WH Chronicle No. 1.46

August 21, 2011

We’re back!  Many of you have already seen us in Austin, but until now I haven’t been awake or lucid enough to create even a marginally coherent Chronicle.

Since our last chat from the heart of Tanzania, I’ve returned from an exquisite adventure while Tom and the kids have arrived safely home from Bear Valley, CA.
From our field reporter (or the man out standing in his field), Tom:

“The kids proved to be travel veterans enduring the 36 hour trip from Africa to Albuquerque. Daryl only threatened to get sick once when we were landing in Washington because she forgot to go to the bathroom on the 8 hour plane ride. Santa Fe was the perfect landing zone to reacclimatize to the United States.  Lots of love from Grandma and family, good Mexican food and comfortable beds in which to sleep made our reentry most pleasant.  Following this was a warm embrace from friends in Stockton, California, and then the Bear Valley Music Festival.  Playing in the festival reminded me about my questionable career choice and how difficult it can be—especially after a year off.  Getting back into shape for Shostakovich 5 was not an easy endeavor.   Luckily, a few Giant Burgers and hikes through the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains made everything worthwhile.“
Kinney Lakes

Rope Swing

Sam's back with his girlfriend.

Meet the competition for 'said' girlfriend.

 Back to Daris in the studio:

I missed Tom and the kids after we separated in July, but had a phenomenal adventure across Tanzania.  Even though I had been living in Tanzania for 10 months, I finally stepped out of our American bubble and experienced real Africa; first evident by the fact that I lived mostly without running water and electricity for the better part of a month.  I ate things that I didn’t know were edible and swam in places I didn’t know were infested with crocodiles.   But undeniably, it was an inspired voyage as our trip unfolded in an incredibly divine manner.  My travel partners and I witnessed so much on this pilgrimage that I’ll be chronicling the whole event in installments over the next few weeks.  Here are a few teasers pictures:
Simba Rock in Dodoma


Lake Tanganika

 The only small one that wasn't scared of my white skin.

Back stage before a performance of Wagogo traditional dance.

The caterers have arrived. 

Yes, it's true--no joke and a worthy cause.

Food court outside of the train.  The train was established in 1919 by the Germans and appears to not have been updated since that time.

Only half full at this point.  
Beautiful sunsets in western Tanzania. 

Tom trots around the house unpacking suitcases while whistling a little tune or humming a cheerful melody.  I receive random unexplained hugs and answer him with a mild grunt.  Tom drinks tap water for the fun of it and is in constant search of uninterrupted football. 
Me…well…it’s not such a pretty picture, as most of you readers (dear friends and loved ones) can imagine.  Tom spoke frequently of dreading my company upon reentry; and many of you even expressed concern over whether or not I’d even be on the homebound plane.  Then, of course, all are curious about how I’d fare while adjusting to our Americanisms again.   

Well, after all that traveling, my first groggy thought each morning is still about which village I’m awakening in--then I realize I’m at home (it was the lack of termites that gave it away), heave a big sigh, roll over, and try to dream about the mud hut where I’d rather be.  Most of the day, I’m either teary or hostile.  Maybe these are the predictable stages of grief; because leaving my post at Makumira was as fun as a funeral. Leaving those people, their passions, their extreme dedication and our combined sense of purpose makes my face shrivel up in not a pretty way.   Try to imagine being so passionate about your mission that payment (salary) is irrelevant and raising funds to continue your work is warmly embraced.  Communal endeavors and this altruistic sense of purpose are definitely not common American fare.

But now that I’m home, I sigh a lot and sniff sometimes.  Then I get pissed off about living in a consumer orgy.  It’s obscene really—and I doubt anyone would disagree with me.  Even myself, I think I’ve already been to Target twice in only 4 days of being home.  I want to respond, “Don’t mind me—I’m bored and I’m going to go masturbate with a credit card.”
I just feel shame for our country. We fight for our rights and ignore our obligations. The only consolation is that 2/3 of the world’s population doesn’t understand or know how pitifully we behave with our disposable income (something unfathomable to them).   Yes, we’ve forgotten about those who are hungry because we are interminably distracted by our own need for new (72” Flat screen HD) TV.     “You deserve it”—or so the advertisement states.   So what do my friends in Tanzania deserve?  To go hungry? 

And for those who will state, “There’s nothing I can do—I’m just one person”
Awake their imaginations.  Some of the most amazing progress in the history of our world was initiated by just one person.  In case they are not that one person—there’s a chance they could be the sponsor to that one person through the child sponsorship programs that are available online.
This is Rose.  She is my sponsored child since 2004.  She loves music and wants to go to University.  Her family lives on less than $1 a day.

