift, they gave out pieces of cucumber for snack and when I came back and work the kids up at 6 the next morning, many of them still had a clinched fist on their cucumber and were chewing on it for quite some time. The other night when they had bread and peanutbutter I just wanted to give them all a drink because the bread was so dry all you could hear was their sweet smacking and them trying so hard to chew and swallow. When they were done with the bread they all frantically searched the matt they were sitting on for crumbs of bread. The oldest ones always try to steal snackie from the younger ones so we really have to watch.

Lazaro, one of the oldest and one of my babies is so funny. He is full of personality and definitely the man of the house. On my first night shift when I was getting ready to bath, change and put the kids in jammies he was my first. He is very good with English and Swahili. He could tell I was clueless and confused so he bossed me around and I was very appreciative. He told me to put him up on the counter, put him in the sink, he turned on the water, washed himself with soap, told me to get him out, put him on the towel, dry him off and on we went. It was awesome and so funny. If one of the other babies is being bad and needs to sit in the naughty corner but is not listening, the nannies tell Lazaro to go tell the kid what to do and even if they won’t listen to a nanny, they know to listen to Lazaro. Kimber’s favorite thing he does is when he looks up at you, points his little finger and you and says in the funniest way “what’s your name?” He asks you about a million times a day and we are going to try to video tape it for you all. I am taking over for a nanny named Rachel so you think the kids would not have a hard time with my name but they do.

As Kimber is cooking dinner right now we just learned that we have lizards in our apartment! They have names and are a family. I looked shocked when we heard this and Kimber about had a panic attack, apparently she does not like lizards. But they are good, and eat misquitos. They are terrified of us so we will hopefully never see them. Had we seen them yesterday, we would have screamed and killed them so I am glad we now know they are our friends.

I just finished reading “Same Kind of Different as Me” yesterday, I read it in two days since Kimber was working and then it was raining. It was a great read! Very inspirational. I have always thought I hated reading but I have found that I like it. Having no T.V. or internet will do that.

Lastly, many of you will be excited to know that having my hands in and out of baby poop and who knows what has cured me from my nail biting habbit of 20+ years! Woooo. We both just feel so gross all the time and you could not pay me to have my hands in my mouth right now. (Stop crying Mom and Dad).