Around the market

28 June 2012

Here are some of the things you can get at a good village market on market day. Usually there is a small market daily, plus two days a week with a big market (market days). There are more than what’s pictured here, but the sellers are prickly about having their picture taken. Unless you pay them.

This isn’t my local market, this one is much higher up in elevation. Almost everything is the same, except that this market has loads of potatoes and mine hardly has any.

Just a few of the many styles available…

Carrots, African eggplant, okra.

Mmmm, ‘taters.

Oranges, with cucumbers in the background.

Table: salt, tea, sugar, soap, matches. Sacks: rice and sugar.



11 June 2012

I just thought I’d share with the masses (I assume there are masses of you, WordPress stats be damned!) that something very exciting has happened: I have bought cheese and butter. Yes, cheese and butter. I don’t care if the fridge isn’t fixed or if the butter cost a whopping $5. I will have dairy.

These have calcium and they taste good, too!

We all know that calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis. But did you also know that, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, “Fruit and vegetable intake was positively associated with bone density in a study in men and women. The exact components of fruits and vegetables which may confer a benefit to bone are still to be clarified.”?

Better have some fruit with that cheese, then…

It’s five o’clock somewhere. Wait, it’s five o’clock here. Cheers!

Zanzibar photos from January

DELICIOUS fish skewers in Dar. The restaurant was on the beach. Literally.

View from the top of the stairs leading to the beach.

Sitting on the beach.

Look at the color of the water!!

Look at the color of the sand!!

Hotel room balcony.

Fort in Stone Town.

Stone Town

Dhows, etc. on the Indian Ocean.

Rainy season…take two?

4 April 2012

It has started raining again. This time it feels more like the rainy season is actually here, knock on wood. Good thing too – as my friend’s housegirl said the other day, without rain, they can’t grow corn to make ugali. And without ugali – hunger in Tanzania.

Ugali – stiff cornmeal porridge. The main staple here.

Ugali with meat and vegetables. Eaten with the fingers.

People have been re-planting, since the first time they planted, it didn’t rain anymore and the corn didn’t germinate. This can get expensive, replanting. But they have no other choice. People’s livelihoods and for many, their life, are completely dependent on the increasingly unpredictable weather.

When it rains, it pours. No, literally. An absolute deluge. It’s only happened at night, but it’s really loud and keeps me awake. I don’t really mind – it’s so needed. And then, today especially after a couple of nights of this, seeing the changed landscapes. Mounds that used to be there aren’t any more. The water has cut deep paths everywhere. The roads going up to the hills are already looking awfully muddy and rutted, and I imagine that if the rains keep up they will soon become impassable.

It’s much cooler, too. Humid, but not having the sun beating down makes a huge difference. And the breeze is cool. It’s wonderful!

Time to plant

17 March 2012

It’s gotten really hot again and hasn’t rained in a while. After it rained a few times a couple of weeks ago, people started planting their maize. All the land around my house is for maize. People come from other villages as day laborers to help; mostly women but a few men. The fields were tilled by tractor; a few people own tractors and the rest pay them to plow. The rest is done by hand. They measure out the rows, drop the seed by hand, and cover it with dirt with their feet as they go along.  It’s hot, slow work, but when they get on the dala dala to go home in the afternoon, they’re really a good-natured bunch. I’m looking forward to seeing how different the landscape is.

I’ve hit a wall food-wise. I’m getting mighty tired of the same food over and over. But there’s really not a huge variety at the market, and between budget constraints and lack of refridgeration, I’m really very limited as far as supermarket food goes. I went to Aleem’s, the ex-pat focused supermarket yesterday and the only things I could figure out to buy were a jar of olives and a small bottle of olive oil. I did then have a good little salad with a lovely sesame roll from the bread shop, but still. I don’t know what to do. Stop complaining? Or is there actually something I can do?

