Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crafts, Curries, and Cullens

Today we went to Makutano, a big craft fair in downtown Dar.  Local artists bring their many wares and sell them at somewhat puffed up prices to tourists and other expats.  There were all kinds of things available, from clothes to jewelry to 15ft. long metal crocodiles.  I tried to convince Brett that we needed to strap that thing to the top of our car and take it back to Geita for our front yard.  What says welcome more than a large snapping beast?  We didn't buy very much, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless,  and I know a lot of Tanzanians made a lot of money that they don't often have, so I'm glad to have participated.

After the fair, we went to a community Thanksgiving dinner.  This was the most unusual Thanksgiving dinner I've attended.  First, it wasn't on Thanksgiving.  Second, I only knew a few people.  Third, it was held at the home of two South Africans.  Fourth, there were not only Americans, but also the aforementioned South Africans, Britains, Tanzanians, and Indians.  And fifth, this was an everybody bring a dish meal, and the food was a bit different than what I expected.  Our little group brought green bean casserole, corn casserole, and apple pies.  So traditional we are.  When we walked in the room the overwhelming aroma was curry.  Not quite the cinnamon and sage smells I was expecting.  They had two turkeys, one of which was grilled, and the other of which was seasoned with all kinds of Indian spices I don't know the names of.  There were also a few other dishes I've never seen on the dining room table at this time of year.  It was all good, though it was a strange mixing curried meat and raisins with sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

After our very American Thanksgiving, we headed to the movies with friends to watch New Moon, the latest in the Twilight series.  I've read all the books and really enjoyed them, but thought the first movie was horrible.  But the movie theater being air-conditioned, I was more than willing to sit through the second installment (which started 30 minutes late), and it was actually a lot better than the first.  I think that was mostly due to the fact that the guy that plays Edward Cullen was not in the movie for much of the time, greatly increasing the general talent level of the cast.

It was nice to get out of the house and break the monotony of sitting and waiting.  We've been doing that kind of a lot lately.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving in 100-ish degree weather.  It definitely changes the atmosphere a bit.  It also makes cooking in the kitchen crazy hot.   Nonetheless, we enjoyed a nice quiet evening with our friends, Kate and Carley, here in Dar.  I offered to make the dinner mostly by myself because the others are teachers and don't get the day off--sad.  Plus I really like to cook.  So in order to make my life a little easier, I started cooking things on Tuesday, chopping and whatnot.  Then I made a little more on Wednesday and a little more on Thursday.  I realize that we only had four people eating, but who wants Thanksgiving without all the things to eat you grew up with?  So we had stuffing, green bean casserole, vegetable casserole, mashed potatoes, sister schubert rolls, roast chicken (turkeys are $65 here in Dar--what's that about?), pumpkin pie (Kate made very cute individual little pies), apple crisp, and molasses cookies.  We didn't really put a dent in the feast, but who doesn't enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers?  I was going to take a picture of us but the electricity went out and I couldn't find the camera in the dark.  Ah, Africa.  Hope you all enjoyed your holiday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baby Pool

So I'm still pregnant.  Not too thrilled about this, but you know, she's not actually due for 5 more days, so I guess I should've expected it.  Our friends here have started a game to guess when Baylor will be born.  The winner gets a meal paid for by the rest of the participants at a lovely Italian restaurant on the beach.  

I thought perhaps some of you might like to join in on the fun.  So, here is your information: Baylor is due this Sunday, November 22nd.  The doctor here predicted she would be born last Friday.  Too bad she wasn't the winner.  Anyway, I realize if you win you won't be able to receive the grand prize of dinner on the beach, but I do encourage you to treat yourself to a Sonic slushy.  I highly recommend the blue coconut.  I suppose it's a bit cold there though, so maybe just indulge in an extra helping of green bean casserole and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  

Any guesses?

One more thing.  Brett has started an additional blog of his own to share his ramblings on theology as well as to give more detailed reports of the work we're doing here.  The address is  I'm sure he would appreciate lots of comments on how superduper nice it looks.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So This Is Us

Here we are at 38 weeks of tummy and beard growth.  I think Brett's head looks very round with all that hair.  

Oh, and the pancakes were delicious.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Dar

We've now been in Dar for a week and have settled in quite nicely for our short stay.  We're enjoying hanging out with friends and getting to know them better.  We've eaten pizza and last night even went to a movie, which was in an air conditioned theater.  The movie, Surrogates, wasn't so great, but I'll happily pay $5 to sit in the air conditioning for a couple hours.  

