Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hi!! JAMBO!!a typical ride up this mountainside this morning...the car is waiting almost full amidst a line of women selling bananas, hundreds of them, freshly chopped this morning in huge bunches, branches, leaves, chunks of bananas everywhere, and in the midst an old Peugot stationwagon, circa early 90s,pale yellow, white, beige, with a used part of blue metal nailed in along the side. I climb into the very back squeezing in with two other people - a very large woman and a wide man. Up front of are two seats - the drivers row, carrying now 4 adults with two children on their laps,and the second row, another four adults and one child...this making a total of 14 people squished into this car which normally seats 8 tops - but we don't take off right away...cause someone is trying to tie with a rope, a bicycle onto the front fender,which i can see through the broken front glass window, the huge star of splintered glass stretching from one side to the other. After ten mintes and at least ten people helping the bike is secured. We take off and groan up the hill out of Mto Wa Mbu towards Kiratu, an hour away, the closest town with an internet 'cafe'. At the top of the hill overlooking beautiful Lake Manyara, we stop..the door on the left side in the middle row does not open, and the woman who is sitting next to it needs to get out. So everyone in that row including the child who is sitting on the lap of a very large minister, missing his mother who is wedged into the front seat, begins to cry....they all get out, one by one, the four adults and the crying boy, and the woman is able to leave. They all get back in, one by one, the reverend passing the little boy to a stranger as he hauls himself in...a little more comfortable now as we move along at great speeds down the gullies and hills, through red dirt hills, with lots of green foliage, rectangular fields growing maise, sorgum, carrots, dry rice plotted out like a patched quilt, really quite wonderful after last week's heavy downpour day after day....racing down, grunting up, this old thing panting, huffing, groaning...suddenly, we pull over and pick up another person at the side of the road..the people in front of me again, squeezing over to the left once again, this time a woman with a baby wrapped onto her chest...making a total now of 15 as we make our way up the road, this happening again, and again, and again all the way into Kiratu...we disembark, one by one, the reverend deposits the small child into arms of his mother, the bike is unleashed...and everyone disburses....me, to the internet cafe....
Thank you to everyone from news from home..no surprise, Obama is a favourite here! Last night dinner's in a small, very warm, room, an artist friend cooking: a sloppy joe, with ground meet mixed with tomatoes, onions, carrots, mixed up with rice, tomatoes, bananas, pineapple and cucumber on the side, delicious..sitting on a matress - the artist and four of his friends talking about US politics so far away from home, everyone astounded with Obama success, could it really be? a black president. Who knows? GWB has been here in Tanzania all week, such pomp and ceremony as he and Laura disembarked from Airforce One stretching all the way across the back of the TV screen, African music, marching soldiers, and George. As I said, pomp!

Charles has been away all week. At first he told me a couple of days, but it has grown that idea, into almost a week now..our plans to head out to the Masai villages, with meetings with the Education Committees to organize the Masai girls Secondary school fund, to interview, to meet the girls, families, all of this put on African time- as always, could be a week, maybe more, who knows, and I am wondering, what am I going to do with all this time? Geeze!!

On my own here, with my legs as transportation, with safari trucks rumbling through town day and night, Mto Wa Mbu teaming with life...Last week one of the bead hawkers who shouts out 'Hey Canada!" stopped me: "why do you always run by, without stopping, without saying hello?" It was rude, i know, but so many people asking to buy jewelery and I am not interested, but remembering that the process is much more interesting than the goal of getting there, I made a point of slowing down...a good time to focus on the Orphanage, daunting, a swarm of 35 little kids...running around, without direction seemingly - most of them have lost both mother and father to Aids,without relatives or grandmothers - a few do have a parent at home..little Martha, aged three, whose father hacked both her mother's hands off during a fight, the mom now unable to take care of her herself(!!!), another little boy's mom, epileptic, he was conceived by rape during an episode, and on it goes...this place is an oasis for these kids - 9 older, aged 7 to 12 in school during the day, leaving me with 24 to work with during the mornings...so this week, i tackled it, am learning Swahili, slowly slowly, poli poli! The animals first, so i can sing Old macdonald with English and then Swahili - cat: paka...dog, mbwa...on and on, elephant, giraffe, duck, goat: mbuzzi...the head, shoulders, knees, toes..all of it..not too hard when you concentrate..then on to The Wheels on the Bus..using Swahili words for wheels, wipers, children, mama, baba....fun! In my new mode of slowing down and being friendly, met another artist who now comes every morning with me to teach drawing to the kids...giraffe,the first day, today elephants...there are a couple of incredible little artists, would like to make cards, a calendar down the road for them to sell...

WE are also having furniture made....a big table - 4' by 7', two more benches stretching along each side for eating, school work, drawing, and a big shelving unit for storage...right now there is an area locked in by padlock taking up one third of the office area behind a big wall covered in Masai paintings for sale. On the other side of the wall is a dark, musty mess of boxes filled with kids shoes, clothing, books, paint, crayons, big bags of rice, drygoods, all donated to them - boxes everywhere, jammed, crammed in, on top of and underneath a falling apart roof sort of thing, mixed up, you can't know what is there, what isn't....so we measured for a storage shelving unit.5' wide, 6' tall. Next week when its built we can pull everything out, open up the boxes, sort and put it all back on the brand new shelves. Bliss, my North American need for order. Also, in each of the two dorm rooms, each one with two bunks to sleep 8 kids and a helper, clothes hung over and strung along string for storage, toothbrushes mixed up on window sills, shoes all over piled high with huge plastic bags filled with second hand clothes from America, little pouches, suitcases - it is impossible, hopeless. So we're having shelving units of wooden boxes built, ten for each room, stacked - one for each kid who sleep there, to store their own personal things....a room of one's own.

All of this possible because of the donations you have sent through ICA to me...thank you so very much! It is great to know that when I come across a situation like this, I have the funds behind me to help things out, a little at a time...I thank you again!

Afternoons, with no Charles around, I walk down the road, past rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see, past lines and lines of artist stalls selling African art,paintings, wood carvings, shops, brick buildings half built, empty without roofs, a bar, a sort of car wash, Jambo! Habare!! to the vry far end of town, two miles to the campsite that has a swimming pool!!...oh my gawd the day I discovered this...a complete luxury as usually i am running around working with Charles all day but now, when the cat is away... yes! I settle in...order a sandwich and learn Swahili from the guys who are working in the campsite, and read. oh bliss! As the afternoon draws long, people begin to arrive from all over the world to camp here en route to safari..only too eager to learn about the little orphanage down the road which they will surely pass as they head out of town...

Oh yes, we are raising money here, lots of it...by the pool!

Just finished a great book about Africa....called Shadow of the Sun..by a Polish journalist, his name resting back at my room...one of the best...love to you all...I know there is snow there, lots of it...time to bury, hibernate, read, snuggle...have a good one! and to those skiers out there, my brother! write to me!! xxLynn

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