Maisha ni magumu

I taught some classes today, introducing students to blogging, which was great fun. I also had some a nice chat with Isaac Foya, the former rugby player who guides trips for the school and on his own. We’re planning to go exploring some weekend after I get back from my two-week holiday.

I went to Woodland to meet a friend, but he wasn’t there, so I talked to a fellow who is a chef at another nearby restaurant, the 10 to 10 pizzeria. He didn’t speak much English, but I was able to learn in Swahili that he has four kids and a wife in India. He’s been here 10 years and hopes to go to India in two or three.

Prior to that I met a young man who is unemployed and discouraged. He has a business degree from the university in Dar Es Salaam, but he can’t find a job. His English is good, so I thought he would be able to work in Moshi, but no. He would like to start a business delivering food to local markets, but he doesn’t have the capital to start. He’s under the impression that anyone can find a job in America, and that life is good there. I tried to explain that for poor people and immigrants, life is hard.

I had him remind me of a sentence Samuel taught me last night: Maisha ni magumu. Life is hard. He taught me “hard” and “easy,” “smart” and “stupid,” and I ate mbuzi na kachumbari — goat and salad.

As I was leaving, I ran into my friend who no-showed last night. Frank is the doctor from the local hospital I met one of my first nights here. He introduced me to his childhood friend, another Kilimanjaro guide. They were going to drive me home, but just as they were leaving, my housemates came and we all sat down for a drink. It was great to visit: two Tanzanians, and the four of us from the U.S., Germany, Portugal, and Uganda/Italy/London.

John drove Frank home then came back to give us a ride, which was nice, considering the rain. We asked if we could pay him, since we’d have to hire a taxi anyway. He said, “You don’t need a taxi, because you have a friend.” A song was playing on his car stereo, a Tanzanian gospel song in English. It moved me. I told my housemates that Samuel had sung for me, and Sarah said she wants to hear him sing before she goes home.

When we got back tonight, Samuel was in the garage hiding from the rain, so we didn’t see him. I’ll look for him in the morning.

Samuel, it turns out, would like to go to driving school and get a license, but he doesn’t have enough money. It would cost 300,000 shillings — a month’s wages for a Tanzanian security guard, but about $165 American. For now, I’ll buy him a Swahili-English dictionary, and hopefully that will help him on his way.


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