Saturday, April 28, 2012

back to potatoes


When Jon and I first learned of where we would be living, the Peace Corps staff member simply stated “there are a lot of potatoes there”. Really, that’s not anything to be too excited about. However, it truly is the livelihood of the Tanzanians living around us. As each week rolls by, the potato fields are being completely filled with peasant workers pulling the potatoes from the ground. Our dirt road is lined with semi-trucks being packed full of potato sacks as shown above. Potato season has returned. The potatoes are being driven to all parts of Tanzania and even up to Kenya. Jon and I are excited to get some more potatoes from the farmers who are unable to get rid of them fast enough and just give them to us. It’s really unique to live in a place where the seasons punctuate the landscape.

Monday, April 23, 2012

wa-wa-waaaaater is being turned off again

It was too good to be true. We were informed tonight that the water is going to go again soon. Looks ilke that the pipe must have been fixed with duct tape or something. So, we spent the last hour filling everything up we can. Naturally, all our buckets, moving onto pots and bowls. Then, any empty container we can find such as old water bottles, old jars, old wine bottles, things we keep around "just in case". It's still the rainy season, so we'll be able to catch some rain again. But, since we actually got a warning this time about there being no water - we wanted to fill up as much as possible.  I am so grateful that Jon spent the weekend cleaning and mopping and doing all of our laundry. At least we don't need to use our water on any of that for a while!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It was a miraculous day, when around April 17, the water returned to our well spicket. No more collecting rain water or sending students on trips to get our water. Laundry has resumed!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Life is blooming everywhere! The corn plants are 8 feet high and the sunflowers are about that size as well. Sunflowers are used to make cooking oil here.  All the oil I use to cook is sunflower oil. It has a strong flavor when you cook with it, but at least the beauty of sunflowers are all around us as a result!



Friday, April 13, 2012

Peaches to pears

It’s gone from potatoes to peaches to pears. We cannot stop receiving free pears. Our house is always completely full with at least 15 pears at a time. I gave 5 away and we got 5 more. There’s a lady named Mama Furaha who invited Jon to come take pears because no one else is tall enough to reach the pears at the top of the tree. The tree’s branches are falling over by the weight of the fruit. Tanzanians eat them while they’re still unripe. They just cut it up with a knife and eat it hard. Jon and I wait until they soften up. Potatoes are making a comeback. Our roads are lined up with trucks hauling them off to other cities in Tanzania. I think we’ll start receiving free potatoes again soon.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rain, rain..go into my bucket everyday

For the last 6 weeks – 2 months, our water spicket has been broken. The teachers told us that it is because of a break in the pipe underground. It was supposed to have been repaired at least a week or two ago, but alas, we still sit without water. What do we do? Well, we break child labor laws and send off 6 students at a time to make a 1-2 mile trip to the next closest well. They bring the water back for us and we give them candy as thanks. We are lucky that it is the rainy season while this water issue is occurring. Suddenly, rainy days are a blessing and we’ve got everything outside trying to catch the rain water. We conserve, too.  All toilet flush water is water that has already been used to do dishes or laundry or to wash our hands. Jon is not showering daily and I am not using nearly as much water as I would to shower. We were buying our drinking water, but with a good rain pour yesterday, we used a bucket’s worth to sanitize and filter. It’s a challenge, but in the rainy season it’s feasible. If this still happens while the rainy season ends, I am not sure how we will manage. Our laundry gets put off hoping that the spicket will work soon. Laundry uses up most of our water.


Monday, April 2, 2012

South Africa is beautiful!

I am aware that not all of South Africa is as beautiful and developed as where I am staying, but to know that this type of development exists only a 3 hour flight from Dar es Salaam is just astounding. The weather is like fall and it's been beautiful and sunny every day.  The paved street are all lined with sidewalks and covered in tall Jacaranda trees. As my vision has been improving, I have been able to really appreciate the beauty around me.  South Africa seems to be much more like Europe and far less like Africa.
Paved roads with lines where people seemingly abide to traffic laws.
This is not Africa! 
The beautiful grounds to my bed & breakfast
where I am recovering.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory -Gandhi

My best friend wrote this to me,

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory" -Gandhi

I have not revealed completely what has been going in my life because it's been hard to deal with. Post my appendectomy, I got a very serious double eye infection. After seeing 5 different doctors in Dar es Salaam, I was allowed to go back to my village to try to continue recovering since things seemed to be improving, slowly but surely. The biggest complaint at this point was blurry vision. I was diagnosed with a fungal eye infection and not only my doctors, but I agreed it was best for me to try recovering at my village since they take a long time to go away. But after much patience mixed with anxiety, my vision started fluctuating - getting better and then getting way worse. Jon and I were both very unsettled by my compromised vision. The Peace Corps doctor listened to our worries and fears and agreed it was best for me to get care from a more developed nation with more experienced doctors.  In under 48 hours, Jon and I got from our village to South Africa for better medical care.

It's not a fungal eye infection but something called adenoviral conjunctivitis.  The doctor put me on the right medication and my vision has improved drastically in the course of only 24 hours. I've been near tears being able to see things so well again. I see the doctor again on Monday and we go from there with the severity and condition of my eye.

In the meantime, we are surrounded by other Peace Corps volunteers who have also been medically evacuated for their own individual health conditions.  It's very nice because we are our own little support group for each other.  South Africa is just amazing. Jon and I got picked up in the airport and were simply amazed by the 5-lane highway, the cleanliness, and the development around us. It's so hard to believe that this is still Africa.

It's also been reassuring because we didn't miss any teaching last week or this week because of Easter break. I feel better knowing that I am simply missing vacation time.

So, I truly hope this is my moment of struggle in my great accomplishment of Peace Corps and that I am able to return to my village and continue teaching.