24 December 2008

maisha magumu

I have determined that if I were living in any time period other than the modern age, I never would have survived. How did people figure out how to make fire? I can barely get my charcoal stove started even when I douse it in kerosene. And how did people figure out what foods to eat, or what foods could be eaten after you cooked them? Like rice. Let's beat these little brown pellets until the brown stuff comes off, then shake out all the brown stuff and cook it in water until it is soft. Who the hell figured that out?

Speaking of rice preparation, the amount of time that it takes just to live here is absurd. People grow the rice on their farms, beat it so the husks come off, shake out the husks, pick through the rice so there aren't any rocks, wash the rice, and then cook it. Of course, this is after they have cut down trees and carried loads of firewood to their house, and after they have choted water to their house from the well. And this is all just for one meal. And of course, it's usually the women that do the water-choting and the firewood-carrying and the cooking and the cleaning the dishes.

A lot of people tell me that they want to go to America, because life in Tanzania is hard and they think they will have easier lives in the US and they will get more money. I usually try to explain to them that there are a lot of poor people in the US, and that life there is not easy for everyone, particularly if you're an immigrant that doesn't speak English. But then sometimes I wonder whether being really poor in the US would be a step up from Tanznia. Because even if you were really poor (but not homeless), you would probably still have running water in your residence, and electricity.

12 December 2008


This is my new housemate, Simba. I talk to her a lot and then wonder how that reflects on my sanity, or lack thereof. My VEO (Village Executive Officer) brought her to my house inside of a bag. I thought he was carrying vegetables until he went to put the bag in my courtyard.
Partial view of my house slash my pathetic attempt at gardening. I haven't planted anything yet, other than a single basil plant that another volunteer gave me. I'm going to attempt to plant corn, green pepper, carrots, tomatoes, and cilantro. My village thinks I am incompetent. They're probably right.
This is my house. The one without a satellite dish. Note that this is pretty atypical of the residences in my villages. Most houses are brick with straw roofs. And there is no electricity apart from a few people that have solar panels, and my neighbor that has a generator.