Tanga is a largely Muslim city and that means several things for us:
  1. Prayer calls. Every day, multiples times a day, we are blessed with the sound of a prayer in Arabic over a loud speaker. I don't know what the Muslim population has to be to get the prayer call hard-wired throughout the town, but whatever it is we have it. I'm not sure of the exact times of the prayer calls. Oh, except for the one at 5 am. It's my favorite. There's a mosque across the street. Lovely. Really its a competition between the Koran and the roosters to see who can make it more impossible for the mzungus to sleep in.
  2. Great fashion. In the Muslim faith, it is inappropriate to show one's head to the public. As a result, they have fashioned the kanga. The Kanga is a very versatile peice of fabric. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and each has its own saying on it. Some talk of God, others of death, others of vegetables. Unless you speak the langauge, it's really a toss-up which you get. In my experience (I own one kanga) it can be, but is not limited to be, used as: blanket, skirt, shirt, hat, dress, sunblock, dustblock, tissue, pillow and bugblock. The women here mostly use it as a dress, skirt, shirt, hat and baby sling. And, of course, a stylish modesty enforcer. They wrap it very tightly around their faces, drape it over their arms and wear it over other clothes too, as an extra layer. The men wear dresses too- a kanzu is what it is called I believe. It's like a coat in that you only wear it when travelling. It's long and white, and actually quite nice. They wear these fun little pillbox looking hats too. The guys at the bus station call them fashion hats, but I'm sure they have some other, much more appropriate Arabic name too. The cutest is the little boys in their kanzus and fashion hats.
  3. Great names. In my classes, I have lots of fun Arabic-inspired names. Two Ramadhanis- one is a pill, the other ugly but sweet. We have several Mohammeds, though the go by Mudi. "Legless Mudi" has no legs because he was thrown into a fire as part of some witch doctor ceremony. I would feel sorry for him but he is such a bully!! "Toothless Mudi" has no teeth, don't know why. He's a bully too, but I don't mind it as much because he's really smart and he helps the other kids to write. Little Mudi Bakari is just adorable. He's got a giggle that could melt Scrooge's heart. When we sing songs, I usually pick some volunteers to come help me at the front of the class. He always tries to sneak up because he loves singing and love attention. He's tiny.
  4. Ramadan. The Muslim holy month of fasting. It ends this week. In the holiday, every muslim fasts from sunup (about 6am) to sundown (about 6:30). This has been hard on the volunteers because so many things are closed during the day. Our break-time hut, groceries, the shop around the corner doesn't open until 7:30! Moreso, it's hard on the Muslims. Class sizes have dropped from fatigue, Fatuma, our housekeeper sleeps all day (not on beds, mind you- instead she sleeps across 3 chairs in the kitchen. no idea why), people are cranky and hungry! I can't blame them. One fast sunday a month is hard enough, and I usually cave and break early! Everyone is in good spirits this week though because Ramadan ends on... either thursday or friday. It's all based around the lunar cycle, so depending on the full moon. If it's Wednesday night, people eat on Thursday, if it's Thursday night they eat on Friday. Word on the street is that because of the confusion, everything closes both days and we get a 4 day weekend.

The muslims and christians get a long great here. I have many of both in my adult class and they're really good friends. Go figure.


How many days in the weeki? Seven Days.

First week back after vacation. Very hard. My adult class is going to be a struggle for me for this last month, I can tell. There's about 30 in the class. Most come pretty regularly, making you think they really want to learn English, and most of them actually have decent language skills, but they don't do JACK in class. You ask questions, they don't say anything. Lots of blank stares. I thought I might have been teaching above them, but afterwards it seems like they mostly understand. They just refuse to participate. Looks like it will be an hour of me desperately and hoarsely explaining boring things like grammar and vocabulary. There's no curriculum for the class so it's pretty up in the air. The best part about the class though, is seeing my students around town. Dula "works at a music shop" as he puts it. Really, he sells bootlegged music and DVDs from a shanty in town. Every time I pass its "Kemi!! How are you!?" In this funny high-pitched, nasal, sounds like he's high voice. They all seem to have that voice when they talk to us. I wonder if that's how they think we sound.

