I-Can-Easily-Believe-They-Aren’t-Tanzanian Dumplings

Today I bring you a recipe, created by me on Tuesday. Amounts are, for the most part, eyeballed, and thus may be imprecise. Think of it as assisting you to truly recreate the experience of cooking on a kerosene stove in Tanzania.

INGREDIENTS:

Dumpling Dough:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 or 2 spoonfuls of oil
pinch or two of salt
water

Dumpling filling:
1/2 cup rice
6 shakes of curry powder
pinch of salt
one very small red onion
one small tomato
2 shakes of red pepper flakes
1 cup water
teaspoon of oil

Sauce:
2 capfuls of soy sauce
1 capful of white vinegar
2 squirts of siracha
1 tablespoonful of cane sugar
teaspoonful of oil
water

(Keep the oil container around, you’ll need a tiny bit more for prepping and cooking.)

Tools:
Bowl
Pot
Flat surface
rolling pin

1) Dice onion and tomato. Add them to pot.
2) Add rice, curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt, oil, and water to the pot.
3) Cover and cook on medium high heat until rice is done. Look/test periodically if you don’t know how long your wood fire/kerosene stove/real stove/microwave/whatever takes to cook rice.
4) Meanwhile, while rice is cooking, make the dough.
Put most of the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil. Add water, working it into the flour as you go, until the mixture is fairly elastic.
5) Divide the dough and roll it into small balls.
They should be about the size of ping-pong balls. I was able to make 7.
6) Roll the balls in flour, until they are coated all over.
7) Roll out the balls to 1/8 of an inch thick.
Drape your finished disks over the side of the bowl as you go.
8) Now make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, white vinegar, siracha, cane sugar, and oil with a spoon. Dilute with water to taste- I did about one part sauce to one part water.
9) When your rice is done, take it off the heat (turn off the stove) and lay out a dough circle on your flat surface.
10) Spoon a tiny amount of oil onto the face-up side and spread it around evenly.
11) Add a heaping spoonful of the rice to the center of the dough circle.
12) Fold the dough circle in half and tuck in any rice that spills over the edges.
13) Crimp the edges shut by pinching them between your fingers.
14) Repeat steps 10 through 13 with each dough circle.
15) Turn the stove back on to high, and place a frying pan on the fire. Add a small amount of oil.
16) Add as many dumplings as the pan will fit. Fry on one side until brown, then flip each dumpling over.
17) When all the dumplings are done, serve with sauce on the side for dipping.

These are surprisingly delicious (especially with the sauce!) and showcase the many imported flavors of Tanzanian cuisine: Curry from India (there are a lot of Indians here, running import shops and speaking Swahili as their native language), dumplings with wheat flour (more German than anything else- use potatoes instead of rice and you’ve got peirogies, and Tanzania was colonized by the Germans), and a roughly Chinese sauce (the Chinese are the new Indians- chances are if there’s a paved road being built here, it’s by a Chinese company.) Being by turns heavy, mushy, and fried, it is nominally British, just like Tanzania was nominally a British colony.

It also represents a history of my culinary achievements, as it makes use of cooking techniques I have long known, recently rediscovered, and also learned here. My dad taught me how to make rice, I miraculously remembered how to make that dipping sauce by recalling the recipe off the back of some Trader Joe’s dumplings, and I learned here that the secret to frying multilayered dough is to coat the dough ball in flour before you roll out the chapati.

Perhaps someday I will post non-frivolous things in this blog again? One can only hope.

Merry Christmas!

