Sunday, May 30, 2010

Life at an African Pace

Here is my typical day in Kitete:

6:50am - Wake up
7:00am - Morning Prayer
8:00am - Breakfast
9-10:40 - Teach computers
11-12:20 - Teach English
12:20-1:30 - Free
1:30pm - Lunch
2-5:30 - Free
5:30-7pm - Volleyball
7-8:45 - Free
9:00pm - Dinner
9:45-11pm - Free

As you can see, there is a lot of down time here in Kitete. Tyler and I have been doing our best to fill the time without getting bored, but that is a tall task. We read, listen to music, journal, and nap a lot. When we aren't being lazy we go for runs too. We are training to hopefully climb Kilimanjaro in July.

Some days we get a chance to travel with one of the priests for small village masses in the afternoon. These masses take place in tarp-covered lean-tos and last between an hour and half and two hours. This is no surprise of course because life moves slowly here. Things always start fashionably late and last for a long time. For instance, mass this morning was supposed to start at 8am. It began at 8:30 and ended at 11:30! Talk about a test of endurance.

That is all for now. I am excited because tomorrow the cook says I may get to slaughter a chicken! I will be sure to report back if that happens.

Tanzanian Fun Fact: The locals here don't use the typical am/pm method of telling time. Instead it is based off of the sunrise. One o'clock is 7am, two is 8am, and so forth.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Near Crisis

This will have to be a short post because the battery on Deacon Chris's laptop is about to die.

I wanted to post about perhaps the scariest thing to happen to me in a long time. Believe it or not it involves volleyball.

I was playing volleyball with the students yesterday, which is an everyday occurrence. These kids love volleyball; they absolutely eat it up. They would play all day if they could, and they are very good. I was playing up on the net and I jumped to spike the ball but it was further back than I realized. As I pulled my arm back and thrust it forward I heard a pop, and a sharp pain. As I reached for my shoulder I felt a gap between my arm and my shoulder. I had dislocated my shoulder. It was one of the strangest feelings of my life, and it hurt A LOT!

Luckily Tyler was there and he helped me back towards the parish house where we live. As we were walking I knelt down because of the pain, I used my other arm to lift the dislocated one to about parallel with the ground and gave it a little push. Much to my relief it popped back in! This was honestly a miracle. I am over an hour by jeep from the nearest doctor, and who knows what kind of training that doctor has. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

I popped a bunch of Ibuprofen and lied down for a while. I think it is going to be okay, but I won't be playing volleyball for at least a week.

Everything else is going well. The teaching is really fun, and the students are enthusiastic. I drank fermented milk, which is like yogurt, for the first time today. Hopefully I won't puke!

Tanzanian Fun Fact: The people of Tanzania are extremely poor, but they have softer toilet paper than the University of Notre Dame, which has a $5 billion endowment.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tamsifu Yesu Christu! Milele Amina!

That is the traditional greeting around here. It roughly means: God be praised! Response: Indeed, Amen!

I am happy to report that I am safe and sound in Kitete. It has only been a few days, but it has been a wild ride so far, both literally and figuratively.

After 26 hours of travel, Tyler and I arrived in Arusha, a large city at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. We spent our first night under mosquito nets in a small hotel with Deacon Chris. Actually I should mention that he took us out for dinner first. You would never believe what he ordered...Chinese. My first meal after arriving in Africa was Chinese food, hilarious.

The next day we explored the city. We got money at the ATM and bought a cheap cellphone. It cost less than $20. We then made the three hour drive to Kitete. It is about two hours on a paved road and then an hour on a dirt path. It would be completely impassable without the four wheel drive LandCruiser. It is like riding a carnival ride for an hour. Thank goodness Tyler and I don't get motion sickness.

Since our arrival we have been meeting the students and staff. There are about 60 students here studying one of four subjects: masonry, carpentry, tailoring, or sewing. Tyler and I will begin teaching them English, computer applications, and some math tomorrow. It should be a real challenge. At least we get to play volleyball or soccer every afternoon.

As the wise Chaz Michael Michaels once said, "Night is a very dark time for me." He had no idea, unless he had been to Kitete. Once the generator is turned off, this place is completely dark, just the moon and the stars. I have been camping many times, but nothing matches this. There is honestly no ambient light whatsoever.

Tanzanian Fun Fact: Tanzanian money feels a lot like Monopoly money. One US dollar can buy roughly 1,400 Tanzanian Shillings. Seeing a bill with that many zeroes would make anyone feel like Donald Trump.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hypocritical Narcissism

If you have spent any amount of time with me, you know that I tend to speak my mind. Some would say I lack tact (Lopez), others would say my filter doesn't work. Regardless (or "irregardless" for Steve) one my favorite things to pontificate about is the narcissism inherent in blogs. Honestly, how could you think that people care about your day-to-day life?

Well, I guess this makes me a hypocrite, and a narcissistic one at that. This will be my blog for the next nine weeks while I venture into the world of Kitete, Tanzania. I don't expect many people to read this, but I hope that it will serve as a funny and interesting way for me to keep in touch with my family and friends while I am 7,425 miles from home (thanks, GoogleMaps).

I will do my best to keep my posts short and interesting, and I will try to post regularly. I will even include one "Tanzanian Fun Fact" each time.

I will be leaving on Tuesday evening from JFK. I will fly with my partner, Tyler, from NYC to Amsterdam then Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport. My next post will likely be from St. Brendan's in Kitete. I hope to have some interesting travel stories by then.

Tanzanian Fun Fact: When Tanzania was formed in 1964, it was initially named the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. It took less than a year for that name to be shortened to just "Tanzania." It rolls off the tongue a little easier.