My two nursery classes are a bit better than my adult class. I walked into my morning class on monday- these are the 5 year olds, the smarter of my two classes, and was mauled with affection. I had been gone for a week and they missed me so much!! Mariam, my favorite jumped up into my arms, wrapped her legs around me and would NOT let go for a good 5 minutes. I love these kids. I love them!! They are so well-behaved most of the time and they actually learn! This week we've been going over words that start with letters A, B, and D. and they remember them! They come up with their own!! They are getting better at writing, and they almost understand the concept of numbers! Besides the fact that they can't tell the different between 13 and 14 (when they count to 15 they just say "fo-teen, fo-teen, fifiteen") they are wonderful. I'll miss all of them (except for maybe Rehema- that little pill!).

My second nursery class is a bit of a headache. It's right after break time- 10:30 to 12:30, so right during the mid-morning lull. You've been up since 6 so you're tired and it's almost lunchtime, so you're hungry. It doesn't help that the kids are rowdy and rarely listen. Some of them are actually pretty good, most go through waves. One day they'll be the star of the class, the next close to handicapped. Cristina, who at first showed great promise to be one of my smartest, suddenly can't seem to do anything but roll on her chair and giggle. On the other side, I really thought that both Augustino and Sumina would have to be moved to the disable class they wer so slow. Then suddenly this week they're so bright! Sumina faded by the end of the week, but Augustino has his shapes and colors down pat, and has perfect manners! My least favorite in this class is by far Rama (Rama Hassani, not Rama Nuru. Rama Nurus is ugly, but he at least tries). Rama is a bully, first of all, hitting kids when he's upset that he doesn't know. When we go around in turns to answer questions, he just gives me this raised eyebrow "what, you think you can make me?" look. And then he goes into time-out. Needless to say, he spends a lot of time in time-out. But still, if you get hime coloring, he's a pleasant kid, or at least shuts up for a while.

The best part of the day is song time. I've learned several totally awesome Swahili songs (complete with dance moves) and plenty mediocre pre-school songs, most of which the kids can't understand anyway. I taught all the kids, and teachers, popcorn popping on the apricot tree and its a hit. Other favorites: Frogs that go Shalalalala (the kid's favorite by far), Wind the bobbin up (a random song that I'm pretty sure is about sewing), If you're happy and you know it, I'm a little teapot (lots of hip action in this one), and Joni Joni (the most OBNOXIOUS SONG EVER. I refuse to sing it more than twice a week. It makes me sick just to think of it.) The three Swahili songs I know are: Mauwa Mazuri (good flower), Twainama (bow down), and Karuka (jump). It's a good time. Lots of giggling, and their voices are so dang cute!


bunches of pictures

Me visiting some students. That's Ester touching my head so lovingly.


The Jacalanda tree. Positively stunning! The landscape would be a muddled green and brown and suddenly POP! this flash of vivid purple. This photo doesn't do it justice.

The Baobab tree. Freaking huge!!

The Indian Ocean. Sunset from the place we go swim, Mkonge Hotel.

The Dhow from Peponi (see mid-september somewhere for account). This was on sand island.

Me sleeping at mama's hut at lunch. Hot stuff, I know. That's why I'm drinking so much water! I have a picture of mama soon.

Jenny, terrified on the daladala to Lushoto. (see a couple weeks ago for details)

okay, the real story

More pictures later, let me tell you about the safari.

Okay, so Arusha is where all the safaris are booked from. Before we left for Lushoto, we got some good recommendations (and some forced recommendations of course. If I go on a recommended safari, the recommender gets a kick-back. Everyone seems to know a brother or cousin or best friend - "very good, very nice man" - in the safari business, some reputable, some expensive, some swindlers.) In the end we took Mohammed's link. He's the coordinator here, and even though everyone think he's siphoning all the money to live a luxurious life while all the workers live on nothing, we figured if the safari guide he told us was a scoundrel, he'd get fired or something. Anyway, we called the guy from a payphone in Lushoto so he could pick us up from the bus station. The Arusha bus station is notoriously scary. Lots of people trying to get you into scams. We saw the chaos outside the bus and got terrified. As I was stepping down the steps (the steps on the busses are for some reason really really steep) I saw this man looking at me with my name on a sign. When I smiled at him with a "it's me, I'm so glad you're here to save me" smile, he grinned like a 10-year-old. Juseph, what a nice man.

