Saturday, June 26, 2010


We eat rice a lot here in Tanzania.  Not quite so much as when we lived in China, but still, a fair amount.  Rice is found in abundance, is inexpensive, and Tanzanians like to eat it, so we always have some on hand.  Tomorrow we're having some Tanzanian friends over, so in my search to find something to cook that they will actually enjoy eating, I am including rice on the menu.  You may think that cooking rice is easy, so I'm lucky to be able to prepare something so simple that people will like.  And while that's not completely untrue, it's a bit more complicated here than in America.

First, I go to the market to buy the rice.  I usually order it by the kilo, and they measure it out on a scale balanced by weights on one side, then they put it into the smallest plastic bag that it will possibly fit in.  I usually end up spilling some on the way home.  After I get home, I get out my rice sifting basket, and I sort through the rice, pulling out little pebbles and the like.  Some of them are quite small, and you might think inconsequential, until you bite down on one on your (hopefully unbroken) tooth.  After I sort through the rice, I go outside and throw my rice up in the air in my basket to separate the rice from the chaff.  This works best on a windy day.  Finally, I rinse the rice several times to cleanse it from the dirt that it is smothered in.

All in all, it only takes an extra 30 minutes or so.  The things in the bowl are the pebbles I've pulled out from about 2 cups of rice.  This was a surprisingly clean selection.

Monday, June 21, 2010

6 Months of Baylor

I had intended to post a 6 month update on Baylor when she actually turned 6 months.  However, we were in Kigali and after we got back Brett was sick, then Baylor, then me, then Baylor again. So she's now more than 6-and-a-half months but I figure none of you hold it against me.

Onto Baylor.

Some stats:
     Height -  26 1/2 inches - 68%
     Weight - 14 lbs 5 oz. - 12%
     Head - 41cm - 6%

Our baby is not a big one.

Her accomplishments to date:
     Baylor started crawling at just over 5 months.  She is now a crawling expert, able to quickly reach the dirty shoes, electrical cords, and book shelves while Mama's and Baba's heads are turned.  She can also pull up to standing on her own and has just started walking along the furniture while holding on.  She has not mastered the art of sitting down from standing.  Rather, she chooses to dive headfirst to the ground.  Needless to say, my days have gotten busier.

    Baylor has come a long way from her first attempt at rice cereal.  She has a deep hatred for avocados, and will only eat peas and green beans if they are hidden in oatmeal.  She likes fruit and eats bananas or apples at some point every day.  But nothing compares to her deep love of carrots.  She'd eat them all day long if I let her.  I'm slightly worried she's going to turn orange.

We had a little photo shoot yesterday, enjoy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tanzanian Love For Mpira

Mpira is the Swahili word for Rubber.  It is also the word for ball, since balls are typically made of rubber.  It is also the word for soccer, since while many sports use balls, only one of them is of any consequence to Tanzanians.  Americans are grossly behind in their love for the game of soccer.  It seems that the whole world has picked up on its wonderfulness except for us.  We would rather watch men in spandex throw each other to the ground or run back and forth, back and forth on a court while being subjected to the tortuous sound of squeaky sneakers (I actually like football; basketball I could live without forever).  The World Cup is currently being played in South Africa and it's a very big deal.  First, because it's soccer.  Second, because it's the biggest event there is in soccer.  And third, because it's the biggest event there is in soccer and it's being played in Africa for the first time in history.  They love it.

Lest you think I am exaggerating how big a deal it is, let's take a look at our electricity situation here in Geita.  On average, we are without electricity between 24 and 36 hours a week.  Since the World Cup began a week ago, we have been without power 3 hours.  3.  Late this morning the power went out and lo and behold, it was turned back on in time for the early afternoon's match.  An electric miracle!  And a good thing, since we've invited a bunch of Tanzanians to our house to watch the game.  I'll continue to test my electricity/soccer theory over the next few weeks and let you know if our power situation is indeed controlled by popular sporting events.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Water Well Party

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately.  We went to Rwanda to get Baylor's 6 month shots and after we got back we all got sick.  First Brett, then Baylor, then me.  Fun times.  But we're all better now.

There's a group of about 12 guys in their early 20s who spend all day pumping water from a well, strapping it to their bikes, and riding all over town delivering it to various people.  The well where they work is right next door to the house we lived in temporarily when we first moved here.  Every day Brett would go out and talk to them, practicing Swahili, learning some slang, and occasionally even pumping some water to give them a break.  We've given a couple of the guys rides to Mwanza when we've gone and formed some pretty good relationships with them.  Brett always told them he'd invite them to our house for a party after we got moved in and settled.

So, a couple weeks ago we had them all over on Sunday afternoon.  If you can imagine how much food your typical college guy eats and then multiply it by 20 because they do manual labor all day, you'll get about what these guys consume.  And so, I opted not to cook myself.  Plus, it's hard to figure out what to make that people will like.  Instead, we ordered rice, ugali (corn meal mush), beans, spinach, french fry omelets (surprisingly tasty), and bananas from a local restaurant and brought it to our house.  All were devoured.  Cokes and waters abounded.

They played soccer in our front yard and Brett taught them how to play horseshoes and darts.  That was pretty entertaining.  Only one dart lost its life.

It was a good afternoon.