I’ll be back

Day 8

What a perfect morning for a walk! Today I explored the road to the river, where I caught a nice view of the mountain, met a boy herding goats, and talked briefly with a few others along the road. I brought a cigarette to give to the old man I met yesterday, but he wasn’t there.

I continued on toward Moshi Club, the golf course and restaurant where my Minnesota friends took me on my first day — a week ago, which seems like a month. I bought a juice and talked for quite a while with the restaurant manager, Andrew, who taught me a bunch of Swahili words and helped me with the grammar. I told him I went for a walk this morning and asked him the word for “river.” He taught me to say “I am going to the river to swim”: “Nakwenda mtoni kuogelea.” (No, I don’t remember these sentences. I write them in a note on my iPhone and practice them later.)

I tried a joke on him. Last night Naima taught me “nitarudi tena,” “I’ll come back.” So I asked Andrew if he knew Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator. He said he did. “Anaongea (He says) ‘Nitarudi tena,’ ‘I’ll be back.'” He laughed, so I think it worked.

From there I circled on to Woodlands for a Coke, and talked to Naima and a guy named John, who manages a hotel near where I live. He told me to stop in sometime. I practiced my Swahili on him, which was more good practice.

On the way home I said “Habari” to a boy with bananas on his head on the other side of the road. He replied “banana?” and I crossed the road and took out my money. My smallest bill was 2000 shillings, which is about a buck 10. His eyes grew wide when he saw it, and he started anxiously sorting through his bananas trying to choose the right bunch.

Unfortunately, asking for change is not in my repertoire, so I figured I’d take what they gave me..

An older woman came up balancing a tray of bananas about the size of a plastic sled, and she hollered at the kid, set her tray down, and found me the right amount — about 20 bananas. I guess she didn’t want me to carry them home like that, or didn’t think I could balance them on my head, so she had the boy dump out a bag of limes (or something that looked like limes) so she could give the bag to me. I’m not sure if they were organic, but oh well

The “sticky little ball” is working very well. Words that I learned a day or two ago sometimes come to the surface unbidden. Often they’re wrong, and I say them with a question mark and get corrected.

My speaking is much better than my listening at this point. I often wait too long before replying to “Hujambo” or “Mambo” or “Habari,” I sometimes think I hear “Shikamoo,” but I’m not sure, so I fail to say “Marahaba.” Often people will answer for me. One woman I greeted today apparently asked me where I was going. All I heard was “enda” (go) and a question. So I started to reply “I like to walk.” When I said “Ninapenda” (I like) she finished for me, “kutembea” (to walk). I smiled and gave her an “asante sana.”

When I left Woodlands, I asked John and Naima if they know Arnold Schwarzenegger. They said they did. “Anaongea ‘Nitarudi tena'” in my best Terminator voice. They laughed.

I’m killing it in Swahili.


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