Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's the Little Things...

Written on Saturday, August 7, 2010

This past week has been one of the best parts of training....SHADOW! I was sent with two other cool peeps to spend four days in a village just south of the city of Moshi with a married couple serving as education volunteers.

On Saturday, July 31, we set off on a bus with a few others also heading to villages near Moshi. Our shadowees were all meeting us in the city as it is their "banking town". This means it is their nearest city which is usually best for banking needs, internet access, a large market with bigger selection than found in the villages and, if you are lucky, some American treats.

In the case of Moshi, we were very lucky. Moshi is located near the base of Mt Kilimanjaro so many tourists pass through it. As soon as we met up with the volunteers, they offered to take us to get hamburgers. After six weeks of mainly rice, you can believe I was one of the first to jump at the chance of anything vaguely similar to American food!

It was literally a hambuger stand on a sidewalk, but the burger could seriously hold its own against any in the U.S. Having not seen so much as seen a lettuce leaf since arriving in Africa, I admit to being pretty exciting about the pile included with pickles and mayo. PLUS, it was served with amazing fries sprinkled with really tasty seasoning and smothered in real ketchup. Probably one of the top five meals of my life.

We then met up with more PCVs stationed in the area and the other trainees who had chosen to eat Thai instead of burgers at a restaurant known for having the best grilled chicken....I just had a bite of someone else's-- I swear! But afterwards we headed to another restuarant that serves ice cream and I did have a big cup of chocolate chip. Not sure how much chocolate was in the chips, but it was still good.

I then went with some girls to hit the shops. Moshi offers some great shopping for authentic African jewelry and knick-knacks. But with the high tourist traffic, prices were higher and shop workers were not willing to barter. Similar to not buying anything in the States unless it is on sale, I rarely buy anything that I cannot lower the price. Bartering is half the fun of shopping here!

After shopping it was time to eat again! We met up with the rest of the group for "street meat". Some local restaurants set up booths on their front sidewalks and cook kabobs and chicken legs right there for you to watch. All very good!

The PCVs then showed us a hidden piece of American there in Moshi. When our cab turned off a busy main street on to a dark dirt road with 8ft cement fences on either side, I was a little nervous. When we were dropped at the wrong gate and had to walk back down the dark dirt road, I was still a little nervous. When we arrive at the right place and I see that it is also dark, I begin wondering exactly what type of place we are being taken to. Then as we walk down gravel steps out of no where appears this amazing brightly lit tiki bar with American music playing! Serious oasis in the dessert moment!

Now I am not really a big drinker but there have been a few stressful moments over the last month and a half. With soda and beer as the most common drinks available in the village (and even then women are not really suppose to be drinking in the village bars), I have a few wishful moments of relaxing with friends, good music and an ice cold margarita. So that is exactly what I did! And here's the best part of this little heaven....an awesome make-shift movie theater that played American movies!

That night we stayed at a hotel and then went to the market the next morning before a lunch of something I had really been craving...PIZZA! Cheese is really scarce in the nothern half of TZ and my sausage was more hot dog but it was still really good.

We then headed to their village to spend the next two days. I really enjoyed getting to see another village and how a current PCV actually lives. We got to sit through one class taught by the wife and help a class make a compost pile for the school's garden.

On Wednesday morning we caught a bus to Dar es Salaam for some admin needs. PC had given us the tickets to Moshi and money to purchase the ones to Dar. In the U.S., I would not think twice about buying bus/plane tickets. But here we needed to speak Swahili while making sure we did not get cheated. It was such a great feeling to do this because we were finally functioning on our own.

Being as independent as I am, I have really struggled with not being able to communicate or having the freedom I took for granted. But this is all working itself out as I learn the language and become more self-sufficient again.

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