The Swahili champ

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September 9th 2010
Published: September 9th 2010
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Mambo rafiki!

First off, by the time I leave here, I plan on being a Swahali champion. Enough said. It is currently Thursday at 8:40pm, and I have officially been in this country for a week. I know, you all miss me so much it feels like I have been gone forever. I really love it here. I am a little surprised by how quickly I was able to adjust, except for the time difference, and how comfortable I am now. When I last left off, I believe it was Saturday. Since then I have learned a lot. For one thing, church on Sunday lasts for 5 hours, and the pastors like to YELL into microphones with amplifiers attached so that the ENTIRE community can participate. What I have learned from this is to buy earplugs asap. I would like to see a church service here because from the sounds of things, peeople get really into it and there is alot of hoopla going on. Monday was our first day of language lessons with Nelson. He is Moses' best buddy, and also owns an orphanage about an hour from where we live. His mother also owns a Tanzanite mine, so he sells tanzanite for cheap (that was a plug, if anyone wants tanzanite, i can hook it up). The first day was the basics, and everyday since we have been learning a bit more. Nelson thinks I am crazy, and considering he has only known me for less than a week, i'd say he hit the nail right on the head.

Tuesday, after language lessons, we went into town and visited the central market and the used clothing market. The central market is nuts! There are so many people selling fruits and vegetables, and herbs, and spices, and baskets, and meat, and fish, and I bet you could even buy a child if you named the right price. We just walked through it and people are really friendly. Well, that's how I prefer to see it. They all stare and say "Hi" really loudly to show off their english skills, and yell muzungo muzungo as often as possible. I have also recently learned that muzungo really doesn't mean tourist as I first thought. It actually means "look at that white person who really doesn't fit in, but lets point it out and see how they react". It's funny because I know I'm white, and they just feel it necessary to keep reminding me, just in case I forget. To be honest, the don't mean it in a discriminatory way, its just not what they are used to and everyone is really friendly when saying it. The best are the kids who yell as you walk by. They all get really excited, and the shy ones just whisper to their friends and giggle. I just say "mambo" (hello) and wave and they are happy.

The Used Clothes Market. Where do I begin. You all know how much I LOVE value village, and this place... IS A GIANT VALUE VILLAGE! It was the best day ever! I was so overwhelmed and didn't want to hold everyone up, so we just strolled through all the different sections and people tried to sell us things, and told us we were pretty and would look good in their clothes. Flattery really will get these people far when I go back there. It was a little overwhelming to see how much clothing there was, and how many families were trying to dress their children but didn't have enough money to buy them things.

Wednesday we had more language, and then cultural lessons. Moses spoke with us about the history of Tanzania, and the different cultures among the country. For starters, there are over 125 tribes, and each family belongs to a tribe. The Masai tribe is the most popular tribe. when you learn about Africa, or see pictures, it is the Masai tribe that is usually depicted. They are the ones with the necklaces and robes, and multiple piercings and head dresses. There is something here called cultural tourism (maybe it exists in other places too, I don't know), but you can basically go out into the bush and see how these people live. They will cook for you and show you around and let you use their tools and what not. I am really excited to do this! I can play with a spear!! Of course you have to pay, but it's how they are able to make ends meat.

Today we finally went to our placements. I went with Moses in the morning to my orphanage to meet the director and some of the children. It was about a 10 minute daladala ride, and then a 5 minute walk to the property. I was really surprised by what it looked like, I will have to send pictures your way so you can picture how these children live. Mama Wambura is the director of the orphanage. She is a wonderful woman who oversees how everything is run. You can tell right off that she really loves these kids and wants to see them grow and have a chance. There are about 4 other volunteers there right now, but I will be there the longest. We chatted about what she sees me doing and how I can best be put to use. When I met the children, my heart melted. They are so small and skinny and just so heartbreakingly adorable. It took alot for me not to cry (shocking) and I am SO excited to start on Monday. I know what you are all thinking, "what about baby bryson (bongo)???" Well, Bryson is a whole other story. Aftermany tests, they came to the conclusion that he is mentally disabled and requires alot of help and attention. He is also visually impaired, so that makes it even more difficult for him to get around. When I got there, there were some children playing in the yard, and Bryson heard my voice and walked towards me and just grabbed my leg with one hand, and reached up at me with the other, and I melted. I told Moses that he would need to check my bag everyday when I get home to make sure I didn't kidnap him. I told Mama Wambura the same thing and she asked how big my suitcase was. I am glad we are both on the same page.

So, as you can see there is alot to be done here. I am really having a great time, and I am so glad that I am doing this. Oh, and everyone here thinks that I am really funny. So I am glad that my humour translates in Africa as well.

I'm sorry that it took so long to write again, I will try to update as often as I can. And I also promise to learn how to put up pictures soon.

Love you all, and miss you terribly.
- Erin

ps. There is a MASSIVE bug on the floor creeping towards me. In case you were wondering.

pps. Today in town someone asked me if I was Jesus' younger sister. I said yes.



9th September 2010

I didn't see this first...
I did not see this option before I wrote on your fb page... but I seriously got SO excited about Tanzanite. Give it. Erin this is so funny and I miss you, and I'm in love with Bongo. xoxoxoxo Shana Tova!
10th September 2010

SHana Tova!!!
hey Cuz, Just wanted to wish you a massive Shana Tova!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you had a great day :)
10th September 2010

sunny would take you up on that offer!
this sounds like the best of times. I feel like you cant get everything done in just two month because that tourist tribe thing sounds cool. also this baby business....i must see pictures. i think i love bongo already.that store is too cute. also what kind of animals have you seen?
10th September 2010

Erin! Stopped by aritzia after my first day of university and it wasn't the same with out you :(. I hope you're enjoying Africa, and saving the world of course. Come home SAFE AND IN ONE PIECE! We all miss you! LOVE YOU!

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