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.