To market, to market

7 March 2012

Today was market day. I always go to the market with Mama Dora on Wednesdays and Saturday, when they have the big market a few villages away. I really enjoy it. One of us pays the bus fare for both of us one way, and the other person pays it the other way. Her presence prevents people from trying to charge me a special price, ahem, and she sometimes explains to people that I don’t like being called ‘mzungu‘ which means white person, that they could just call me ‘dada’ (sister) or something. I’m pretty sure today she told someone I could just as well call them ‘Tanzanian’. I’m also pretty sure someone came back with something like, ‘well a tomato looks like a tomato so we call it a tomato’ which I guess is a legitimate point, but anyway. The butcher we go to is nice; he’s kind – no cheeky tone to his voice when he talks to me, like some people have, just plain friendly. The women in the market have their wares spread out in little piles on the ground on a cloth or tarp.

My haul from the market.

There are many people selling the same things – it’s a big market because there are a lot of sellers, not necessarily because there is much variety. There are clothes and shoes and cooking instruments as well as food. Some people bring umbrellas to shade them from the sun, and some people are set up under tarps held taught with rope. Mama Dora is very particular when selecting her fruits and vegetables, and if I pick out some she doesn’t think are good enough, she makes me put them back and picks some out for me herself. She carries her things on her head in a basket, which she balances without using her hands. We have a soda at a little cafe before going home. The women greet each other often in KiChagga, the local language. You hear it used for greetings occasionally in other places, but at the market it’s particularly common for some reason. I only know how to say one greeting and ‘thank you’ but people get a real kick out of it.

So, that’s market day. Below is a picture of my favorite food of the ones I can cook, rice with meat and vegetables (Chinese greens).

Where the white folk live

19 February 2012

I went to a flea market in Shanty Town today. Shanty Town is on the edge of Moshi, and it’s where the white folk live. The woman hosting it has a sculpture garden throughout her yard. I went with Amanda (my new friend, yay), and helped her sell her boyfriend’s jewelry. He’s Nicaraguan and is still in Nicaragua. He makes gorgeous jewelry and it was a hit. Nice day all in all. Not too hot. A little rain. Very nice people. Got some clothes very cheap (the only kind I can afford), including a dress in perfect condition for $1. Met some people, etc. Generally just a pleasant, social day. I had gone to Amanda’s apartment for brunch first. She lives right in town, in a nice apartment. I ate yoghurt, peanut butter, and cheese for the first time in over two months.  Mmmm, cheese. Mmmm, peanut butter!!!

I’ve been told that my fridge, still not fixed, needs several hours to become cold, so I’m trying it out. If I had a fridge, I could have all sorts of delights, like milk (!), bread (!), and meat that won’t possibly make me ill (I’ve been salting it, putting it in a plastic container, and finishing it the day after I buy it). And, if I feel like adding a little imported food to my diet, chocolate!

I had dinner with Mama Dora and the kids again, like last night. It’s good to eat with family. I think I will put some real effort into staying here for a while.

Full moon

6 February 2012

It’s a full moon tonight and wow! It’s like having a giant lamp in the sky – it’s so bright. You can easily walk around outside without a flashlight.

Moonrise behind a Baobab, as seen from my house

I went into town first thing (ish) today, being out of breakfast food. I went to a restaurant and had a chapati and an andazi and tea, which is spiced and made with milk. Very yummy. Then I went to check out Abbas Ally’s Hot Bread Shop and Aleem’s grocery, both ex-pat haunts. The Bread Shop was indeed a bread shop, and had all sorts of good looking bread for what seem to me like very reasonable prices. They also have cakes (actual American-style cakes) and some other various pastries like buns, cookies, etc. Good place. I bought a flatbread with cheese and onion. I’ll eat it tomorrow with beans…mmm. Aleem’s was also interesting. Caters to ex-pats and has all sorts of things, like Betty Crocker cake mix and Old El Paso salsa! Of course this imported food is more expensive than local food, as I’ve said, and also I just feel weird eating it. Only African food seems right these days, like I’ve made the switch and can’t go back or mix it up. Well, except for those cookies I got in Arusha, wow, I want to go back just to get more. But they were at least made there. And oatmeal. Good ol’ Quakers. A latte (which, along with the tea, sated my craving for calcium for now) and lunch, then home.

