Thursday, October 27, 2011


On October 14, Jon and I went for a bike ride through the fields near our home.  We came across a man walking a 200 pound pig!  He's going to sell it for the equivalent of $300.  The man was giving the pig his last walk as he would be slaughtered the next day.  The man said we could take a picture but he asked if we would develop it and give him a copy.  As it turns out, Jon and I teach his son at our school.  This picture definitely does not do it justice.  This pig is HUGE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Local business

Given the unique climate of my area being so much colder than the rest of Tanzania, we have various types of income that isn’t found in most other parts of the country.  The major one is agriculture – lots of farming.  However, the other one is growing timber to be used.  We were going down one of paths to get into the village and as it turns out, it’s harvest season for trees.  There are a lot of tree farms, mostly pine.  We might see if we can get one as a Christmas tree this year. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

On fire

Just the fire outside our house to burn the harvested corn fields down.  That little brick structure in the left side of the picture is our well.  You can hear the fire crackling easily from our house.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jon & Sara vs. Team Panya

On Sunday, October 2, Jon and I bought a rat trap to try to deal with our furat traprry invaders.  Are rats smart?  I think so because right now they are making a joke of us.  We have set out the rat trap every night since Sunday.  We have put peanut butter, peas, butter, and some homemade concoction on the trap to try to kill them.  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night, the rats happily ate the food off our rat trap without any problem.  Last night, we tried a peanut and WHAM, not even 20 minutes later we got a rat.  Jon disposed of the body and we set it up again. This morning we woke up and again, we’ve been had, the peanut is missing and no dead rat.  I’m making a game out of this.  As of now, Team Panya (Team Rat) is winning. 
Jon & Sara – 1 point (for 1 dead rat)
Team Panya – 4 points (for each time they get the food without dying)
The rats are living underneath our bookshelf.  So, once we get enough of them dead, we’re hoping their little happy rat colony ceases to exist and we are going to try to cover all the holes into our house every night before bed.  But, don’t get me wrong, I feel bad about killing the rats.  They’re kind of cute.  Seriously.  Unfortunately, they chew through clothes, furniture, and are pretty dirty.  So, they’ve gotta go.  They really piss Jon off when they eat the food and don’t die.  I’ll update weekly on how the competition is going.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buying wine

This Sunday afternoon, Jon and I were in the big city nearest out village to run errands.  We picked up a bottle of wine at the only store that sells it.  While waiting to be served, a woman came in to buy herself some wine, too.  She was carrying a chicken.  I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there was something moving about in her arms when I first noticed it.  The guy must have just been bought, his feet were tied and she carried him by his wings.  He was surprisingly calm and made no fight.  In any event, I laughed and the lady laughed at me for laughing at the chicken.  Can you imagine going to get some wine in the states and have someone carrying around a chicken when deciding on their purchase? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I got a new bicycle!  I mean, it’s used, but it’s new for me!  I am really excited because now Jon and I can explore this area together.  There are a lot of nice trails that are near our home.  He’s been going out on his bike for the past month without me.
It was quite entertaining to get it back to my site.  We talked to two taxi drivers to see if they would be willing to transport our bike back.  They said they would for the fee of an extra person in the car, which was not a bad deal at all for us.  However, they were concerned that the street police would stop them and not let them take the bike hanging out of the trunk.  We agreed to walk the bike up the road that we live on, past the street police.  Then, the taxi driver came by to pick us up there so we wouldn’t be seen.  I love this country where people don’t care about laws nearly as much as stickler Americans!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I am warm!

Today is October 2 and I am warm!  Let’s hope it stays this way until the rainy season. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We are waiting for you

Late in this morning, I joined some of the other female teachers to watch music videos on one of their laptops.  I have been somewhat anti-social over the last couple of weeks planning for my lessons and trying to be effective as possible.  Also, after so many failed attempts at conversations in Swahili, sometimes I just stick to myself until I gather up the motivation to try more.  I figured watching music videos was a good way to bond, ask simple questions in Swahili and be more social.  After some time, they put on the wedding videos of two of the teachers at our school.  It was great to watch and I was thinking how it was good to see before we go to a wedding, so we have an idea of what to expect. 
After about an hour of this video, they turned it off and one of the teachers said, okay we are going to a wedding now.  I thought there was some lost in translation going on there or perhaps he was making a joke since we had watched so much of a wedding video.  As it turns out, it wasn’t a joke and he was telling us that all of the teachers are going and so should we.  We said, oh, really, you’re inviting us?  We need to change at least.  He said, '”we are waiting for you then we will go, it’s just over there”.  Luckily, we only live a 2 minute walk from the school, so we ran home and got into nicer outfits.  I have one nice Tanzanian outfit and Jon has a suit coat he throws on for nice occasions.  We came back and sure enough all the teachers and us walked over together. 
As in most situations, Jon and I are the guests of honor.  Even though we just ate lunch at about 1:00 and it was only 2:30, we were fed HUGE plates of food.  Meanwhile, none of the other teachers ate.  It’s always awkward for us, but it seems rude to decline.  The wedding was held in the unfinished church in our village.  This was a unique wedding because it was an open invitation – anyone can come and you are expected to give a donation.  Jon and I didn’t know how much to give so we starting stuffing an envelope.  One of the other teachers saw how much we were giving and said it was too much.  In the end, they told us to give the equivalent of .60. 
The weather today was rainy and very, very cold.  But, it did not put a damper on the wedding party!  There were easily hundreds of people there and many of which were dancing.  Tanzanians LOVE to dance.  And let me tell you, they are good!  I sure hope I can pick up their moves before we leave.  The food was rice, beans, vegetables, and some form of meat.  You could get soda or water, but no alcohol.
After a while, I became the free babysitter.  It started with two kids being brave enough to come near the white people.  In no time, I was surrounded by 15 kids all under the age of 5 dancing with me, making fishy faces with me, or playing peak-a-boo.  The other teachers and community members thought I was crazy.  But, the kids loved it and I enjoyed it, too.
We stayed for a few hours and left with our colleagues.  We shook the bride and groom’s hand, but we didn’t even know them.  And that is how things roll in Tanzania.  One minute you’re watching a wedding video and the next minute, without any warning you are being filmed in a wedding video.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I want to poop a beer

