Dark Ages and No-Fun Cold Showers

24 06 2011

Alright so basically this post is being created to rant about the fact that Tanzania is stuck¬† in the dark ages. For some reason, the government has decided to be assholes and deny the people of Arusha the pleasure of having electricity. For the past 5 nights we haven’t had power. While at first it was fun to eat dinner by candlelight (so romantic oh em gee), and all huddle around the lantern in the living room for some gossip and Two Truths and a Lie, now it’s just a huge pain in my ass.

When there’s no power, that means there’s no power. Just think about that. Right now you wouldn’t be able to read this if there was NO POWER. You would also probably die because oh em gee you can’t watch the newest episode of So You Think You Can Dance (is that show even on anymore?). But seriously… here are just a FEW things that come with having no electricity at night:

  • You can’t see… anything: Considering I live in the jungle, there’s not a whole lot of moonlight/starlight/light pollution/anything at all. Try keeping a daily journal when you can’t see anything at all. VERY DIFFICULT.
  • Peeing becomes terrifying: Try peeing in the pitch dark in a bathroom that looks like a scene out of the movie Hostel. Yeah… I always consider not washing my hands just because that would mean less time in the scary death/rape/murder bathroom.
  • No charging your electronics: So no playing Bejeweled on my iPhone or listening to Kaskade on my iPod. It just means a whole lot of silence. Also, MY TANZANIAN PHONE NEVER HAS BATTERY, which becomes quite the nuisance when I’m trying to meet up with people in a foreign country I don’t speak the language of.
  • COLD SHOWERS: Although this seems fairly self-explanatory, I’ll just describe what a cold shower in Tanzania feels like. So for all those people who think Africa is hot year-round, think again. I wake up shivering literally every night. While the days can get up to 75 degrees sometimes, it’s usually about a solid 70. At night though, it can get down to 50 degrees or colder. So imagine taking a FREEZING COLD SHOWER in the PITCH BLACK in a bathroom that people have probably been CHOPPED UP in, and maybe you can understand what a cold shower is like here. Not only is it 50 degrees, but the windows are always open (because TIA), and the wind gusts in at random times. It definitely makes me understand why people don’t consider showering a top priority here.

So while having no electricity can majorly suck, there is one pro… going to sleep at 8:30pm. And if you guys know me well, you know that my day doesn’t usually start until around that time. When I have an Arts and Crafts class to teach to 20 kids under the age of 5 at 8am though, it’s definitely a huge plus.



I am now finished with my second week of teaching an Arts and Crafts class to the students at the Center. There are 3 classes:

  • Baby Class (and yes they call it that officially) – ages 3-5
  • Intermediate – ages 5-7
  • Class One – ages 7-14 (that one is a special case)

My schedule is:

Monday 8am: Baby Class

Tuesday 8am: Intermediate

Wednesday 920am: Intermediate

Thursday 920am: Baby Class

Friday 920am: Class One

The classes usually consist of using crayons, construction paper, and the rainbow in multiple ways. I tried to teach Baby Class “ROY G BIV” and they had a bit of difficulty considering their alphabet pronunciation is a little off. I will write out what each letter sound like…

A: ah for apple

B: boo for boy

C: kh for cat

D: dee for dog

E: eh for elephant

F: foo for fish

G: goo for girl

H: ha for house

I: ee for impulse (???? there are many other easier words that start with i haha)

J: gee for jug

K: key for ket (I still have yet to figure out what a ket is)

L: lee for leg

M: mmm for man

N: knee for net

O: oh for orange

P: poo for pan

Q: quee for queen (lulz)

R: rrrrr (rolled r sound) for ruler

S: see for sun

T: tee for tap

U: silent oo for umbrella (yes they literally call it silent oo)

V: voo for van

W: woo for watch

X: ksss for x-mas tree (also could have found better x words)

Y: yee for yam

Z: zeh for zebra

Sooooo… yeah. Teaching is difficult. But the kids are awesome so it makes it all worth it. I’ve started implementing time out in Baby Class and it seems to be working. Nobody ever says that discipline doesn’t work! But okay no more time on my internet ūüė¶





19 06 2011

So, lots of things have been happening since my last post. However, before I say anything about that I’m going to explain a phenomenon called “This Is Africa”.