In the evening I went to visit Mama Dora and family, and had a nice visit. We talked about cooking. She might show me how to make makande, which is maize kernals cooked with beans in oil and coconut milk, and probably some onions or something for flavor. She said she would teach me and give me a bowl. We’ll see! We really can communicate; it’s pretty cool. I study on my own, and then go talk to her and I inevitably hear a word or grammatical structure that I just learned, which is really great. So I’ll keep at it!

Tonight’s dinner is rice with, I don’t know, some sort of runny scrambled egg with vegetables concoction to go with it, and green beans. Yay, I’m feeding myself…

Where’s the beef?

4 February 2012

Ok, so this is the big day: my first time in almost 14 years cooking (red) meat. I’ve been eating meat since I got here (no, I haven’t had any digestive problems as a result). It’s fairly ubiquitous, for one thing, and also it’s sometimes the only source of iron, green vegetables not being as easy to come by as you would want.

Mama Dora, my neighbor and Alison’s sister-in-law, took me to the market today. It was great. I’ve been going all the way into town to buy food, but was sure there must be somewhere closer. There is. It’s a big, twice-weekly market a few villages over.  They had all the vegetables, fruits, bananas, well, all the food and all the usual stuff. Plus lots of clothing stores and stalls and tailors and so on. I bought some beef. Often here, the meat you’re served seems like they just took the animal and chopped it up and you’re lucky if you got some actual meat, but Mama Dora asked the butcher to give me a nice piece. I also got a bunch of vegetables, including some Chinese greens, lots of potatoes, and also some ginger, because you must cook the meat with ginger, ‘to make it palatable.’

So tonight’s menu will feature beef seasoned with onions, ginger, a little cinnamon, and maybe some tomato and grated carrot to create a small amount of gravy, served with chips. Tomorrow I will cook it will plenty of gravy (always carrot, tomato, and onion) and have it with rice to soak up the sauce.

I was very happy about going to the market. Mama Dora is sweet and helpful and could be a friend! And speaking with her is a good opportunity to practice Swahili, since she doesn’t speak English. I’m very glad to have her help getting food and just spending time with her.
Her kids were here for a bit, playing with this and that. Even simple things like staplers and blank paper are things they don’t have in their normal lives, so they play with them. And of course my camera, which makes me nervous, but hey ho.

This tastes stripy…

1 February 2012

Today I had a productive meeting with KEDA about CITA, the program I ‘did’. I’ve also come up with an idea for a rainwater harvesting project for the HIV group I visited. For lunch, the KEDA guys took me to a restaurant that serves game meat. I asked them what kind of animal it was, and they said ‘You never know!’ Apparently it could either be zebra or buffalo. They issue a certain number of hunting licenses so it should be legally obtained meat. It was good but weird to think about eating zebra!

I had my first experience with Tanesco, the electric company, to pay my bill. They couldn’t find the file for the house (paper files still, not computerized), so I need to go back tomorrow. But generally people were helpful and friendly. But the outlets at the house have stopped working, so I need an electrician.

I spent some time with the kids at the in-laws, which was nice; more on them later. It was a full day, which is a very good feeling. And I had chapatis for dinner that I bought in town, so that’s always a good way to end the day.

Yesterday it was super windy, and I had to close all the windows. Even so, the dirt just piled up inside. It just swirled everywhere outside, and if I had gone out, I would have had to put a cloth over my mouth. But earlier in the day, there were butterflies!  Thousands of little white ones, flying past as far as I could see. Occasionally the wind would pick up and swirl them around. It was amazing, definitely a unique experience. I wrote a cow project, as KEDA had asked me to, with a small, medium, and large option, with the large one being the creation of a co-operative.  I don’t know why the want it or if they’ll actually do it.