Sunday, July 8, 2007

Anecdotes from Tengeru

Going out for a beer in Tengeru can be quite an adventure. Being a bunch of volunteers in one house, there's nothing better to end the day than a cold beer at the New Wisdom Bar just down the street. The problem is returning from the bar after 9:30pm. At 9:30pm, the dogs are let out. Yes, the dogs... These dogs are kept chained up at home throughout the day and are let loose to roam the streets of Tengeru at 9:30 pm. So, what do these dogs do? In Babu's words, "They bite." When do they bite? "All night." This was difficult for Laura and I to believe so with some other volunteers, we headed to the bar for a few beers. By the time everybody had gotten a buzz, it was 10:30pm and time to go home. We didn't think anything of the dogs but luckily, Babu had found us at the bar and stayed to walk us home. He borrowed a volunteer's headlamp and we began our walk to the house. Babu recruited another man to flank one side of our group. As we walked up the hill, dogs began flying out of the woods all over the place. In front, back, both sides. None of them really barked and none of them were much larger than a beagle but by the time we reached the house, about 20 dogs had approached us in some manner. Babu and his helper were able to keep them at bay by shining the light into their eyes. It reminded me a bit too much of my paper route days in Orleans.

On July 4th, I had organized a BBQ celebration at the house. I picked up some fresh meat, firewood, and hot dogs for the party. When I returned home that afternoon, Masih (one of the new volunteers) had inquired Lema (the volunteer coordinator) about the possibility of sacrificing a sheep for the party. Masih was so determined that the 3 of us set out to find a good sheep for slaughter. After some hours of inquiring with multiple families, we finally purchased a sheep for $20. The sacrifice was good to go. As dusk approached, our tied up sheep struggled to get loose of its roped feet. With some helpers holding it down, Masih sliced through the neck of our sheep. We tied it up, gutted it, and sliced off various parts to begin our BBQ. While the meat roasted, we shared some american hot dogs... the africans were impressed with the hot dog. The lamb was incredible and we polished off the whole lamb except for a single leg. Ah, where else can you go to your neighbor, buy a sheep, and slaughter it for dinner?

This weekend, our plans were to see the bushmen. A group of nomads which still use hunting and gathering to survive. Our plans fell through but I had a funny conversation about them with a new volunteer, Adam. Adam is a big Wisconsin guy who is not particularly interested in camping, doesn't like spiders, and abhors snakes. This is Adam speaking to his family back home.

"So, let me review, my first week in Africa I've been hit on by a Nairobi hooker, sacrificed a lamb for dinner, and gone tribal with a bunch of click-speaking bushmen."

"What are you going to do to top that?"

"Well, next weekend I'm just going to a 90% muslim island called Zanzibar."

"My god, how do you follow that up?"

"I think the following weekend I'll have unprotected sex in Africa."

Speaking of HIV, Laura and I visited a new HIV+ center in a small town next to Tengeru. We actually planted about 20 donated trees from my tree nursery (COOL!!). We enjoyed visiting with the group and got to speak in front of the young children who are HIV+. They enjoyed practicing their english with us. It was a unique experience; they were genuinely happy to have us there.
This coming week is our last week as volunteers. On Saturday, we leave for a safari and following the safari, we are visiting Zanzibar. From there, it's on to Nairobi to fly to Barcelona to visit Laura's parents. Future posts will be sparse due to the inaccessibility of the internet during safari.


Anonymous said...

sounds like you two have really gotten the most out of your experience and almost sounds like you could be recruiters or fund raisers for the volunteer organization. be sure and try to find a reliable way for the rest of us that have been enjoying your blogs to be able to help out after you leave there and come back to us with even more exciting tales of this trip. TONYP

Greg said...

Ah yes ..... sheep roasting over an open fire. So yummy. In Kazakh it's on a skewer and called shaw-sleak. What is it called there?

Wonder what drives the dogs to people at night? Food source? Is it they are seeking protection from largter dogs or what? Also wonder what started or why now the habit of turning the dogs out at night. Most places it is the other way around to provide protection at night.

Went boatin and fishin with your papa tonight. Great fun again.

Hot day here ... high 70's/ now id 60's. How anout there?

Greg 22:45

J.Pallotta said...

We've had 60's/70's weather around arusha. I'll have to ask what the roasted lamb is called; I just call it GOOD!!! The dogs just roam the streets around the home. People let them out for home protection and it's crazy how aggressive they are if you don't have a light or stick with you.

Hope to get on the boat with you guys when I'm back!

Greg said...

The boat here on Memphremagog will be filled with gas and ready to go.

Your boat awaiteth. Sir.