Archive for September, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Visits Tanzania

Shortly after we arrived in Tanzania, one of my Wisdom teeth really started bothering me.  Of course it would start when we got here instead of before we left.  Murphy’s Law I guess. I tried to just wait it out and see if it will pass but instead it got worse. I had heard that people go to a dentist here in town that comes from Nairobi once every two months. Unfortunately he had left and would not be back until November. I began to ask around at the school to see where everyone goes. Most people go to the dentist from Nairobi but that option was out and many said they don’t go to the dentists here. After a bit of persistence I was able to get a few names of dentists around, many of them with a negative comment about them. At this point I was feeling  bit discouraged, Then, finally, one of the mother’s of one of my students recommended a dentist that she actually liked going too! Praise the Lord!

Off we went to Ah Ga Khan hospital, the name reminds me of Sher Khan from The Jungle Book (Just goes to show I was raised on Disney movies.) There the dentist was able to see me right away, got an x-ray and confirmed what I already knew, it needs pulling. He said I could wit but it will need to come out eventually. I didn’t want to wait because of the pain so we scheduled the appointment for the following week.

(WARNING: The next part is graphic and quite gross)

I must admit I was a bit anxious about the surgery but thankfully the Lord calmed me and my anxiety did not take over. When the dentist was ready for me he told Austin that he could come in and watch as well. I was happy that he would be there with me.  Well the dentist did not waste any time. He gave me the shots to numb me up and went to town. Austin was watching and seemed very interested, until he asked where the restroom was, at which point I did not think anything of it. The dentist continued using drills, and what looked like tooth crow bars. As he got deeper, he was shocked to find that my tooth had a nasty cavity and was rotting completely at the root! YUCK! The root was actually curved and had grown in completely wrong. Along with this there of course was an infection in the area because of this cavity that had been there so long! Okay I know to much information!

Anyways during this whole time, Austin had not returned. I was curious to where he went but rather fascinated with the new turn of events. Finally the dentist took the drill and drilled the tooth in half, from here he was able to pull it out in two pieces. All I have to say is thank the Lord for anesthesia. When I got all cleaned up he showed me the tooth. OMG! I have never seen anything so gross! So of course I had to take a picture and show you too.
Austin finally came back in, only to find out that he had gotten woozy and almost FAINTED! My husband, the tough guy, Austin Baum, almost FAINTED! This made my day even better! Yes, he knows I am telling everyone, and yes you can give him a hard time for it!

We finished up the paperwork and expected a bill of some kind only to find out that the insurance that we bought for here covered everything! God is so good! On top of that the dentist kept saying over and over that he was THANKING THE LORD because this tooth needed to come out and we didn’t even know how bad it was! PRAISE THE LORD!

Now I am just recovering. Taking it easy. Having lots of ice cream and smoothies. : )


Bagamoyo Since we had a four day weekend, Austin and I decided that we should head out to Bagamoyo, a small town just an hour north of Dar es Salaam. Austin was not so thrilled about this one but since I planned it and really wanted to go he came along. We got up early and took a Dalla Dalla. This Dalla Dalla was actually quite spacious and it was quite empty which I know Austin was very appreciative of. (He is not a big fan of the Dalla Dalla.) The ride went fast and we had a chance to practice our Swahili flash cards. Nzuri! When we got there we knew there were a few things we wanted to check out. The first was the old Catholic museum. We asked the Bajaj to take us there from the bus station. Off we went. When we arrived a man greeted us and explained some history and background information about the church. French missionaries founded Holy Ghost Catholic Church at the very end of the 1800s. Beautiful outside building and an interesting history with German, Arabic, French and many other influences. After our short tour of the museum, the guide took us outside to show us the Tower where Dr. Livingstone’s body was laid on his journey back home. Dr. Livingstone was a huge advocate for Abolition of Slave trade here in Tanzania and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Then we saw an old Baobob tree that was planted around 1880. These trees are huge! After our Museum tour we went decided to travel by foot the for the rest of our time. The town is very small and everything is in walking distance in my opinion. We walked toward the beach following some other African tourists, who were singing a little ditty the whole way. It was very cute to see 5 grown men singing the same thing over and over together in harmony. We saw a cross that was made right on the ocean front property to signify the missionary work being done in Bagamoyo. Then we walked south towards the city center. We had a map of some kind but it really was not very specific. We walked toward the German Boma, or fort. Once we found it we walked around a bit. Things in Bagamoyo are really more appealing in the books than in real life in my opinion. They really just are old crumbling buildings and right next door are Tanzanians selling things in Dukas, and living in their lives, making nothing special of the history sitting right next to them. As we were looking around a man approached us. He said hello, was very friendly and was making small talk. I was a bit uneasy about him, mostly because most people here have alterior motives when it comes to talking to Wazungu. Mainly they know you have more money than them and they would like to have some of it. They are not extremely pushy about it but they do give off that feeling. I must say I do not like even writing that as it seems so very stereotypical however, it is the case a lot of the time. Anyways, his name was Amanuel. He was an art student at a local art school around here and has been practicing art for about 5 years. He asked us if we wanted to know some history about the town and the buildings we were looking at. We figured why not. He told us that the German Boma was used to collect taxes from all of the people who were coming to live, or trade in Bagamoyo. He told us about the building next to it that was a slave chamber, where the captives would wait until the next ship arrived to be sent wherever they were going to be traded for slavery. It really does make it real when you are staring at the very building where the slaves were held. So tragic. He then told us that he could show us the school that he went to. I was not wanting to but Austin wanted to so I went along with it. We walked along the coast for a little over a mile. The weather was very nice, people were out and about, fishing, socializing with their friends in what seemed to be like gangs or cliques of some kind. One of the groups even had a sign that said “Cool Crew” on it. No where to be, nothing to do except hang out with friends. Amanuel led us back through part of the city. I was feeling very uneasy at this point but we kept going. Eventually we did end up at his art school. Filled with sculptures made from many different media, wood of all kind (that you cannot find in Arizona,) stone, sea stones, clay and many others. They were beautiful and very unique. Afterward we headed to grab a cool soda at the hotel where we had our staff retreat. My feet were tired and it sure was nice to take a brake. Amanuel had told us that had a shop where he sold some of his work. Austin and I discussed that we would go take a look and buy something small because he was very nice to us. So we did, however when we got there the shop was closed up. His sister usually runs it but today she went to a smaller stand on the side of the road. We followed him to the stand, which was very close. There were lots of small sculptures, candlesticks, and other things he had crafted by hand. They were very beautiful. His sister made jewelry and there were beautiful earrings she had made by hand. We decided to get some earrings and one of his sculptures. We gave him the money, took a picture and were off to the bus station until……… there was a skirmish between Amanuel, his sister, and his brother in law. They apparently thought that he did not give us our change back and that he was pocketing the money. Both he and his brother-in-law approached us, asking for us to give our newly purchased items back. I gave them back completely dumbfounded as to what was going on but not until I had my money in my hands. Amanuel explained to us what happened but by this time I was sooooo very over it. We told him goodbye and found a bajaj to take us back to the bus stop. It was at this point that Amanuel broke down and told us that he had no money and needed help. I knew that this was the case and I was very appreciative of the fact that up until this point he had been awesome. He showed us around, was super polite and then had a good product to buy. Of course I would buy something from him. Then the logic disappeared once we had already paid and given them more than a fair price and they could not work out their differences to the point that they gave us back our money. Amanuel continued begging, I offered what I had, which he then said was not enough. I love helping others but beggers cannot be choosers. We told the bajaj driver to go and headed out. Amanuel trailing behind, feeling defeated. On the bus ride back I couldn’t help but be utterly upset. We really did want to help him. We really did want to help support his art and his family but apparently it was not that easy. I guess all I can say coming out of this experience is that I have a lot to learn about African’s and how they work and that I can always improve on loving them better!

Our First Game!

September 21st

Soccer is a game that just about everyone plays here, which makes me a happy camper. At HOPAC they are really trying to build the soccer team up which means they always need coaches. So when they asked me I had to say yes, of course I will!
I am coaching the Under 11 Girls soccer team. This is comprised of the third, fourth and fifth graders which makes it a lot of fun because I get to hang out with kids I wouldn’t know otherwise. Our numbers are few, only 9, and most of them are third graders, which makes us young.
At our first practice, I realized quickly that many of them had never even touched a soccer ball let alone understood the game of soccer. I had my work cut out for me, as our first game was only a few weeks away.  I taught them the basic skills of passing and dribbling, and some basic rules of the game. Then I decided that they needed to be more aggressive so I did a drill where they had to fight for the ball competing against another teammate. I would scream, “Who wants it?” and they would scream back in their high-pitched little girl voices, “I want it!” Which turned into a game they really loved and got pretty good at. As we began to play some small scrimmages I could see that this drill had helped them and I was very excited about it.
I must admit I was very nervous about our first game, I had heard that they other teams were generally much bigger, and better than our teams. I was building the girls up but making sure that they were having fun too incase we got clobbered.
We took the school bus with the kids down to the school where we play all of our games, IST (the International school here in Dar). The bus ride was crazy, as it seems most bus rides here are. The buses act more like cars and will go down the most narrow of roads in a fast manner. Scary to me but the kids are desensitized to it. After about an hour we arrived at the field. We did our warm up and the girls seemed very eager to play. They looked so very cute in their uniforms. All the parents were their to support them and me too which is always a bonus.
When it was our turn to play, the ref told me that the team we were supposed to play was not able to make it, but the team that was supposed to play next needed some more players. The girls were disappointed but wanted to play and so with three of our girls on the field at a time we did.
The team they were playing against was huge in comparison. Some of the girls had to be at least 15 but people do not know their birthday’s here so you cannot get proof that they are not 11. This did not stop my girls from being aggressive. In fact they were the most aggressive players on the field. The girls were yelling from the  sideline, “Who wants it?” I was very pleased indeed. The other team ended up winning but the girls did have fun, technically though we won our very first game by forfeit and we got some great game time experience e which in my opinion is the best case scenario.
I very excited to continue coaching these girls and watching them grow into a team!

