WH Chronicle No. 1.44

July 17, 2011

We are submitting the last official Chronicle from Makumira University campus in Arusha, Tanzania.  In less than 12 hours, Daris departs for Dar es Salaam to perform with the music department then off touring Tanzania; while Tom and the kids travel to California (via Santa Fe) for the Bear Valley Music Festival.  The family will reunite August 17th in Austin, Texas, at which point you will receive a Chronicle update from the new (old?) headquarters. 

The last few days have been full of farewells and best wishes.  We are constantly stammering for the right words to describe our gratitude.  But even if I have any words—I can barely squeak them out via cracky voice and rhythmic sniffing.  As I continue to type, I jeopardize my computer warranty with water damage.

Dr. Suess says, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”  So I dust off the stoic smile I found in adulthood.  Luckily, I don’t need it often. 
And sometimes I try to convince myself that it really is the best time to depart…before the clock strikes midnight causing me to ride home atop a pumpkin.  

It has been an incredible honor to participate in a program that can produce such a powerful and meaningful change in people and a community; and to work with those who believe so strongly in their purpose that they are willing to forfeit any personal gain for the sake of their mission.   The students still remain an inspiration as their daily sacrifices for education are beyond any westerner’s imagination.   Teaching at Makumira has been an amazing experience. 

As we disband the troops and prepare for demobilization, Tom sums it up in an email to his mother preparing her for their visit:
Just watching the kids lately and figured I should preempt any reentry difficulties. We haven't started ladling the beans onto the floor [aka Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flats], although that would be a logical next step. We are trying to curb their burping and other gaseous discharges, at least at the table. Napkins don't exist here and forks and spoons are always optional. You might think this would be a kid paradise, but a Miss Manners nightmare. We have mentioned that eating without disclosing the contents of one's mouth is preferable, as is waiting to wax poetic while shoving the third spoonful into one's mouth. I'm afraid Andy will want to relegate us to the back porch to eat and your choices of restaurants will downgrade to McDonalds et al.

I have little will to say, “Goodbye”, but rather enthusiasm for “See you later”.   I am anxious to follow or even participate in the continuation of our friends’ life journeys.    Peoples' lives in Tanzania are not pre-programmed as they frequently are in the US.  Every day is “Anything Can Happen Day”, which makes this departure feel distinctly like the end of only a chapter tucked inside a wonderfully epic novel.   

Lastly, we want you all back home to know that you are also a major part of our conflicting emotions as the excitement mounts for coming home and seeing everyone again!  We love you each dearly and hope you are looking forward to the long, creepy, smelly, hugs as much as we are!  I'll probably try to hold your hand while talking to you--just jerk it away if it's weird. 

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.  ~Garrison Keillor

Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would I'd never leave.  ~A.A. Milne

Packing my glass slippers,

 At the Knocker's house for a wonderful time.

Bassoon duets in Tanzania--at the Knocker's house--who'da thunk it?

Ndugu's house for sodas.


WH Chronicle No. 1.43

July 6, 2011

The hydro-electric plant  is now only offering power in 6 hour intervals.  Everyone shrugs and says, “…at least it’s not as bad as the time when Zanzibar went without any electricity for 6 months because a ship destroyed the underwater cables.”  True, I guess.   

8° C (46° F) this morning, on our last day of class.   With our big concert behind us, everyone is preparing for finals and now “there’s nothin’ left but the cryin’” as Tom says. 

But that’s not really true.  Our music department will be touring in Dar es Salaam after finals.  We will travel to the coastal city to showcase our African dance program at an International Symposium as well as performing additional shows.  So at least three weeks of busses, group dinners, rehearsals, and performances, before the goodbyes (and the crying) commence. 

 750 people wedged themselves into our 400-seat auditorium to watch, applaud, laugh, and cheer at our most recent concert.   A fire marshal’s nightmare—good thing they don’t have those here.   But despite the sardine seating (and standing) the audience expressed their delight at our group’s performance of half western music and half traditional African music.  I forgot how the Tanzanians giggle with glee when white people dance across the stage.  I wish I had remembered this before the panic set in thinking that my costume might be showing more lilly-whiteness than anyone should see.   But, thankfully, our wardrobe malfunctions have been limited to the exciting time when one male student’s shorts burst open during an energetic dance.  He waved  goodbye to the audience (no hands) and exited stage left…

 The Halls, a family of five from our neighborhood, and Jacque Henninger, a friend and music colleague from the University of Texas, are currently here with us in Tanzania.  I believe they traveled here just to see our concert, the Makumira School of Music , and of course, us;  but I am willing to concede that Tanzania might have additional allure.   During a casual conversation, we learned that everyone had received their pre-travel vaccinations at Austin Regional Travel Clinic.    That travel nurse must now assume anyone going to Tanzania is visiting Tom and Daris.  
Hall's and Hale's in Tanzania.  A grand total of 10 Austinites on the Makumira Campus that day. 

Jacque and Daris enjoying some loshoro. 

Daryl has been attending a few of my music history classes.  The students fawn over her, but I think she’s running a translating business on the side.  Later the same evening I realize she’s spending the night in the ladies' dorm—conveniently before their music history test. 
Add your own caption here...
She seemed rather proud and mentioned the numerous benefits of carrying a pillow in your pants.

The students were reminiscing about our first few classes together and reflecting all the progress they have made within the year.  The confided in me that they thought I was speaking in French during my first lecture.   I have since congratulated them on their improved English skills AND the hard-earned talent of actually understanding me.  I'm particularly pleased because they now laugh at my jokes. 

A recent karate class discussion consisted of information about how to stretch one’s limited food budget.   As the end of the academic year draws close, the students are short on money which frequently results in sharing their one meal a day with 3 or 4 roommates.   It was offered that a glass of milk could help one feel full and is an excellent way to supplement an avocado or banana which is easily found in trees around campus.  If you have the luxury of eating a plate of beans and rice, make sure you pick your teeth afterwards so that you feel like you ate meat.
Hong Kong Phooey and his side kick. 

Next year we’re hosting an exchange student from Norway that plays the French horn.    Just for the record I had stated an initial, “No” but then the rest of the family overruled my vote--which made me proud of them.    But, perhaps it is part of Tom’s ploy to keep me distracted upon our return.

Tom currently vacillates between the elation of returning home and the guilt for taking me back. 

There's no place like home.  

Obligatory photo of the famous Arusha clock tower.  Half way between Cape Town and Cairo. 

Flat tire and a helping hand from a stranger--both common events.

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."  ~Henry David Thoreau, "Economy," Walden, 1854

"It is not down in any map; true places never are."  ~Herman Melville

"And that's the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind."  ~Dave Barry

Still working to "Keep Africa Weird" with the help of our Austin friends,