We had a bit of a scare after we booked the safari and had to pay for it. You see my debit card was cancelled because I thought I lost the card. Wells Fargo (I HATE THEM) still hasn't sent the replacement to my home, and therefore I have no access to money. I brought some cash and some travellers checks, but not enough for the safari. After running around town trying different ways to pay, in the end I had my mom deposit all my money into Jenny's account.

After booking, we went to the hotel where they booked us. It was a little pricey for us ($20 a night!) but we had to stay there. It was a pretty sweet hotel. It had a little TV so I was glued to CNN for a good hour. Did you know there was a huge earthquake in Pakistan? Go figure. Also, we counted and the hot shower at this hotel was the 4th we had in 6 weeks. One the day we got to Tanzania in the capital, Two one weekend in Peponi (they were salt water though, if that counts) and the 4th that night. It was amazing! Except for that the water didn't drain very well so every few minutes you had to turn the shower off and wait. The 5th and 6th hot showers I've had ended up being at the campsite we stayed at during the safari one night and a bucket shower at the (much less pricey at $7 a night) hotel we stayed at upon our return. Oooh how I love hot showers!

Oh, I forgot to mention that while we were in Lushoto, my camera fell and landed on the lens. Yes, the camera I bought two days before I left specifically for my safari broke two days before the safari. Luckily, Arusha is such a tourist town that they expect things like this. So I dropped the camera off with a nice looking Indian fellow at a repair shop. He said it didn't look good, come back tomorrow. I'm leaving on safari tomorrow!! I cried. Well, come in early before you leave. If it's fixed you can take it, if not you can pick it up when you get back. Well crap. Luckily, my photo card fit into Jenny's digital camera so all wasn't lost. Good thing we're together about 24 hours a day!

So we woke up Tuesday morning, checked the camera shop (not ready, he said solemnly, but I think I can fix it). And headed out in our monster Land Cruiser. First stop, Lake Manyara.

I'm convinced that the Lion King was based from the area between Lake Manyara and Tarangire. I saw all the landmarks... except for Pride Rock. But of course that wouldn't be on the main road. Mufasa would want to keep it private!

Lake Manyara was very green and foresty. The guide books say that this is cool because even though you don't see masses of animals, it is much more striking because when you do see them, it is very personal as they jump out of trees and across the road. This is very true. We almost hit the giraffe. We had an upclose look at an elephant bathing party, we watched two lionesses amble around so close I could see them breath. The entire day was a string of "Holy crap!" and "gimme the camera.... quick... oh my gosh. oh my gosh." shreik! Maybe it was just because it was the first day and I was still trying to cope with the fact that I was actually there.

The campsite we stayed at was on this cliff. We had tents with cots in them almost right on the edge. Phenomenal view. Overlooking the pride land. I expected the food to be, well, camping food, but it was actually quite delicious. Our cook, Hamadi, made zuccini soup, rice and this yummy beef curry stuff. They even had hot chocolate mix on the table so I could drink while we were waiting!

Wednesday morning was FREEZING. I forgot what it felt like to be this cold. Tanga is so freaking hot that we didn't pack any warm clothes. I ended up wearing 3 shirts, my pants, my hat and a kanga (wrap/sarong thing) wrapped around me. We headed for the Ngorongoro crater and were completely fogged out. Our windshield wipers didn't work so we were driving about 3 miles an hour and every 10 minutes or so the driver (Absa. Nicest man ever) would water down the windshield so we could see. We slowly slowly made our way down the rim of the crater, and once we go there, it was completely blue skies. No idea how that worked out.

Ngorongoro was very cool, but for totally different reasons as Lake Manyara. Everything here was plains, so you could see animals all over the place. According to the guide books, the animals can't get out of the crater (too steep) and have their very own ecosystem within in. No migration, which is odd for these animals. There were SO many zebras and wildebeest. It was unreal. This is also where we saw the male lions, suspiciously eyeing a group of zebra looking to invade their water pond. You could sense here that, even though there were tons of safari cars pounding through the park, animal life went on as normal. I saw lots of little animals like hyena and flocks of flamingo. No rhino though, unfortunately.

