Archive for the ‘Dar es Salaam’ Category

Coming and Going

One thing that we have learned about living in a missionary community is that people come and go a lot. It seems like just about every month or so there is a welcome, or going away party. This is just part of life in our community here in Dar.We have been very blessed to have community here. I would surely go crazy if I did not have the people around to love, encourage and support our work here.
Over this year there are a few particular people that have left/are leaving, who have meant a lot to us.
Brandon and Amanda Maxwell have already left to go back home to Minnesota but we really loved their friendship and the service they gave to HOPAC. They have just finished their 3rd year here in Dar es Salaam and have done so much for the community here. Brandon is a stellar English teacher and Basketball coach and Amanda ran the service learning for primary, student council and really spear headed the entire soccer program for HOPAC. Amanda is an amazing soccer coach, and player and her expertise really added to the HOPAC program. Outside of HOPAC, they were involved in some village work where they ran sports, and games for kids. They also helped to build a church and installed a clean water well for the people of the village. There is no doubt their work here will have a lasting impact on this community. They are now home safely preparing to have their first child which is very exciting. We are so grateful for our time with them and we miss them dearly!

Brandon and Amanda : )

Another couple that has been a great source of friendship for us here have been Steve and Lindsey Kreiger. We did not meet them until November when we started going to a new church. They are from Virginia, and are here with Reach Global teaching business to the local Tanzanians. There is such a need for this as many have no concept of what a business should look like or how it should be ran, yet many of them have their own small businesses. Unlike us, they have learned a lot of Swahili, and in my opinion are more than conversationally fluent (I must admit I am jealous of this! We do not get the same exposure here at HOPAC, and I love learning languages.) They have been busy all year teaching classes and running workshops but their year is coming to a close. They will be leaving in July, because they too will be going home to have a baby boy! So exciting.

Cheering on Tanzania at the Brazil v TZ game.

We have enjoyed our many hours of hang out time with them. We have had lots of dinners, played lots of card games, BBQ’d and went to the Brazil v. Tanzania game with them which was such an adventure! We are so grateful for them in our lives.

Steve and Lindsey (and Isaiah our nieghbor in the background) enjoying a BBQ at the Baum's

We are sad that they are all leaving but wish them nothing but the blessings in their future endeavors as parents. Hopefully, we will be able to visit them again one day in the States and meet their new little ones.

Adventures in Babysitting

A few months ago our friends here approached us about babysitting their 4 children for 10 days while they went away on business. We love their family and their kids a so much fun so we did not hesitate to say yes.

So off went mom and dad while Austin and I moved in.

Steve, Dyan and their amazing kiddos!

Their children, Tesfaye (15), Caleb (12), Zoe (12), Epiphany (9), are a bit older so there were no diapers to change and for the most part they can take care of themselves which makes our job a lot easier. They also have Oppas, the driver, who can run and get groceries and other such things while we are at work, Jenny the cook who makes delicious food and makes it so that after a long day I do not have to worry about anything except setting the table, Mama Mary and Mama Jane who do all of the cleaning and laundry, Babu who runs the grounds and feeds the animals, and guards to keep us safe day and night. All of these wonderful people together, made our time there easy and enjoyable.

The other part of the gig that is nice is that we are right across the street from the Indian Ocean. The road that lines the ocean is much more peaceful than the other roads around in Dar es Salaam and is very nice for getting a good run in. We had many afternoons on the beach and even got a good Beach BBQ in.

At the Larmey house there is never a dull moment and this time was not an exception. The first morning we were there Austin and Caleb found a rat in the kitchen. This is not a rare thing to see here, but the next part of the story is what makes it amazing. Austin and Caleb, thinking quickly grabbed Chuy the cat, and placed her right where they had cornered the rat. Chuy quickly figured out what was going on and caught the rat. She then did her little cat thing and played with it and killed it to feed it to her 5 baby kittens. Austin tried to get it on video but it did not safe. Bummer. Ginger the dog then tried to steal the rat from Chuy, but Chuy was not having it so she slashed Ginger in the eye and Ginger was bleeding. All of this happened before 7am that morning which I was impressed by.

