Meeting New People

Tuesday, we had some more Swahili lessons and then have two mamas talk to us. One about living with HIV and how she helps others- it’s legit like nutrition stuff and faith- it is almost crazy how much faith everyone here has. Oh, everyone in cities more or less is Christian one type or another and everyone has so much faith. Then, we chatted with another mama who does women’s rights stuff- which is really hard here.

I would be living with  my family who is upper middle class no question- I had this idea that I would be staying in poor quality- aka outdoor squat toilet, bucket bath mud hut status, but I am not. My family owns a photocopy passport store in town and probably half of safaris that start from here, so they have a good amount of money. Their house is very nice- has 2 gates, but most houses have that anyway, nice garden, a lime tree, banana trees and veggies from the gate to the house. The floors and halfway up the walls are tiled, and each bedroom has a skin, western style toilet and shower- like full on shower and then there is a guest bathroom. Living room has 2 TVs (This is because baba likes different news than the rest of the family). There is a dining room with fridge for beverages, kitchen with fridge, a stove, microwave, and store room.

There is an outside kitchen (like coal fire) because the maid (everyone here has a live in maid, regardless of how well off you are) isnt used to cooking with modern stuff.  Also, there is a backyard and garage. People who live in the house: baba (father) mama, Regi (my sister who is 24), the maid (Valarie) and here 3 year old son Jason. The family speaks perfect English, but Valarie and Jason speak none. The family is very well traveled; baba and I discuss the difference between countries frequently. Baba and I also have been chatting about soccer because the African cup was tonight. I hang out with Regi a whole lot- she went to college in Malaysia, and is just kind of hanging out at home now. She is very interested in learning about the lifestyle at US colleges.  Also, she is incredibly patient with teaching me Swahili- which isn’t that hard of a language and I should be able to catch on pretty soon.
I told them I don’t eat meat but eat fish-and for most families that would not even be an issue because they can’t afford meat- but because my family is well off,  they have meat every night and  I get fish (which is always tilapia).  Dinners here are usually fish boiled with some veggies, greens (I think it is Swiss chard or really bitter spinach), beans, rice or ugali, then fruit which is cucumber, pineapple, mango, papaya or banana.
Thursday and Friday, I went back to Agriculture College and trained all day- half day lecture half day out in the field practicing what we learned.  What is weird is that there is a huge organic market here (even baba said he would never eat anything non organic. because the “modern” food isn’t from a local source and when you have so much land and ability why not take local stuff) Also, if you try and promote organic in the markets, the regular vendors get all pissed so you have to make a separate organic selling station.

I slept as late as my body would let me on Saturday to finally catch up on sleep and jet lag, as I have been waking up at 6 am every day. Then, I wandered into town and made friends with people trying to get me to go on safari and sell me stuff.  I walked around the used clothes market, which is more clothes than I have ever seen!

We are leaving for the Maasai villages this week to do kuku (chicken) vaccinations. We will be camping in a village- so it will be an entirely different view of society. These kuku vaccinations will be interesting-and I haven’t yet done much of anything but these may be the things I decide are more important because you cannot have food security without food.

-Rachel F., Tanzania


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