The mangos are in season, the “Christmas tree” (try googling “flamboyant” along with “Christmas tree”) is blooming and its red flowers are decorating various entryways, and I’ve been to a Christmas party where I ate latkes and lit a menorah, attended a church service with a delightfully Tanzanian (and well-acted) nativity play, and met someone from my planet- the planet where when there’s music, you’re out there on the dance floor and you don’t care if anyone’s watching. This is basically a placeholder for that post, as I’m pressed for time at the moment, but I wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone and thank you for reading along and supporting me thus far!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and you’ll hear more from me before New Year’s. 🙂

Taking the Initiative

Today I stayed in Korogwe with Lizzy for an extra day after our group meeting to do some housekeeping (of the charging-electrical-things, blog-writing, and provisioning kind.) This weekend, through a combination of circumstances, I was charged with buying most of the things on our shopping list. Now, I have a weird relationship with the market here. I always dread the idea of going out into the market and shopping on my own, especially if I’ll have to go to shops I’ve never been to before. I’ve hit the market solo multiple times, but every single time I have to force myself to step out the door, take leave of my fellow project coordinators, and head marketwards on my own. But as soon as I enter the market and start hunting by myself, I love everything about the experience.

The Korogwe market is a semi-orderly warren of side alleys and rutted dirt roads enclosed by small shopfronts. It’s a bit of a maze, but for the most part shops are grouped together by type of merchandise. So after wandering around a bit you get a sense for which street you’re likely to find khangas, or peanut butter, or avocados. Korogwe is definitely a place that rewards the browser, though. Every store on a given street sells the same general things, but the actual stock is slightly different, so there’s always the sense that the perfect whatever-you’re-looking-for could be just around the corner. And since many people have an eclectic selection of merchandise to start with, you can experience the joy of finding precisely what you’ve been looking for, precisely where you would never have expected it to be. Last time I was in Korogwe, I found a shop that sold winnowing baskets, wooden spoons, steel cooking implements, and pumice stones. I’m not sure what the logic of stocking the pumice stones there was, but I was delighted to find them anyway!

What’s interesting is that the idea of buying things in a foreign language, in a foreign country, still stresses me out, but the reality is now a lot more relaxed. I know the protocol. I know the greetings, I know how to ask for prices, I even know what the prices are supposed to be. And even though the terror of not knowing what I’m doing is gone, the thrill of personal discovery remains- whether I’ve found a phone voucher booth that sells them wholesale at a 5% discount, or stopped to chat with a vegetable seller in the market during a rainshower and made a new friend. I love having time and reasons to explore the market… once I’ve dragged myself out there, kicking and screaming.

My reluctance to take the initiative (unless pushed, by myself or others) is a characteristic of mine that I’ve become more and more aware of, and also more and more alarmed by, over the course of my time here. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at diving straight into things I’ve never tried before- I need other people to go first, an extended warm-up time, the dawning conviction that a wonderful opportunity is about to slip away without me, and/or someone gently but firmly pushing me out of the nest.

It’s not that I’m incapable of ever taking initiative. When I’m comfortable- for example, when I’m dancing- I put myself out there and start kinesthetic conversations with anyone who will listen. But the strategy of taking initiative in order to become comfortable with my surroundings is one that I’ve definitely been having to learn here. It’s a strategy that has applications both with regards to speaking a foreign language and harmonious living & working with two people I didn’t choose.

At least in terms of learning a foreign language, verbal communication in that language is to making translations of things you’ve read in it what rock climbing on real rocks is to climbing in the gym. The gym has a lot of very technical routes, but you’re inherently limited to the holds they provide- you’re not supposed to lean on the wall. It’s a test of skill and it’s good training, but it’s very different from climbing on real rocks, where you use every means at your disposal. There, what matters most is that you got to the top- that you got your point across- and whether it was messy or elegant is less important. I’ve realized that it’s helpful to open conversations, rather than waiting for the other person to do so. If you start, you at least know what the conversation will be about! It’s also useful to take initiative on opportunities to practice; if you’re afraid of getting in over your head, you’ll never be able to swim in the shallow end, let alone the deep end.