Throughout the 1o days the kids went to friends for sleepovers, we swam in the ocean, watched the Shrek movies, McGyver, and Veggie Tales, we played instruments, studied for tests, packed lots of lunches and had friends over to sleepover at our house too. On the second to last night we had a few older boys over to spend the night and stayed up quite late. Eventually we got to bed but it was late. Once we were completely asleep and in the REM cycle of sleep we were awakened by the loudest and scariest sound I have ever heard! It sounded as if every dish in the kitchen had shattered to pieces, or the glass chandelier had fallen from the ceiling. With crime being something that happens more normally here we were scared to death. If it were someone breaking in they were for sure already in and had already done the damage. With no bat to protect us, feeling helpless Austin got the courage to go outside our room and see what had happened. As we entered the hallway and kitchen we found dishes shattered all over the floor. Upon further inspection we figured out that the shelf had completely given way and the bottom a half of it collapsed and took all that was in it with it. These shelves were not built that long ago and they were not built enough support, or the right support. The worst part was that it was some of Dyan’s favorite dishes, some of which were from Ethiopia.

Why it decided to fall in the middle of the night is beyond me, but I am thankful that it was not when the kids were sitting and eating breakfast at the table right by it or when one of the house workers was walking by. We are very grateful that no one was hurt and that it was not a robbery. Austin was pretty anxious the few nights afterward but he seems to be back to normal now. For once I was the calmer one in the situation.

After that insane, and unpredictable event we prayed that we would not have any others like it.

On our final full day with the kids we took them to the 9th annual goat races (our second time for this event.) We ate food, saw lots of goats, helped raise some money for charities, and saw lots of friends. Afterward we took them to get a milkshake at the local chain restaurant Spur. It was a long day with lots of traffic and lots of rain but it was a lot of fun too.

Zoe and I wearing our fancy hats to the races.

The big blow up goat that welcomes you as you enter.

Getting the goats ready to race.

Kids feeding the goats as they waited for their turn to race.

We love the Larmey’s and had a wonderful time with all 4 of the kids. We are ready for more babysitting adventures in the future but hope that next time the cabinets will stay put!

Kayaking on the Open Seas

Over the four day weekend, one of my friends here, asked me if I wanted to go kayaking on the ocean. Being the “I like to look at the water and not go in it,” type and being not so fond of any sports in which you only use your arms (I played soccer give me a break),  I wearily said yes.

So on Friday morning we went out for our adventure. We borrowed the kayak from some friends of ours who recently aquired the kayak. Now this is no ordinary kayak. Austin had a great kayak which he very much wishes he had here however, we sold it before we left and bringing it here would not be worth the money at all. That kayak was a great kayak. Spacious, went through the water well and much more. This kayak is very different.  It is a blow up kayak, however it was made for the open waters. This is not my ideal kayak ing situation but I decided to go for it anyways.

We carried the kayak across the street to the ocean and headed out. Our goal was to reach Snake Island which seems really close when you are looking from the beach but you never really can tell how close islands are.

The beginning was easy. My arms were fresh and I was excited for my new adventure. I really loved all of the quality time that Elaine and I got to spend together. Lots of time for girl talk which is always nice around here, due to the fact that my close friends live on the other side of the world.

As we approached our destination I realized that the side of the island we were about the hit was very rocky and did not look like a good place for a blow up kayak to go. Therefore about 50 feet from the island we decided to turn the kayak around. It took us about 45 minutes to get to this point.

Once we turned around was when my arms started to get tired. After that my legs were feeling cramped and wanted to move. On top of that I was beginning to feel seasick. I did not want Elaine to think I was  chicken or that I did not enjoy the adventure because I did, however I do not feel I was ready for this long of an adventure. In my head I was thinking “GET ME OUT OF HERE AND ON LAND!” I knew though, that the only way to get back was to keep paddling and so I did.

After what seemed like an eternity we did make it back. My legs and arms and mind were so happy to be on land. I laid in the sand for a few and just rested. This helped a lot with the seasickness, which almost made me hurl. Our landing was much further down shore from where we started our journey so we had to carry the kayak up the shore for a little over a 1/4 of a mile. This may not seem like that long but after my arms  and legs were so tired and I was not feeling well I was not looking forward to it. We started by carrying it with our arms but quickly realized that would take us forever. I suggested carrying it on our heads. And so we did. It worked quite nicely and I felt like a real African Mama. I am sure the Tanzanians that saw the two white girls carrying a kayak on their heads were quite amused.

When we made it back to our friends house to drop off the kayak I was exhausted but very pleased with the adventure. I am still not sure if I am meant for the open seas or for using my arms for major exercise but I am always eager for new adventures.

New Supermarket

A new supermarket has opened just a few hundred feet down the road, and I could not be happier! Going to the grocery store is not a quick trip of convenience here. At our house in Tucson, I can get to the grocery store and back with in 15 mins. Now that is fast!

Here the grocery store is about 10 or 15 miles away, not really sure. However, there are only 2 main roads to get there, each of which take a good 30 mins to get to with no traffic. With traffic however, it can be over 2 or 3 hours.