The end of Ramadan and a sad day for Duma Kitty.

Today we had a relaxing day. We went to church, stopped quickly at the grocery store and then headed to the beach! The weather was perfect and I actually laid out for a bit which is very unlike me. I generally like to stay completely covered so that I do not get too hot but with the weather being so nice I was in a carpe diem like mood.  We were there for a few hours but towards the end of being their more and more people started showing up at the beach. In California, or many other beached in the world this would not be strange but here it is. Every time we have been here so far no one or maybe a handful of people have been there. They do not like the water for the most part and avoid the beaches. This is okay with Austin and I as we usually have the beach to ourselves. Today was not the case. People started flooding the beach. At this point in time, I was feeling overwhelmed by them so we went back to our friend’s house where we are staying for the holiday weekend.
Our friends have lots of animals! They have two dogs (Sheba and Ginger), two guinea foul, a goat named Marmalade (Very cute I must add), a chicken named pepper, and a kitten named Duma. For the most part the animals all function well together, but today this was not the case. Duma, their curious, playful, most friendly and talkative cat I have ever met bad a bad choice. We had just fed the dogs and they were eating. While eating, Duma decided she wanted in on the action. Messing with a dog while eating is not a smart move. Sheba, their large Saint Bernard, was not having this and so she snapped at Duma. Well this snap, had Duma’s head inside the jaws of Sheba. And even though it was only a split second there was some serious damage done.
Austin to the RESCUE! Austin quickly picked Duma up because she was shaking uncontrollably. He sat with her while her heart rate was super high, blood was coming out of her nose, and she was not able to move at all. It all happened so fast, and it was so sad to see such a lively cat in such a sad state.
We called our friends, who gave us the local vet’s number. We rushed her to the vet. Ok well, as much of a rush as you can be in, in Dar.  Things just move slowly here.
On the way over to the vet, the entire Muslim population here was headed for the beach. Everyone in their Sunday best! Flocks of people were walking towards the beaches. I am still not sure why. My speculation is to be facing the east, and sighting the moon for the last day of Ramadan, but the internet is still down so I am still not sure. Fascinating to see everyone out and about as this is not a common practice here.
Finally, we arrived at the Pet Hospital. The vet, took her in, hooked her up to an iv. She told us it did not look good and we knew it but she decided to leave her over night to see if maybe it was just some swelling that caused the trauma that was going on at the moment.
Our friends drove back home from camping, to see poor Duma, apparently she was moving more and reacted to the sound of Epiphany’s voice which is a good sign. We will see if she gets better. Praying for a miracle for Duma!

Thomas’ Birthday and Shopping in Mwenge

September 19th
Today is my cousin Thomas’s 5ht Birthday! We got to skype him and my family, which was awesome! I cannot believe he is 5 already. Missing them right now. HAPPY BIRTHDAY THOMAS! We love you!

Today, we went shopping in Mwenge. Last time we only got to pass by so this time we decided we needed the full experience. The shops here are super cool! I wish I could take tons of the work here back home with me. Everything is hand crafted and made of nice pieces of wood that you just cannot get here.  Everything must be bargained for. They say 25 We say 8. Austin drives a hard bargain, but I must admit it works pretty well! He says he learned it from his brother, Mateo. The shops are filled will all sorts of things. Art of Tanzanian life, on canvas, hand crafted jewelry, sandals and shawls, Tinga Tinga signs (small signs that everyone uses here that you can paint names on), bags, tons of woodwork, bowls, statues, book ends, everything you can imagine made of fine pieces of wood. In the back we found a small shop filled with chests. Each chest was carved with intricate designs of animals and African scenery. The people here practically beg you to come in! They need your business. This is what makes it easy to bargain. You may just be their only customer of the day. With that power, they will pretty much always lower their prices. We ended up making some purchases that I was very satisfied with. Shopping here is a much more exciting experience than going to the Tucson Mall, I am not big on shopping anyways. I think I will try to bring back all that I can so that I can skip the Mall experience.  : )

My Keen Sense of Direction

September 13, 2009

Today we went shopping a grocery store called Shoppers. Practically no Tanzanians use this form of shopping but being raised next to Fry’s, Safeway, Albertson’s and a myriad of other markets this is normal for me. Instead the locals use Dukas.

