Traditional blacksmith

31 December 2011

Mr Mlay is still trying to teach me Swahili pronunciation and “basic communication” but it’s a waste of his time and mine because he has no idea how to teach Swahili. I had to think of a way to communicate this politely and hopefully didn’t hurt his feelings. We went to a traditional blacksmith today. He has a little shelter for his work. His forge is this tiny little stone with two holes in it into which he places the ends of the bellows. One person starts the fire and works the bellows. In this case it was a woman who was probably his daughter. He made a small sickle, just a sample size. It was cool to watch. He can make various farming tools. It’s such a small operation, physically.

Then to the market, which is a little bigger than the one in Marangu. The markets are just how you picture African markets, lots of color because of the women’s clothing, all wearing kangas (colorful cloths wrapped around the body) and headcloths, produce and piles of different color beans set out on tables and the ground, piles of grain that the seller just stood in in her bare feet while she was filling up people’s bags, dried fish, and of course a big pile of bananas! There was a woman wearing an Obama kanga, haha brilliant!!

We were supposed to go to the Chagga caves after that but for some reason it was decided we wouldn’t – this is the sort of thing I’m coming to expect. But that meant I got to help make lunch, which was good. I saw the whole process and helped a little, although I think I mostly slow things down with my incompetence.  For breakfast, we had a sort of delicious hot fried bread, mandazi, that was wonderful. I wonder if my love of those and chapatis is just because fried bread is delicious or because my American body is happy to have something slightly familiar…

After lunch Mrs Mlay went with me to the internet cafe. It was good to see people’s responses to my emails but so frustrating, super slow internet and they were closing soon, so once again I didn’t get to do the things I wanted to do. I know one month isn’t that long to go without talking to people – I sometimes go that long anyway – but I just really want to talk to people and can’t.  I hope I gain some patience.  And it should only be for the next couple of weeks; then hopefully I’ll be in some combination of Moshi and Dar and Nairobi.

Tomorrow is a new year…

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