Knowing what you want and need, and being able to articulate that clearly and honestly, is another huge part of effective communication that I’ve been struggling with. I don’t like asking people for help unless I feel that I know the most effective way to approach them for it, or I believe that I absolutely have to ask them. For instance, when I don’t understand all of what’s been said, and I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t, I’d rather latch onto what I do understand and ask about that, rather than admit to a conversation-stopping gap in my knowledge or understanding. However, confirming my guess with a question, or just admitting my ignorance and asking for a repetition or other wording, would probably frustrate people less than recieving responses that reveal I didn’t understand after all.

In light of this, I’ve been trying to ask for the things I want or need more directly, instead of hoping that other people will offer them spontaneously (or with enough subtle hints.) Being passive about getting needed or wanted assistance or information leads to a lot of missed, wasted, or misused opportunities, which is something I hate. My team has called me out on my habit of making other people ask me what I want, instead of telling them in a straightforward way. When I’ve got something to ask, I need to take the initiative and ask for it. If you don’t ask, you are much less likely to recieve!

So to sum this all up, I’ve realized that I need to be more involved with, invested in, and informed about the Kijungumoto community than I have been thus far, if I want me, my team, and the Kijungumoto Project to reach their full potential. To facilitate this, I will be pushing myself out of the nest and meeting and talking with more people on my own. If I find myself holding back, out of fear, I’ll tell my teammates that I need a shove, and that I will certainly thank them for it later. And so will they, when I bring back a (metaphorical) basket full of goodies!

5 Ways You Can Use A Khanga (And 1 You Can’t)

Khangas are colorfully printed swaths of cloth, often with Swahili proverbs written on them, that women here use for almost everything you could possibly think of. I have endeavored to think of five of those uses, and set them down here for your perusal.

FIVE WAYS YOU CAN USE A KHANGA

1) Clothing
By holding the khanga hot-dog-style, folding one end over a little, holding it to your waist, and wrapping and tucking, you can create a lovely skirt of any length you please. The traditional style is long, but if you want it mid-calf, fold it hot-dog style about a fourth of the way up. Above the knee? Fold it in half hot-dog style before wrapping it. Want a miniskirt? Fold it in fourths, and tie the ends. To complete the look, wrap the khanga around your head, putting one end on your shoulder, folding it over your head and in front of your neck, and throwing the end back over the same shoulder. This works great for keeping the rain off.
You can also use it as an apron, a halter dress, or even have it tailored into a real dress. (Someday!) The possibilities are endless!

2) Bag
It is also possible to use a khanga as a sort of bag or sack. A common way of carrying babies here is to have them straddle someone’s back, then tie a khanga around them such that the ends meet over one shoulder and under the other armpit, and are tied once in the front, above the chest.
If you would prefer to use the khanga as a handbag, put whatever thing you want to carry in the middle and then twist up the long ends and tie them together. If a purse is what you’re after, you can wear it as a skirt and tie up your change in the end that you tuck into the skirt.
Or, if you’re like Lizzy and want to spider-proof your reed basket full of clothes, simply put all your clothes in the khanga, put the khanga in the basket, and tie the ends of the khanga together. This is probably even proof against scorpions, which is good news, because I definitely killed one over by the choo (toilet) last night with our squeegee mop.

3) Home Furnishings
If you’re more interested in domestic uses for the common khanga, never fear. During the worst excesses of the rainy season, I used mine as a blanket. It was mainly useful when the temperature dropped precipitously at 3:30 am, which it did every night for a week. Kate uses her khanga as curtains, which doesn’t stop our neighbors from yelling through them or trying to hold conversations with us through them, but they help provide the illusion of privacy. Also, they’re much prettier, lighter, and cleaner than the curtains that came with the house, so I’m thinking about replacing mine, possibly cut into strips to take advantage of the sectioned and barred windows here.
Over in Bombo Majimoto they’ve even hung khangas on the walls! It actually looks really nice, even though the khanga that has pride of place is an Obama khanga, which is the most delightfully tacky of all khangas. (Digression: I will try to bring back an Obama khanga, but if I can’t, here is what it looks like: it’s a sort of lavender color, with Obama’s smiling face in the center, flanked by off-color, and somewhat off-model, maps of Africa on either side. The motto is “Hongera Obama” – “Congratulations Obama”.)
You can also use khangas as a tablecloth (although no one here does it) or old ones as rags (which everyone here does.) There’s probably a million other home furnishing uses I haven’t thought of, but let’s move on to…

4) Tool
Khangas can also be used to carry things on one’s head. You make a sort of jelly roll out of it, place the jelly roll on your head, and then put your bucket of whatever on top of that. The khanga serves as padding and weight distribution.
In a pinch, you can use a khanga as a towel (this works better with old ones, that have been washed until they’re soft- the newer ones are treated with something that I infer is called ‘Angel Wax’ that makes them slightly waterproof) or kick back with it on the beach.

5) Education
Khangas are a great way to learn Swahili proverbs, provided you have a dictionary and grammar book handy. They’re actually really hard to translate on the fly, though, perhaps because proverbs are naturally pithy, as is Swahili, and thus there’s a lot packed into each phrase. Sometimes the design on the khanga will give you a clue as to context- or at least, I have to assume that a khanga with a rooster design is also saying something about a rooster.

…AND ONE YOU CAN’T

1) Hammock
I would not recommend using your khanga as a hammock. They’re tough, but they’re not that tough.

Names

Kijungumoto is almost entirely populated by people who identify as Kisambaa, which is the tribe that lived in the Usambara mountain range, which is the range surrounding our valley. Originally, the idea of tribes was a little more fluid than it seems to be now. If you wanted to become a Masai, for instance, you could go and live with the Masai, and then after you learned the Masai way of life and lived where they lived for a while you’d be a Masai, even if you weren’t born one. Tribal identity is a bit more hereditary now, but it still displays a certain amount of flexibility.

We learned this week that the Kisambaa women here all recieve a Kisambaa nickname/name upon getting married. There seem to be a set number of these names, so we’ve met multiple women with the same Kisambaa nickname- I’ve met at least two women named Kide, for instance. Others, like Maimouna, Monahowa, Maki Langu, or Maki Hio, seem slightly less frequent. It’s mostly older women who go primarily by their Kisambaa names, but when women here have their first child, they are forever after “Mama ,” so once they leave their families, they may rarely hear their first name.

I find it interesting that their names change after those significant events in their lives. It seems a little different than in the US. While women might be known as Mommy or Grandma, that’s a title, not a name; and they aren’t primarily identified by that title outside of a specific circle. With the exception of something like “Mrs. Thomas Smith”, which is becoming less and less common, women in the US don’t entirely replace their names when they get a new title. But in Tanzanian and Kisaamba culture, women are designated by their role in the community/family, by what they have done and produced- their names come from the way they live their lives.

I’ve had occasion to think about how it feels to only be labeled and called by my role in the community, because very few people here actually call me by my first name. Instead, I’m defined by the stereotype of a white foreigner, more palatably by the identity of a guest, and (my favorite) by my very own Kisambaa nickname.

Because very few people here can actually pronounce my name, it’s harder for them to remember it, so I get a lot less shoutouts from the side of the road than Lizzy (“Elisabet! Elisabet!”) or even Kate (“Kati!”) do. I thought for a while that it was the L’s that were giving people trouble- like in Japanese, there’s not a very clear distinction in Swahili (and probably other Bantu languages) between L and R. So I get called “Kerry” or “Kelry” a lot. However, I think what throws people off even more is the “eah” sound of the “e” in “Kelly.” It doesn’t really appear in Swahili- instead, they have “eh”, sort of like like the “e” in “eight”. So I’ve also been called “Carrie”, “Helen”, and, hilariously, by the name of my little sister: “Karen.” It cuts both ways, too- Kisambaa has an “e” that I can’t pronounce for the life of me, and it shows up in the most common greeting. It sounds something like a long “a,” but I think the sound stops sooner than an English-speaker is comfortable with.