That night at the camp, some traditional dancers came in and did some traditional Maasai dancing for all the campers. Lots of drums and bouncing. It was very cool. One guy looked like a black Quentin Bell, it was weird. Great music, very fun.

Our last day was Tarangire park. This was very different than the first two parks. This park, you could tell, was best seen right after the rainy season. It had lots of fields for grazing. It is now right before the rainy season, so most everything was dead. This meant we didn't see much grazing. It might have been cooler though, because there were lots of animals crowded near the water holes. The coolest by far was a stampede of wildebeest akin to that caused by the three hyenas in the Lion King. We were watching some elephants again (my favorites), giggling as they flopped in the water, when literally probably 300 wildebeest thundered down this hill and flooded the river. We got it on video!


Here is a lion.


I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts... diddly dee There they are standing in the road...

For Scottie. And his zebra-striped LoveSac. It's not the best picture ever, but you can see how close we are. There were zebras everywhere. Seriously everwhere. So many that by 2 hours in, they weren't even cool anymore.

For my Provo roomies. It looks like Rachel's monstrous car, but is amazing at off-roading (as it turns out, driving on the roads here is off-roading). Imagine cruising the 8 in this beast! The roof comes off! You coul cram so many people in here! We picked up a bunch of "hitch hiking" Belgians (Caroline, Carlos, and Guido... very Belgian names) in the middle of Ngorogoro crater. Caroline didn't shave her armpits, Guido was a fashion designer and Carlos kept giving creepy smiles. It was a party!

For dad, the only one who could recreate such a sight. The view from our campsite at sunrise. I wish the picture could actually convey the vastness. We were up on a cliff, overlooking Lake Manyara. Absolutely stunning.

For Kendall. Sorry to say, but this kicks my guatemalan giraffe/llama/camel thing's butt. The first day of safari was in this foresty type park. No more than 5 minutes into the day this giraffe just saunters on out of the trees right in front of our car! The driver slams on the brakes. The giraffe stands there a few moments. We, of course, freak out, grab the camera and jump up out of the sunroof, snapping pictures furiously. It looks at us, bored, and saunters across the road to eat from this tree. The giraffe is an unbelievably elegant animal. It walks (saunters) so gracefully, so poised. When they look at you, it's with this royal, "I so do not have time for you commoners" look and strolls on by.

For mom. "Never take a picture without people in it" she says. Don't worry, there a lots more with me in it. Luck you! The binoculars were a lifesaver. I know I look really cool with them at my eyes, so I thought you should see them.

For Kelsie. Dusty muzzle!! They really do walk in lines, like they're marching. Elephants were my favorite. There were lots of them around, especially at this park. They flip themselves with water and then dirt to keep cool. It's hilarious. The big elephants will sit up on these huge rocks and scratch and scratch and scratch their bums (kinda like Baloo in Jungle Book). The babies follow and try so hard to copy their dads, but end up just nuzzling the rocks. So cute! A parade of elephants came within an arms reach of me the very first day! Good thing it wasn't until after that I found out how dangerous they are.

For Gabe. HA!!! He's not even sleeping!! We were leisurly watching hippos in a pond spraying water to keep cool, they kept turning over on their backs and they looked so funny! I turned to tell Jenny something and saw this guy looking straight at me about 50 feet away. This shot is taken about 10 feet away. There were two of them sleeping and he just woke up. There was a water pond nearby that a bunch of zebras were eyeing (it's the dry season so everything's... dry) but were too afraid to come drink from. The lions could smell them.


Naaa Checkenyaaa va va vichi va va

No idea how the song goes, but where the Lion King starts, I just was. I'm pretty sure I found Pride Rock, as well as Timon and Pumba's home. It has been an awesome (and much needed) vacation this past week. I have millions and millions of pictures that I'm planning on posting on Sunday or so, so for now I'll keep it brief.

Friday was a national holiday (Nyerere Day). We just found out about it (as it seemed so did everyone else. Like national holidays are a surprise or something) the day before, so we mostly just relaxed and played.

