WH Chronicle No. 1.29

Feb 27,2011

A warm breeze sways the canopy of banana leaves and reveals a contented blue sky with some fluffy clouds.  In the distance a baby cries, then stops.  I imagine Mama scooping him up while kissing his wet, chubby, brown cheek.   It’s a peaceful Sunday afternoon. Our Ipod sings, “Sonny Boy” by Tony Bennett competing gently with the Swahili hymns wafting from the chapel.  

No gigs tonight, no worries except what’s for supper.  Perhaps some Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili?—by virtue of Mikal and Tina.  We’ll share with the neighbors, as I’m starting to believe no gift is worth having unless it's shared.    Family dinners are the norm—it’s nice.    Of course, having been been deprived of this luxury for years (because evening engagements), my appreciation has been nurtured.   

We had a spectacular adventure hiking to a waterfall at the base of Mt. Meru yesterday.  The scenery of this area rivals Hawaii.   Even though a moderately strenuous hike, the kids marched the whole way without a single piggyback ride.  It was like graduating from the diaper stage all over again.  We went with our Tanzanian students and some American study abroad students.  The fatigued Americans commented that our kids inspired their last bit of stamina.   The Tanzanians all could have carried an American student without losing their breath.

My students still occasionally reveal a few details of their lives.  I’ve been told that they usually keep their troubles to themselves and we’ll only learn a tenth of what they endure.   Tom and I help pay hospital bills, cafeteria debts, and chip in for burial fees of family members.  Our gardener’s cow died.  We had even provided for ‘Nyeusi’s’ health-care prior to her demise.  We’ll help with a new cow, as that was the family’s only source of milk for their two little boys.
Because of all of this, Tom’s decided that he, alone, is the Gross National Product of Tanzania.   I reminded him that it’s true only on Tuesday nights, after beans and rice for lunch, when he’s the RGNBP (Really Gross Natural By-Product of Tanzania).  

One student, after being enticed by hot chai and cashews, began telling me a few details of his life.  He’s Maasai.  His mother, younger brother, younger sister, and her husband all still live in a dung hut with no electricity.  His older brother does the hard labor of a miner and has yet to be paid.  His father passed away a few years ago.   When our student began working as a primary teacher he had a life-threatening bout of malaria.  At that point he vowed to obtain a higher level of education in order to assist his family and open an English school for Maasai children.  His family sold their last cow for him to attend his first year of college here.   The guilt, reality, and hardships that our students suffer continue to be a real inspiration for us and a true testament to the human spirit.

As we come to the halfway point of our time here, it’s difficult for me to conceptualize the future after our departure from Tanzania.  I think Sam, Daryl, and Tom all have visions of returning to unlimited video games, junk food, Taco Cabana, football and beer;  resulting in endless happiness.  As for me, I feel as if I’m navigating at night with my headlamp pointed backwards.  But I guess I would prefer this to a clear view of my own hamster wheel.

As we prepare for our musicians friends to come concertize in Tanzania, I think I've secured affordable housing and transportation for everyone.
I wonder if they have room service.
How do you play trombone with a 35mph headwind?  Speed bumps?  

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“The future is an opaque mirror.  Anyone who tries to look into it sees nothing but the dim outlines of an old and worried face.”  ~Jim Bishop
"Diapers are like politicians.  They both need changing regularly for the same reason."

“If I don’t get a plate of nachos soon, I’m think I’m going to die.” Daryl Hale

Enabling the burnt chili,

Top portion of the 300 ft waterfall at base of Mt. Meru

The bottom of the waterfall.

A portion of the hike to the waterfall.

Tom and Sam on the cliff above the pool. 

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