T.I.A.

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.!

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

AP: T.I.A.!

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

AP: T.I.A.!

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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.

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

Me: WTF

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

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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.

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UPDATE ON THE ORPHANAGE

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!

<3ange

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Peeing VS Untucking

9 06 2011

So Tanzania is still pretty awesome, but is sort of starting to get on my nerves at times…

STOP TRYING TO SELL ME YOUR USELESS SHIT.

Seriously. Stop.

Everywhere you go in the city, random people come up to you and ask you how you are and where your from BLAHBLAHBLAH. Then they unroll these little bamboo mats they have and show you the 91237939407124 paintings that either they or their brother has done, and would we maybe like to purchase one. Well unless all black people are related (like all Asians), THEN YOUR BROTHER DID NOT PAINT THESE. I have deduced this fact from the experience of having been shown maybe 1923801230821 paintings that ARE ALL THE FUCKING SAME.

So unless I literally see you (or your brother) painting it on the side of the street in front of me: I. DO. NOT. WANT. IT.

On another note, I’ve taken to telling Africans that both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are my cousins, and that I am a master at Kung Fu. Oddly enough, I think they actually believe me. Obviously my popularity in Tanzania is rising daily.

Just to answer a few questions about my situation here: I am not by myself! So never fear! There are other Americans with me that are also experiencing the awesomeness and shittyness of Tanzania. Actually, we’re all going on Safari together tomorrow. WOOOOOOOOOO!

Itinerary of Safari Trip:

Friday: Tarangire

Saturday: Lake Manyara

Sunday: Ngorongoro Crater

I’m so freaking excited! There are going to be 7 of us going, and hopefully we’ll get to see the Big Five which include:

Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos, & Elephants

The guide told us that only 99 out of 100 people get eaten by a Lion. Obviously he was joking… I think. Tanzanian humor doesn’t get translated that well into English…

But anyway, that’ll be super fun. I’ll just try and refrain from parading myself in front of any deadly predators.

UPDATE ON THE ORPHANAGE/LIVING SITUATION:

So now I’ve finally figured out the system of the electricity at the house. The electricity will go out anywhere from 6pm-7pm (time of reckoning). If the lights go out, then they will be out all night and all day until around 3pm where they will miraculously come on again. They will then stay on all night until about 6-7pm where once again they will go out. So basically, electricity sucks here, and is only on at night every other day. But you get used to it. If you actually want to take a hot (lukewarm) shower, prime showering time is around 5:30pm.
Also, I would like to explain to you readers the phenomenon of the mosquito net. If any of you have every legitimately had to use one, then I feel for you. Every night before bed I have to tuck the net around my bed, which takes anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes (depending on my mood, as well as if any bugs have entered my domain during the day). Sometimes I forget to use the bathroom beforehand, and then it’s a struggle of wills: Peeing VS Untucking.

I have to weigh the options between using the bathroom, which means I have to untuck all of my hard tucking work, or staying in my nicely tucked bed with the fear of pissing myself in the night. Honestly, at this point I can’t really tell you which one I usually choose. It’s been about 50/50 thus far, and will probably stay at those odds for the foreseeable future.

Also, I’ve officially decided I hate both monkeys and dogs. All freaking night the monkeys are either jumping up and down on the roof (which is made out of sheet metal), or screaming out mating calls (and yes I’ve had this confirmed). The dogs, who are attack dogs (O.O) bark all night at the jumping/mating monkeys. Therefore ALL NIGHT LONG it is a jungle cacophony of dogs and monkeys yapping and screeching away at each other. Obviously this is incredibly conducive to sleep. NyQuil and Benadryl have become my two new best friends. They are perhaps the only things I would untuck for.

But besides the annoying things about Life in Africa, it’s still pretty damn cool. The next installment will hopefully be filled with wondrous accounts of the animals and scenery from my Safari. If not, then I will literally kill someone. Or a monkey.

<3Ange





Bongo Flava

5 06 2011

So it’s Sunday evening here, and I’m finally back at the orphanage. This weekend was filled with laughter, wonderment, tears (sort of), and a whole lot of WTF moments.

Update on the children:

  • They’re still continuing to eat popped balloons 😦 and have now moved on to eating bits of styrofoam (YIKES)
  • One of the orphan girls was playing with a toothpaste box (SADNESS) in lieu of any real toys
  • They wash all of their own clothes BY HAND with just a bucket of water and a bar of soap
  • We ran around in circles holding hands for about 15 minutes until I got dizzy and almost vomited lol… they thought it was hilarious

So anyway, more info about Tanzania… the public bus is called the Dala Dala and is basically a large run-down van that is supposed to seat around 16, but gets filled with about 34 people (that’s the highest I’ve counted). People are literally out of the door holding on to the ceiling trying with all their might to hold on. Saturday we went to the waterfalls in Marangu which is about 3 1/2 hours away. We took 2 DD’s each way, and at one point my head was hanging out of a window because it didn’t fit in the van. YAY for African traffic safety laws!

The waterfall we went to was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. We had to climb over rocks and trek through woods (and stop by grandmother’s house on the way) for about 4 miles to get there. Then to get to the actual waterfall area you basically have to rock climb down the side of this mountain with only flimsy bamboo railings to keep you from plunging to a muddy rocky death. Then once you get to the waterfall, to actually be in the nicer areas you have to swim across the river while 80 mph freezing rapids are trying to tear you apart. This entire time the stones on the river floor and bank are puncturing and bruising your bare feet. Then after basically being on the brink of death for about 3 hours, you have to climb back UP the muddy mountain and go all the way back to the city.