Saturday, Jenny, Aiofe and I woke up early to catch the 6:30 bus to a little mountain village called Lushoto, about a 4 hour bus ride away. We all woke up late and almost didn't make it. Thank goodness nothing runs on time in this country. As it turns out, we didn't get on a bus but a daladala. This meant much less comfort. As I've mentioned before, daladalas have NO LIMIT to how many people they can cram on. On the last leg of the trip, the part that actually climbs up the mountain, there were no less than 13 people in the front row alone. Me, Aiofe and 3 other gentlemen were facing backwards on a makeshift bench. Facing forward- a girl about 11 (wearing an enormous down parka. NO idea why since it was about 95 degrees in the van) and a little handicapped boy who kept sucking on this gross orange juice packet. Then Jenny and a couple of other people. Then in the aisle, not a wide aisle mind you, they had a huge pack of flour and 4 people kneeling, crouching, or somehow balancing over the edge. Highlights of this lovely trip:
-When we make pitstops, swarms of young men sell everything from hard boiled eggs and biscuits to cell phone covers and muslim hats. they don't take no for an answer.
-The girl in the down parka pukes out the window.
-Jenny's reaction to everything is just hilarious. You must know that Jenny is extrememly concious of safety and admittedly paranoid about danger in any form. At one point a bigger man actually inched over and sat on her lap. She looked just appalled that he would even consider it an option. She went through a few minutes being angry at the situation. I have to admit she had the absolute worst seat on the entire bus. At one stop, as a few people piled on or off, she looked at me and said flatly, with just a hint of panic in her voice, "Kami. The door just fell off." Yes it's true. Somehow though, they hit it with a rock or something and it closed. Sort of. As we made our ascent up the hill, I was glad she couldn't see the cliffs I swear we drove a little too close to. About 45 minutes into the last leg of the trip, when the number of passengers peaked, she looked at me again, this time with no fear or anger but simple acceptance, "This just isn't safe anymore." I was crying I was laughing so hard. I had also had about 3 hours of sleep the night before.
-The bus ride, which should take just around 4 hours, took 5 1/2. Lucky us.

Jenny and I spent most of the rest of Saturday recuperating from the drive. The 5 other volunteers who had come had to get back to Tanga before the weekend was over but we were in no rush. We hadn't even booked our safari yet, so we had no definate plans.

Sunday, everyone else left but me and Jenny stayed and hiked around. We had (and bought) homemade cheeses and jams and saw some very cool (and terrifying views). Lushoto was a lovely little town. At one point we realized that the cell phone we bought the day before in Tanga didn't work at all. One lady not only tried about 10 things to make it work, but walked us around town trying to get us help. It turns out we were scammed by the guy that sold us the phone. I'm hoping to have a few angry words with him when we get back home. Our guide was also really awesome. He helped us with everything - buying a bus ticket for the next day, navigating the market, and even buying a kanga (sarong-type thing) that proved to be extremely useful in the next few days.

Okay, Thats at least the first part of the week. I don't think I have the mental strength to write anymore right now. Later this week, I'll write about what I'm sure you're most interested in - safari!!



6 weeks into my stay here in Tanga and it is finally time for a break! Tomorow we'll get on the bus and not come home until next Sunday!! During our free week, we're planning on going through Usambara Mountains, safari and who knows after that. It will be a welcome break.


One more?

Just in case you've lost sleep over my last news, I'm on the last day of my malaria meds and I'm feeling great. I bummed around all weekend. It was the strangest thing though. I was diagnosed on Friday and was given 3 (enormous!) pills to take that day then a bag of (equally huge) pills to take for the following 4 days. Major symptoms of malaria are basically major fatigue and mild headaches. I don't know what was in those first pills I took, though because I'm pretty sure I slept about 2 hours from Friday morning to Saturday night. I felt like I was hopped up on something, so exhausted but my brain going a mile a minute. I even laid out in the sun on Saturday (at the pool) and I still couldn't sleep. I now sympathize with anyone who can't sleep at night. It's a horrible feeling! I was staring out the window waiting for the roosters to crow (the roosters by my house, by the way, are HORRIBLE and LOUD and always make everyone cranky for the rude alarm clock). I was up all day, and when I say up, I mean up. Like people on drugs must be up. Or at least lots and lots of coffee. It all caught up with me on Saturday night though.. I went to bed about 9:30 and woke up the next day about 8:30. Let me just tell you something, 11 hours of sleep is WONDERFUL!

