Word pictures of Moshi

Although it may seem from my blog that all I do in Tanzania is write, take photos, hang out at Woodland, and go on adventures, I’ve actually been teaching or helping teach four classes during the last week. Today was the last day of the term, which ended with an assembly in the gym to give awards and say goodbye. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the students, so it was nice to see them honored for their work. I got an award for completing outdoor level 1. If I complete four more levels, I can summit Kilimanjaro. At this rate I’ll be on top in 250 years.

It was the last day of school, and Sarah’s last day with her students, so I shot some photos of her in school. There was also an Easter egg hunt for the primary kids and an assembly in the gym for everyone.

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After school I had two things to do today: tell Manwel I can’t go to church with him Sunday because I’m going on safari (Swahili for journey), and go to town to look for a dictionary.

My roomies decided to come along, so we set off through Shanty Town, getting plenty of funny looks along the way.

I walked right past Manwel’s house, but I asked around, and the owner of a bar knew him. He told us he’s been to Minnesota because he ran Grandma’s Maraton in 1999. He also ran New York and Boston.

He hailed another old guy who led us to Manwel’s. Manwel wasn’t there, so I told his family in Swahili that I came to tell him I was sorry that I can’t go to church with him on Sunday because I’m going on safari tomorrow. I said I would come to find him in two weeks.

One the way to town, we saw the usual exotic sights. I don’t feel comfortable taking photos, so I’ll have to describe some of the things I’ve seen along the roads over two-plus weeks:

Many children in school uniforms, white shirts, blue skirts, khaki shorts for the boys and blue sweaters that look too hot. Other kids in American clothes bought used on the street — Green Bay Packers shirts, Mickey Mouse shirts, and shirts with the usual stupid slogans.

Young men with a checkerboard balanced on a stump, playing with bottle caps. Muslim men in pillbox hats.

Two guys trying to balance a log — six feet long and a foot in diameter — on the head of a smiling woman. Fruit stands everywhere.

Women selling shoes, walking around with a shoe balanced on their heads. Other women balancing huge trays of bananas, or groceries, or baskets, or giant bags of who knows what.

Masai men in shawls and sandals, walking with sticks. Young men pushing loaded wheelbarrows at a jog. (Pole na kazi, I tell them.) Boys hawking newspapers, and men hawking everything from bracelets to paintings to hats.

A small parade: Two pretty women in a fancy convertible followed by a pickup truck full of musicians — five horns and two drums — playing African jazz like they’re saving a life.

African hornbills, and dozens of raptors circling together, and giant bats, and all manner of colorful songbirds. Doves, black-and-white crows, swifts and swallows, ibises crashing into trees. Stray dogs, stray cats, and a hedgehog. Lots of chickens.

A cobbler fixing shoes on the side of the road. A fat woman barbecuing small fish on a charcoal fire.

Motorbikes, three-wheeled taxis, and dala-dalas, the local transportation vans packed to the gills with men hanging out the side, names like “Glory to God” across the top of the windshield.

No one saying an unkind word to the old Mzungu walking through their neighborhoods.

We made it to town eventually, and I bought a couple soccer shirts to keep me cool. The blue pocket t’s aren’t the best choice for the humid weather. I didn’t find a dictionary because many of the stores were closed in some kind of general strike to protest taxes.

We bought some supplies, stopped for a treat, and took a taxi home.

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Tonight we out for Indian food with Sarah, our German roommate, to wish her farewell,at 10to10 pizzeria, which serves Italian, Indian, Chinese and American food prepared by the Indian chef I met the other night at Woodland. I had too much gosht vindaloo.

After supper we stopped by the local nightclub, Glacier, to listen to music. We thought we might see some friends there, but we didn’t. Since Madalena and I have to leave at 7:45 a.m., we walked home early and were back by 11:30.

As I was waiting to go, I talked to Samwel. He had a big smile and asked me to sit in his chair. “Yesterday,” he said, “is very good day. I … How you say ‘kula’?”

“Eat,” I said.

“I … eat food. I … drink beer. I … go home with … motorcycle!” and he laughed at his good fortune.

Earlier in the afternoon I had given him a dictionary to borrow (it belongs to the volunteer coordinator at ISM), and he was reading it by flashlight when I came out to say goodnight. “Dictionary … is … beautiful,” he said.

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