And for those shaking their heads saying, “Daris needs to get over this.”
I’d like to suggest that that is the problem with us Americans.  We’ve all fallen asleep on our little island; our bellies are full and are minds are entertained.  We are properly distracted, obedient and complacent. 

So, with that all said, who wants to sit in on my ‘Introduction to Fine Arts’ class this fall?  I’ve been voted most likely to lose my shit at any time with all the entitled, hung-over, and indignant college students.

Driving in Tanzania has liberated me from driving on the right side of the road.  Anyone want to carpool?

Tom has a baby in Tanzania named after him. He wanted me to add that it wasn’t his baby, and that he is very honored by this gesture.   Tom is an amazing guy.  At Makumira he helped with brass ensemble, choir, men’s voice, music theory class, and private tutoring.  The students loved him—as do I.

Hilde (pronounced ‘Hilda’) is here.  She is from Norway and will be with us through May.  She’s a real sweetheart despite being a French horn player.

“You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.”  ~Eric Hoffer

“Be glad that  you're greedy; the national economy would collapse if you weren't.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin,The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.  It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.  Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied... but written off as trash.  The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.”  ~John Berger

“The gap in our economy is between what we have and what we think we ought to have - and that is a moral problem, not an economic one.”  ~Paul Heyne

“What do I think of western civilization?  I think would be a very good idea.”  M. Gandhi 

Grumpy about clean, fresh towels,


WH Chronicle 1.45

August 2, 2011
Tom and kids are in California.   I’ve spoken with them only once since July 20th, though we've texted frequently.  Right before they left, we teased Tom about waiting at the airport days in advance of their flight.   Regardless of how early they arrived before their departure, they landed safely and happily in the U.S. with little hassles.  Sam shed a few tears over missing his buddy, Nathan.   When I asked Daryl, “Do you miss anything in Africa?”  She replied, “You!” and began crying.  But now they are surrounded with American comforts, friends, and families.
As for me, I’m missing them, too.    It will be wonderful to hug on them, again. 

I’m currently doing everything there is to do in Dodoma; including having a great time with Ed and Debra.   This is the last night before I step off into my deep country travels.  And, possibly the last Chronicle from Africa, as I’m not too sure about future access to items like running water, electricity, or even necessities like internet.  Toilet paper is a luxury long forgotten.

While writing the last Chronicle before our Makumira tour departure, I couldn’t have imagined the amazing experiences to be shared by our musicians.  We performed 8 concerts in 5 days—all with incredible receptions and responses.  We enjoyed ‘rock star’ status and I beamed with pride over my students and fellow colleagues.  Several times, in both Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, people continued to recognize a few of us as the “Makumira musicians”.  We were even asked judge a music competition (already in progress) while we were simply entering the music venue for a soda.   We politely declined the honor by claiming that we had dinner engagements at the U.S. Embassy.   This was actually true, but stating it made us snicker like school children.

My writing ability doesn’t yet offer justice to the experiences I had at Makumira.  I was always surrounded by love and music.  The last few days of the their company provided me with a volatile whirlwind of emotions.  Extreme happiness and joy laced with the bitterness of a looming goodbye.   All I could think was ‘had it not been so good, it wouldn’t be so painful’.   When it was time for their bus to leave me behind,  I waved a sniffley goodbye that quickly began melting into something messier. One of my sweet students pushed me inside the building while compassionately saying, “You don’t need to watch them leave.”  I appreciated it.  All of the students hated to see me cry.  Normally they were always chuckling at my jokes; so to see me in a less than cheerful state really bothered them.  They coached each other on the words to avoid when talking with me because it might trigger an undesired response.  The last night of the tour, two of the ladies even slept in bed with me.  I guess this would be really weird anywhere else in the world, but in Tanzania—it’s what you do.
Shortly after the departure of my Makumira family, my two admirable escorts (music students/ body guards/translators) took me on a bike ride around an artsy village on the coast, then to the beach, and then hired motorcycles to ride through the country to another beautiful beach where we lay in the sand staring at the stars.  It was a nice way to ease the pain.  
Since that time, we’ve been to music festivals, monuments, museums, public schools, universities, concerts, dinners, the national fair, on and on….  Tomorrow we ride a slow train across the country—sometimes this train makes it in a few days, but sometimes it doesn’t.   Either way is fine with me and that’s a good feeling.   My last obligation here is to board a flight to the U.S. on August 16th, just so Tom doesn’t have to come and get me.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”  ~Albert Einstein

“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

A million miles away from it all,