We are back from Dar and we had a great time visiting friends, eating some “western-ish” meals, going to 2 water parks, and then of course the necessary work and living stuff of visiting VETA offices and doctor’s appointments. We paired some needed work with a couple days vacation. I have not been able to update since we arrived home due to no power for 2 days! As always when you travel in Africa it is best is to be ready for adventure and chaos. We never know exactly what we are in for but that is part of the fun. Here is some of the sorted details…..We headed over on the puke boat
again ( I know I vowed never to take it again but they raised the rates for the plane and insisted that Annikah must pay for a full ticket even though she would sit on my lap and thus being broke we knew we had to brave the ferry again). Fortunately, Annikah and I both drugged up before the ride and as long as I sat very still (yeah, try that with a 2 year old with you) I was ok. Since Jason does much better he was super papa with Annikah on both trips so I could be yak-free. After the trip over we picked up a car (our team vehicle) and headed to our friend’s place. We know Juli and Delicia from training and they offered their place when they knew we were coming (you are amazing ladies!). They are all teachers at Haven of Peace Academy
in Dar and we even visited one morning and were very impressed. The school has many ex-pat kids but also a really good mix of Tanzanian students. Annikah even enjoyed sitting in her own desk in the 4th grade for a while while the kids did their Daily Oral Language. The teachers were great, the students seemed to have a sense of pride in their school, and they had more resources than I did on the South side of Chicago. We had a grand tour and were thoroughly impressed and as a teacher that is big for me to say.
Anni checks out the 4th grade
There was some seriously bizarre power stuff going on at our friend’s place and we were out of power most of our stay making sleeping next to impossible with no fans and the crazy heat. By the last day they even had to shut off their water source because electric currents were shocking us from the taps!! We kept making each other check every faucet because it hurt, darn it! It was bucket bathes for us because we were too scared of being electrocuted. I can say for sure that after living here I will never again take for granted running water or electricity!
We headed to 2 water parks during our stay and one experience was more hilarious than the next. The first and bigger of the two we went to was very affordable but when we arrived around the opening time it was a ghost land. Nothing was running and no one was there. We immediately thought power cut or for some other reason it was closed but they welcomed us in. Stateside if a water park opened on a weekend at 10am there would be a line outside to get in, not here. We were there ONLY people there for about 2 hours while we watched them (in no rush) clean the water and start to turn everything on. When we first arrived the water looked pretty nasty and nothing seemed to be working but I must say by around 2 pm the place was hopping!! Tons of locals showed up and all the slides were working just fine. I guess we were just too early. Annikah was the only white kid we noticed in the place and people kept coming up to her to take her picture, it was seriously bizarre! She made some great friends while we were there and spent about 2 hours walking around, swimming, and laughing with them.
We ended up letting her stay until 4pm to play with them because she was having so much fun. Some very interesting differences in the water park here was that there are really no rules anywhere. This can be very alarming to my Western notion of safety at first but as I watched kids and parents there is also much more of a sense that you help any child near you if they need it. People constantly would pick Annikah up if (more like when) she fell, or help her down a slide, etc. Also, anyone can go on anything, no real weight, height limits. So after we rode a few of the big slides we let her come down with us and she loved it (after the momentary terror wore off). In America there are just rules for everything and with good reason (lawsuits, safety, etc) but I do appreciate that here they let you as the parent judge what is safe for your child. Annikah even went on some of the water slides by herself by the end of the day. We also had to join in the dance party on the stage (see video). We definitely had a blast and on the car ride home Annikah told us “me want to thank Jesus for that water and new friends”!
Dar traffic is no fun but Anni made the best of it
making sure she and Woody and baby were always buckled in tightly
The next day we were up early and out the door for a 8am doctor’s appointment. We had left with double the amount of driving time required but the traffic was miserable so we ended up being over an hour late. The best part was that we called to apologize and say we were stuck in traffic and the receptionist told us not to worry because the doctor was on the same road and would probably get here when we did. The doctor was great (thanks Julie & Alex for the recommendation) and after a battery of tests for Jason and a few shots for Annikah we were on our way. The doctor said that Jason seems to have recovered fully from whatever was ailing him and he also said that what they did here on the island was good (this was a huge relief to us). He thinks Jason may have had Dengue fever
which is similar to malaria and transmitted by mosquito. Unfortunately the specialized blood test to detect this are not available here but since it is viral the treatment would be similar to malaria. It was just a blessing to be understood and have a doctor hear our concerns and help us make wise choices regarding health. Annikah is super healthy and impressed all the nurses with her Kiswahili skills so they bestowed upon her many stickers.
