WH Chronicle No. 1.20

Nov 27, 2010

We arrived safely back home from our expedient trip to Dar es Salaam.  The AC in the car went out before we even exited the University gate, which was especially frustrating because we just had it repaired (the AC, not the gate).  The highway between Arusha and Dar es Salaam is a paved road, but if you drove on it with your eyes closed, you wouldn’t know this.  Which, by the way, is a common technique incorporated by many of the local drivers.  So we rattled down the road in our ‘hot tin box’ dodging goats, people, cars, buses, hand carts and craters the size of a small house—seriously.   Occasionally, one might notice a rusty old road sign like this one:

On the road to Dar es Salaam.

In Dar es Salaam, we took care of embassy business, sat in sweltering traffic, and hurried home.  It was tremendously hot, but I decided riding in the car was marginally better than riding in a bus with a goat in my lap.  By the time we arrived home, the kids were happy to see us.  Running to hug us they stopped dead in their tracks (cue: 'squealing brakes' noise) as soon as they whiffed our aroma.   Perhaps the goat would have been an improvement. 

Tom was sick this week.  He had a fever and a case of the shakes during the night.  All suspicious fevers mandate malaria testing.  Mentioning it to Tom, he looked over his glasses at me in his usual skeptical manner.  Our supervisor took him to the hospital where he was eventually tested for malaria, typhoid, and amoebas.  According to Tom, the hospital’s chichi factor, (though a new facility) could be characterized by the waiting room’s National Geographic magazines from 1980.  When he arrived home, he announced that all tests found him normal.  I quickly assured him that he was not, proof in the fact that he’s still married to me.  He also declared that he was never getting sick again.  But honestly, I feel an unequalled burden of guilt every time someone in our family sheds a tear or skins a knee.  In the back of my mind—am I the responsible lunatic dragging my family on a zealous journey?    I guess I’ll take that up with my therapist.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with 60+ other expats in the Arusha area.  We feasted on “Kuku Mmarekani”  or American Chicken, also known as, “Bata Mzingu”, meaning ‘crazy duck’.  The food was spectacular and the mingling produced some of the most interesting worldly stories I’ve ever heard.  
We worked most of Thanksgiving day, and it wasn’t until lunch that I remembered the holiday.  Without the seasons, holiday advertising or other annual orientations it’s virtually impossible to just guess the month.  Even the sun hides the passing of years by rising and setting the same time every day.  This equatorial stability is reflected in the Tanzanian time system as it numbers the 12 regular hours of daylight. ‘Hour 1’ is at 7am. 

 Mr. Twinkie is finally in full voice and has developed a melismatic crow.  Think--Janis Joplin does rooster impersonations.  One morning while jogging, I heard a rooster that offered consolation to Mr. Twinkie’s vocal short comings.  He sounded like James Brown without the band.   I’m not really a rooster crow connoisseur, but these jungle fowls’ gravely voices sure don’t offer pure voices and operatic crows.  Tom commented that it's nothing an ax can't cure. 

“Europeans, like some Americans, drive on the right side of the road, except in England, where they drive on both sides of the road; Italy, where they drive on the sidewalk; and France, where if necessary they will follow you right into the hotel lobby.”  Dave Barry

Applying extra deodorant,

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