Posted by: Claire Liew13 APR 2013
*Speed-speed, is without blessing. I don't think the dala dala drivers know this.
There was a shock in the village recently, when the price of lunch jumped up 50% to 60p. A scandal worthy of the local press, should there be one. In retaliation, I have started going to the only other restaurant in town (read: wooden bench) for my daily culinary experience. Mama Pepe also charges 60p but she has a sunnier disposition, always gives us seconds, and has a varied lunch menu that extends beyond beans. On alternate days she cooks okra in a fishy sauce and if you're lucky you get a piece of potato. For two days this week though she wasn't able to cook at the restaurant due to other commitments. But she still made us lunch, which she delivered to the hospital in plastic tubs. The only downside with Mama Pepe's shack is the fact you have to pass the old restaurant to get there. This is done with a shifty, scurrying gait to avoid the disapproving stares from our former chef (as discreet as one can be, considering there are only 4 white people in the village).
Mama Pepe is giving me cooking lessons this weekend. It could be interesting as she speaks not a single word of English. We made a plan (I think) to meet on Sunday at saa 5, time 5, or 5 o'clock (i.e.11am). Swahili time-keeping is 6 hours behind English. Six o'clock is twelve midday, so the sun comes up at twelve, goes down at twelve. But she phoned me unexpectedly this morning which is a huge problem when you don't have the benefit of sign language to communicate. I think she told me she was cooking fish today if I wanted to join her, but she could also have been warning me of an atomic bomb about to go off. I have absolutely no idea. Anyway, apparently she is coming to my house Sunday morning at which point she will "carry me" to her home, although I may have got this wrong too.
Last weekend, James and I went to Mtwara to greet Sandra who came back from her two week holiday in South Africa. She brought us many heavenly goods including Nutella, pancake mix, maple syrup, chocolate Weetabix and Haribo. All this made up for the fact there was a terrible thunderstorm which left the town flooded and us stranded at the beach-house, followed by some riots against British Gas which the police had to break-up with tear gas. It's like being back in Sutton on a Friday night. I also spent the equivalent of £12 on my first apple in months. The dala dala ride on the way back saw James sat on by increasingly larger and larger passengers. Throughout the journey, the small girl became a Big Mama who turned into a Big Papa, all perched on James' knee. Maybe we were on the dala dala named Unlucky Boy. But thank God it wasn't the one called Double Impact or Titanic.
Other highlights include an unexpected public holiday thanks to Maulid Day, the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. We are celebrating with a BBQ for which James is preparing home-made beef burgers (possibly Halal) and freshly baked bread rolls. I'm thinking of turning it into a real party and taking along my game of Yahtzee. The burgers had better be good because James is in my bad books after teaching me to say "I would like some shoes" rather than "I would like some onions" when I went to the vegetable stall.
Sister Columba was shockingly honest with me this week by saying my photo on the Nyangao Hospital website "is not good, really not good". This must have been true given that nuns are known to lie under no circumstances (I'm never trusting my mum again when she says I look fine). Thankfully, Dr Janki (Head Surgeon and website designer) agreed it was not a good look and has now changed it to a photo where I look slightly less shell-shocked and anaemic.
Only one more week in Nyangao before I head back to Dar Es Salaam and then to the town of Morogoro in the mountains, for language school and in-country training. The other new VSO volunteers all arrive from the UK in a week's time so we will have 2 weeks of getting to know each other and Tanzania before we all go to our placements around the country. I arrived out of cycle hence have had a 6 week head start on the others which isn't necessarily a bad thing in terms of getting to grips with the culture and language. I am making a bee-line for any volunteers based on the island of Zanzibar so that I will have a sofa to sleep on whenever I visit this supposedly heavenly isle.
But I'd like to end by dedicating this blog entry it to my good friend Rahul who has recently had laser eye surgery. Let this be a message to all young boys out there - if you don't pay attention to your mommy when she tells you to stop playing with your thing, you will indeed one day, go blind.