So anyway, I don’t get called by my actual name when I’m out in the village very often. Instead, I hear “Mzungu!” which is similar in meaning and offensiveness to “Gringo!”, but that mostly comes from children who I haven’t interacted with much, and I hear it less and less (thankfully.) More often I’m referred to under the title of “Mgeni”, or “guest”, particularly in the third person plural “wageni”. It’s sort of the equivalent of “Mama “, I think- I’m being identified by what I have given to the community. But most often, people use my Kisambaa nickname, Mama Lugu (or Mama Rugu). That’s my favorite, because it was given to me by our neighbor. By giving me a Kisambaa nickname, I feel like she inducted me into the community- in effect, that I’ve been brought into the Kisambaa culture and way of life, and taken on a new identity and label in doing so. Just like a Kisambaa bride, I’ve left most of my friends and family and gone to live in my new family’s house. I’ve lost my old name and life, and gained a new one.

Of course, the transition is less complete- even though I can do Kisambaa dances with the best of them, I only know a few sentences of Kisambaa, and the most basic Swahili, and right now I’m planning to return to America after this is over. Lakini sasa, jina langu ni Mama Lugu, ninakaa Kijungumoto, na na ninafurahi kuwa hapa. (But for now, my name is Mama Lugu, I live in Kijungumoto, and I am happy to be here.)

Self-Consciousness vs. Self-Awareness

Hopefully you’ve been reading my project blog posts, which concern themselves with what we’ve learned about Kijungumoto and chronicle notable weekly activities. Since right now our task is to absorb everything we can about Kijungumoto– how, what, who, where, why, how many– the ambling and open scheduling that envelops Tanzania has actually greatly facilitated our work. People will call to us from the road- "Karibu!" ("Welcome!") or "Karibuni!" ("Welcome, all!) and motion into their houses, whether those houses are mud huts or sprawling concrete complexes. Just by being aware of our surroundings and being willing to step back from our previous assumptions, judgements, and even plans, we’ve gained so much information as a team. There’s so much to do and learn and share here, if you only pay attention.

However, I have to confess that I’ve had a very hard time paying attention and thus reaping the benefits activity lends to perception. The first three weeks, I found participation in all aspects of life here extremely hard. In our house, I didn’t know how to work the kerosene stove, so I sat back and hoped somebody else did. In actuality, no one in our team had prior knowledge of how to work the stove, and Kate and Lizzy figured it out by trial and error. Outside our house, I was afraid to talk to people or have them talk to me, because I didn’t want to speak in ungrammatical Swahili or reveal that I hadn’t understood what they were saying (even if five minutes later, I’d actually have managed to process most of what they said.) Of course, because I avoided speaking or initating contact and Kate and Lizzy braved ahead with the same amount of Swahili, I ended up barely talking, and thus not really comprehending what was going on around me, for those first three weeks.

Worse, my fear of saying something inadequate or erroneous, or of revealing my ignorance of something being discussed in a professional setting, carried over into English as well. I got tongue-tied in Swahili, and then because I was flustered, I’d get tongue-tied in the only language I thought I knew how to speak, and spend the next five minutes being embarrassed instead of paying attention. My self-defeating attitude collapsed the world to a narrow tunnel full of echoes. I could only focus on myself and how I was inadequately prepared for/participating in/evaluating the experience at hand, so I couldn’t see what I was doing right, or could do right, or even actually observe what was going on. To paraphrase Josh’s words, "You’re self-conscious when you need to be self-aware."

It’s telling that I needed one of my closest friends to make clear to me what was written all over my first three weeks. Self-consciousness is easy; self-awareness is hard. I’m prone to self-consciousness, perhaps because I’m a planner by nature and inclination, and I’m coming to understand that self-awareness comes from experience, which requires you to put plans into action, or even to do something without knowing what precisely it will require. I found myself remembering that Socrates was a soldier before he was the canny gadfly St. John’s students know and love; and he gained his reputation for wisdom by going out and questioning everyone he ran across. He ‘knew himself’ by actively doing, rather than by passively planning. Though all his questions to interlocutors are quite directed, the direction comes from the fact that Socrates is actively participating in the conversation, and very aware of what the other person is saying (or not saying.)

