Tuesday, 29 June

Katesh and Endasak

We were a little slow getting up this morning. When we all had finally stirred, we went to a restaurant in "downtown" Katesh. I had banana soup and juice. Banana means plantain, so it was more like a meat and potato soup. It was satisfying. The meal only cost something like fifty cents.

After saying our goodbyes, David and I went to his bank (they gave him small bills only), then headed to catch a Dolla-Dolla back to Endasak. It was an experience! About twenty people cram into a minivan. The hour long ride costs fifty cents. The seats have no cushion left. The shocks are dead. The wheels are small. It is the roughest stretch of "road" I have ever been on. I went completely airborne more than once. By the end of the ride, my butt was sore and I was starting to feel queasy. I know that if I hadn't been hung-over it would have been fine, but with the facts being what they were, I was ready to get out.

By the time we got back into Endasak, it was time for lunch. We went to the same restaurant that we ate at when we first got into Endasak. We just had beans and rice. Simple and satisfying.

Walking back to David's place took forever. I began to realize that things just move slowly in Tanzania. Greetings take forever. David stopped and talked to maybe ten people. Not just a passing, "Hi." No, it's much more than that. There's a series of "How are you...how is your family...how is your work..." and on and on. Saying hello seems to take five minutes. You have to allow extra time for everything you do. Maybe my impression is skewed. Maybe everybody knows David because he's the only white person in his village. Maybe they want to know the white man. Maybe they all really like him (which I think is true). Whatever the reason, things move slowly.

On the walk back, we bought a meter of sugar cane for ten cents. We ate it when we got to his place. It's a lot of work. You have to strip off the outer layer and rip into the tough fiber in the center. You chew it for a bit and suck all of the juices out. Then you spit out the fiber. The taste is great. It's sort of a watermelon flavor, that fruity-sweet flavor in a lot of liquid. There's a hint of grassiness, too.

Followed by a nap. Ahh.

Computer lab in Endasak

Then we went to the school to install the CD burner that Uncle Steve had sent back with David. I wanted some photos from David's camera, so it became a priority on our agenda. Midway through, the power went out. We decided to go for a walk around the countryside, which was only steps away.

School grounds School grounds School grounds

The school grounds. There's a "school farm" that the kids have to work on occasionally. There were a few piles like this drying in the sun.

Mud hut Countryside Everywhere is a barnyard

Walking away from the school grounds area, we got into "real" Tanzania. No more teachers' quarters with concrete houses. No more touristy or big cities. This is where the Tanzanians live. This is how they live. Mud and grass huts dotting the countryside. Cows and people share roads that are rarely used by automobiles. People here live to live. They farm some land so that their family can eat. The raise cows so that their family can eat. It's an amazing way to live, and I'm still not certain that "modern" life, with all of its complexities, is all that much better.

Cornfield Bao Bab Moon & Bao Bab

David and I cut through a cornfield to get to a bao bab tree, also known as an upside down tree. As we worked our way through the rows of corn, David said to me, "Well, Trav, here we are...cutting through a cornfield again." (When we were three or four years old our parents thought we got lost in a cornfield. They were busy organizing a search party. We had actually made it out of the corn and found something much more interesting: a big hole in the ground at a neighbor's house. We were throwing rocks into it.) I didn't like the picture on the right when I took it. I thought the moon would be too small. But it's kind of a neat perspective.

Endasak Endasak Sunset on Mt. Hanang

While we were walking, we were treated to a beautiful orange an blue sunset over Mount Hanang.

David also showed me the hill he used to have to go ride his bike past in order to get cell phone service. One time, he got stuck out there after dark when there wasn't much of a moon. The walk back involved following footpaths through cornfields. He got turned around and lost for a while. Fortunately for us, there was plenty of moonlight.

Travis and David, by lantern light

By the time we got back to David's house, it was dark. And the lights still wouldn't come on. It turned out that there was a little bit of power. Enough to make an incandescent bulb glow, but not enough to turn on a fluorescent. We got a lantern and a candle fired up. It's funny how crippled I feel here in The States when the power goes out. No lights! What will I do! But in Tanzania, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Lights are a luxury, not something essential or even relied upon. A kerosene lantern is always at the ready.

When we spoke, we spoke softly. Barely above a whisper. Just loud enough to be louder than the crickets. It was wonderful.

We were invited next door (again) to have corn and beans with Maxima. It was just that: corn and beans, boiled until it was tender enough to eat. It was surprisingly good.

Afterwards, we went back to the school. There was enough power for the computer to turn on, so we could burn the CD I wanted. David also brought back a few DVDs worth of MP3s, so we put on some American music while we were going through the photos. The bow and arrow-toting guard came in to see what we were up to. He thought the music was safi. (Safi literally translates to clean, but it has the same colloquial meaning as cool.)

Then it was sleep. Tomorrow would begin my four day journey from Endasak back to The States.

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All content and photos Copyright 2004 Travis Pettijohn.