They are small one room, concrete structures with a roof covering. Inside you will find most of the essentials needed to survive. Eggs, four, bread, oil, boxed milk (my favorite), soap, hair care, detergent, well you get the point. Every Duka carries different things and for this reason there are Dukas around just about every corner.  I must say I am quite impressed with the amount of things they are able to shove into such a small space. They use every inch of the wall for different items and the floor too. There is little to no room to move around in most places. You do not actually enter the Duka because of size or metal bars separating you and the duka worker. Generally they are run by one person, some times even a young child. The people are usually really friendly and help us even when we are just pointing to one of the many things stacked on the shelves with absolutely no clue how to day what we want. Duka’s are extremely efficient and they are the norm here but like I said before I am still not used to them for getting all of our needs.

So we went to Shoppers. Filled with carts, a frozen food aisle, and a cashier. Now that is more like it!

The only trouble with this is that we have to transport the groceries back home in a timely manner. Thankfully the Daladalas are efficient and come often. Up until today we had never taken a Daladala home from this particular location so we thought we knew the best way and just went for it.

Hopped on one marked “Kawe” a street that is somewhat near our place but one of the only ones that they city bus will go to. Well this bus reached it turn around point and so we got off. The problem was that the bus did not stop exactly where we thought it would. So we were left deciding what to do follow the road or follow the crowd. We could have asked for directions but instead I decide I think that following the crowd is best. I believe my exact words were, “My senses tell us we should go this way.” What was I thinking?

And so we begin the trek down a dirt road that only locals are on. Shops here and there, fundi’s (experts) everywhere using their skills, butchery’s with cows hanging in the window, the man selling coal for fires covered in soot, the carpenters working hard, men and women sewing Congas and other materials into dresses, shirts and all kinds of other wear. Kids playing in  the street, locals hanging out playing checkers with bottle tops and a board painted onto a piece of wood.

I am obviously enjoying this adventure but still unsure it is leading us the right way until….. We go down a small hill that leads us to the river. Sadly the river is filled with trash. There is no real system to getting rid of waste here so people make large and small piles of trash and burn them. Apparently this area was more of a free for all. It seemed to be filled with bottles, and soda cans but because there is no recycling either they just sit there. The rest of the crowd kept walking across this river to their homes. Austin and I knew that this was not the way and I quickly had to eat my words and apologize.

(Remember we are still carrying our groceries hoping to get to the house before everything spoils. )

So we turn around and march back to where we can from. Austin made me promise we would get a Bajaj home. So once we got back to the bus stop we hopped on a Bajaj. Turns out we needed to walk the other direction just a bit further to catch the other Daladalas. All I can say is you live and you learn.

Maybe my sense of direction was a bit off but really, I am loving all of these adventures. I love watching the people and experiencing life in Dar.

A Birthday Party!

September 12, 2009

Tonight we went to our favorite restaurant so far Mediterrano to celebrate the fourth grade teacher, Delicia’s birthday. It was great fun! There were about 30 people, which is a rather large crowd for any restaurant around. Delicia is a bubbly person, a hard worker and can sing like the good ole Gospel singers of the South, her voice is truly a blessing. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and love having her next door as a teaching buddy.

She is well loved in this community and everyone came to share that love. The food was great’ Homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, homemade hummus with pita, and a caprese salad.  For desert one of the mom’s made a delightful chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with strawberries and raspberries on top. Even better was the company. The people at the table feel a bit like a family here for us. We are eager to get to know them more as time goes on, and we are grateful to have them here with us.

Austin being as curious as always began to play with the light fixture in the middle of the table. They looked like the lights that a parking attendant waves around to show you where to go. Naturally he began to do that. Our friend Steve did some interpretive dancing for Delicia with the Bob Marley like band providing music. We sang happy birthday and the band continued with the song “Tequila” but of course replaced the word “Tequila” with “Delicia” pretty clever if you ask me.

The night was lots of fun and made me very eager for more times like this in Dar.

The Sunken Bajaj


Austin paying the Bajaj driver

Ok so this is a Bajaj.

