WH Chronicle No. 1.27

Feb 10, 2011

Internet and electricity have become more elusive; it is linked to the yet-to-arrive-rains.  We puzzled over announcements about rolling blackouts and learned that the majority of the power is hydroelectric.    Tom suggested that the government enjoys toying with electricity and the internet ‘Kill Switch’ just for fun—ala Enron.  Regardless of the cause, the lack of internet has really lost its charm.

Late one night, Tom had to deliver one of our sweet students to the hospital. The young man seized up suddenly and had to have his crumpled body carried down the stairs by the concerned music students.    They all piled into the car to travel with him to the hospital.  Once admitted, there was a Swahili-cloaked discussion resulting in the selection of which colleague would stay overnight with the patient. The one who had no homework due won out.
 Tom was very quiet and had a worrisome expression when he returned home. 

The next day we learned it was cerebral malaria—a relapse of a previously poorly-treated case.
No warning signs, he just keeled over, eyes rolled back in his head, like a bug in one of those morbidly twisted RAID commercials.

Then the music students frenzied with another dilemma—how to take food to their fallen comrade. Hospitals don’t provide food and water; some don’t even provide sheets or beds for everyone.  Food is brought by family, and the music students (without two shillings to rub together), were wholly dedicated to tending their sick friend.  Their altruism is inspirational.

Once I finally figured out the situation, we provided some Tanzanian food (rice and beef pilau, fruit) for hospital transport.   I accompanied the students on their pilgrimage and was happy to see a clean hospital with friendly nun- nurses.   Our patient was struggling to sit up in his bed while enduring the terrible quinine treatment, but rapidly improving.   His roommate was also a fellow University student suffering through the malaria treatments.  However, this poor guy’s friends could only manage to bring him a single cup of chai for nourishment.   That evening I packed enough beans and rice to feed the entire hospital and staff.  Of all the burdens Tanzanians endure, I’m lucky to witness just these small glimpses…but it is still enough to crack open my heart and feel unworthy of the gifts I’ve received.

Laura and Missy have arrived here from the states.  Tom and I enjoy playing ‘tour guide’, though they have hired a certified professional for their week’s safari in the Serengeti.  They also coerced me into to traveling with them to Zanzibar next Monday.

I played bassoon duets!   Seriously, with another bassoon!  Hard to believe, but there’s actually another bassoonist in Tanzania and she lives a few miles from the University.   This nice British lady works for a safari company and is absolving her mid-life crisis through lessons in bassoon and tennis.    Makes me ponder the potential elements of my mid-life crisis ---not to be limited by the sky, of course…

Tom continues to endear himself to his father-in-law as well as the rest of our families.  They all sense he’s the only major insurance towards seeing their grandchildren again.   I love it here, and  am happy to admit I’ve stalled out in the’ honeymoon stage’ of our cultural excursion. 

As we prepare for our end of semester concert on Sunday, the music students work diligently to teach me the dances.    With the biggest grins, they comment, “You fix us in music theory.  We fix you in dancing.”   

Someone commented recently, “The sense of community is so beautiful here, how do we get back to that in the states?” 
My trite answer is “hardship,” as the dangers of prosperity have become more apparent  since our time here in Tanzania. 

“Midlife crisis is that moment when you realize that your children and your clothes are about the same age.” 
William D. Tammeus

“Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.” 
Ogden Nash

Dancing in my new kanga,


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