Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How My Willpower Finally Snapped

I have now been back in the US for just over 48 hours! A whirlwind took over as soon as I landed. I was greeted by my dad and stepmom, grandparents and aunt & uncle who then treated me to a late (10p.m.) dinner at IHOP! Much sweet ice tea was drunk…and even more since then!

Yep, good food is definitely a big highlight of my visit! But I’ve been proud of not going too crazy all at once. I didn’t make a mad dash to the grocery to buy up all the things I’ve missed. Luckily my small hometown doesn’t have any fast food chains so that temptation isn’t readily available. Though at the Chicago airport, I did have to stop at the McDonalds for a sweet tea, cheeseburger and fries. BUT, I didn’t go for a big deluxe burger or double up on a burger AND chicken nuggets…..believe me, the thought did cross my mind!

For the most part, PCVs visiting the States can go fairly crazy eating their fav foods, because they’ll loose the weight quickly after returning. BUT as someone who’s always struggled with their weight, I seriously have to watch myself- especially since I’ll be returning to a big city where good foods are more readily available.

But….this morning….after 2 full days of resisting a kitchen full of my fav snacks….I finally snapped. What were the foods that caused this lapse in good judgement? Sausage, cold milk and Chips Ahoy.

OK, so for you to understand, I need to explain that in TZ they call hot dogs sausage! Yes, really! No tasty, greasy patties or links to be found at all! And I love good Southern breakfasts. So I was excited this morning to have found in the freezer a box of pre-sliced and patted out sausage patties (oh, how I missed America)! So I’m cooking my sausage, egg and toast when I realize I can also have a big glass of ice cold MILK with this meal. You have no idea how this realization excites me!!

So I fix my glass and starting sipping...or guzzling…when I suddenly catch sight of the Chips Ahoy package. The next thing I know I’m flipping sausage with one hand and dunking cookies in my milk with the other…..not a pretty sight. BUT I am proud to say I was able to stop after only 2 cookies. Small servings of much food is my goal for this venture!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Do’s and Don’t for How to Deal with Me

This time next week I will be on my way home to America, the beautiful land of Mexican food, cheese, cheesy pizza, rocky road ice cream, malls, movie theaters, movie theater popcorn and my horses. For six weeks, I will be enjoying it all

It’s been two years and two months since I arrived in Tanzania, and I’ve been here the whole time without visiting home or home visiting me. So it’s reasonable I have a few worries about how I will adjust back to American life and relate with my family and friends. To help ease any initial awkwardness, I’ve made a list of Do’s and Don’t's for how to deal with me post-TZ. Please read and prepare yourself as necessary.

Do feed me! Seriously, my diet the past two years has consisted mainly of starch: pasta, potatoes, rice & beans, ugali (balls of flavorless starch), more rice and more pasta.
Don’t be offended if I can no longer handle some of my favorite dishes.  Living without the flavor and richness of American meals has affected my palate….and bodily functions. So also don’t be offended when I have to follow your scrumptious food with Pepto and Imodium. Oh, and I am use to poop being a popular and appropriate topic of conversation….

Do take me out in public! I can’t wait to see what has changed over the past two years.

Don’t be jealous by my new celebrity. I have grown accustomed to being special and everyone watching my every move. People in TZ are always interested in how my home is, how my work is, what I’ve had to eat, where I’m going, where I’ve been and telling me how pretty I am. I don’t expect this to change just because I’m back in the US.

Do take me shopping! I have long lists of clothes, tech stuff and house gadgets I need to bring back so I’m ready for serious shopping.

Don’t hide when I haggle over the price. If I’ve learned anything in Africa, it’s that the first price is just the starting point. And I find it hard to pay much more than 33cents for a pair of pants. I’m excited to bring this form of commerce to all my fav groceries and department stores.

Do treat me to things I want to do and see! Sweet friends have already been offering to let me plan where we go and what we do when we visit.

Don’t get too frustrated when it takes me half the day to decide what it is I want to do. And then another hour to decide what to order off the restaurant menu. And I’ll need at least three hours to pick out which deodorant I should buy at WalMart. Options are a rarity in TZ. When I find a selection of more than five shampoos to pick from, it all becomes overwhelming and stressful.

Do ask me about my villagers and their culture! I’ll probably talk your ear off…..though best to give me direct questions. Remember options are overwhelming!

Don’t forget your manners. Yes, villagers live a much simpler life, but they are not idiots. And they don’t go around throwing spears at each other. And, please don’t ask me in-depth political questions. I really don’t know all the answers to Tanzania’s problems nor do I want to debate them.

Do spend time just sitting and chatting! I want to hear all about your life over the past two years!

Don’t be weirded out by me sitting in your lap. Personal space no longer exists to me. I may also prefer to ride shot gun in your car along with another friend, the dog, all our purses, our shopping bags, the produce from the Farmer’s Market and whatever else fits in the seat, under our feet and on the console. There’s always room for more!

Ok, that’s a good start to help us back into being friends and family members. I’m sure if you simply follow these guidelines we’ll have no problems and you’ll agree with my new better ways of thinking. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

PC TZ: The Movie

NOTE: There should be fun music playing! If you are not hearing the fun music, click here to watch directly from YouTube for optimum viewing pleasure.

I was super lucky to have gotten to put together the video/slide show for my Health and Env PCV class. I had so much fun collecting the pictures and remembering many of the moments. Also, this past year I started a fun tradition of writing silly birthday poems for PCVs in my region. So I had to incorporate some poetry into this video! 

The movie premiere was held during the first ever Tanzo Awards at our Close of Service conference in May. Some extremely funny PCVs produced a top notch awards show complete with a musical opening number, host/hostess banter, well-played roasting of various volunteers, dramatic reading and an award for each COSing PCV. My award? Oh, well thanks for asking. You see, unbeknownst to you all back home, I've become somewhat famous in Tanzania for mass texting. It is a special talent cultivated during the occasional blocks of hours upon hours of free time in the village. I would dramatically write up a text of typical TZ craziness, my own musings and the ever-popular Song of the Day where everyone had to identify a song lyric. Good times.

As for the above video, be prepared. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to start your own PC application.