So what I had (and have) to do is stop being self-conscious: stop building up situations or plans so that they become terrifying and unmanageable. To quote another Greek: "Just do it." I need to have a safe space to practice Swahili in, so I need to find someone who knows both English and Swahili, and who I feel I can speak casually with, since it’s being inadequate in a professional setting that worries me. With those sessions to build my confidence, I’ll be able to handle the idea of using what Swahili I have to navigate professional settings/everyday interactions (which are often the same thing here.)

And honestly, even voicing the idea to people makes me less nervous- telling Hassani and Halima "Ninataka kujisema kiswahili, kwa sababu nitajifunza" or some equivalent ("I want to speak Swahili, because I want to learn.") is an opener to saying something else, and lets them know that I do want to be part of the conversation after all, that I do want to share my life with them and have them speak to me, even if the communication won’t be perfect. It always been very important for me to start well, so that things move smoothly towards my goal- but experience is teaching me that the process of getting things right is often a lot more messy than I want it to be, and sometimes to start well you just have to go ahead and start, and learn as you go.

I think that’s the road to self-awareness: concentrating on what’s there (both inside and outside yourself), instead of what isn’t there. By doing so, you’re using what you know as a springboard to launch yourself into what you don’t know yet. Productivity comes from self-awareness, and self-awareness comes from a habit of active observation, which in some sense means conducting a dialogue with the world.

I’ve started making my first stabs at actually learning Swahili, and so I’ll conclude with my first stabs at becoming more self-aware in general. Self-awareness is one of the core values of 2Seeds- one of the things deemed necessary to start and develop a good project- and it’s defined in the Statement of Values as "seeking at all points to better understand our skills, our capabilities, and our frailties." So: I’m a creative planner who’s spent a lot of time thinking about the interplay between structure and content. I run on enthusiasm, and I have the capacity to infuse other people with that enthusiasm. I tend to take criticism too personally and I have a tendency to procrastinate. I’m also finally starting to feel at home in Kijungumoto, and I promise not to wait over a month to tell you all about it!

Better late than never

(This entry was written a week ago, and I’m using Lizzy’s computer to post it.)

It’s been a crazy, crazy week. We went to the market in Dar, which was where I picked up my favorite Swahili greeting (Mambo!/Poa!, or roughly “[How are] your matters?/Cool!”) and spent about a week at a hotel in Korogwe, doing orientation stuff- a refresher course on the basic Swahili grammatical structure, culture lessons, getting to know the other PCs, and exposure to spoken Swahili and the soko (market) of Korogowe.

I really enjoyed the first four days of orientation and found the information very useful, but in the wee hours of Friday morning I got some sort of stomach bug/food poisoning, as did 1/3rd of the other PCs. In addition, Lizzy was a bit feverish, though she most likely didn’t have what I have (I wasn’t feverish). We postponed our trip to Kijungumoto from Saturday to Sunday, since we weren’t sure how Lizzy would feel Saturday morning and I was dehydrated and exhausted by Friday afternoon. Lizzy felt well enough to go to the Korogwe market on Saturday, but I had to sleep and recover fluids most of that day.

I did manage to get out and about in the market for a few hours on Saturday, and I observed the buying of khangas (long peices of cloth that can be wrapped around the head/waist/wherever) and Kate’s lovely dress. We also bought me some bananas- the bananas here are smaller and greener than the ones in the US, but they taste fresher.

