WH Chronicle No. 1.40

June 10, 2011

It’s a high of 71 degrees today.   The kids count the days until they board the plane destined for their homeland.   I heave a melancholy sigh each time they tell me. 

The Provost (highest administrative figure on campus) complained to our gardener that our chickens are a public nuisance as they run free and scratch in people’s gardens.   I smell some prejudice, since everyone’s chickens run wild here.    Anyway, this inspired us to begin downsizing our coopless occupants.   Our flock has expended over time, but our helpers elated at the opportunity to reduce our bird-en; with the only caveat, “if you eat them, you cannot tell us about it’.  They laughed hysterically. It wasn't meant to be funny.  

The chicken stories don’t stop there.  Remember Baldy?  Well, to our surprise, ‘she’ is a ‘he’.  So one can infer that Baldy’s life expectancy has sharply plummeted.   In addition to this, ‘he’ enjoys the role of ‘attack rooster’ which will likely accrue another potential drop in longevity.    But Baldy, the chicken who suffered a head injury, often follows us to the cafeteria to eat, to class, or to the neighbor’s house, always comes when called, and waits patiently on the front door step for us.  The Tanzanians chuckle and then raise an eyebrow as they look at us.    There’s no telling what they are truly thinking (or you, either, for that matter).   But then,  one can only imagine the sentiments that Tom has toward this less than gracious fowl.   Consolation:  he’s not dead, yet (Baldy, not Tom).

Sam flies into the house hollering, “Mom, do you have 12,000 TSH?  They are selling two queen termites!!”   
In my mind, “Aren’t these the things that people want to kill most?  Does my child really look that stupid?” 
Once I recited the standard issue mommy statement, “No”; the kids found the money elsewhere.   They became the proud owners of two pus-colored, pickle-shaped creatures with tiny heads.    
When I commented to some adult Tanzanians about the ridiculousness of Sam paying 6,000Tsh ($4) for a queen termite, they responded, “Oh, that’s a really good price.  They usually go for 10,000Tsh a piece.”  
Well, now I know.   They are a delicacy.   If you’d like one, I’ll be taking orders before my return.  Girko?
"Two queen termites to go, please."

Did Tim Burton design this?

Tom hit a pedestrian with the car the other night on the way to the airport.  THANK GOD, it was not serious—only a minor bump and a small cut on the man’s hand.  Tom mentally wrestled with stopping to render aid.   Americans are sternly warned, “If in an automobile accident, DO NOT STOP!  Drive directly to the police station because you are in mortal danger.”  Translated, this means watch out for mob rule.     
But Tom stopped; the pedestrian immediately jumped into passenger seat and started screaming.  Then another man opened the back door and began climbing in the car.  With self preservation at the forefront of his mind, Tom started driving off with the second person hanging half out.   Then the second man shouted,  “It’s ok, I’m a police officer.”  So, the three of them drove directly to the police station.   Once the police realized that the pedestrian was staggeringly drunk they warned the man that he was lucky to be alive.  The police recommended that Tom compensate the man for the injury.   30,000Tsh ($20)-- Case closed. 

Several seasoned expats commented that this was the best outcome possible.  It was wise to involve the police and will probably prevent the pedestrian from any recourse of nefarious means.

Speaking of traffic, I’ve mentioned that Tanzania is a slow country, but they make up for lost time behind the wheel of an automobile.   Creativity in driving is rewarded in time saved as people avoid following rules, drive on the sidewalks, honk at the donkeys, dodge handcarts, and park in the middle of the highway.  Of course, wrecks are common and not often attended by any public servants.  I have yet to see an ambulance, but I once heard of one upside-down in a bar ditch.     

Then there was the car adventure for Liz and Claire safariing through Arusha National Park, a beautiful game park only 10 minutes from our house.  We hired a guide to take them using our car.   A little way into the park the car alarm initiated and subsequently stalled the engine.   For three hours they sat waiting for any animal to first recover from the shock of a car alarm and then perhaps walk by their dead car before the repairman arrived.  The car alarm has been permanently disabled.

We are down to one guest.  Gary is ready for his position next year.  He’s learned the students’ names and has his class assignments.   I’m envious of his position as I would love to continue watching the progress of our students next year.   We have another guest arriving tonight, there’s even a bed free for him and the sheets are clean.  Lucky guy, except for that little bedbug issue we’ve been having.  I won’t tell, if you won’t…

We helped one of our brass students replace a tooth last week.   Crowns are not common practice in Tanzania, so he was very happy about not having the tooth pulled; especially considering it was a top incisor necessary for trumpet performance.  Beyond the mere functionality, I commented to him about how handsome he was with his new tooth.   He blushed the color of a ripe plum while shyly glancing upward with a grateful smile.

Speaking of teeth—Sam lost another one.  That’s four total since we left home.

Too many termites will do that to ya...

Other than a dimple in a cute little chin,
What's more adorable than a toothless grin?
~Azu "Betty" Espezia

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.  ~Mary Ellen Kelly

What a lucky thing the wheel was invented before the automobile; otherwise can you imagine the awful screeching?  ~Samuel Hoffenstein

Helping Baldy apply for his Tanzanian drivers license,

Post a Comment