Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friends and Family Afternoon

A couple weeks ago we had a bunch of our friends and their families come to our house to spend a Saturday.  To invite more than one family at a time is fun, but magnifies the chaos by about a billion, because inviting someone's family here is not the same as inviting someone's family in the States.  Here, if you say say "family", it can mean anything from their immediate family of spouse and children, to whoever is living with them (which could include a few other relatives or even people not related at all) to every person they are even close to kind of related to.  Cousins here, for example, are only cousins if they are your mother's brother's children or your father's sister's children.  Your mother's sister's children and your father's brother's children are called your brothers and sisters.  So, if you only desire what we think of as the immediate family to show up, you have to be pretty specific in your invitation.  And even then, they might have 15 kids or can't possible come without their grandmother who is visiting.  Which is fine, the more the merrier, especially if it's an outdoor party.

So, we invited four of our friends' families to come and ended up with, I think, 18 people.  Some didn't even bring their whole families.  If they had, the number would have gone up to 26.  We ordered Tanzanian food from a local cafe and had a picnic on our porch.

Obama even visited us for the afternoon. 

Seriously, this kid's name is Obama.  He's a funny one, too.  Loves to put on other people's shoes (especially high heels) that are too big for him and walk around.  

This is Baylor with Margaret.  Baylor loves Margaret.  

And here we all are for a nice end of the day picture, with the exception of those of us taking pictures.

It was a fun day.  The kids played soccer and drank cokes and the adults learned about making sandbag homes while taking turns holding Baylor.  Everyone ate a lot, which I think is the true measure of enjoyment as a visitor here in Tanzania.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I realized the other day that I never put any pictures up from our Rwanda trip last month with Brett's friends from college.  Even though Rwanda is only a 3 hour drive from Geita, it looks and feels completely different.  Well, maybe not the restrooms at the border.

It now election time in Rwanda.  Paul Kagame is running again and even has an opponent. Kagame has done so many good things for his country I don't know why anyone wouldn't vote for him.  These billboards were all over the country.  I never saw one for the other guy.

We visited some genocide sites as well as the Genocide Museum and Memorial.  They're hard to look at, but important if you want to understand the people of Rwanda. 

We also stopped by the Mille Colline, made known worldwide by its place in the movie Hotel Rwanda.  A good movie, but even better is the documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda.  

My favorite part about visiting Kigali is the pizza.  An Italian guy moved there several years ago and opened a restaurant, Sole Luna, and it has fantastic pizza.  There are (I think) 89 choices of pizzas on the menu.  Our choices in Geita are limited to what I find in the market to put on the pizza I make, so needless to say, we enjoy it immensely.  

And in completely unrelated news, a bat flew into our house last night.  That is, inside our house, not that it ran into the walls.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Harrison Menagerie Continues

While I would be exaggerating to say this kind of thing happens all the time, it does seem ironic that the day after I posted about the visiting creatures, we had more visiting creatures.

Yesterday morning I loaded the washing machine and when I opened the slot for the detergent, I was surprised to see about 50 siafu, or as we say in English, huge giant ants that bite and hurt.  We just pulled the whole thing out and threw them on the ground, though I think a few ended up getting a very soapy bath.

A few minutes later I went into our bedroom and found this little guy hanging out on Brett's adidas bag.

I suppose he's not so little for a praying mantis.  He seemed pretty content there for a long time, but I guess eventually got bored since he's no longer there. 

My favorite visitors of the day, though, had to be the cows.  Yes, two big old cows.  

One of them went right out, but it took a while for Brett to round up the other. 

Life is never dull here at the Harrison Menagerie.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Pig, a Fish, and a Snake...Sort Of

The other night we were sitting down to dinner when I saw our night guard, Ondiak, sprint to close our gate.  Odd, I thought.  Until about 10 seconds later I saw a pig in our yard.  He was just enjoying himself, snorting around as pigs do.  Ondiak had mistakenly thought we'd bought a pig and it was trying to escape.  So now the pig was locked in.  Brett went outside and soon our neighbor's son came over, realizing that their pig had gone missing, and the three of them ran around the yard trying to get the pig to go out.  Highly entertaining.

Two days later, I got a call from a Tanzanian friend whom I'd given a ride the previous day to our English class, telling me she'd left her fish in our car.  A fish.  Overnight.  In our car.  Fantastic.  I boldly go out to the car and open the doors, hit immediately by waves of dead, been sitting in the car for 18 hours in the heat, fish, and find it wrapped in a bag on the floorboards in the back.  Gross.  We left the doors open the rest of the day.  

Friday Baylor was crawling around and I saw her pick up a little something in the corner of the living room that looked like tissue paper.

 Upon closer inspection, it was actually a piece of the skin of a reptile.  Again, so excited.  Who doesn't want a snake molting in their house?  Brett called Carson and they slowly took apart the living room, armed with brooms for the killing.  No snake found.   Nor did they find the rest of the skin.  We tried to decide if we should continue to systematically search the house or assume it left when Carson posed the question, "Do lizards shed their skin?" Hmm, we'd never thought about that.  Like everyone here, we have an abundance of small lizards calling our house home.  Brett looked it up on the internet and it turns out that yes, lizards do, in fact, shed their skin.  We assumed the little piece of skin was just the tip of the end of a small snake, but analyzing it further, we saw what was clearly the shape of a leg, exactly where a little lizard's leg should be.  So happy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Brett, Balyor, and I spend a lot of time on our front porch.  There's a nice breeze, a beautiful view, and we can greet people as they walk by.  Baylor loves it especially, and every time she notices the front door is open, she makes a break for the glorious outdoors.  I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of something we enjoy daily, so here is a picture from our front porch.  Keep in mind that it's the middle of dry season, so everything is a bit brown.  Also, our yard is still just a bunch of dirt, as we can't plant grass until the rainy season this fall.  The area below the rocks is going to be our garden.

One day we intend to enjoy our back porch and yard as well.  But for now it's not so nice.  We're currently having our backyard leveled (it was extremely uneven--not good at all for a mini soccer field). The structure in the back right corner is our kennel for Gus, who prefers life with his sister, Eames, at Carson and Holly's and continues escaping and making his way over there.

Our back porch is also the home of our washing machine.  This is actually quite normal here, at least for those with washing machines.  The water just runs out of the machine into our back yard.

I took pictures of Baylor happy and laughing, but I thought, how often do you get to see pictures of a grumpy baby in a washing machine?