WH Chronicle No. 1.17

Nov 7th, 2010

Hard to believe that Africa is spinning on the globe just as fast as North America, but this week we may have sped a little faster in time and widened the gap in the Atlantic Ocean!

Sunday, Oct 31           
 Political elections, Halloween (for us only), and the stray cat that adopted us had 3 kittens in the hedge.  They now live in a box on our back porch so the stray dogs won’t eat them. 
Monday, Nov 1
 Downtown Arusha was flooded with people waiting for election results. 
Tuesday, Nov 2
 Downtown Arusha had many businesses closed due to people celebrating the acquisition of senate seats by the opposition party.  The police released the tear gas and water cannons on the crowd without warning.   We met with the University music students that were able to acquire travel arrangements during these hectic and unpredictable days.  Three baby chicks hatched.
Wednesday, Nov 3 
Music rehearsals began for graduation ceremonies.  The music department, all 30 of us, provides the singing, dancing, and instrumental music for the event celebrating the students who completed their studies last semester (July).
Thursday, Nov 4
More students arrived, more rehearsing.
Friday, Nov 5
They announced that the presidential incumbent (expectedly) won.  I attended my first faculty meeting.   The discussion was that enrollment for the University has doubled.  Many new teachers will have to be hired and to expect difficulties with class scheduling and room assignments.    Perhaps this will be worked out over the new few weeks, as classes begin on Monday.    Music classes, though already in order, will probably require schedule adjustment to accommodate the University core classes.

Over the weekend we attended our first Tanzanian birthday celebration.  Many Tanzanians do not have birth certificates (nor do they know their birthdates, or birth years) as most births are at home.  There are no snowy, picturesque Hallmark Calendars hanging from the doors to mark the days and special events. Of course, many home dwellings do not even have doors.  On this special occasion they have a ‘cake song’.  Cake is a very big deal, as it is a difficult thing to cook over three hot rocks in a pan that resembles a hubcap.   After the song, the guest of honor cuts the cake, and they hand each person a morsel on a toothpick (most Tanzanians do not have any eating utensils beyond a sharp knife).  The expectation is for one to cram the whole piece in his/her mouth at one time.  They chastised my children for not doing so and I gloat with the notion that it took me 3 years to break Sam of that very habit.  Oh, well…when in Rome.   

After the cake everyone sings while each attendant dances up to the honoree and offers a gift.  Examples of such gifts include: a bar of soap, three ball point pens, shoe polish, shampoo, 200 Tsh coin (15 cents), and a really nice gift: flip flops.   Then they parade each person to their home with more singing and dancing. 

We also attended our first campus church service.  This is a Lutheran University, so when in Luther…    Act like you’re in Lake Wobegon? (Remember, there are more Lutherans in Africa than in the states!)  The entire service was in rapid fire Swahili—I recognized “Amen”.  At the end of the service they auctioned the items that were placed in the offertory basket in lieu of money.  Today it was just eggs, but occasionally, I’ve heard  there are goats or cows in church.    

When we go to market to purchase our eggs and milk, we sometimes wonder what the locals are thinking.  They recognize us instantly and know our story.  They elbow  the person sitting next to them and begin talking about us.   We see them nodding, but what are they saying in Swahili, “Eee, there goes the neighborhood…”?

The students in the School of Music are quite remarkable.  University students are the ‘best of the best’ in Tanzania.  They dress in their finest Sunday church clothes to attend classes.   They all ‘thank God’ for the opportunity of education.  I will learn more personal stories as we progress, but one of the students had to walk 50km (each weekend) to complete his high school education.  It was the closest high school and there was no available transportation.   He walked at night when it was cooler, but had to be mindful of lions.   If one passes the tests to be admitted to high school, then the honor is so great that any sacrifice is secondary to the opportunity presented.  Another student sold one of the three family cows in order to afford University fees.   He still has two years of studies ahead of him….

When I was in the faculty meeting, there were several moments when my concentration lapsed (though it is in English, their accent requires close attention for understanding).  I was staring out the window at the purplely-orange sunset on Mt. Meru.  Time melted away and I was transported to a place where my current gaze became a mere distance memory of our time here.   I felt a nostalgic, yet melancholy, smile cross my face and I wondered….as I often do. 

Tom continues to endure.  Somehow baby kittens, baby chicks, goat milking, (cat milking), monkey chasing,  eternal spring, singing and dancing traditional African tunes, banana and papaya harvesting,  coaching brass ensemble, and other daily adventures don’t seem to distract him from missing football games (even though it’s a good year to miss them), and playing horn with the symphony.  The kids occasionally squeak out about missing Taco Cabana and grandparents (that order, sorry).   I’m happily missing the political headaches of home, though there are days here where cultural adjustment is completely exhausting.

Just a warning, I think the “Comment” section of the blog has not been reliable….or maybe that’s a symptom of wishful thinking.  But several of you have emailed us about comments we’ve never received.   So we will just continue to believe that most of you have been regularly offering  your humorous or insightful quips and we've continually failed to receive them.  

“Reach out for the joy and the sorrow.  Put them away in your mind. The mem’ries are the times that you borrow, to spend when you get to tomorrow.”  Times of Your Life, Paul Anka

Milking cats and nursing chicks,

Introducing (imagine 3 of each--chicks then kittens):  Fluffy, Dolly Madison, Sputnik, Bunnicula, Sharktooth, Milkshake

Kitten being rocked to sleep.
First two snapshots they were fighting...this is the promise of ice cream. The orchid cost $2 on the street.  

Cool chameleon we found.  He's been released back into the wild for the sake of Sam's nose. 

I know you all have been hungry for some action packed videos!  Maybe a lion kill, snake eating a hyena, rhino charging a tour bus, etc.  Well, here's one that even takes out the videographer (but he still managed to upload the video).
  Click Here!

After the attack:
We're not sure if Rooster is wearing protective armor or a restraint--but he looked good for Halloween!

adita60  – (November 7, 2010 at 4:02 PM)  

Who picks the chicks' and kittens' names? Is it true that the chameleon doesn't really change colors? Keep the fascinating blogs coming! It's way better than mail from Yemen! Best, Adita

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