how do you spell Misungwi?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


On Monday I finally got to taste what I had been waiting for since I first arrived... a piece of fruit from my own tree!!!

I am amazed at tropical fruit, obsessed with it, and a little upset at how Tanzanians take it for granted. Even in relatively dry Misungwi, fruit grows SO easily here, mangoes in season are a dime a hundred, and papaya trees bear fruit in - well, not that long as you can tell. I planted a SEED of a tasty piece of fruit that I had eaten sometime around last October, and less than a year later, I got the opportunity to eat an ENORMOUS piece of fruit, red and delicious. I of course shared it with my neighbors, as there is no way I could finish it, and all were impressed at the size and quality - it was nice. Papaya in the states sucks, so I'm getting as much of it here as I can. I swear, it seems like almost everyone from home who comes here says they don't like papaya, but then if you try it here it's like a whole different fruit- it's actually good.

Speaking of food, and eating, two topics which I devote quite a substantial amount of time to on this blog [but in which I feel completely justified doing], the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan started on Sunday. So no eating for Muslims until sun-down. OUCH. I couldn't do it, I like eating too much, not to mention drinking water when the sun is scorching because you're on the freaking equator.

I was actually having an interesting and sort of cynical conversation today with some coworkers. One is Muslim, but I ran into him at the canteen where we both got lunch. He said, and I quote [but in English], "I'm fasting from sin, not from food." I thought it was an interesting point, since I know plenty of Muslims who are fasting but are sure as hell sinning in a myriad of other ways [Christians for that matter too, I love seeing who is Catholic on Ash Wednesday, and thinking to myself "pious, huh, coulda fooled me"]. Oh well. I'm just waiting for the month to end on Idd, when there will be lots of celebrating and drinking.... whoops, I think God is shaking his head on that last point

The start of the holy month probably explained why there were few people at the disco on sunday night, even though there was a famous musician who came to sing [poorly, since he was drunk and stoned. at one point he just squatted on the floor and sang into his hands for a minute, i asked my neighbor if he was singing or taking a dump]. It was pretty tame, which means I should've gone home, but not, I stayed until 4am. This weekend in general was ROUGH. On friday night there was a party to say goodbye to the old [and I mean old, the guy is retiring] head of the District. So I partied and drank with all my coworkers [boy was THAT interesting, though I have to admit they did a good job playing not just old people music] until about 2am. Food was at midnight and after that it was listening to speeches, i.e. falling asleep. So I grabbed my last free beer and then skipped out and went to the disco to meet up with some friends, and got home around 4am.

On Saturday I went to yet another function attended by most of my coworkers, the wedding of the younger sister of the District Executive Director. Somehow I had been in Tanzania for 2 years without going to a wedding, this was my first. Weddings are an interesting cultural phenomenon, but let me be brief in my observations: very structured here, everything went by a down-to-the-minute schedule [though, of course, since it's Tanzania, we were about 2.5 hours behind schedule the entire time]. We drank, we gave gifts, we listened to speeches [and a pseudo-sermon given by a relative of some sort, the groom is a born-again]. We ate fried food, we danced, I danced with my bosses, I danced with THE boss which was kind of fun but kind of bizzarre because I had actually headed in her direction in order to try to dance with her youngest sister who was a bridesmaid and is fairly attractive. The only people who didn't dance were the bride and groom. Nor did they stand up, nor did they say anything, nor did they do much. This is apparently typical. They just sit up in front and look sad like they are going to prison or something, or are on trial, and the bestman/bridesmaid wipe the sweat off of them because they are eating fried foods and under glaring videocamera lights and aren't allowed to leave the room [I half expected to see catheter bags if I lifted up the tablecloth on the head table]. All in all it looked like the night was meant for us, the guests, at the expense of the people who were actually doing the work, i.e. getting married. But hey I'm not complaining, I had fun!

So 3 late nights in a row was a bit too much, now the town is chilled out because of Ramadhan, so it's time for me to chill out too. It is 3pm right now, I'm going home to sleep, then go to the market to sit around for awhile, then to my friends house to sit around some more, then to my neighbors house to eat, then home to sleep again. Now THAT's what I call entertainment.


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