With that being said, I have been trying to figure a way to get everything we need locally. Locally meaning, with in walking distance, or a short ride on the dala dala. Thankfully, across the street, we have a duka with flour, beans, rice and a few other essentials, and right next door is a great hardware store. Down the road about a mile are a whole group of dukas where I can get fruits and vegetables, oil, toiletries and other of our daily needs.

There are however, a few items that we just cannot get from these places. These include cheese, good yogurt, chicken, ground beef, apples, asparagus, and a few other special treats.

I was thrilled to hear that a new grocery store was going to open so close. We made to short trek down and found that they have a lot of our everyday items and a bit more. Although they don’t have our special items, the fact that they are so close makes my life a lot easier! I guess the saying is true, you can’t fully appreciate something until you no longer have it. I am grateful for our new grocery store and how convenient it is!

World Economic Forum Comes to Town

Since being back from Tucson, we have avoided the roads of Dar es Salaam like the plague. Besides the fact that we don’t have a car, the traffic has multiplied exponentially in the past few weeks, due to the rains and we just have no desire or need to be driving around.

We measured it and it takes us 10km, more or less 8 miles, to get to the major city crossing from our side of town. This trip takes a half an hour with no traffic, and can take over 2 hours in standard rush hour traffic. After coming back from the States, this seems so ridiculous but this is life in Africa and you have to learn to live with it. We have realized how grateful we are for smoothly paved, well kept roads, stop lights that mean something and drivers who follow the rules.

Typical dead stopped traffic, while vendors attempt to sell you all kinds of random things.

Buses that stop every few 100 meters, that add to the traffic mess.

I love this one. A bride who is stuck in traffic gets out on a hot, sticky day so that she can make it to her groom to be in time.

Anyways, during the first week of May there was a World Economic Forum held here in Dar es Salaam. Leaders from all over the world came to discuss the many economies of Africa. The ironic thing is that in order for them to have this fancy forum, they shut down many of the local economies here in the city.

They closed most of the major roads during the peak hours of driving in order to get the forum participants to and from their meeting location. This had a huge impact on all of Dar es Salaam. As it is the infrastructure here is only capable of supporting a town of maybe 10,000, and we have 4 million people here with thousands of new cars being brought in all of the time. These road closures have caused the already horrendous traffic to be up to 3 or 4 hours, dead stopped traffic. This loses business for many places that would normally be getting business from those who were sitting in traffic. Along with that they closed the major mall of the city, which I still don’t understand.

I am glad that there are people meeting to help move the many economies of Africa, I just wish they would take into account the effect they have on the cities they meet in even just for a meeting. They spend millions of dollars on flights, and wining and dining but don’t realize the direct negative effect they are having now. The government in Tanzania, spent some serious bucks too securing the roads, making sure the power was running during this time and even planting new palm trees down the main road to show a good face.  This is yet another thing I do not understand about culture here. Even you don’t have money, or the ability to really get something done, you do it anyways just to put on a good face. The palm trees they have planted are already looking like they are dying, which just proves so much that this “good face” is so temporary.

Rumor had it that Bill Gates was even in town. I looked online and did not find this information to be true, but he is one of the major backers of the forum. Either way, I hope in the future these leaders can really make a difference to help the economies of Africa succeed.

It’s A Boy!!!!

I am taking a small time out from the usual posts to announce the birth of Victor Jr.. Victor, is a contractor at HOPAC, and works very closely with Austin. Since about February he told us that the baby was due, so we have been eager to meet this little guy! I guess the doctors were a bit wrong seeing how he was born at the tail end of April. No matter to us we are just glad he is here and he and mom are healthy.

He was born on Friday the 30th and his cousin was born on the exact same day! Pretty exciting. We got to see the proud Mama and Papa on Sunday and welcome their sweet baby boy! We are praying for a good health for the whole family!


Victor Jr. and I and his twin cousin and Uncle

So sweet.

Proud Daddy Victor with Victor Jr.

Back to Dar

After over 30 hours of travel, we made it safely and were greeted by three straight days of rain! It really is nice for it to be so cool here.

My students are doing great and the classroom was in order. They all ran up and gave me a big welcome back hug which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I sure do love them all!

Still haven’t felt the full effects of the jet lag but I am sure they are coming soon. Trying to get caught up in class and with grading, while not overwhelming myself too much.

More posts to come on real thoughts and experiences.

Blue Band: The Household Staple

I know that I have mentioned Blue Band before but I just wanted to elaborate a bit on this vital staple used in practically every household in Dar es Salaam and beyond.

