Thursday, May 27, 2004


A Marching Band in Moshi

I was not planning on making an entry today until I encountered an odd site in town. I had just gotten off a daladala when I saw a group of people with musical instruments standing at the corner. They arranged themselves into rows and began to play (not half-bad I might add). The next suprise came when the group began to march down the middle of the road while playing. YES! A real live marching band in Moshi, complete with a band director up front with a backpack on his shoulder. It turns out that they are members of the local Lutheran church.

It was definitely a sentimental band moment for me. I had a difficult time holding back my tears as they marched past.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Drumming with the Children

Yesterday I decided it was time for some "retail therapy" (aka shopping). One of the shops at the market was selling drums. The shop keeper asked 10,000 Tsh for the drum I wanted. After some friendly arguing and joking, he agreed to 6,000 Tsh (about $6 USD).

Getting the drum home turned into an adventure. The daladala (bus) I got on at the market began to spew smoke and make loud noises. This led to all the Tanzanians pushing and shoving to get off the daladala. Everybody was afraid that it would explode. I asked the driver what was happening. While laughing, he replied "gari inahitaji mafuta" (the car needs oil). Realizing that it would be some time before this daladala would be moving, I joined the rest of the Tanzanians on the side of the road to wait for the next vehicle. After taking the next available daladala, I finally arrived at the college gates.

When I got off the daladala, I was greeted by a group of 20 primary school students. One of them was carrying a small bass drum. They saw the drum I was carrying and started cheering. This led to an impromptu jam session on the side of the road. I was playing my drum, the kid was playing his bass drum, and the rest of the children were dancing.

It was definitely one of those "Wow! I'm in Africa" moments.


The Finer Things in Life

Yesterday my quality of life in Tanzania took a huge step up. My hot water heater is finally operational. After many months of painfully cold showers, I am finally able to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of hot water. It was impossible to get completely clean when I was screaming in pain from the shock of ice cold water. As the outside temperatures dropped, I had take to singing musicals to keep my mind off of the torture I was enduring to stay clean. I am sure my neighbors greatly appreciated my stunning renditions of Oklahoma! and Phantom of the Opera.

The repair itself was a relatively simple matter. The fundi (repairman) fashioned 2 new fuses out of some wire to replace the non-functioning ones. In less than 30 minutes, my bathroom transformed from torture chamber to a haven of peace and relaxation. Granted the water is a little yellow coming from the hot water heater, but I overlook that to enjoy my new luxury.

Speaking of the finer things in life, the food selection at the market is getting better. Lately they have been selling mandarins. I am completely addicted to them. At 50 Tsh a piece, they are a tasty and relatively cheap snack. One of the vendors even had grapefruit last week. I am so thankful that I live in the buzzing metropolis that is Moshi, Tanzania.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Chinese food, Chinese men, and a giant rat

And now, a moment of silence for the dearly departed Chinese buffet...

For y'all who were not aware, one of my favorite places to eat in all of Tanzania was Pagoda Chinese here in Moshi. Every Sunday they hosted an all-you-can-eat buffet for only 3500 Tsh (about $3.50). Absolutely amazing food prepared by a chef from China. It was generally the only day of the week I got to eat meat. I ate there EVERY Sunday from December until the middle of May.

On Friday, I was at the Moshi bus stand on my way to Marangu. I saw the Chinese chef in a bus and went over to say "hello". He got this sad look on his face and delivered the sobering news. Since the restaurant closed, he has taken a position with the Impala Hotel in Arusha (a big step-up for him in pay and status). I promised to visit him at the Impala in the near future. (Arusha is a short 1 1/2 hour bus ride from Moshi)

After absorbing the sad news, I hopped on a daladala (public bus) to Marangu. Marangu is the location of the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park. Stacey (another PCV) and I had to visit the park office to book our school trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. After numerous greetings to officials and some waiting, we finally had the confirmation of our dates. I will be supervising the ultimate school field trip from November 14-19.

During one of the extended periods of waiting, 2 Chinese men came into the office. They started asking questions about booking a climb. Stacey and I had a difficult time containing our laughter when they realized that we did not work at the park office. We then proceeded to have a short conversation and discovered that they manage a chemical company in Dar. It was an interesting talk considering that they knew only a little English and no Swahili and we knew no Chinese. It involved a lot of gestures and laughing. We said our goodbyes and they left the office.

Stacey and I completed our business a short while later and left the park gate. We were trying to figure out a way to get back to Marangu town (5 km) when the Chinese guys appeared again. They started to get into a taxi. Stacey and I looked at each other and thought, "Why not?". We went over to the taxi and asked if we could ride along with them. They replied, "Yes. Chinese very kind". It turns out that they were taking the taxi all the way back to Moshi. They must have paid at least $35 each way. So instead of an hour on a full daladala, we got a comfortable taxi ride and some interesting conversation. Some of my favorite quotes:
1. "He wants an American wife."
2. "I am going to America to buy companion."
3. "Bill Gates could buy 5 Tanzania."
4. "Yao Ming. He tall like you."
5. "You don't have television? That very bad."

We exchanged email addresses. They want to take us out the next time we are in Dar.

And finally...the story about the giant rat.

For the past few months, I have had occasional run-ins with this rat. They have always been on the outdoor sink on my back balcony. On Monday night, the rat found a new place to relax.

A quick explanation of the structure of my windows. Every window has an immovable metal security grate. On the inside is a mosquito gauze pane that swings in. On the outside is the glass pane which swings out. One of the previous residents cut holes in some of the mosquito gauze, apparently so that they would not have to open the mosquito gauze pane in order to open and close the glass window. Yeah, it seems like a good move until you consider that mosquitos and other critters could enter via those holes.

Okay, let's return to the battle of Monday night...

It was about 11 pm when I went to my bedroom to sleep. The glass panes were open to allow some ventilation. I happened to glance up at the window as I was getting into bed. Sitting in the security grate was the giant rat (aka "Ya Little Bastard"). I faced a dilemma: How was I to get the rat to move so I could close the glass, while preventing it from entering the bedroom via the holes in the mosquito gauze? I took a battle posture...sandal in one hand and a can of bug spray in the other hand (this to be used in the event that the rat came inside). I threw the sandal hard against the window. The rat did not move. I had to throw the sandal 5 more times before the rat finally understood. At that point, it SLOWLY sauntered off the grate and disappeared along the side of the building. I am keeping the glass closed until I can repair the holes in the mosquito gauze.

To summarize...the rat has messed with the wrong female. If it appears again, it will likely become a dissection model for my biology classes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


May 18, 2004

Welcome to my online journal!

I am currently a member of the US Peace Corps. I have created this online journal so that I can share the adventures of my time in Tanzania.

Sit back and enjoy my tales of the "toughest job you'll ever love".

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