After the doctor appointments we headed to a mall with AC to do a little shopping, well more walking around in AC.
A mall!!! With AC…(do you hear the Hallelujah chorus swelling?)
There is just something sanity saving about the somewhat familiar. We shopped around mostly looking at stuff we A.) cannot afford or B.) cannot bring back on the boat but it was still such a blast. Anni test drives some lil’ bikes around the entire store…
I think she misses stores like Target as much as we do
We were inside one store when the power in the mall shut off. Some workers immediately bolted for the doors of the store and slammed them closed to make sure no one could steal anything. Annikah screamed hamna umeme (no power) which had many locals inside cracking up. She knows that phrase too well living here. She also celebrated with a loud umeme upo (there is power) when a few minutes later the power came back on thanks to a generator. One night Juli offered to watch Annikah so Jason and I could have a date night (juli, you are a rock star!!) and we headed out for a place we were told served Mexican food one night a week but after searching for it and finally arriving they said it was going to be tomorrow! Plans foiled again! No worries though because we headed to Spur, the closest thing you can get to a Western restaurant we have seen. It was awesome food and the best part was we got to watch the entire inauguration on TV with the waiters and other patrons. It was amazing, everyone was glued to the TV watching the historic day. We also claimed our celebrity status being from the same city as Obama. On the way home we saw every TV was tuned in, literally the world was watching, at least our corner of it was. I even saw some guys huddled around a TV that was on top of a pile of rocks and had fluorescent light bulbs as an antennae cheering at the TV. There was just a sense of anticipation, of hope, and I was excited to be American.
The next morning we packed up, drove to the port to get our ferry tickets and then after a quick supermarket run (diet coke…holla!) headed to where we needed to go that morning VETA
. VETA is the Tanzanian vocational training authority and we needed to pick up some training materials so that as we develop the curriculum for our school on the island we are sure that the standards we set will meet or exceed those of the national program so our students can easily get certified. You would think this would be easy but again never expect anything will be easy, simple, or fast. We parked the car in the VETA compound and went in to our first of many offices. We told the secretary what we needed and she escorted us to an office where there were stacks of paper everywhere. There was one women hidden amongst the rubble who said she was indeed the person we needed to speak with but she was too busy and we should come back after January 30th. We kindly explained that we would not be able to do that since we live on an island 2 1/2 hours away but she seemed unconcerned and said if we wanted to pursue our goal we should head to another office. We started off again and this time after getting directions from 4 different people (who, by the way gave us four different locations) we found the correct office only to discover the person was out to lunch. We decided to wait as this was our only chance to get the materials even though Annikah had not eaten (it was almost 1pm). Finally the woman returned and we again explained our situation. Almost everyday I am just amazed at how relational Africans are and this was no exception. Although we had been waiting, were almost late for our ferry, and just came to “do business” the women in the office were spending so much time talking with Annikah, asking her questions in Kiswahili to see how much she knew. It was precious, although in some ways irritating as we needed to bust a move. All the guards were much more interested in talking to Anni then helping us find the needed offices. After more questions, visiting, and being led around to different offices she told us they did not have any printed and we would have to come back. We should have known but she was very encouraging of our project here and did give us her email so we are hopeful we may someday get the needed materials. Just another lesson is the people are more important than the task. Then on our way to drop the car off we were pulled over by the police; always an adventure! Supposedly Jason made an illegal U-turn which was posted no where and that we do at least once a day on the island with no issue. Then the police wanted to see his licence, registration, and had a barrage of other questions like where was our fire extinguisher? and why did we not have a triangle reflector (what the heck is that for?) Basically we prepared for the fine and finally after he drew several pictures and asked us all about the island told us we had to pay him 10,000 shillings (about 9 bucks). I am amazed at how nice people are even when they are ripping you off 🙂 When we asked for a receipt (thinking if he just wanted a bribe maybe he would let us go) he thought a minute and then said we would have to leave our car in the middle of the median on a crazy busy road and walk about 4 blocks to ask at the station for a receipt. Yeah! Since we were already late, had not eaten, and were exhausted. We just payed him off and hit the road. We dropped off the car and made the ferry no problem to head back home. Not even no power, electro-charged water, corrupt police officers, and dirty pool water could dampen our fabulous time on the mainland.
a Western-ish mall….notice me taking advantage of my opportunity to sport both a tank top and pants-WOOHOO!!
food reminiscent of home…..it is that good!
Western shopping for stuff we cannot get here
this may be my fav picture ever of my sweet little girl, that is her real (non cheesy) smile!
She had a blast in this little train that was totally busted…..let’s hear it for imagination!
Videos of our water park adventures: