Tuesday, September 30, 2008

dangers and annoyances section.

i went to climb a rock today that ive already climbed like three times with my friends, except i was going to take some pictures from the top because you can see alot and some old lady who lived near tried to make me pay her ten dollars seriously. people suck sometimes. yeah lady i carry around (not to mention have at all) money like that. and now this kid has followed me to the internet cafe and is just sitting there next to me, i suppose waiting until i pay so he can see my change and ask for it. hes bugging me so much im really unsympathetic to whatever his situation is and i dont care what that says about me if you analyze it. im plain bitter these days.
also yesterday we had quite a situation with my visa. deus was convinced we could renew it inside the country so we didnt leave. we went in last friday and they told us to come back monday because we didn't have money for the 100 dollar fee. apparently they didn't realize that by monday it would be expired. we came back monday and they said we had to pay 400 dollars immediately for a special visa... i asked what the other alternative was and they said "we arrest you and hold you in contempt of the government of Tanzania". i think that was a threat. i dont think the lady liked me so deus talked to her alone. the 400 dollar visa was going to be for one month only so i'd have to leave early anyways. he got her to give us some sort of deal. the visa was 150 and its for two months. i told the lady how i was going to go out of the country to renew it because i thought that was how it was done, you know legally and correctly and all that, and shes like "who told you to do that? your friends??" like i was admitting to some scam. if that trick is a scam thanks for warning me guys. apparently to renew a visa youre supposed to come like ten days before and write a letter why the first 90 days weren't enough for you. i guess i'll know next time.
anyways tomorrow is the end of rammadon so we'll feast and dress up and go to the beach to dance. sounds good with me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

into the future...

So it appears Deus is returning with me to the US to live at my house for awhile. We'll be looking for vehicles and jobs. We'll be speaking Swahili - I guess I found someone to practice with. We might even both look at colleges. Although I do have other plans first.. Its quite exciting to have a little glimpse of what my future will actually look like since I spend so much time daydreaming up the most outrageous never-gone-happen schemes.

Friday, September 26, 2008


So heres a decision that needs to be faced and I'd love input, especially since all the donors so far read this blog.... At the end of the year when we saw who came and who didn't should we a) replace those who didn't come with new girls so the number stays at 100 always and is strictly about library memberships or should we b) keep only those girls who stayed (this might mean putting more effort into finding girls who are really truly interested) and then maybe branching out to help them when they need things like school shoes etc. theres pros and cons to both. branching out to help the girls in other ways would require a lot more work and follow up with the girls and might require me to come back even, which right now I can't even do. It would help if I could see into the future to see if a handful show up or the majority.... any suggestions?

its all happenin in the village..

went to a funeral today. saw a guy who drowned get buried. its so strange that all these people who live on the lake don't know how to swim. his legs and arms looked like he got in a motor cycle wreck. ( i only know that because i saw the legs and arms of someone who got in a motorcycle wreck) honestly im getting tired of everyday needing to talk to Deus and hes at his house and im at his grandmas and we're never there at the same time or he comes at night and hes drunk and no good to talk to about work or what have you. hopefully when i finish here he'll be there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

happy happy joy joy

things are going great for my project. I should check my email less often, I have a lot more good news to come to when I do. So far we have raised 350 USD, which is almost all of what we need. I will sit down and talk to Deus today about visiting the schools soon - before he starts filming with Discovery Channel next week and gets all busy.
Yesterday started off pretty cool. I went with Kosovo to the village to meet his family. The village is SO far from here. We walked part of the way and then took a bicycle lift part of the way but it took about an hour, longer on the return when we walked about half of it. The village is really pretty and its so high up you get a wonderful view of the lake. I sat around and peeled cassava roots, listened to the radio, visited a few schools just to see them, etc etc. I also met this kid who had crashed his bike really bad. He was all cut up and couldn't talk well, because I think it hurt him. He reached out and started playing with my hair when I wasn't looking and then couldn't speak well enough to explain himself. He had the WORST tattoos I've ever seen. I'll just explain the chest piece to give you the general idea: a homemade stick and poke of a side profile, naked girl with square boobs with a palm tree that looks like its coming out of her foot and a sun in the back ground thats coming out of a book or a bird or something, like one of the birds kids draw thats just a M really. All blotchy and so on. That kid was a wreck.
This is really a week for crashes. I've decided the main hazard in Tanzania is definitely its traffic. Deus's cousin was riding his bike, drunk as always, the other day when he got hit by a truck. He is surprisingly not that hurt but he does keep complaining that his wrist hurts him. Then Deus's friend was in a motorcycle accident yesterday and in horrible condition. On top of all that Bibi was crossing the road yesterday after buying spices and a motorcycle hit her and knocked her down. She's already been complaining about her legs, osteoporosis, I'd guess and now they're just worse. We took her to the hospital, a place that like other old people shes very afraid of, bribed the nurses to look after her and left. We're bringing her back again today though. I'm not sure if they've done that yet because I've been out running errins today, getting my library ID, internet, buying Deus's sister some good face wash and lotion because she always complains about her acne and she showed the lotion shes using and its for extra dry legs. yuck.
We didn't end up going to Serengetti. It seems Ifan had a crush on Kate and Kate didn't have a crush on Ifan and suddenly Ifan had guests show up and couldn't go but then no one actually saw the guests and he went to the beach all day. Actually thats kind of inferring somethings, it could have been that he didn't want to pay for it all or he really did have guests, thats just my take of things. Serengetti when? not sure yet, haven't sat down and talked to Deus in way too long. First I need to convince him not to come to Arusha with me when I return for the airport, I invested my heart in having a few weeks of just traveling alone and now hes saying he has an obligation to my parents to come with me. Not so fast! I'm not even going to bother asking my parents permission, I think he'll be talked out of it, hopefully.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


