Sunday, January 16, 2011
"Sunday morning I'm waking up, can't even focus on a coffee cup..." (The Chemical Brothers)
It's Sunday morning and everyone is sleeping...except me...because I have not been able to sleep past 7 AM since the first day I arrived. We are so close to the equator and the sun is up and at 'em around 6 AM every morning. We had a party last night, so many will be sleeping until lunch at least, I am sure! The party was great. Art in Tanzania has a record label called Mzuka Records, so the guys from that run Mzuka come set up the sound equipment and play all kinds of very loud music until very late at night. It is a great way for the volunteers - and myself - to meet the locals, and get more comfortable with them. If we are going to be walking around their community for the next few months, it makes sense.
Safety is, of course, always a concern BUT, there is no reason to feel unsafe around the house. I leave my laptop in an unlocked office all the time. When the locals were here we had to be careful leaving our things out, and I left everything in my room. There is no way for locals to get to the area where our rooms are, and if a local wants to attend a party a volunteer must sign them in, so it isn't as if locals are popping in and out of here at their leisure. I feel very safe here.
Yesterday I spent the entire day on Coral Island - what a treat! The Danish group and I took a 20-30 minute boat ride to the island where we were greeted with white sand and crystal blue water. We had to order lunch when we arrived because it had to caught! The day's catch was king fish grilled with a side of chips, lime, and sea salt. It was probably the freshest seafood I have ever had.
The entire day I lounged under a small bamboo hut because I did not want to burn, but occasionally ventured out to the water to cool off. Many of the group went snorkeling quite far off the shore. There are coral and small fish all around, but I had no interest in exploring - I have a fear of having a staring contest with something larger than me! The island was very quiet and there were several other white people lounging. I am sure this is on the list of many visitors.
I finally got to read my Economist and listened to American music all day on my solar-powered radio. I have heard everything from Kanye to Nickeback! I have heard a lot of early 90s hip-hop - think Living in Color/Fresh Prince - and it makes me laugh. At the party last night I talked to a guy for a long time about how the area is so influenced by Western culture. Many of the guys would rather learn to dance hip-hop over traditional African dance. That makes me very sad to think that people might be losing their culture. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear American music on the occasion, but I AM in Africa. I didn't come here to be at home...their music is quite nice!
Our return boat ride from Coral Island was nothing special until we had to get off the boat. Our driver stopped right in front of the area where the locals were fishing...and throwing fish guts. It was the first time I could have gotten sick. Some people had to walk through barefoot. It was truly disgusting! There is so much trash around, and it often smells foul. I do not understand how one gets used to it.
Saturday was PANCAKE DAY! They were so tasty! VERY similar to what we consider a pancake. I did not have any syrup, but there was some sugar and jam. I ate mine plain.
Today I will go to the mall. I would like to get some more towels, and I might do some grocery shopping. It would be nice to have some orange juice in the mornings. We have a cooler that we can put things in. Hopefully I will get to take a dala dala for the first time!
Excited for a new day!