Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Firsts

After over three years in Tanzania, we continue to have firsts here.  A few weeks ago, after Harper had her vaccinations, we took her to the village for the first time.  We thought that since she has such a laid back personality it would be an easy trip.  It's funny how you think things.  Harper did not seem to enjoy the village all that much.  She's more of a homebody than Baylor, who would rather be just about anywhere other than at our house.  Fortunately, she slept a lot, because she was crying pretty much the whole time she was awake.  Baylor, on the other hand, chased goats and chickens, helped carry the dried corn into the corn shed, and ate massive amounts of rice happily.  Hopefully Harper will learn to love our excursions.

A couple of weeks ago I was so fortunate as to have gotten worms for the first time.  Isn't it wonderful that after all this time I've finally gotten to experience them?  Coincidence that I got them after my first trip back to the village since before Harper was born?  Perhaps.  In any case, I'm glad for pharmacies.

And for the first time while driving at night we nearly ran over a man lying motionless in the middle of the road.  We were driving home from the Groens' house and Brett spotted him ahead of us, just down at the end of our street.  Brett took me and the girls home, picked up Oscar, our night guard, and went back to investigate.  We figured one of four things could be happening here. 1) He was very sick or injured. 2) He was dead. 3) He was drunk. 4) He was pretending to be sick so that when a passerby stopped to help he could rob him.  They approached cautiously and when he didn't jump up and hit them, they crossed number four off the list.  They could see that he was breathing so number two was gone.  They tried to wake him up but he was totally out.  They sniffed him but couldn't smell alcohol so they decided he must be sick.  They picked him up and put him in the truck and started to make their way to the hospital.  A few minutes later they hear "Wali!" (Rice!)  The man did not seem overly concerned that he was in a car going down the road with strangers.  He told them he didn't want to go to the hospital; that he was just hungry and that he had passed out because of that.  What can you do? So they took him to town and dropped him off to get something to eat.  He did not care for their company, so they came back up to the house.  It was altogether unusual.  What I find humorous was that our friend T was visiting from the States and this was his first night in Geita.  Brett said he was tempted to pretend that this was a normal, everyday  occurrence, but was really too surprised to do so.

Life is always full of interesting firsts.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Reception

Our invitation to the reception, held at a hotel in town, was said to begin at 6:00, about five hours after the wedding ended.  Knowing that it wouldn't start anywhere near on time, we arrived about 7:15 (we brought Harper but Baylor stayed at home with our friend Margaret and her daughter Stefania).  There were probably about thirty other people there at the time.  It was a pretty strict process to get in.  They had guards at the entrance and they checked our invitation very carefully and marked us off a list.  I suppose party crashing is common.  The crowd increased a lot over the next couple of hours and by 9 or so, there were probably 500 people present.  The bride and groom didn't show up until about 8:30.  Their entrance was preceded by close friends and family, as well as these two professional cute kids.  Seriously.  Cute kids are hired to look cute and walk before the happy couple.   

When we sat down at our table, a waitress came and asked what we wanted to drink.  Brett and I both asked for water and Brittney asked for coke.  The waitress came back with a small bottle of water each for Brett and me and eight cans of coke for Brittney.  What?  We looked around and everyone else had six or eight of what they ordered.  I guess they thought no one would want water and so they were in short supply?  Anyway, we sat around for a long time listening to music, sipping our waters.  The receiving line was basically the same as in America except that you had to dance the whole time you're in line.

Then there was approximately three hours of speeches and gift giving.  I, along with the rest of the wedding planning committee, presented our gifts of fabric for the mothers-in-law, and cookware and plate settings for the couple.  The layers of the wedding cake were individually wrapped to give as gifts to the parents and grandparents.  

Around 10:00 the Groens decided to go home.  The girls were getting tired, but I think they enjoyed getting dressed up for the event, though they thought it was a bit loud. 

It was a lot of sitting around but fun because it was such a different way to spend an evening.  We don't get out a lot at night.

Brett was determined to wait for the food, but around 11:30 he gave up and we went home.  Later on we talked to someone there who said they didn't serve it until 1:00am.  Glad we didn't wait.  Tanzanians love a big event.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Wedding

We were told the night before the wedding that it was important we be well-dressed.  And not well-dressed by American standards, but by Tanzanian standards.  Think 1980s prom or perhaps your high school choir gowns.   So we hit the used clothing market.  Alicia's dress actually looks nice, and I have cleverly hidden my monstrosity with a scarf and a baby, but Brittney's bubble gum explosion is here for all of you to love.  

We arrived at the church at 11:00 (which our invitations stated as the starting time), but we were the only ones there other than the cleaning staff sweeping out the auditorium.  We headed across the street to a little restaurant to have coke so that we could wait and watch for other people.

We actually didn't have to wait too long.  By 11:30 most everyone else was there, including the bride.  The church choir lined up on either side of the walkway and sang while the bride slowly entered.  I had a video of the choir, which was actually quite good, but I couldn't get it to upload on our slow internet.

It was a Catholic service, so it was rather long (two-ish hours), but interesting.  The sermon took up most of the time.  The wedding part was fairly brief.

In Tanzanian wedding culture, the bride is supposed to look sad the entire time, to symbolize her grief in leaving her family.  But Brett caught this gleaming moment on film, and I think it's a great picture.

Everyone follows the couple out in a line, throwing confetti, much like our rice.

We were met outside by a four-member band who played marching band type music behind the procession.

We went home for a break before the reception that evening.  And to change out of our hideous clothing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Pre-Wedding Party

Upon picking up the bride and groom's wedding garments from the dry cleaners in Mwanza, we returned to Geita just in time for the pre-wedding party.  The first thing I did was sit down with the women and start making mandazi.  Mandazi are a kind of pastry, most similar to a doughnut but drier and less sweet.  My job was rolling and cutting, which is good, since I don't know exactly what goes in them so they might not have been up to Tanzanian wedding standards.  They are cooked in giant pots over open flame.  In the picture on the right you can see the finished product in the pot in the back--nicely browned.  

Around 7:30, other guests started arriving and sat down in the chairs below, which are in the front yard of our landlords' house.  Baylor had a blast running around the poles.  The had just started to set down some of the food around 8:00.  Our landlord's wife was still getting her hair done so we knew the actual party wouldn't get started for quite some time. Since my mandazi making duties were finished we decided to go ahead and leave around 8:30, before food and whatever else. We figured we had a full day ahead of us and the kids really needed to get to bed.  Alicia said she could hear the music from her house until 4:30 in the morning.  Crazy.