how do you spell Misungwi?

Friday, October 27, 2006

During this past week, I...

... ate yet ANOTHER one of my papayas. oh so good. only 2 left now, then I move on to passion and bananas.

... crashed 2 big church revivals in town. it happens a lot, you hear loud music and see lots of people gathered around a rather spartan looking building, but the unmistakable signs [hands in the air, man on platform sweating profusely, most people just walking by] tell you that it's a churchy thing. well, these churchy things, i didn't 'crash' them, but mainly was there to make sure nothing incorrect was being said about AIDS, condoms, etc. I almost had to step in during one of them, which would've created quite a scene, but the preacher-guy [who was very angry, loud, and hoarse] changed the topic.

... i had a 15 minute conversation, at 10pm, with 2 masaai dudes who guard a resthouse near me. one of them, willy, has really good kiswahili, so we had a nice conversation about a variety of interesting, though not too complex or wordly, topics. the thing is, this entire conversation felt NORMAL, even though he has the big saggy earlobes, and wears traditional clothes, and carries a big stick and knife, and is what one sees in national geographic pictures. it was completely, totally mundane.

... celebrated Eid-al-Fitr with my muslim friends, many of whom [example a conductor of one of the daladalas], have noticeably lost weight after a month of fasting. I may not have been successfull in actually fasting along with them, but that doesn't mean I can't help eat the feasts they prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadhan. pilau, goat meat, salads, fruits, sodas, good times.

... also celebrated Eid by going to a disco and spending about 3 hours having drunken conversations [well, I was sober], with my neighbor the driver and my neighbor the electrician. Does this sound like something a 24 year old does or a 45 year old whose name is Jim? But to my credit my friends are my age, and we talk about fun youthful things [take a guess], and laughed quite a bit.

... ALSO celebrated Eid by making the tisk-tisk noise of shame and disgust at little children. you see, in the afternoon, before the 'grown-ups' disco, there was a kiddie disco. well some of these kiddies are pubescent and pre-pubescent young boys, and they have dirty mouths. really dirty mouths. i can only hope they don't do even a quarter of the stuff they say [i doubt they do, i seem to remember having a big mouth at some point too...]

... started exercising by bicycle since my foot hurts. not bad, only it's pretty hilly here. one day i got into a fun race with some of the bicycle taxi guys, i was coming up a hill and passed one of them, and he clearly decided 'oh no, this white guy is NOT going to just pass me up a hill like this' so he started hauling, and then we passed about 5 more guys and they all thought the same thing, so we ended up looking like some sort of rabid pack of wolves on bicycles [odd image] busting our asses up this hill, and then down, and then up again, all the way back to my house. in the end I won, though can't gloat too much because if you compare my Trek to their, um, "bicycles", i clearly had the advantage. oh, and i think i've said this before, but their legs really really do look like horse legs. all muscle, no fat. scary.

... reunited with an old friend, 'icy-hot' [due to foot pain]. oh, how I love thy aroma, and the shock it brings to other people's faces since any room I enter the strong, STRONG smell comes with me.

... had a good chuckle at the kiswahili/english mixtures i've heard, including: magrupu [groups], kutiki [to 'tick'], majonsi ['jones' aka to be sad], etc.

... attended the graduation at Missungwi Secondary school. It was a very nice celebration for the 72 students who had just recently finished their national exams [which, I must say, featured several questions on topics which i had taught them, most prominently - no pun intended- the male reproductive system]. When i arrived at the school, I was ushered into the principal's office with the 'special guests', the district commissioner and other big potatoes, even though I don't consider myself special at all since I go to the school on a regular basis. joys of being the lone foreigner. There, at about 10am, we were treated to sodas and liver. No, it was actually really really tasty! so I did my best to schmooze with these people for half an hour before we entered the large [unfinished] hall for the ceremony. In brief, the graduation featured lots of very nice songs performed by students, though many were excessively long, and all featured a separate song to usher the students up to the front, then the actual song, and then a 'leaving' song to be sung as, well, as they were leaving. A tad excessive. The graduating students presented a muslim chant-thing to thank their teachers and fellow students, and I was humbled and shocked and really happy [almost teary] when they referred to their 'American' teacher and all the students started hooting and clapping. A feel-good moment. Then there was a clever drama about the importance of education, the choir sung out the names of students to receive their certificates, thousands of pictures were taken, kilos upon kilos of bananas and rice and meat were consumed, and all-in-all a good time was had. I couldn't help thinking though, and i shared this with another volunteer who agreed, that I feel much more scared for these kids than I did even when I was graduating. It is a tough life here, and they are in for some hard times. But I do my best to encourage, and am thrilled to see several of them talking positively about their next steps.

... continued to enjoy myself, as my time here winds down. the next week has lots more in store, including a final lesson and party at the Teachers Training college on saturday night. parrrty!

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