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!

Bugs

4 March 2012

Ever since the rains started, every day is like a new episode of Bugs! in or near my house. Each evening I wait to see which bugs will accompany the mosquitoes in invading the house, dumbly drawn by the light.  Mostly, the ones that come inside aren’t too scary. However, there have been some interesting ones outside. Refer to pictures below. Also, this morning, I saw one that could have been a snake (and boy, was I praying that is was), but alas it turned out to be a bug. It was probably 6-7 inches long, and perhaps the thickness of two of my fingers, and it had legs. Lots and lots and lots of legs. I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered yet…

Approaching rain

10 February 2012

A cool breeze! Usually in the afternoon breezes do very little to cool you down because they just blow hot air around. But this one, from rain, is a little cool.

When it rains here, at least at this time of year, you can smell it very strongly. It’s only rained a couple of times. It’s not raining here right now, but somewhere close. It’s a rain/dirt smell. There was some thunder too. It is so much cooler without the sun! But it will be back.
Yesterday I made a friend!! She was thinking of staying at the house but took an apartment in town instead. Oh well, we met up for lunch, and we have some fundamental things in common and are in a similar place in our lives, I think, and so, yeah, it was good. And she knows some people in town, so she’ll introduce me to them and I might even – can you believe it? – have a small social life. Yay! Not to belittle Mama Dora’s friendship, of course. I very much like spending time with here and count her as a friend and a sister.

I’m going to have to start turning the water off at night; last night was the third night in a row that the tank was gushing. It’s a monumental waste, here in the dry season, and it’s going to be very expensive. I had a serious ant invasion last night. The little ones were especially active all day, which I can live with, but some bigger ones came in and some of them are red-ish and just worry me, and they were increasing, so I had a little battle do with them, that unfortunately ended with me standing there whacking them all one at a time with my sandal. Poor things. And ick, pancake of squished ant on my sandal!

Too much water; not enough water

3 February 2012

I went to Arusha today to have lunch with one of Alison’s Peace Corps friends who’s now the country director for AfricAid, which does girls’ empowerment. We went to this gelato place and I had smoked salmon and guacamole bruschetta! I’m not sure I gave off the confident vibe I should have. I feel like such a wimp next to these Peace Corps people! Arusha is much bigger than I realized, and very busy. Kind of crazy. It started to rain while we were eating, and when she dropped me off after lunch, it was pouring.  I should have embraced it and stood in a while, since the water in the house has been off since yesterday and I’m getting pretty ripe. Hot weather and inability to bathe do not go well together. My feet are absolutely filthy. I had to wear socks to bed last night to avoid getting the sheet all dirty, and I hate wearing socks to bed. Anyway, after lunch I wandered around the market and  bought some cinnamon, a kanga, and some Maasai-style beaded sandals (some stylish footwear as an alternative to my tourist gear.)

On the way back to Moshi, we passed through some weird weather. You could see it as we came up to it, and it was like you couldn’t tell where the rain ended and the dirt began. The air was wet and dirt-red.

So yes, no water in the house. I don’t know why. It just stopped flowing yesterday. I have enough in the filter to use for drinking and cooking but not washing myself or the house or the dishes, and the ants are having a field day with the dirty dishes. Mama Dora gave me some water. She gave me this big container of it, which she lifted onto her head and carried to the house. When I picked it up to bring it inside, I could barely lift it a foot off the ground – and she put all the way up on her head!!!

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.

Tidbits of daily life Part I

26 January 2012

Having addressed most of the issues of feeding myself (calcium and iron notwithstanding), let’s turn to some tidbits of daily life. Let me start by saying: it’s hot. Very very hot. Here in the lowlands, there are few trees, and especially because this house in new, there are none large enough to shelter the house from the sun beating down. I knew someone who described hot summer days at home as ‘Africa hot’. Well, it’s Africa hot here in Africa.

One small redeeming factor is that the sun comes up here behind a hill, so it isn’t shining here directly until a little later than it would otherwise. In that light but not bright time, it’s time to clean the house, which means, washing the floors with a towel and a bucket of water, local-style. I have to leave the windows open because of the heat – if they were closed it would be even more oppressive – but that means that the breeze, which there thankfully is one of , blows in a lot of dirt. The last couple of nights there has been a very strong wind, and this morning the dirt was fairly piled up in places. So daily washing is necessary during the dry season.

There is a pair of birds that hangs out in the trees outside the living room window. I haven’t identified them yet. They are medium-sized, black, white, and brown, though the smaller one has red on the end of its beak and two yellow cheek-patches. They are always together. They eat lizards and big bugs. They run into the window frequently, I think in an attempt to perch on the window frame. There are also some beautiful turquoise finches that comes around sometimes, and yesterday I saw a bird that was bluejay sized, black with short spiky red around the head and breast, though not the face.