BEST. DAY. OF. MY. LIFE.

If I could live there forever I would. It’s literally paradise on earth. I would have Cabana Boys bring me food and drinks, and just sit by the waterfall and look at the 32894712918429 rainbows (and by which I mean 2). It literally almost killed me getting there (I was pulled under the current at one point), but WOW it was worth it.

But okay, enough about scenery and landmarks blahblahblah. What I’m sure you all (the 3 people that read this… thanks Ben!) actually want to hear about is the nightlife… which has inspired the title of this post. Bongo Flava is what they call Tanzanian music. It’s a bit tribal, and a whole lot of R&B. Another little anecdote about Africa: everybody here can dance as if they were doing it since they came out of the womb… which is exactly what happens. The kids in school since songs all day long and play games, and all of them include hardcore booty shakin’.

So once again I was the only asian girl there (I saw 2 azn men WTF?!). And once again I must reiterate that African men are incredibly friendly. I won’t go into details (for obvious reasons… mom&dad), but it was SO much fun. Even though people do grind on the dance floor, it’s not as nastydirty as a Thursday night at Feve or a Friday night at Finny’s. Everybody just wants to dance and move their bodies. It’s pure fun and I absolutely love it! You can just let go and have a good time. And the music is ridic good. You can’t help but love it.

But okay the power is slated to go off in about 5 minutes (BOOOOOO) so I have to cut this short. New posts sometime this week soon.

Miss all of you!!





HAKUNA MATATA

2 06 2011

Sijambo friends!

Finally in Tanzania. I arrived 2 days ago without any complications, and have been getting a crash course on life in Africa.

Yesterday we walked around the city for like 4 hours. We got phones, bought WATER (omg need so much water), and little things for the kids. People here are incredibly friendly… especially the men (O_O). I’m pretty sure I’m the first Azn most of the people here have ever seen or talked to. The following dialogue will explain why I feel this way.

Scene: walking down the road at around noon-ish with another girl here from the States (Sabrina), and a person who works for my organization (Tanzanian – Idi). A HUGE (what I presume to be) trash truck is stopped by the side of the road that we’re walking along.

A man in the truck starts speaking rapid fire Swahili as we pass by. By this time I had already learned to ignore it mainly because it literally happened like 18903712894713094 times already that day because of course they need to comment on the foreigners walking around. Idi starts laughing and turns around to me and says that someone wants to talk/meet me. Obviously I’m down to meet anyone so I turn around.

The guy jumps probably 15 ft down onto the sidewalk from the truck. He comes up to me and I shake his hand… which he precedes to hold for the next 15 minutes as this conversation is going on.

Truck Man: kasdhf kasdlfhsdkafghfweiophfewugw hairsg h aw riogwebgsdaiogbsioabgiobvo radiofh aosdkg sadg

Me: O_o?!?!?!?!?!!?!?

Truck Man: sdiohasd gjwraghweiogwbhgioasbgs ogbaiog brgawirog bioabg oiar g

Me: WTF?! IDI. HELP.

Idi: *laughs histerically*

Truck Man: (to Idi in Swahili, which I understand) Help me!

Idi: He says that he wanted to meet you because he loves yellow people (I taught him that little gem earlier in the day).

Me: LOLZ.

Truck Man: iodkfsadklhfsdaklfhsdkl hsadklfh skld hsdal hsadk hsklahfkdh skladhasldkh alskdh klasdhfaskdl

Idi: He says that he is very excited to meet you because every time he follows yellow people to try and talk to them, they run away screaming because they think he’s going to ROB THEM!

Me: LLLLLLLLOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Truck Man: kosafhsdjkfhsdkfhd sdiksj osdj aj osdj ospaj ksdjfksdlfjsdklfjskl

Idi: He says he loves you and wants to marry you.

Me: ……………………………………lolz?

Idi: (to Truck Man in Swahili) Bye…

Me: BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. (pulls me hand out of his and runs away as if he is robbing me)

THE END

So… that’s what walking around downtown Arusha is like. This happened… a lot.

But anyway, last night went to the orphanage area . WOOOO! It’s a little ways off the beaten path, and is basically situated in the jungle. Sabrina and I took a nap, and when we woke up around 7pm or so, the lights were all out. Apparently blackouts happen literally every day at some point. Night is the worst though because you’re in the jungle and it is madddd PITCH BLACK. So we ate dinner by candle light, and got ready by the light on our phones. It’s… interesting.

This morning we walked up the mountain (quick 10 minute jaunt) and stayed in class with the kids. THEY ARE SO FREAKING ADORABLE OMFGWTFBBQ. They call me “Teacher AnJEYla”. It might just be about the cutest thing in the world. The are so fascinated by my hair. They played with it all morning and kept stroking it and braiding it (<3). I gave them some balloons I had bought here as well as a bunch of little plastic racing cars. LOVED THEM SO MUCH. The littlest things go a long way. Too bad some of them started eating the popped balloons… it was weird. We taught them how to write the numbers 21-40 (obviously I am enriching young minds).

Tonight apparently, all the foreigners (as well as a good amount of locals) are hitting up a club called Via Via. I’m excited to try Tanzanian gin (Unyagi… or something like that). We have to travel in packs here though because you CANNOT walk by yourself here at night, no matter where it is.

But in any case, I HAVE A CELL PHONE HERE. You can call me anytime during the day (7 hours ahead of EST) by dialing 011255766916892. Hope to hear from some of you!

LOVE