Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Return from break

Even though I didn't do much in Kenya, I wasn't super excited to get back to the grind of living in the 'bush'. I loaded up on steel cut oats and flax seed for breakfast, and had enough lattes to exceed my latte budget for the month. Back on the bus it was back to the world of swahili. Back to making a fool of myself not understanding. This time the immigration lines were much longer and the girl behind me kept pressing her chest onto my back, she was that close. How do you explain to someone about personal space...or that no matter how much I'm pressed, the line will not move faster. 

Needless to say I was a bit bitter on the bus, so I stuck in my headphones and reunited with my familiar tunes. Not more than 30 minutes after the border, I spotted a giraffe in the bush. I thought I was dreaming. It was so quiet and close and huge. I pointed and said 'wow!' out loud. No one in the bus responded. Yep, I'm the tourist. Two minutes later the guy a couple seats over from me tapped me on the shoulder and pointed ahead to another giraffe, about to cross the road. I got out my camera and he asked the driver to slow down so I could get a photo. The entire bus was watching it now. Again, I don't think I heard a sound of it's hooves across the pavement. It was like a curtain blowing in the breeze across the plains, catching up to its mate. 'It was a male' my neighbor said. 'How did you know?' I asked...then, thinking twice about that, said 'nevermind, I can guess' and everyone was laughing. Guess 'they' are right when 'they' say travelers/expats just need to have a sense of humor bc we're going to get laughed at and we're going to do a lot of stupid stuff that we might not realize is stupid. 

Back to school I was a moth to the flame, heading straight for the garden. Everything had sprouted, even peppers and eggplants and melons which I had lost most hope on. Of course from a distance it looked covered in a sea of weeds...and the students ask me for more seeds so they can plant 'vegetables' aka 'sukuma wiki' aka 'kale' instead of all these weeds. One day I harvested a bucket full of purslane 'weeds' and gave it to the mama chefs for lunch. Even they looked at me like I was crazy but they cooked it nonetheless. I foresee trying to teach them how to cook some of these veggies bc so far they are all (over)cooked to same...with lots of vegetable oil and salt. In stew form the veggies are just mush and breaking my heart seeing them in a completely different form. I forgo the rule to not eat freshly washed raw veggies...and just eat straight out of the garden, peppered with a little dirt...that's not any different than eating straight from a garden in the states right? Knock on wood...haven't gotten sick yet. 

A couple form 1 (9th grade) girls helped me cut the purslane and we talked about what we eat for breakfast. They typically have bread,  then are served maize porridge at 10:30 at school. One girl told me she has cake sometimes, which I'm guessing is like a doughnut. Form 1s are just cute in general because they are still timid with using their English, having learned a bit in primary school, then having a semester immersion program in September before officially becoming form 1s. 

I finally made it back to entrepreneurship class after 2 days straight in the garden. The students are starting to create business plans and it was great to sit down with them one on one and talk about their passions and how to translate that to a creative business. They are such bright students and can memorize like crazy. They are very mathematical and scientific, but it's hard for them to think outside the box. Perhaps we need to work on left brain activities like drawing to get them thinking of super creative inventions. Otherwise I think they will go far at least having shops in the villages or selling goats and chickens. No one seems to want to cater to my needs of making pizza or raising pigs...they don't see a need/profit. Guess I should start my own pizza business here if I want it! 

At the end of the week it dawned on me that I am finding my place here. I'm not learning much more swahili but maybe it's ok to just speak English. After all, the Tanzanian exams are all in English, and wouldn't it be useful to have the locals practice English with me? The neighbor primary school children run to catch up and walk with me, greeting me then just walk and look up at me dearly. When I start speaking to them in English they are excited to talk about what they know: colors, body parts, numbers. That makes my day. 

Sunday I dreaded going to the local market, but I know I needed to buy rain boots, and I'd need to bargain. On the way I had my students come out if the woodwork, calling me by name, not just 'mzungo!' I barely recognized them without their uniforms! In Monduli fashion, when you say hello to someone, you don't just pass by. You stop and make sure you shake hands. At first I found this a hassle, but it's actually a friendly greeting but short and sweet...not like in the states when you stop and say hello and have the awkward 'how long should we talk' thoughts. One of my students was buying pens with her sisters and she asked to escort me to buy boots. I happily took up her offer! She saved me $5, I'm sure the seller wasn't too pleased but I didn't hassle him too much. 

As I tell my entrepreneurship class: do one thing a day that you fear and you will push your comfort level and grow from it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment