Published: February 24th 2009February 24th 2009
Currently, I'm on the island of Pemba, which is technically in Zanzibar. Yet if you google Zanzibar, you'll notice that Zanzibar is actually two islands: Unguja and Pemba. Everybody knows Unguja (Zanzibar City and Stone Town are in it) and that's where I was for my first three weeks here. But on Thursday we took a 30 minute plane ride over Unguja to Pemba and I'm here in the city of Chake Chake until Sunday I believe.
Life is a lot different than in in Z'bar City. There's is significantly less tourism here and that makes a big difference. People on the street of Chake Chake aren't as aggresive to sell me stuff and as a "mzungu" (white person) here I get a lot more people starring at me.
The pace of life is a little slower than on Unguja too: during the day, it seems most people sit around, nobody in any particular hurry. One reason for this is that the power here goes out two or three times a day. In may, everybody turned on their TV's to watch the EuroCup and because so much power was drawn at one time, the electricty cable from mainland Tzn to Z'bar islands shorted. Ever since then, power has been sketchy.
So some good times on Pemba. On Saturday, we began our second homestays. By Pemba's standards ,I live with a relatively affluent family. I have a father, Omar, who works as a mechanic for the police in Chake Chake (I've yet to see an officer here and I'm doubting if they have police cars even) and on the side, is a travel agent for tourists. He brought me to his shop yesterday. He speaks english fairly well, yet there were some spelling mistakes in his shop that made me giggle, like "conform your travel plans" instead of "confirm your travel plans".
I have a little brother Abui who's about 7, loves futbol, loves to touch all of my stuff, and probably thinks I'm an idiot because I can't understand anything he says. But that's fine because I more than make up for it by giving him piggy back rides around that house. I also have a 16 year old sister, who has a very thick accent and makes communication very difficult.
Finally, my mother is so sweet and always asks me what she can get me. Omar has two wives (he had three) and she is his first. Yesterday I had my first good chat with her in Swahili about my day. I was pretty proud of myself. Even after only 3 days in my homestay, there's been noticable improvement in my Swahili skills. I didn't get a lot of practice with my first homestay mama and this week will really force me to improve.
A quick note about Swahili: verbs are very easy to use and explaining actions are easy as pie for me now, as long as I know the vocabv. Yet there are different noun classes and the adj have to agree with the nouns so describing things are tougher. So when I talk with people, usually I try to tell them about things I have done, things I am doing, and things I will do. I try avoid describing things, which is not that good and I probably should just learn it now and save time/trouble for myself later.
Yesterday morning, I got sick and threw up. Bad times. When the bus came to pick me up, it turned out that two toher students threw up either the night before or that morning too. And when we meet up with everybody, it turned out that in total 8 students were sick!!! Damn. That's over half our group. Funny right? We still don't know what it was, maybe food poisoning. Afterall, we did all eat lunch together on saturday afternoon and I hadn't felt great since that time.
Well, I felt alright on sunday, well enough to go to the beach on our day off. 10 of us hired a dala dala to take us there and back for 30,000 shillings or a little less than 30 dollars. So we were driving for about 15 minutes on a paved road south, then another 15 minutes west on a dirt road. We drove through three pretty remote villages and each time children would start sprintingafter our dala dala screamingJAMBO or HELLO or MZUNGU at the top of their lungs. It was hilarous.
The first two towns we went through, maybe two dozen kids would follow. In the third town, however, about 60 kids and teens and adults came to greet us. And of couse, just our luck, as we went down a steep hill and then back up it, our dala dala got stuck inthe sand and there we were, surrounded by what seemed like an entire village.
So we decided to walk it to the beach. Followed by everybody starring at us, we walked 15 minutes, found no beach, and walked back to the dala dala. They didn't reallly talk to us, but they looked and laughed. Not rude, necessarily, starring isn't taboo here like it is in America (nor is screaming mzungu.) Eventually we made it back to the dala dala where it was still stuck. Finhally we left the vilalge and found a different beach. Frustrating but ultimate wonderful.
I NEED to go. ONly 1 more minute left at this internet cafe. Salama!!!!!