The Tortoise, Tango
Here in Dar Es Salaam, one chore can take all day. But somehow, one week can take care of so much. This past week saw me go from Commissioner’s Office to Immigration, to the bank, to the market, to the Water and Sewage provider, back to all of the above again. All while limping around due to a piece of glass which had lodged itself deep within the front pad of my right foot. The latter was solved on Thursday when Maria became Dr. Maria and used a razor blade to cut open the bottom of my foot and extract the shard with a pair of eyebrow tweezers. To my great relief, everything healed easily and I was able to resume work right away!
In this week’s blog, I have attached a video compiled from footage shot within one day of going around Dar Es Salaam. The street scenes were shot by Frank while I drove through the craziness that is the Kariakoo Market in downtown. Never did I think that I would be so grateful for playing video games as a child (and an adult) because without the skills gained from them I would never be successful in navigating the hectic streets and their chaotic activity! Men pulling carts swirl through the traffic like burdened ants, women wearing burkhas walk down the meridian waiting for a break to cross, and dala-dalas switch between lanes like turn signals don’t exist. The red X’s which appear throughout the video peppered Dar Es Salaam completely that day. Almost every sign and billboard had one, from downtown to Mbezi. It was quite eerie to see so many red X’s, like something out of a dystopian novel. We are still not sure what they mean, but I wanted to include them so that you can see how strange things can get here and without any explanation whatsoever!
On Friday, we had a visit from Muhali, the social worker which has been working tirelessly to help our organization obtain our licensing. He told me that he has a child which the Social Welfare Office believes would be perfect forhelp2kids and he will try and get him here sometime this week. This means that we will hopefully be welcoming another smiling face to our loving home! Speaking of which, we have welcomed another face, although it is not exactly smiling. Our humble home has acquired a new mascot who now goes by the name Tango! The neighborhood children had found a tortoise and were not sure what to do with it, so I begged them to give it to us and now Tango has the Taj Mahal of tortoise enclosures! It was a wonderful sight when all of the neighborhood kiddos pitched in to help Patrick and I make the enclosure. They all went out to the street and gathered rocks to secure the bottom of Tango’s fencing so that he won’t catch his shell on the jagged bottom. Even Abu carried rocks and placed them with the other children!
With everything going as smoothly as possible here, Frank and Maria felt confident enough to take a small break and go to Zanzibar for a few days. On the way to the ferry, we stopped at the local fish market. Now, actually describing the smell of the Dar Es Salaam fish market in the afternoon is almost impossible, so I’m afraid that you will just have to imagine it. Picture yourself walking through alleys filled with fish, the ground covered in fish organs and blood, the heat making everything smell 10 times worse than it would have otherwise. Then imagine looking to your right and seeing the octopus and squid section. Then imagine looking to your left and seeing the giant, unidentifiable fish section. Then imagine only paying $4 USD for a fresh tuna! The smell was definitely worth it.
While traffic and bureaucracy may seem like the most difficult part of running an organization here, the true speed bump of progress is the unreliability of power and water. Tanzanian power companies provide power to the people by rotating access to different areas at different times. This means that when we have power, someone else doesn’t, and vice versa. Unfortunately for us, we have been on the darker side of the rotation and have been without power for most of last week. We also lost water access the past few days due to a few pipe explosions. A sense of humor saw us through and after spending all day today with various technicians to help us regain access to water and computers, we now have the basic amenities back up and running again (for now)!
I would like to take this opportunity to announce thathelp2kids will now be starting a monthly contest! No, the prize is not fish from the market. The prizes will be kangas, masks, paintings, etc., which I will purchase from the local handicrafts market. While the details are being sorted out, official entry information will be announced in next week’s blog so make sure that you keep up with help2kids as we continue to blossom here in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania!
Thanks again for reading! Please feel free to leave comments as I love to read the feedback (when we have power) 🙂
Abu practices singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (in Swahili)