WH Chronicle No. 1.29

March 13, 2011 (Apologies for the slightly long entry--but we have some catching-up to do!)
It’s the break between semesters, so no students, no electricity, no gas in the generator, no internet.  They save money then complain when the on-campus faculty fail to submit their grades to the online system, and then delay the start of the second semester.  

The last week of finals was plagued with student medical issues.  They were dropping like wadudu inside a thunderhead of DOOM (bugs in Raid).   One with malaria, two with tooth abscesses.   Malaria disappears in 24 hours with treatment, but left untreated, you’re being swept out with the cockroaches. The problem lies in the fact that Tanzanians like to pretend they are well (and don’t have $3 for treatment ).   “I am walking--how can I be sick?” is a typical phrase about illness.   One of our students had such a bad tooth abscess that the dentist scolded me about the poor guy’s EYE being in serious jeopardy.  Both students need root canals and we offered to assist with the cost.  Left to strictly Tanzanian channels these poor chaps would have to go to a dentist with an “Ol’ Sparky” type chair—straps and all-- to have their teeth ripped out of their head.  This is evident by their lack of teeth and fear of going to the dentist.   We explained that this dentist would not hurt them and that teeth are a really good thing to have—esp. if you are a brass player.

Daryl and Sam went fishing last week.   They departed the house with their little hats, pants rolled up, skipping along, holding hands with the Tanzanian girls who know the base of the mountain like the back of their Swahili books (well, if they had books, that is).

The Tanzanian girls tossed Daryl and Sam up and over the concrete wall (never mind there is a gate 100 yards away), scurried over themselves, and then they all stomped through the forest until they arrived at the waist-high river.   The girls would muddy-up the waters before throwing in the net.  After they became bored with catching scrawny little fish, they went swimming.    I was comforted by the girls reporting that they held on very tight to Sam.  Even though Sam can swim, their caution was warranted because Tanzanians frequently can't swim.  When everyone returned home, they were all caked in dry mud while grinning wildly.   I can’t help but wonder how these experiences will be reflected through the colorful lenses of time and memory. 

Our vacation to Dar es Salaam was nothing like we imagined, but perhaps it was more spectacular in an ‘adventure’ kind of way.   

The day before our departure, while returning from the dentist, our car overheated.  Randy was very concerned about us traveling so far in our rattle bucket and insisted on us taking his Toyota Land Cruiser (“Ahh….AC,” I think to myself).  There were also some music department purchases to be made in Dar, so it was easily justifiable.    

So we packed the car with luggage as well as two of our students that were also headed to Dar es Salaam.  2 hours down the road the AC belt broke—I was so disappointed about having to ride the next 8 hours in dust/dirt and heat that I didn't even bother to wonder if the fan belt is going to break, too.  Well, it did; right in the middle of nowhere.  Our student got on his phone and began walking down the road, within a few minutes he returned riding on the back of a pikipiki (motorbike) with a small army of mechanics, also on pikipikis, following him.  1 hour of men hanging out under the hood of the car, $8,  and we were back on the road, again.  Except this part of the road, we were told, is one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in Tanzania, so they built a hospital here.

As we entered the city, Tom turned the driving over to the student that has a commercial license--which also doubles as a Medal of Bravery.  After observing his driving, I began to think that maneuvering an automobile in the city is more about style and improvisation than following any regulations.  It is a mere recommendation that you drive on the left,  but certainly not necessary.   Driving in the US would be akin to performing classical music whereas driving here resembles ‘heavy metal’,  screechy noises and screaming profanity all inclusive.   The horn honk also has multiple purposes and techniques from the short ‘mosquito swat’ to the ‘double swat’ as well as the ‘permablast’ that attempts to drill an audio initiated passageway through the car parked in front of you.
Ever wonder about 'speedy delivery' in gridlock?  These are occasionally found on sidewalks and medians.

The next morning our students accompanied us to the embassy.  I think their thrill would have been equaled only by teens going backstage to a ‘boy band’. Our embassy representatives treated them like VIPs and gave them gifts which made it a really special moment.

After leaving the coolth of the embassy, the rest of the day was filled with errands and sitting in the intolerable Dar gridlocked traffic—without any AC—and remember, Dar es Salaam is only a few degrees cooler than the surface of the sun.  This, in turn, inspired some car sickness and a few productive barf stops.   At one point we returned to our mobile kiln to find it booted by a private agency that has carte blanche to boot any car.  Of course, some loud Swahili, flailing arms and a trip to the manager’s office easily resolved it.
Sam waiting for the boot to be removed from our car.

Over the next day, we made our music purchases, had the car’s AC repaired,  went swimming, went to visit our students’ families, visited Bagamoyo School of the Arts, walked on the beach, visited University of Dar es Salaam, and met many very nice people.

Departing Dar es Salaam and aiming for Dodoma, Tom had taken over the wheel for only a minute and then “WHAM!”   An Indian lady rammed us from the side, removing the mudflap.   Our student hollers to Tom, “Twende! Twende!” (Go! Go!) and begins berating women drivers (not inexperienced drivers—mind you).  Glad to know this is an international pastime.   

After 8 hours to Dodoma to visit Ed and Debra we finally get some ‘west and welaxation’. Since this is the center of Tanzania it has been designated the capitol city.  It is a beautiful little town housing the University of Dodoma which will be the largest University in East Africa when finished. 
Simba Rock in Dodoma
Hike to Simba Rock
Top of Simba Rock overlooking Dodoma.  UDom being built in the distance.

 Wrapping up our terrific time with the Lloyds, we loaded up our loot and began our tumultuous trip back to Arusha on the infamous “Road to Dodoma”.  This road (term used loosely) is described as “usually passable”, “4x4s only”.   Imagine the roughest mountainy pasture road you’ve ever driven—with top speeds of 30 mph—then drive it for 6. 5 hours.   We laughed about arriving home with only a steering wheel between Tom’s white knuckles  as everything else rattled off into oblivion.   On our arrival home, Randy seemed quite happy to see us, but I’m sure this emotion was infused with the relief of seeing his car (mostly) intact.
On-coming traffic on the "Road to Dodoma"

To Sum it up:
40 Hours in the car (in 6 days)
Two shredded belts
$75 new Toyota belts/$2 labor for installation
1 broken shock absorber
6 Barf stops
12 Pepto Pills
6 Motrin
4 Dramamine
2000 kilometers
4 Squished Bananas
1 speeding ticket
1 parking boot
1 Lost mud flap
1 pair ‘disposed of’ underwear
1 business card from the Mayor of Dodoma
4 Adventures of a Lifetime

I have a couple of heartfelt apologies to issue to you loved ones back home.  First, I finally found the ‘lost emails’ that you all had been sending!  In my techno wizardlessness, I forgot to activate the email account.  But it was so much fun to read what everyone had said—from praising the episodes with exploding kitchen devices to warning Sam not to dress up like a banana for Halloween.  They were terrific—and thank you!

Disclaimer:  I comment rather honestly on our adventures, and included in this are the cirrus-like thoughts wafting through my mind.  For those who miss us most and worry that we like it too much; don’t fret—Tom has already been airfare shopping, and they are scheduled to be home for Bear Valley Music Festival.  I’ll be right behind them.

“It’s a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”  Seneca

“It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.”  ~John Steinbeck

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

“Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish, and then it is disgusting.”  ~Dave Barry

“Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond.”  ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

Brushing only the teeth that I want to keep,
Advertisement for condoms.  Another university billboard advertises, "Graduate with A's not AIDS."
Mobile Gourmet--just like Austin! 

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