how do you spell Misungwi?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


That is what the last few weeks have been.
And what the next one will be.
I don't even remember what the last thing I wrote on this blog was.
But anyways, in the past few weeks I have been all over the country, seeing tons of old friends and meeting lots of new people. Some highlights....

Visiting my friend Katie in Ifakara [near Morogoro town]. I haven't been to too many other volunteers sites/houses, so it was fun to see how someone else works and lives in her community. it was DUSTY! But nice. And we went to a women's group where there are 10 large looms on which they weave all kinds of interesting, beautiful fabrics - all in an effort to help empower women and give them a source of independent income. It was somewhat inspiring, thougt the repetitive nature of the weaving was a bit tiring.

We had our Close of Service conference in Dar on a nice beachside resort. It was the first time our entire training group had met since December of 2004 when we finished training, and it will be the last - people start leaving to return to the States in September. I will be coming back in December, only 5 months!!! How quickly time flies!! So we spent 3 days hanging on the beach, relaxing, getting a little preparation for re-entry into the states [schools, jobs, cultural adjustment] and also reflecting back on our time here and preparing ourselves to leave a place that has become home for the past 2 years and rather shockingly re-insert ourselves back into the craziness that is the USA.

I visited one of my good friends [Tanzanian] who studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. He is a great young man, is so passionate about studying and learning and exchanging ideas - it was a BLAST to hang out with him! We stayed at his brothers house, a nice place in Dar that is in one of the neighborhoods I would NEVER had been able to seen without a 'local' to show me around! Then we spent a day at the university listening to a lecture [neo-liberalism and post-independence Tanzania], drinking beers, debating about East African Socialism and Globalization... it felt WONDERFUL!! I think i'm very excited about returning to school when I get back, and this certainly stoked those feelings a bit more. We also went out to a Tanzanian bar/disco - i was the only white person there - and danced until about 3:30 in the morning!! I'm not usually a late-night party animal, but the vibe at this place was great [even when the music wasn't always so hot]. The new shakira song is big here, plus they played lots of local music. I felt more energized than I think i ever have here in this country before. It also helped that, unlike many of the other ex-pat places or bigger discos, there weren't a swarm of prostitutes hanging around [although they were there....]

OK, so those were just a few of the highlights, and they were rather large and lacking in details. I've just been so busy these last few weeks, there are so many little things that slip my mind. Now is the kind of time when I wish I would be able to write in a journal, because all these little details are the really interesting ones. But I can't, I've never been good at it, and I've learned to accept that. So I guess you'll all have to trust me that the past few weeks have been some of the best of my life, and I'll have to trust myself that even though I'll forget many of the details and the people and the little experiences, I had a fantastic time when it was happening.....

Impromptu vacation AGAIN - i am going back to my house for one night and then tomorrow will be leaving to meet some friends in UGANDA - to raft the Nile river!! - and then head to RWanda to eat croissants, visit genocide memorials, and see what I hear is some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.
so this means no more updates yet again for another week or so, but after that I should be able to chill out and get back into the swing of things.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

a big round of applause

...goes out to my parents for a great visit and treating me to lots of good food, even when they were full.

After two surreal weeks, especially on safari and in zanzibar, I am now chilling in Dar es Salaam and waiting for a conference in a week and a half.

The visit was great, and my friends in Misungwi town were very excited to meet my folks. Guests are a big deal, so there were numerous dinner invitations and gifts and more-extended-than-usual greetings. And as fun as the safari was [we saw all the animals and lions devouring a wildebeest and baby cheetahs etc etc] and zanzibar is always nice [beaches, enough said, though will try to post more pictures again], I think it was this time in my town that was the most fun for me. I try my best to express some of what I hear and see and feel and say and think and do here, but a lot is lost in this medium, and it was nice to fill in the gaps for them.

Last night about 30 PCVs went to the American Embassy to sing national anthems for an official 4th of July party thrown by the ambassador. There were fireworks, which were nice, but most people were focused on the free drinks and bites. I tried my best to hobknob with some important people, but am not very good at shmoozing. Maybe one success story is that I met the general manager of the Dar es Salaam Holiday Inn who said we should let him know whenever we're in town [please refer to a previous post regarding breakfast buffet to understand the importance of this networking].

Short post now, as I have some grant report writing to do, want to go to the big holiday market in town, and then try to find a place to stay - the tourist season has started, and the hotels are booked.