WH Chronicle No. 1.12

Oct 9, 2010

Chicken escape:  Sam forgot to lock the coop door after hugging the chickens good morning.  When I noticed that they were all gone on safari, I envisioned all three chickens at the top of Kilimanjaro (clucking with little O2 masks).  My heart sank, I summoned our kind neighbor kids to assist in the Great Tanzanian Chicken Hunt.   The Search and Rescue Team found them 10 feet away from the coop; busy hunting bugs in our garden.  Cue up “Turkey in the Straw” music; now picture an old timey, homemade-movie of the kids trying to catch chickens (Tanzanian chickens-the fast ones).   Chickens are now safe, kids are tired,  and the garden will recover from the trampling.  THE END.

We completed our celebratory Masaai tradition of “Caki” in Sambasha village.  This involved a roasted goat decorated like nothing a westerner would enjoy seeing (or smelling).  Just a reminder of how far removed we are from our food source in the states.  This roasted goat was poised in a proudly prancing position complete with a grass fountain flowing from its teeth--definitely artwork worthy of a Masaai Four Seasons Hotel foyer.  The pastor offered each guest a tasty morsel, which we politely stowed in ziplock-lined pockets.  Daryl and Sam were very brave and accepted it (in their mouths) with no grimace.  The village was very gracious with gifts, food and showers of thanks to Jerry and his crew from Lubbock. Omega has been instrumental in Sambasha’s progress by enabling the eventual support of Compassion International.   What’s most interesting is that Omega’s mission is actually about investing in Americans and their world perspective via helping Tanzanians.  The fact that I’m writing you from Tanzania is proof of its success.  Jerry and his beautiful family have enriched many people on both sides of the globe.   After saying goodbye to our friends from Lubbock, Sam mentioned that those nice people are his new aunts and uncles.  Yes, they are sweet people.

Now that Jerry has completed his Omega duties, he is taking this Hale family on safari.  Don’t expect any fancy photos.  The lion would have to nap on our windshield in order for me to capture a blurry picture of the dashboard.  So just turn on Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and pretend.

Our driver last week relayed an amusing story to me about black mambas.   This will be of special interest to my dad as he recently watched a documentary on these cuddlly snakes.  He has yet to shed the disabling affliction of the heebee-geebees.  Anyway, black mambas are very ‘springy’ and are notorious for attaching themselves to the cars that run over them.   One safari driver ran over the tail of this deadly snake.  It sprung all the way to the top of the safari van and INTO the open-topped vehicle.  Some of the people in the van actually survived.
 Great story, huh?  Everyone here tells those types of stories and then laughs at the listeners’ expressions.   I wish I could see your face.  

There is a saying here: “If they are here a year, they write a book; two years they write a blog; 5 years or more they write nothing.  If they are here a week, they write two books.”  I’m beginning to understand the wisdom of this saying.  There are things you see here which relate so poorly in our conventional wisdom back home.  I would have to develop writing skills superior to Steinbeck in order to properly paint and immerse one within the context of these events.   People here know the angst caused by these stories related to their loved ones who have little reference.   So, that raises the question, do I spare you the angst as I accrue wisdom?  Or do I brush off your emotional well being by justifying my observations as ‘describing the ocean while being only knee deep?’  

Here’s a trite example:
Outside of the Swahili language school there was a local man bludgeoning a cat to death with a brick.  Of the westerners, the ‘newbies’ were horrified; the old timers were thankful.  The cat was rabid and needed to be destroyed before a person, or worse, a child, was seriously injured.  There was no other easily available alternative for euthanasia-no animal control beyond that of a good Samaritan (?).

That story probably leaves country folk nodding, and city folk swallowing bile.

 Of course, there might be other reasons that people here omit stories, or delay the telling of them. Take for example, "When they were cutting back the overgrown bushes in your yard, they found two cobras." Or, "Your house help is HIV+, but it's really good that they let you know, because most people don't."  Maybe it's all in the timing.

Dala-dala and Die.
Ah…public transportation here makes an Indiana Jone’s taxi ride appear as docile as a retirement home outing.  The little buses, call dala-dalas, rarely have all 4 wheels on the ground as they zip in and out of traffic carrying no less than 30-40 people.  It is no doubt extraordinarily dangerous, but necessary if you want to buy cheese and butter.   Our sweet neighbor escorted me on my inaugural trip.  Seriously, think minivan; people hanging off the sides, door open, a few live chickens, the driver might be in training (and probably doesn’t have a license--for real) in order to recklessly dodge child pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, men pushing oversized banana wagons down the road,  and negotiate on-coming traffic while racing vehicles traveling the same direction.  It’s disappointing that I have no hope of exaggerating these circumstances.  On the return trip, a fist fight between conductors ignited over potential customers, i.e. us.   This event distracted me from the errant dala-dala trying to flatten another conductor standing next to us.  I noticed the side of a moving bus pushing us.  We dove into the nearest dala-dala, regardless of the destination.  From there we had a front row seat to a dirty fisticuff match involving two conductors in the parking lot and one driving a moving bus.  They were never after us, but the fight was definitely over us.  Somewhere during the dusty brawl, a gentleman shoved us for our own safety (probably out of the way of the oncoming bus).  I was never scared, but rather, very thankful that I didn’t have the children with me.    Now, I know.
At least black mambas don’t fist fight.

Off to see lions, giraffe, zebras, elephants in the wild!

“Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.”   Dave Barry

Watching where I step--for reasons better than dog poo,


2 hours at the salon, 1,000Tsh (75 cents)

Pretty little flower at the Lutheran Hospital compound.

Anonymous –   – (October 12, 2010 at 6:52 PM)  

For Joshua's sake youse guys..................freakin' take care of youselfs.

Dafid amb Lizzardo

kisses, little chicken Hales

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