Thursday, June 10, 2010

"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!


  1. I did make it thru the post & it was great. Glad to see my girl finally likes tomatoes! Did you try bargaining for the flight or is that not possible? Keep safe & love you! Mom

  2. I'm thinking I like the bus idea b/c a 13 person plane is not appealing to me and I'm not sure your luggage would be there when you got there if it goes 3 days early and "waits" for you....hmm...

  3. Where did the title of this post come from? Did someone propose marriage to you or Rachel???

  4. The pic of the volcano totally looks like the volcano in Puebla (unless that's a pic of a mountain...but it still looks like Puebla..hahah). Love you!