It is sold virtually everywhere and is used as the household butter. However, this is NOT BUTTER! It is not even a margarine in my opinion, though it is more a margarine than a butter. It does not need to be refrigerated and even if it is it does not get hard. It has it’s own particular flavor and  if you use it too cook there is no mistaking Butter for Blue Band. It is used to cook everything here!

As much as I stood my ground at first and only used real butter, which costs 10 bucks for a regular size chunk of butter and spoils a day or two after being unfrozen, I too have now begun to use this mystery product. It is just easier and way more economically friendly.

"High in Vitamins and Fats"

After brainstorming ideas for new clubs for WYLD LIFE I came up with Blue Band Club, basically a modified Crisco Club or Spam Club. The team liked it and so we did it! It was INCREDIBLE!

We had Pass the Blue Band, much like Hot Potato, trivia about Blue Band,  watched Videos about Blue Band,  sang about Blue Band and we even had some hair styles made with Blue Band! The leaders had a Blue Band Hat making competition. So fun! I would venture to say it was one of our best clubs yet! I always love that the craziest ideas always become some of the best!  Here are some pics from the occasion.

Check these AMAZING Retro adds for this stuff:

(If they don’t work just search in You Tube for Blue Band Margarine)

Pushing the Dala Dala

So as mentioned in earlier posts, we travel by dala dala, old beat up vans that transport up to 30 people at a time. Dala dalas are not sent to the shop every 3 months for oil changes, or checked for leaks, or seat belts, or emissions testing. This all makes for cars that brake down quite often. Also, because the drivers do not want to waste any money they only fill up the tank for exactly what they will use that day.

These factors combined create a recipe for inevitable mishaps.

One day while riding a dala dala, all of a sudden it shut off. The driver and his co-worker, did not seem put off by it at all. He tried right away to start the engine again, but no such luck.  Of course we were dead in the middle of a major road in the middle of rush hour. What would your instincts tell you to do at this point in time? Get out and push!

Well as I was about to satisfy this instinct, a man who was hanging out in the dala dala and the co-worker, got out of the dala dala and started to push. The only catch was there were still 15 people seated inside. My mind could not comprehend the situation! The little voice inside my head was screaming “COMMON SENSE PEOPLE” It takes 10x the amount of energy to push a dala with 15 people in than if you ask the people to get out and then push. Culturally though, people do not want to see their money wasted. They had all paid for the ride even though we were no where near anyone’s destination. The driver and co-worker were not about to give up the money they already had received therefore, their only option was to push. It took every ounce of my self-control to not get out and help the two men pushing 15 people.

After a long, embarrassing trek to the gas station, the men sweaty and yet seemingly complacent about the whole thing, filled the tank with the equivalent of just 5 dollars of gas so they could get to their next stop. Undoubtedly this was not the only problem with the dala. The fuel injector was also not in the best of shape. After trying to start the car 10 times they decided they needed a push start to get the engine running again. So out they went to push again, all 15 of us sitting inside. A quick little push start and we were on our way.

As we headed towards our destination the car stalled time after time. The driver decided to take the dirt road because as soon as he took his foot off of the pedal there was not enough gas to sustain the engine. He thought the dirt road would be less stop and go traffic. He was wrong, all traffic in Dar, in the middle of rush hour is stop and go traffic. Soon we were on a dirt road with the engine quiting the second we had to stop, and the two men pushing us back into action once the traffic moved a bit.

Eventually, they gave up and pulled over to the side of the road to let us all out. I gave the man some extra shillings to make up for the ridiculous trials they had gone though during the previous hour or so.

I still can’t believe that this was culturally acceptable, but it makes me thankful for all of the times people have helped me push my car and that I was not the dala dala workers that day.

Boy and his Chicken

Not sure why but I was fascinated by this. I guess it because you just don’t see it in Tucson. I couldn’t get a really good picture because I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while taking it.

Boy and his chicken.

Here you can see his feet, wrapped in rope and the plastic grocery bag covering his body. Every once in awhile the boy would readjust the chicken and then there he was staring us in the eyes, oblivious to the fact that later that day he would become a tasty supper.

I think what interested me most was that it was so normal for the boy to be holding the chicken.  Obviously, I did not grow up on a farm.

A note about chickens in Dar:

Chickens here are common but not as common as beef  (this is because of the native Masai peoples who are cattle herders).  Many men who ride bicycles to carry fresh goods throughout town carry chickens. They have them in baskets with a top layer over them so that they do not escape. Otherwise they can be seen walking around the road  here and there, not nearly as many as you see in Kauai.