Sunday morning I finally felt fine (thank you, killer antibiotics) and we headed off! I was excited to meet everyone and see our house, and to finally put all the things we learned over the summer and in orientation to use. Kijungumoto is gorgeous, with green/grey hills undulating past each other on both sides of the road, and our house is really, really nice, with a huge sitting room with two armchairs and a couch, an attached pit toilet, and a bedroom for each of us (mine has its own attached pit toilet/floor drain for bucket showers!) A crowd of young men helped us unload our stuff and move it into the house, and some of the mamas filled our water tank for us (for a fee, which we found out from Ana was more than we should have paid. Oh well, we’ll do it ourselves from now on, and use going to the well as a chance to talk to the women, who don’t say much when they’re with their husbands.)

The highlight of my day was meeting Mzee Salim, who is an elder here of about my parents’ age- I believe he said he was born July 18th, 1957- who took the time to chat with us both when we first arrived and when we later met him walking along the main road that divides Kijungumoto. He sat with us for an hour or so and we talked in a mixture of English and Swahili about America, Tanzania, the weather, politics, a little bit about his family- he actually took us to meet a large swathe of his family, which is no mean feat, as his family makes up either 75 people in the 2,000-person village, or 75% of it (we weren’t clear on the numbers.) Either way, most of his family was forced by the government to move to Kijungumoto due to the first President of Tanzania’s Umojaa policies, which moved people from their scattered, shifting homesteads into more centralized villages and set plots of land. He grows about six different crops (we weren’t expecting that much diversity!) including bananas, maize, cashew nuts, and coconuts. He’s already invested a lot of time into us, and I think he’s definitely someone I’d like to talk more with and get to know, as well as someone who could potentially be a mover and shaker of our project.

And now for the bad news… I was feeling fine and chipper when we were meeting everyone yesterday, but we ended up going into our house and making dinner at around 9 pm, and by then we were all pretty drained. So we made a quick and dirty dinner of peanut butter and nutella smeared on Quaker Oats bars and rice krispie treats, went through our impressions of the day and plans for the morning, and went to sleep. Or at least, everyone but me went to sleep, because all of that sugar after three days of eating nothing (or at best, some white bread and bananas) almost immediately made me feel kind of ill. And then I found, to my surprise and embarrassment, that I was suffering one hell of a culture shock.

I lay awake for about two hours while my mind gibbered in broken Swahili and my thoughts flipped from one new face to another. I was already feeling sick, and worried about being sick again, and there was all this new information to take in, and on top of that my cell phone wasn’t able to call anyone. I was also shocked at how alone I felt when it was just me in the room- it was SO DARK at night and I hadn’t had a bedroom to myself for 2 straight weeks. I threw up a couple of times over the course of the night, and around 1:30 PM I knocked on Lizzy’s door and told her what was up. She let me stay with her for the rest of the night and talked me through some of my anxieties- she couldn’t talk me out of being desperately hungry and simultaneously kind of nauseous, but she helped with some of the psychological stuff. I tried to sleep after that, but there was some kind of tiny beeping noise going every second that just wouldn’t shut up, and by the time I decided I couldn’t ignore it and got my earplugs, it was almost 6 AM wakeup time.

The upshot of it all is that I got pretty much no sleep last night and was an emotional wreck this morning, which has been significantly alleviated by a) ginger tea, b) rice, c) finally being able to call my mom, and d) thinking about all of this in the light of day. My team is currently meeting the headmaster of the primary school here- I was going to try and go with them, but given the state I was in when they left (before elements b, c, and d) I think they were right that it wouldn’t have been very productive for me. I’m disappointed that I’m missing this meeting, since it’s the first semi-official one, but by posting this I’ve at least done my duty to one portion of my investors, and made sure I’m not eating my rice too fast. Also, once I post this, I’ll be able to include element e) of my recovery, which is sleep.

(I wasn’t able to post this last week, but I’m feeling much better and I’ve updated the main blog with what we’ve been doing this week! Also, if you want to write to me/send me things, you can do so at this address:

2Seeds Network
Kelly Trop
PO Box 506
Korogwe, Tanga, Tanzania, East Africa

I hope to be in touch again soon!)

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