Other than my weird sleep patterns, the malaria hasn't really been all that bad. I apparently caught it early enough. The only real side effect I've dealt with is lots and lots of sweating. Even when I'm not in the sun, even when I'm not moving, even when I'm in a freezing cold shower. It's a horrible feeling, I promise. (If you happen to be male, reading this, and there's a chance I might date you some day, I made this part up. It's all a joke...) I'm really not normally a very sweaty person, which has made this all the more distressing.

Fast forward to Tuesday (today)and I'm feeling much better and, if you must know, drier. It's hotter than heck here right now and it seems to be getting hotter. You know it's bad when the wind, which is usually a blessed vacation from the heat, is just as stifling. The walk down the road takes longer and longer as we've shifted our walking to strolling and strolling to ambling. I quite enjoy a good amble. The new volunteers got here Sunday and we have to tell them to stop walking like Europeans and to start walking like Africans. Africans are great amblers. It's an art really, you can't get to excited about your destination or else you get carried away, causing you to speed up and overheat. Slowly but surely the walk home from town has gotten longer and longer, but much more comfortable, due to my perfecting of the African Amble.

The bus that usually picks us up for school at 7:30 broke last week (or so they say. Word on the street is that he wanted more money and Mohommed -the guy in charge- won't pay him anymore. oooh juicy gossip is so nice). Anyway, since there were only a few volunteers left last week Mohammed took us up to the school himself. Now,we have more, so they arranged for a daladala (minibus/taxi thing) to take us. This means we have to leave at 7am to get to town by 7:30 to catch the daladala. Yeah 30 minutes earlier every day! More importantly, it means we have to wait for the daladala to remember us in teh afternoon. Yesterday it came at 4 (its supposed to come at 3:15). Today, they were doing construction on our road (by road I mean dirt path and by construction I mean they blocked it off with branches and 4 men were digging a trench with pic axes) and it never came. This meant that we had to go out the the main road (an actual one) and catch a public daladala. Not that I have anything against riding with the locals, but its less than a pleasant experience, especially if you're going more than 5 minutes (we had about 20. You know when you're waiting for an elevator and one comes but its crammed, so you wait for the next one? It's like that, but instead of an elevator its a bus that should fit 12 people and instead of waiting you just cram tighter. I believe there were about 18 people in when we boarded, and there were 9 of us. Needless to say it was quite the experience. I had it easy though. It was only 20 minutes and I had Jenny on my lap. Aoife was on one once for at least an hour with her head dangerously close to someone's crotch, Megan had a 6 hour with a kid in convulsions and Stuart had one with a 200 poiund woman on his lap. One can only hope I"ll have such an experience.

Anyway, life is good. I'm coming home with an arsenal of crazy stories you'll never believe.


Malaria is the #1 cause of death in Africa after AIDS

and I have it. Woo hoo! Just came from the doctors office. It's official, I have Malaria 3. It goes up to 12 (that pretty much means you die). Don't worry about me though, malaria isn't a big deal if you catch it early enough (like I have) and get treatment (mine cost about USD $5!). Two other volunteers have it right now. James is just getting over malaria 2, which really wasn't bad, and Aoife still has malaria 5 which has been quite the hassle (puking, sweating, nasuea, etc). I suppose I'm somewhere in the middle. So far all it has mean for me is I'm more tired than usual and I have small headaches. We'll see how it all goes!


All in a Day's Work

I watched a man today as I was waiting for the bus. He spent a good 20 minutes meticulously perfecting the setup of his "shop." This shop is a 2' by 2' table with peanuts, buscuits, chips, and other snacks for sale at 10-50 cents apiece. His regular spot, about half way down Mkwakwani street brings him probably 30 sales a day. He stands about 4 feet from his top competitor, who happens to carry the exact same goods. Every day, he wakes up somewhere- I can't tell where he might live, whether in a house or a shack- kisses his wife goodbye and heads off to work. After a day at the "office" he carefully seals his goods in boxes, praying they don't get stale by tomorrow, and heads home, a handful of change to add to his life savings.

I think I might go by some peanuts.

Rockin around the Baobab Tree...