“This Is Africa” or “T.I.A.”¬†is a fairly self-explanatory statement. However, it’s usage is fairly varied and ranges across a wide number of oddities. When anything goes wrong, the rote reply is “T.I.A.”, meaning that when anything weird happens, it should just be taken in stride since weird shit always happens in Africa.

Some instances that I’ve come across are:

Me: This beef tastes and feels like plastic

African Person (AP): T.I.A.!


Me: Oh man, I just got ripped off by this taxi!

AP: T.I.A.!


Me: That man is literally pissing into the wind on the side of the road…

AP: T.I.A.!


Scene: Making our daily peanut butter sandwiches for the kids at the orphanage.

Me: There’s mold all over the bread and a fly in the peanut butter…

Another Volunteer: Dude… T.I.A.


Scene: Sitting in a parked car in the middle of a darkened red-light district alley.


Everyone Else in the Car: MMMMmmmmmmmm yeahhhhhhh T.I.A.


I’m guessing you get the¬†gist of T.I.A. by now. Whenever there’s a WTF moment, it’s brushed off as T.I.A. Honestly, it’s kind of growing on me. A motorcycle can be flying down the sidewalk towards me at 100 KPH and it’s not really a big deal because, well… T.I.A. Or we can be at a nice dinner (literally 30 minutes ago) and the entire city experiences a rolling blackout. OR (this one is a little upsetting), the house I’m staying at can be on hour 37 of no electricity, and it doesn’t really faze me.

So yeah, if anything ever goes wrong in life, just think… some weirder shit is happening in Africa.



So after careful deliberation, I’ve decided to sponsor a child at the center. It’s $85 a month ($35 for education and $50 for health and welfare), which is a fairly good chunk of change for a recent grad. But I figure it’s worth a lot more to them than it is to me.

The girl I want to sponsor is one of the older kids from the center. She doesn’t live at the center, but boards at the secondary school. She’s 16 years old and INCREDIBLY intelligent. She has these rings burned into her cheeks, which is a sign of a Masai Tribe. The Masai are the indigenous people living in Eastern Africa. They are traditionally a nomadic tribe, but are slowly changing to a stationary people. They live out in “The Bush” and are denoted through the markings on their face, the holes in their ears (from large ear-expanding earrings), and the bottom two front teeth missing.

Fun Fact: I learned today that the reason they remove the bottom two front teeth is twofold

  1. When they’re too sick (unconcious, etc.) to open their mouths, they can be fed and given medicine and water through the gap in the bottom teeth
  2. Masai people (when kissing), don’t believe in using tongue. However, they poke the tip of their tongue through the small hole at the bottom, and this is considered erotic (SO SEKSI).

So anyway, Masai people are polygamists. The women are INCREDIBLY subservient to the men. Some men can have over 20-something wives. I personally met a woman who was one of 10. They all live in these huts made out of mud, grass, and cow dung that they call “Boma’s”. There are 2 beds (read: cloth on floor)¬†in each Boma: one for the wife and one for the husband. The husband will choose his “entertainment” of the night, and the woman will come to his bed in the Boma for that night, then return to her own bed. When a¬†visitor¬†comes to the village, the husband gives him¬†not¬†only¬†a Boma for the night, but¬†also the “attentions” of the¬†woman living in that specific Boma.¬†The children that these women have are considered to be “property” of the male, and if the wife ever leaves, the children are in possession of the husband regardless of abuse or living conditions.

So the girl I want to sponsor, Neshpai, was living in this type of situation. When she was 12 her father was going to force her to marry a man in the village. She refused, and was beaten brutally for her indiscretion. She ended up running away and was taken in by the orphanage. She was then kidnapped by her family, and forced to have sex with another man in the village. She was rescued again by the family, and is now thriving in what we consider to be about 9th/10th grade.

While her story is awful and heart-wrenching, it’s incredibly common in Tanzania amongst the Masai tribes. So anyway, I figured that I would give just a little bit of what I have to make her life a little better. There are tons of kids that the orphanage supports that aren’t sponsored, so as I make more money I hope to be able to sponsor more kids.

But in any case, for those who have some extra cash on hand, email me if you feel like sponsoring a kid! The bond between sponsor and orphan is a very strong one, and has the extra benefit of being tax deductible ;).

But okay I miss and love all of you!