Catching up

It’s been a busy week in Shanty Town, the ironically named neighborhood of Moshi — mostly walled and gated homes — where I live and work. I dove back into teaching after a two-week break, reading poetry with seventh graders, creating an online newspaper with tenth graders, and discussing Cannery Row with eleventh graders.

Today I wasn’t in the mood to go back to a rural school I’d visited my first week, so I took a walk instead. First I went to Moshi Club, the golf course, and caught up with Andrew, the restaurant manager. He remembered me, and I him, and we had a nice conversation.

On the walk to Woodland for some groceries and supper, I ran into Julius, who asked me where I’d been. I told him, and he told me he was off to school, where he’s studying procurement. At Woodland I was joined by Mike, a kind of odd duck I met my first week. He’s a friend of Hillary, a guy I’d been wanting to see again. Mike speaks a fast, street-style English, with lots of “whatevers” and “sorrys.”

Neema, the bartender, and Lina, one of the chefs, gave me good service as always, and the owner, Genes, said, “Long time no see.” I told him in Swahili where I’d gone during my two-week holiday. Pasco brought me my chicken and chips with his usual broad smile.

A couple nights ago, I ran into Frank, my doctor friend, and we had a long conversation about health care in Tanzania. We were joined by his friend, who’s the head of anesthesiology at the hospital where Frank works. Then last night, when I was on a bike ride with the students, I saw Frank at the Biker’s Bar, the place where we rent our bicycles.

I’ve also been catching up with Ndekirwa and Immanuel, two of my gatekeepers and Swahili teachers. Immanuel invited me to church this Sunday, so he’s picking me up at 7 a.m

On my way home tonight, a man crossed the road to talk with me. It was Hillary, who recognized me from our short meeting a few weeks ago. We agreed to get together at Woodland on Saturday.

When I came home, my night watchman Samwel was not here to meet me. In fact, he hasn’t been here since I got back from my travels. I saw his supervisor one night, who told me Samwel has been promoted to one of the crews that drives around and checks on residences throughout the night. I’m really happy for my friend, but I miss our nightly conversations. I also have a dictionary to give him.

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