So the other day we had to get to a house that we had never been to before. We were given directions by a friend that were drawn out on a piece of paper that looked legit so we thought we would be more than ok. Here in Tanzania, there is no such thing as google maps, or gps because even if you have something so handy there are no street names. You know where you are or where you are going by landmarks. For example, the Grams live by “Jordan’s Duka” or we live close to the street with the big white sign. People use it and for the most part it works except for when you are new and do not really know where you are going.

So confidently we got a Bajaj driver to take us, we showed him the map and he seemed very confident that he could get us there. We get to the first speed bump just like the drawn map told us to do and are supposed to take a right but it didnt look quite right. The driver looked at the map again and stopped the bajoj (not a normal thing for them to do.) He then took the make from us and walked to the people nearest to us on the side of the road. After about 5 mins of the men trying to decipher our map he got back in very confident that he knew where to go. He turned around the vehicle and we headed back from where we came. I knew this was not correct but Austin said maybe he knows a secret way. We about halfway down that road we are sure we are going the wrong way we tell him to go back the other way. The poor guy. So we decied that we should just try to go down one of those streets by the speed bump from before. So we do. The side streets are not paved and not maintained and really they are no place for a bajaj to be driving, however we tell him to go down a street. As we are driving we are looking for the blue roofs that we are supposed to see. Not really seeing any I knew full well this was not the right way but we had the driver continue. When all of a sudden we drove right into unpaved beachy sand. 😦

I could not help myslef but laugh hysterically! The bajaj driver was not happy to say the least. It was getting dark so we had to get him out quickly. While almost peeing my pants from the hilarity of it all we started pushing. Of course the wheels dug into the ssand and were more stuck. So theh digging began. once we got the tires moving again, we pushed and got the bajaj out of the pit of sand. We told the poor man that we would giv him the equivalent of 10 bucks to make up for it (usually you pay them about 2 so this is a good deal.)

At this point we decide to call our friends to get some real directions. They tell us we are about 10 mins away. Who’da thunk?

He drives us to where we are supposed to be, not so happy but we got there at least.

The road to Mwenge

Austin and I decided to finally bite the bullet and take our first ever, across town Daladala adventure. I got dressed into an outfit that I hoped would not get me too many glare, but I know it is mostly just the color of my skin that earns me those looks. Some of them good some of them bad, some just struck in awe. It really is strange to be the minority.
We waited for a bus at a bus stop right outside our house. One with Mwenge painted on it pulled up a man opens the door hollaring ,“Mwenge, Mwenge Mwenge!” We hoped in the last two open seats. Myself in a middle seat that folds down crowded between two people and Austin opposite me squished right between the door and the man screaming Mwenge. As we drove along a very cute little Tanzanian boy started to stare at me. He didn’t really know how to take his eyes off of me but didn’t make any real facial gestures either. I tried making silly faces like I do with children in the States but he had no reaction just kept staring. We made frequent stops here and there mostly just adding more people. These people of course had no seat but would cram in like sardines. By the end of it I was staring at the backs of 3 Tanzanians while Austin was even more squished. We made one last stop to pick someone up and I was amazed that this man even dared to get on. He was the tallest man I have seen here yet probably 6”2 (most people are not that tall here from what I have seen,) Somehow he managed the maneuver his body inside the old VW bus that was now filled with at least 25 people. The worrywart in me can’t help but think…’This is an accident waiting to happen,” but to the people who live here this is normal. This is what they know and are comfortable with.
Along the sides of the road people sell all kinds of goods from fresh fish caught that day, to hand carved wooden pieces, hand made rugs and pots, and much, much more. This is everyone’s livelihood here. The land is green, lush and full of coconut trees. You can see people playing games on the side of the road, or enjoying the company of their friends. Very simple but everyone is enjoying themselves. I can’t help but smile in this moment. Appreciating the simple things in life.
Finally, we arrive at our stop a street lined with vendors who make things by hand.
I think Austin and I can say that we are more than capable to travel on the Daladala’s now and I might even prefer it.

New Phone!

We just got a new Google Voice number thanks to the help of Amy’s Uncle Tom. This means you can call our new Google Voice phone number (520) 305-9481. It works now!

We won’t answer it, but you can leave us a message and we’ll get an email with your voicemail in it. We can read what you say or hear your beautiful voice. Then maybe call you back or send you texts for free internationally or all knds of things. We’re still learning how to use it. But go ahead and give it a try if you like! It’s free!

(520) 305-9481

P.S. if you want to spend the extra money you can call us or text us directly in Tanzania:
Amy +255787985713
Austin +255785361150