how do you spell Misungwi?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

no stress

Well, actually, a lot of it. things are getting crazy, cleaning up and selling off stuff in my house, having big picture-taking extravaganzas and saying goodbye to institutions and friends, and all the while the rain continues to POUR.

As I left off in my last post, I was about to go to try and purchase some pants to wear. By the way, Jo, I resent your most recent comment because I think I speak English very good. So I met my friend Alex and, of course, it started to rain. And when I say 'shopping', I certainly don't mean at a mall or in a department store, but rather about 20 different small little shops, most of which carry EXACTLY the same thing [that is a universal phenomenon here, all shops carry goods identical to those in their corresponding, eg clothing shops or foodstuff shops]. And each little shop has about enough room for 3 or 4 people to stand inside and try things on in the middle of the store, and I only say 3 or 4 people because I am use to personal space bubbles of Africa, but in the states it really wouldn't even be enough room for one person alone.

So after 2 hours or so, and lots of stripping, and the disheartening but as far as i'm concerned unconfirmed-until-I-reach-the-states news that I now wear a size 34, I managed to find a nice pair of jeans and another pair of khaki-ish pants. Mission accomplished, at least a month until I have to go clothes shopping again, thank goodness. It did really help to have my friend though, the prices automatically dropped a few dollars and he, like most Tanzanians, seemed to know about all the little shops that NOONE just passing by would ever see, or be aware of, let alone enter. 'Kumbe' [what do you know?!], they're tucked in little alleys and corners all over the city.

With the new purchase underhand, I went home and continued the slow but steady process of purging myself of all my crap. The posters/maps came off the walls, documents and teaching materials that were way over-used were burned [one hell of a bonfire, that was fun]. My bed and mattress have been paid for and my couches are going later this week, so I will be chilling on the floor on my mkeka floor mat for the remainder of my time here. It is somehow thereaupeautic [YIKES, ok jo, maybe you have a point. the word beuaraucractic gets me all the time too...]. And i'm hoping it will cut down the stress of the last few days here.

What else is new.

With the rains, all the rice paddies are filled with water. It is a really beautiful sight, and one that I haven't seen since I first got here. The people of Tanzania can be incredibly hard working if there is work to do, so I'm hoping the weather stays in their favor and the rains continue. In the car coming from town last week, I busted out a HUGE grin when, just outside of Misungwi, I saw a TRACTOR farming a big plot!!! A TRACTOR!! Machines! Not hand hoeing!!

Another plus to the rains is that they seem to have provided the final kick needed for my bananas to finish growing. I'm not sure what the English word is [point 2 to jo], but the bananas must first reach final size, then you cut the bunch from the tree and take them inside to ripen, or they take FOREVER on the tree. So they are sitting in a bag in my kitchen, and i'm hoping to eat at least one before I leave. Picture will be forthcoming.

Yesterday I had a terrific afternoon of 'maongezi', which means also 'piga story' which means shooting the shit, chatting with my friends. It seemed everytime I said goodbye to someone, I ran into another good friend 2 minutes later and we talked for another half an hour. I went to a folk development college near the hospital [like a technical school, somehow] and met my friend Deus, and also planned to teach a few periods on Friday on STDs [not a bad way to wind up my work here, showing that graphic video again]. It was nice to see how he lives there, way better conditions than at the TTC in Mwanza, though still too reminiscent of dorm life for me to be in any way jealous of all the young people to hang out with. After that, hung out in the market for an hour, ran into a young woman who translates for Belgian girls when they come for studies, talked to a few of the daladala conductors about topics varying from clothing to religion to, well, just 'the shit'. At one point we talked about my facial hair which was a little bizarre, but turns out some of the conductors had a bet as to my age, and my 'beard' was cited as a reason for assuming I am older than all of them. Nope, same age as a few, older than a few, younger than many. The ones I talked to all older, 25, 27, 28. Good guys, but in Kiswahili we'd say 'hawajatulia', which translates to 'they haven't chilled out yet' which means they are somehow rascal, punk, no-good youth [well, that's what the old folks would say]. After that, had a GREAT cup of uji, porridge, made of rice and milk and cardamom. I'm going to miss Uji, and more importantly, i'm going to miss being able to buy roasted corn or porridge or food ANYWHERE you go. Seriously, every corner there's a mama selling something, or a fried fish, or a little restaurant to get a snack, or the best yet, french fries and grilled beef.

Evidence of the maongezi, and the photo-fests:
Picture 1 = me and my friend sam at his shop, he sells traditional medicines [in the bottles at the back]. Also a big fan of the blue box of CONDOMS hanging in his shop!!
Picture 2 = my fundi friend Selestini and his wife and four children - and some white guy
Picture 3 = my masaai friends who guard at the office of an NGO where I hang out and where I used to get my internet access [props to belgian Debbie for the picture]

Oooh, one final bit. Yesterday there was a 'situation' in Misungwi that sounds direct from a overly dramatic Nigerian movie, or a dramatic Indian movie [but the bollywood movie would be less scandalous since this is about sex], or maybe even the Jerry Springer show. There is a businessman in Misungwi who has a wife and a few kids. Well, for many men here, having a wife doesn't really imply or imbue any sense of monogamy or fidelity. So this guy decided he wanted his mistress to visit him. Well, apparently he's not the brightest guy, since he decided to rent a room in a guesthouse IN misungwi town, and called his mistres over. He told his wife he was going to Mwanza, then shacked up for the night.

The next day, they continued to hang out at the guestie and apparently decided they were having too much fun and thus added a second night. He called his wife to inform her of this. In the meantime, SHE decided that SHE had HER friend, i.e. another guy whom she apparently regularly hooked up with, and who is somehow a coworker/acquaintance with the husband. So she decided, 'hey, my husband is in Mwanza, let me call my lover and we can have a nice evening together.' He agreed, sounded like a good idea, so they met up and headed to.... a guesthouse. THE SAME guesthouse that her husband was at.

Well, by now of course, the story's ending is self evident. Each of the two heard scandalous sounds coming from the next door room [that's right, next door] but neither thought anything of it. Until the husband left his room, wearing a towel, and ran into his acquaintance, also wearing a towel. That got him thinking. Then he saw his wife. Apparently there was almost a fight but people prevented it. Wonder what will happen to that marriage, sad thing, probably not much will change except they'll be bitter to each other more openly. Perhaps more disturbing is the reaction many men of Misungwi had to this whole shenanigan. They all seemed disgusted by the actions of the woman, but the husband? Well, that's his right, isn't it? They used the argument a lot that the husband was probably using a condom but the wife probably not, though I don't see where they would get that idea. I doubt either was using protection.

Whew, that was the big drama of the week. Hoping things chill out for my last week there, though it seems things have already died down [except for the rumors and gossiping].

Gotta run and take care of errands, might be my last time in Mwanza - PEACE.


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