the last few days have been pretty crazy. I look around and I'm like, wait I'm 18 and I'm really doing this. Deus has this very rich Indian friend named Ifan, forgive if I butchered the spelling, I can hardly say it and we've gone to his house for dinner two nights in a row now. It's the first house I've honestly thought could be in the United States just as it is, and he has a swimming pool, fancy wines, a big screen TV, impeccable house. It's all very strange we go to his house drink a glass of French red wine and discus Dubai or national soccer leagues or things I don't know anything about. It was really intimidating the first night but he's a nice guy and its fun to talk with Kate from America and him. They cook some of the best food I've had here. He works in a fish business, or maybe owns, its in the family I think. Selling Nile Perch, which I actually ate last night with a little prompting about how my B vitamins and such were probably low from weeks of spinach and ugali, which has the same ingredients as wheat paste. The Perch wasn't bad though, and by bad I mean it didn't taste like a fish or "fishy" so it was pretty good. He will be the one going with us, actually driving us, actually having his driver drive us in his fancy car when we go to Serengeti. Still haven't gone, todays excuse is that Ifan had some guests show up unexpectedly early. I'm not sure exactly when we're going. Still it should be rad, I'm looking forward to it the more I read about it. Its all so surreal. Living the lifestyle of the rich and the famous in an African mansion, even if its make believe and we do sometimes just sit around and watch MTV and diss on everyone...
The only other thing worth mentioning, but almost not really because its so disturbing, was about three days ago when one of the neighbours was trying to teach her child to read. The mom held the book she was reading from in one hand and a really thick stick in the other. She seriously just kept going at her kid over nothing. "READ", and if her kids crying too hard to get anything out, whack whack whack, on the head, the arms, the back, the face even until the stick broke and she got a new one. If this wasn't disturbing enough theres the fact that I watched the whole thing from a close distance for probably half an hour and never said a thing. yeah I don't know the language that well, yeah I don't know the lady that well, yeah it isn't my place and I'm a foreigner here and its not my place but I really don't like what it says about me that I just sat by and watched some lady take out repressed anger on her daughter with a tree branch. It kept me up at night two nights in a row. Clearly some part of me, the stubborn, spite-fire say anything in the name of justice part of me that was there as a little kid got lost somewhere, probably in a bush at my high school...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a new mzungu!

So Deus's friend Kate from California came yesterday. She's like 20 something and somehow manages to look impeccable always despite the "conditions". She's definitely a lot more agreeable than the last group of kids. She likes to bitch about money, and her ex-boyfriends and she put off college after High School and didn't even really like high school - an idea completely foreign to the San Diego kids but something that works well for me. Also yesterday when we met she told me the story of her deep fear of the cheesy kids movie Witches and how when she saw the lead actress in the movie walking on the beach she flipped out because it was the witch in person, which is all really strange but likeably human. I'm trying to teach her a little Swahili which is fun, it makes me feel like I know what I'm talking about even if I don't. Also she said when I'm on my way out of the country (I'm planning on snaking around and seeing some things while making my way to the Dar Airport) to stop in Arusha where shes going to be working and we can hang out for a few days so thats cool.
Still haven't gone to Serengeti yet. Things keep getting put off. Tonight we're going swimming though apparently. Deus has some rich friend with a swimming pool and he's going with us to Serengeti and I think he wants to stay in a hotel, assuming he's paying, its about 200 per night inside the park, that sounds awesome.
Today we went to Mara River and the Nyerere Museum. I cannot pronounce that mans name for the life of me. Deus's friend went with us and I let him borrow my iPod for the ride. I thought he didn't know how to use it so I kept just picking songs for him, the Sean Paul I have, the one Mac Dre song I have, Tupac, etc. Finally I just left him alone with it and I came back and he was listening to Wooden Wand and ThreeBerry Icecream and really into it. Oh the things you see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

i regretted that last post almost immediately

it really just gleams the problem and its pretty bitter. the whole issue of being a white person in Africa is bigger than a few lines about being bothered by people and labeling it all racism. i have to admit whenever i see another white person walking in town i stare too, they just look so out of place. that being said i do get hassled, mainly joked at and i do get the impression that most people don't view me as a human being just the same as they are. i do purposefully cross the road if i see a group of children coming up or a group of 20 something year old guys. i do walk around with my head down because i know looking at people just encourages them to say something, and it usually isn't a greeting. i do walk around thinking to myself "dont say anything, please dont say anything, just leave me alone" over and over. but on the other hand i meet some really great people, and sometimes i get perks because i'm white. is that racism? theres certainly people who take me under their wing and some great experiences i've had with Tanzanians, even just walking in the street and occasionally if im not feeling particularly bitter the waving kids can be kind of cute. honestly the saddest thing for me is when i've been living with someone and they still refer to me as the mzungu. its been happening alot lately in Musoma and im almost over the idea of convincing anyone here im just a person and not a white person. im just stephanie for christs sake. one woman, a neighbour, which means almost family here since youre sharing a yard.. and youre in the yard all day, did say yesterday "i like stephanie, shes just simple" except for the fact that i don't eat meat, its really pretty true. but i definately appreciated hearing it from someone.
today we're going to serengetti.... assuming we ever get started. we're waiting for Deus's friend from America to show up..... any day now seriously


from the people who try to run me off the road when im walking, to the boys who ask to marry me before they know my name, to that one girl who yelled in my face in Swahili that she didn't want white people around and didn't like them... . im plain tired of racism. thats really what it is. normally its just someone joking with me, greeting me so i'll respond and they can laugh with their friends or telling me to give them money or calling me over so they can make jokes. for a country who wants tourist money i don't really understand why its part of the culture but it is. i dread walking alone, especially away from the main roads because all you get is hassled. the cops and security guards aren't above it... one asked me to be his girlfriend just this morning. if i never hear mzungu again it will be too soon.
other than that im worried about this mole. and i saved a mouse who got into the flour and they were going to kill by acting like he "accidentally" got out of my hands. go baby mouse!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

p.s. regarding suncare

I've had this itchy little rash on my arm for a few days now. It's way premature to make neurotic calls like this but I'm convinced its going to spring up any day now and turn into a large cancerous mole from over exposure to sun. Does anyone know anything about cancerous moles and what I should look for????

promising project upate

So yesterday I went to the Musoma Regional Library to talk to the head librarian about my project. Deus helped with the translating and the whole thing went really well. The idea is still to sponsor 100 secondary school (its about the equivalent of high school) students to get a library membership of course targeting those who cannot afford to do so. The man we spoke to also really urged us to sponsor girls, the library records for the day before we came showed 250 boys visiting and only 50 girls. Also he urged that we sponsor kids from newly built schools, some built for political reasons, that are horribly ill-equipped without books, desks, teachers etc. I'm hopping next week I can start searching for the schools that will be involved and start talking. Which means now is the time to really raise money. The fee to become a member is 2,000 Tsh. (I just checked online and 1 USD is 1,152Tsh), but theres also the cost of the two passport sized photos needed to make your ID card (the library system isn't computerized). I haven't done the math just yet but it should all be under 500 USD and my dad has already promised 100. Of course any amount we can raise would be wonderful because a) I don't want to cut the number off at 100 if theres more interest, these are people not numbers, and b) the library has a shortage of chairs and tables, leaving some to sit on the ground. Anything that anyone reading this can give, literally anything, would be very much appreciated and could be mailed to the address listed before in my blog:
P.O. Box 989
Musoma, TZ
East Africa