First of all, as promised, a quick run-down on the sweet concert I went to last weekend:

There were ads all over the place. In town all day there was a big truck/van/motorcycle brigade driving through Tanga to draw attention to the concert. It was at the Yacht Club - and featured one of Tanzania's hottest groups, fresh from Dar es Salaam.

So a bunch of the volunteers went. The posters, announcements and music brigade announced 9:00, so we went a little after. We were the early ones. There was some sweet Carribbean-sounding music playing but there was no one on stage. As everyone else ordered their drinks, I scoped out the crowd. First of all, it is an interesting experience to realize that you are the only white person in a crowd of hundreds. The men seemed to take the "occasion" of this hot concert as nothing too special. Most wore jeans and Sean Jean shirts (common around here, if only P. Diddy knew) although a few were dressed up really nicely- like pimps. The ladies on the other hand went ALL OUT. I honestly don't remember too many specific outfits, it was such a sight to behold.

There are two different kinds of "all out" I'm talking about here.
One: All out African-
These mostly mama mkubwas (big mama- a title always strived for) were decked out in the brightest kangas (like sarongs, the traditional wrap type thing they wear as skirts, shirts, scarves, wrapes, headdresses) I have ever seen. If they weren't wearing kangas they were wearing the second-best traditional dress which looks quite a bit like every dress from Beautifully Modest (aka, Mormon Prom Dresses) but with puffier sleeves (think 80's or Deb from Napoleon Dynamite). In similarly bright fabrics, these are the more western option for dressing up
Two: Oh baby! I'm Going All Out and want Everyone to Know It!
These stylish women cruised in with lots of neon colors, lots of sparkles and Lots of frills. Not to self for next time I come to Africa: bring a semi-skanky homecoming dress- I'd fit right in. My personal favorite was a meshy hot pink number that was one of those one-sleeved dresses. It had a high slit and TONS of frills. Forget about Tanga, lets talk about the red carpet!!

Another thing to keep in mind in picturing this crown is what the locals refer to as wawuwa. Every woman wants to be a a wawua, for only a wawuwa has a big ol booty that even J. Lo can't compete with. Yes, not even J. Lo. So cram that booty into a skin-tight dress, wiggle it a little and you've got yourself a wawuwa.

So it turns out the 'rockin' band ended up being an easy listening group with a Caribbean flavor. And sometimes they sounded like Waylon Jennings. Go figure. It was actually pretty good music and Jenny bought a CD. Unfortunately we left just as the dancing was getting started. Fearless women got up on the dance floor at first, shook it, until everyone seemed to pour in. They formed a conga-line looking thing, but there wasn't a lot of dance going on, mostly just walking. I was very confused to say the least.

Anyway, no way could I explain just how amazing the concert was. Everything I could have ever dreamed for, and more.


Concerts in Tanzania are... interesting

No time now, but picture this: lots of color, Big freakin booties and a semi-moving Conga line. You missed out.


"The SEEEERR! The SeeeeRR!"

How weird was that song? I felt like I was listening to some old musical. That guy with the Joseph Smith solo did have a pretty sweet voice though. Was it more than one guy? I can't tell.

What? you are thinking right now.... How could she have known?

Or, if you're not a member of the LDS church, you're thinking, What in blazes is she talking about?! Read on.

Well, I thought that General Conference was next week (isn't it supposed to be the closest weekend to the 6th? I'm fairly certain that the 8th is much closer to the 6th than the 2nd. But I digress.) but I found out from some emails that this is the blessed weekend where Mormons far and wide congregate to listen to our church's leaders. Most Latter-Day Saints congregate at chapels where huge satellite dishes beam in Gordon B and the rest of the crew. At home in Seattle, Saints sit at home in PJs eating caramel popcorn, digital cable and KBYU allowing for a much more comfortable dress code and menu. Down in Provo, Conference weekend is a nonstop party. Breaktime means BBQ time and Priesthood session equals Girls Night Out.

Here in East Africa, I took a taxi into town (not brave enough to walk into town in the dark) and begged for 2 hours at the last internet cafe open in town. They didn't first understand the concept of my headphones, but now I am successfully huddled in front of Computer Number Three (my least favorite because it freezes all the time), blissfully listening to Mo Tab and the most inspired men and women on the earth speak on examples, love and forgiveness. sigh Life is good.