Swahili English
Kunywa to drink
Kunya to poop

I never use “to drink” because I fear my pronunciation is so bad that I will end up saying “I want to poop a beer.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rat x3

I’ve got an ear for rats because since our first rat escapade, three more have decided to visit.  For some reason, these nasty creatures find their way into our bedroom and wake me up.  So far, every time I think I hear a rat, there is definitely one.  I talked to the teacher whose cat had 5 kittens.  We’re seriously considering getting one from her.  The only problem is who is going to take care of it when we decide to travel.  The rats are naaassstty though. 

Friday, October 7, 2011


Local produce grown around our school.  All of these delicious veggies came to the equivalent of $3 USD.  We buy tomatoes from a man who delivers them on his bicycle to school.  I have to say that you can’t get much more “organic” and “local” than this!produce

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Graduation Day

Our students technically finish school in November, but the school holds their graduation in late September.  We attended a small graduation ceremony for the students during our first weekend here.  However, this ceremony was much more involved and much larger.  All the parents attended and there was far more entertainment involved.  The ceremony in itself was very different from an American graduation ceremony.  First of all, there is no large venue to hold 1,000 people.  So, the students constructed this amazing outdoor venue over the course of 2-3 days prior to the ceremony.  During the ceremony morning, I assisted with the decorations committee to pretty it all up with pieces of fabric and balloons.
Jon was technically on the food committee because after the graduation, they feed all the students and parents.  After decorating, I joined the food committee mostly because it was amazing to witness everyone cooking for 1,000 people.  They had about 10 bonfires going in which they just set HUGE cooking pots up and cooked for about 6 –8 hours straight.  I helped cut up some of the food, but overall, there were too many cooks in the outdoors kitchen.
Jon and I were on the “honored guests” podium.  Basically, the students do a bunch of performances from singing to dancing, the honored guests do speeches, and they give out certificates to the students.  Then, the students all go to take their pictures.  The ceremony lasts about 4 hours.  This year’s ceremony wasn’t all that special to us since we don’t know the students graduating.  However, it was a great cultural experience and great way to bond with the teachers during the preparation.  We look forward to next year’s, where hopefully we will know the students much better!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegetarian Hunter

I took this photo nearly two months ago but forgot about it.  When we were visiting Tanga, we learned how to become vegetarian hunters to get oranges out of high spots in an orange tree.  You cut down a branch of a tree that has a V shape on the end.  Then, you reach high into the tree with the branch and hook the stem of the orange into the V and tug at it until it falls for you to eat!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Last week was supposed to be our first week of teaching but it was kind of a flop.  The most noticeable problem is that not even half of the students came to school.  Since it was our first week, we wanted to lay out the classroom rules and explain what they will be graded on, etc.  This is critical to make sure our classes run smoothly.  However, we decided to try to wait until later in the week when other students would start arriving.  Unfortunately, they never arrived.  We did our introductions, but I have a bad feeling that this is going to be a bad experience until the new year starts and I can have control of the class right from the start.  You see, the schools in Tanzania begin in January and end at the end of November.  So, we’re starting at a really weird time of the year.  Hopefully, it all gets better soon.  There are no such things as photocopies or handouts.  The students that missed the material last week are pretty much set up to fail now.  What a mess.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Apparently, my email got hacked. If you got any emails from me that just didn’t seem right,that’s why.  I apologize and hopefully it won’t happen again!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Corn Flour

Each one of the teachers at our school has a plot of land that is owned by the school but that they are allowed to grow food.  Our neighbors grow “maize” or a type of corn on their farm.  Since we have arrived at our site, they have had hundreds of ears of corn drying in their front yard.  Last week, they rented a machine to turn all of their ears of corn into corn flour.  Corn flour is used here to make the Tanzanian staple food called ugali.  Essentially, it is just corn flour and water over heat that is mixed over and over until the right consistency.  It simply looks like mashed potatoes and doesn’t taste like much of anything.  You eat it with a sauce that brings on the flavor.

There were about 15 students helping bag up the corn to bring to the machine to process it into corn flour.  It takes about 3 men to operate the machine and 4 women to help with the job.  There is one man who stands nearby the machine and hands the bags of corn to a man on top of the machine.  The man on top of the machine inserts the corn into the machine.  Meanwhile, there is a man underneath the machine catching the flour into huge sacks.  The four women are on the side of the machine catching all of the cobs of corn being spit out by the machine.  They carry the bags of cob to the side of our house and make a pile.



The process went on for about one hour until all of the corn was processed.  I helped the students bag the corn to bring to the machine.  While working in the pile of corn, we came across easily 10 rats living in the corn.  I think I have a great idea where our rat problem stemmed from.  The students initially thought it was hilarious that I was assisting with bagging the corn.  But, they found even funnier every time I lifted up some corn, found a rat, and screamed at the top of my lungs. 



One of the teachers who was also helping asked me if this is how we get corn flour in America.  I explained that I don’t think we really have corn flour, but even wheat flour, I have no idea how it’s made.  We are so disconnected from our food in America.  I often am asked about food processing in the USA and I basically just look really stupid because I can never answer their questions.  I have no idea where our food comes from whereas people here know exactly where the food comes from.