Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Americans Take Over

One thing that I love about living overseas is meeting people from all over the world.  Language school has been no exception.  We've met people here from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Spain, South Africa, Scotland, Canada, Lithuania, and I'm sure I'm forgetting more. And we Americans have always been in the great minority. Until now.  Last week, a group of 27 Americans came to school.  So, we dominate.  Of course, having more Americans also means it's always louder, the table manners are worse, and we have to fight to be able to watch soccer on tv.

But this weekend is the 4th of July, so we will celebrate the fact that there are other people who appreciate this holiday.  And it's also fun to make fun of our British friends who run the camp--"How'd you like the year 1776? Was it good for your people?"  Really, the people who run the camp are a lot of fun, and they're giving us a good old-fashioned American bbq on Saturday, complete with hamburgers and potato salad.  I don't think we'll get the cake decorated like an American flag with blueberries for the stars and strawberries for the stripes, but I'll cross my fingers.  

Enjoy your festivities.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swahili is Fun

I thought that since I'm learning so much Swahili, I'd teach you a few good, useful words.  Ok, so most of what follows is not so useful on a regular basis, but they are super good words.  

shagalabagala --- disorganized or messy
mshamba --- redneck (literally--person from a farm)
nusa nusa --- a spy (nusa literally means "to smell or sniff")
mwana siasa --- a politician (literally -- a person who is not genuine)
pi pi --- candy
piga mswaki --- to brush your teeth (literally -- to hit the toothbrush)
taco -- your bum

And here is my story about that word.  Our teachers have spent a lot of time with Westerners, for obvious reasons, thus they know a lot about our culture.  One day, teacher Saye was talking about cooking.  He said that he's a very good cook and he can cook everything except the taco.  I said, "Really? I can teach you how to make a taco. " He said, "Oh, you know how to make a taco?  Do you like to eat the taco?"  I said, "Of course, they're delicious!"  This is when he burst out laughing and told us what taco meant in Swahili.  Oh that jokester.  

I've been asked to post a picture of my tummy, so here it is--me, at 18 and 1/2 weeks.

And now, since that was so very disappointing ( I really have no idea where it's hiding), here is a picture of Brett's beard growth, which we will also call 18 weeks-ish, and is much more impressive.  He intends to grow this thing until the baby's born. I think he might scare it back into me.

Please try to use your new words at least three times today, or you might forget them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tour de Riverside

I thought I'd give a little glimpse into our lives at language school.  Riverside Camp and Language School is located 15 km outside of Iringa, in the southern highlands of Tanzania.  It's beautiful here and the camp runs right next to the Little Ruaha River, so it pretty much always stays green, even when it's dry and brown a few miles away.   It's also much colder here than I ever thought it would be in East Africa.  The afternoons are nice, usually in the 70s or low 80s, but the mornings and nights are really cold.  A lot of times I'll wear jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt.  And since we didn't really expect this weather, we wear a lot of the same things over and over.  Fortunately, it's Africa, and no one cares.

Anyway, onto our tour.  This first picture is one of our classrooms.  There are about 6 classrooms, all a little different, and we are in a different one each week.  I think this is because one of the classrooms is way up a hill, and no one wants to hike there all the time.  This is the classroom we had last week, and it's right in front of the river, so you can hear the water all through class.

The picture on the right is our dining room.  All our meals are here, so we really like this room.

The picture above and to the left is the dining room on the inside.  The tables aren't usually set up that way, but our normal tables got taken to town to be used at a lunch for the prime minister.  seriously.  

The picture above on the right is the chai lounge. We can have tea or coffee there at any hour and that's where we play games, darts, read, or watch tv, usually soccer, but last night the show Numbers was on--crazy.  I think it was even the current season, but I'm not sure because I've never really watched it.  

The last picture is our little home.  Brett and I have the room on the right, Carson and Holly are on the left, and we share a bathroom in the middle.  The rooms are just big enough for a bed, desk, and little armoire for clothes.  It's comfortable, and keeps us in shape because it's at the top of a big hill. We like it well enough.  

So that's our school.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kupika kwa Kiswahili

Yesterday we learned to cook Tanzanian style.  As an exercise in learning kitchen words and following directions in Swahili, we (our team plus a few other students) cooked lunch for the teachers and the other students.  We cooked 14 different Tanzanian dishes, none of which we'd ever cooked before.  I was a little worried about our results being the only lunch option for everyone, but it actually turned out ok.  Most of the food we cooked is very typical for both town and village meals, though not all are eaten in all parts of the country.  Just about every Taznanian meal here includes either rice or ugali (a stiff cornmeal mush), and we cooked both.  My favorite thing to do was make coconut milk.   You shred coconut, then add warm water and squish.  It feels kind of like scraping out the guts of a pumpkin for halloween.  In the first picture, Brett is screening the rice for sand and small pebbles. It's not so good when you bite down on one of those.  I am cutting something, peppers, perhaps?  In the second picture, Brett is making chapatis, a kind of flatbread, deliciously introduced to Africa by the Indians long ago, now a staple, while I smile for the camera.  You can see some of our teachers in the background.  It was a fun day,  a nice change from sitting in the classroom for 5 hours, and we got to practice our speaking a lot in a practical way, which was helpful. And as a bonus, I can now cook dried whole little fish in a tomato sauce for any of you when you come to visit  (I'm kidding, please don't let that discourage you from visiting--I promise I won't make it--it's gross).  Bon appetite!