We've now been to the hospital 3 times, none of which has seemed particularly productive.  The first time we went, they showed us the delivery rooms and maternity wards, which was helpful, and told us we'd have to come back on Friday to pre-register because they only do that on Mondays and Fridays.  So, we went back on Friday and found out in order to pre-register and deliver there, we had to sign up and pay for 9 months of pre-natal care.  This was annoying to us as we've already had and paid for 9 months of pre-natal care elsewhere.  But even Brett couldn't convince them to change their demands, so we paid up.  Then they told me that none of my records from my other doctor were valid as they don't know her and that I would have to have all the tests and everything done again.  My American, Cornell educated doctor is not good enough? They said if I would just sit down and wait a few minutes they'd have me in to see the doctor. Three hours later and still sitting, Brett told them we were leaving, to which they responded "Oh, but she's next." Sure I was.  But they did bring me in and took blood and put my name on the top of a piece of paper and told me I could go.  No doctor present.  They then told me the doctor wasn't there and I should come back on Tuesday for an appointment with her.  So this morning we made our way back to the hospital, where they told us I needed to get my blood taken and have a checkup and maybe I'd see the doctor.  They seem to be really into have blood taken.  But we just insisted on seeing the doctor and not having other tests done and only 30 minutes later we got to see her.  She checked up a little on the baby and basically just told me it could be any day now, making sure I knew the signs of labor and where to go when I get to the hospital.  And then we left.  So I'm not thrilled with the way the pre-natal care part of the hospital is run, but the maternity ward itself seems well organized and everyone there has seemed very helpful and knowledgeable.  I'll just try to avoid the over-excited blood-takers. 

This afternoon I'm teaching a girl how to make pancakes.  She's a domestic worker and wants to broaden her resume, so I thought pancakes would be a pretty alright place to start.  She also often wears a Virginia Is For Lovers t-shirt, which makes me happy and reminds me of home. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Journey

We have finally arrived in Dar Es Salaam to await the birth of our daughter.  We left Geita last Thursday for Mwanza, and on Friday I had a doctor's appointment there.  Everything is looking great.  Baylor seems to be on her way out and Dr. Beatrice guessed that I would deliver a week early.  I realize that is a complete guess and probably she has no real way of knowing, but I can hope!  We spent Saturday and Sunday running errands in Mwanza before we left on Monday morning.  

Monday we drove 9 hours to Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania.  It is a common mistake to think that Dar is the capital, as it is both the largest city and where the president lives and all the embassies are.  However, Parliament meets in Dodoma, and for reasons unknown to me (though I think it has something to do with the city being more centrally located), it is in fact the capital. Anyway, I learned this trip that driving 9 hours while 8 1/2 months pregnant is entirely different from driving 9 hours at any other time.  The roads from Mwanza to Dodoma are actually quite good; they're all paved except for about an hour-and-a-half stretch.  But driving on paved roads here is still just not the same.  For example, they love speed bumps in Tanzania.  Speed bumps of all sizes, shapes, colors, locations.  They just simply adore them.  Which is why, in the middle of nowhere, you'll be driving 70 miles an hour and Oh! a speed bump!  And you hope that either there is a sign to warn you of said speed bump or you could see it from far enough away to slow down so that your car does not get too much air time.  No matter how slow you're driving speed bumps are not pleasant in our 12 year old beast of a car. And speed bumps are not good for pregnant women.  

But anyway, speed bumps aside, we made it to Dodoma and were able to spend the evening and stay with our Swiss friends, Rueben and Sara, and their daughter, Aleah.  Here is Brett practicing his parenting skills with Aleah.  He's the duck.  

Tuesday morning we got up and headed to Dar.  This drive was only a little over 5 hours, which is better than 9, but even so, we were really happy to finally get here. We're staying in Dar with our friend Kate, who teaches at a Christian school here, and her new roommates, Austin and Amy, also teachers and fairly newly married as well.  An interesting situation, but the house is enormous (I think think there are 4 living rooms), and we're grateful to to have a free place to stay and friends to spend time with.  So far we're enjoying ourselves, despite the oppressive heat (I'm not sure any of you have ever really experienced what hot actually feels like, I know I hadn't until 2 days ago--maybe people from Nevada? or the Sahara?).