Asante Sana,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

so maybe

i took that whole, nothing needs to be said, a little to seriously concerning my last post.
me and my little brother live on different planets.
theres some stuff to write about but lately i don't feel like it. there was the train ride which cost me way too much for 3rd class and all the different characters i met on the train: the loud girl who invited me to sit with her during the 24 hour layover, the older man who reminded me of priscillas dad and helped me out a great deal, even moving me up to second class, which was a sleeping lounge like in darjeeing unlimited, or whatever.. at least he was helpful until he asked to be my boyfriend and i kind of scooted him out of the room, there was the man so coked out of his mind that he looked like a bushbaby with big'ol eyes shoving people on top of each other in the train and i think, trying to get his hands in my pocket which i swatted away which was kind of an adrenaline rush and then there was the really helpful kid who reminded me of my friend Brian in Whittier. Actually friend is an overstatement.
There was coming home to the new baby, washing a months worth of underwear and that day i fasted for Rammadon, well sort of, i did drink a little water but otherwise my head would have exploded. Rammadon is a terrible idea really. no offense. Theres been lots of thinking lately and less writing which i'm enjoying. I'm getting to see everyone in musoma in a new light as now i actually know what they're saying. Everyone except bibi that is, shes still just crabby as ever.
hope everyone is well. planning on posting less to conserve funds, i can't check my bank account online again and it costs 2 bucks to check at the atm...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

this has nothing to do with africa but...

this is my first email from my little brother:

MY car mobs i put a 4 channel 400 wat amp and a10in. mtx jackhammer subwoffer :P, i applyed for a spot atthe lower lot but no luck yet, arelie asked how you weredoing in tanzaniea or w/e its called and i said shes intanzanea?

Monday, September 1, 2008

my trip to Jurrasic Park,... er Gombe

So I've been to Gombe and back, turns out I have more time in Kigoma than I thought. I'm here til Thursday and I think I've convinced Deus to let me go back to Mwanza on train (it certainly can't bump as much as a bus) which means it'll take two days.
It was decided last minute I would spend another night than anticipated at Gombe. I really only packed one outfit and stuff to make PB&Js but it worked out all right. The boat ride there took about 3 hours in this wooden beast that looked like Noahs Ark and that they kept scooping water out of the bottom of. When I arrived the beach there was so picture perfect I was almost repulsed with the idea of taking a picture of it. The water was clear, the stones and sand white, the trees huge and looming. I went swimming, ate PB&Js and went to sleep early to make sure and wake up in time to see chimps! Wake up early I did, I kept waking up while it was still to dark to see my watch and thinking I was going to be late, which is preposterous since the sunrises at 7 and I was going at 8... anyways woke, ate pb&j tena. And I know this may disappoint some people, i.e. the people reading this, i.e. my mom, but I decided last minute not to bring my camera into the bus with me. Mainly for that reason that it's such a cheap thing that takes such low quality pictures it'd be better to just have the experience then have a bunch of blurry pictures of it, plus if you give me time I'm not too bad with words so I can certainly tell you about the chimps. Although the whole thing was a little fast and honestly I think I'll have more memories of my guide then the chimps if only because he complained about his job and how old he was and his bosses the whole time. He did however mention that i was one of the luckiest guests yet ("and you didnt bring a camera???") because we stumbled into thirty-ish chimps close to camp within minutes of leaving. I got to see them using tools to eat bugs, playing, fighting, climbing up and down trees and definitely broke the stay 10 meters away rule as one ambled past me at arms length. Things got a little not so jolly though when the alpha male and the old alpha male started showing each other up while I was close by. Me and the guide and the reseachers jumped off the path about ten feet downhill through trees with everyone grabbing me. My guide kept going "are you scared? they can beat you with sticks and rocks...." We'll gee thanks, I wasn't scared until you kept repeating that and then they chased us and all...
And again later on while we were sitting in a little clearing with a chimp family grooming to the left and a group hanging out behind us and a few meandering on all sides when suddenly another fight broke out and I realized I'm surrounded by these things on all sides and if you run they only want to chase you more.
Janes Peak was awesome though, totally unexpected and I do wish I had brought my camera for that. Although my guide was tired and I think in a hurry to get down. The trees there were seriously amazing. I'm not sure it was worth the money since the whole thing was a bit of a blur but it did help me to realize part of what I liked so much about Africa as a child. Basically I think I'd like to be some sort of nature dwelling animal, not so normal, but hey most of the things children think aren't. And the reason really isn't that I think animals are all that swell but that I'd like to swing from trees and sleep in them and such on. Yeah I could have probably solved that puzzle for a lot cheaper by just renting the jungle book again, but hey I didn't.