Week 1 Volunteering...

Bagamoyo Travel Blog

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20 June 2007


It is hard to believe I’ve already been in Bagamoyo for almost a week now!  I am really starting to enjoy the village I am in.  We 5 girls have said more than once that we are really glad we’re not in a bigger city like DarEs Salaam.  Things just seem more authentic, slow, and quiet here.  There are very few cars.  Everyone either walks or rides a bicycle (myself included…I rented a bike for 2 weeks for about $12).  When you walk or bike down the street, people greet you with “Mambo!” (What’s up?), to which you respond “Poa!” (Cool!).  It is just such a neat culture.  Everyone is always outside their house, playing together or talking, and greet those that are passing by.  The people are amazingly sweet.  Bagamoyo is a very artsy city.  There are two art universities here: a sculpture school and an arts college.  That is really neat because you see artists all over town working on their art, and displaying it for people to purchase.  A band lives right next to our house, the Bagamoyo Spirits.  It is not uncommon for us to wake up to someone playing the guitar or drums right next to our house (or a rooster!...I don’t think that I’ve heard such a perfect rooster crow before…but now I hear one every morning!)  The culture is so interesting in the fact that it is so primitive.  People raise their own chickens and goats, and then prepare them to eat.  People buy fabric and then take it to a seamstress for her to make a dress.  Robbi and I actually brought one of the seamstresses, Pele, some fabric today!  She is a sweet lady!  I think she charges about $3 or $4 per outfit that she makes.  I am having two sundresses and a shirt and skirt outfit made. 


The last few days have been good.  We’ve been getting to know our surroundings.  As geographically challenged as I am, I am just finally figuring out where everything is, and where I am in relation to that.  It’s kinda nice J 


On Sunday, we went into the big city about an hour away, DarEs Salaam.  We took a daladala.  What an experience!  It is a large van which will probably seat about 20 people comfortably.  The trip to Dar costs $1.  We left Bagamoyo with about 23 people in the van, and at one point there was actually 30 people in there!  They just kept picking people up!  They’d stand, or half sit on someone else.  Right after that trip, I came home with a cold.  I wonder where I might have picked that up ;-)  Dar was fun, but we realized after we got there that a lot of the shops are closed on Sunday.  We went to the mall to get some things that we needed.  By the time we made it to the mall, we were sooo hungry so we just went to the deli of a supermarket and picked up some rice and curry with samosas (fried things with meat and veggies inside).  We couldn’t find a place to eat it, so we 5 girls camped out on the floor in the corner of the mall…pretty obnoxious, yes.  We kept looking over at the security guard, wondering when they were going to kick us out.  Robbi got up to take a picture of how ridiculous we looked, and the security guard came over.  We were thinking, darn…I guess this is it.  Robbi asked if she could take a quick picture first, and then took one.  The security guard said, “Girls, actually I come over here to tell you that you can’t take a picture in the shopping center”.  We apologized, and then were laughing when she left about how it was fine to just create our own picnic area though J  Then she came back over a few minutes later, and said, “Okay, if you want to take one more picture it is okay.  Now give me a biscuit.”  We were totally confused!!  We didn’t have any biscuits, but were feeling pretty funny about the conversation.  Haha


On Monday there is a market in Bagamoyo.  We checked it out on Monday, but were a little disappointed to see that it is a lot of household items.  I think it was Robbi who described it as “Wal-Mart brought to you!”  It was interesting though…They had a lot of old clothes that they were selling.  The clothes looked like they were clothes from a clothes drive in the States that had been sent over…They were a lot of American brands.  Oh…On the way to Dar the day before, I saw a man wearing a “Hutchinson Plumbing” shirt… I thought it was pretty funny.  I wanted to ask him about it, but he was a few rows up.  I am assuming it came from a clothes drive as well. 


This morning on our run, Robbi and Shayna and I decided to take a little different route…About 15 minutes down this great road (it was up from the beach a little bit, so we had a great view of the sunrise over the beach…beautiful!), we went past this house.  Three dogs came bolting out of the yard, and started running after us, barking and snarling.  It was really scary since one of the guys in our program just got bit by a dog with rabies the week before we got here (that dog is dead now from rabies).  But I guess a lot of the dogs here have rabies.  So we were pretty freaked out!!  We were all in a circle with our backs to each other, the dogs surrounding us, snarling and barking.  Then a lady came out of the house, and got the dogs away.  I am not sure if they had rabies or not…I would think that if they would have wanted to bite us, they probably could have…but still just really scary! 


The last few days at the school, we have been doing a lot of painting.  We put two coats of paint and trim in a classroom.  We are excited to paint some colourful pictures in one of the rooms in the next few days.  The classrooms are pretty much outside…big open windows.  I’m not even sure how long our paint job will last since it’s so wide open.  One of the teachers said they had just painted this classroom we’re doing in April!  I hope that is not really the case :-/  One of the teachers, Hadija, was giving me Swahili lessons one of the days.  She seemed really excited about it.  I loved it.  She is really sweet!  I think I am getting my numbers down J


Well, that is my update of the last few days…A lot to say!  Everything still seems very new, but it is really starting to feel like home.  When we came back from Dar (after being there for only the day), we all said “Oh, it feels so good to be home.”  J  And I think I’m getting more used to the geckos…and other small critters.  The other volunteers are telling me that the squeaks we hear at night are rats…but I am sure that is a fabricated lie, right? J 


This weekend, we have arranged to go to Zanzibar!!  Its an archipelago (pretty close to an island) off the coast of Tanzania.  Everyone who talks about Zanzibar speaks so fondly of it.  They have beautiful beaches (one of the volunteers says they’re the best she’s seen…better than Thailand, Malaysia, etc….YAY!) and a rich history.  We are really excited.  We are taking Monday off of school since there still have been no kids yet (and the director will be gone as well).  We will be working more afternoons to get things done. 


Thanks for reading the ramblings!  It is quite an adventure, and a place and people that I will not soon forget… 

a_tanghe says:
oh im jealous! you sound like you are having a wonderful time!! and its funny cuz i totally understand some of the stuff you are talking about because sri lanka had some similarities. fun! too bad you cant upload many pics. love you!
Posted on: Jun 20, 2007
cnd says:
What an adventure you are having! It's so interesting to read about it - and yes, I agree, I think your super-macho-man Dad would have been a cowering babe in that situation ;-) Anyway, keep up the posting, you're a great reporter, makes me feel like I'm there with you! Love, Carol
Posted on: Jun 20, 2007
gtanghe says:
Tara, we love reading "your ramblings!" Your experiences are most interesting to read.

With your all encounters with geckos, rats, and (possibly rabid) scarey snarling dogs, you may find yourself feeling under-challenged and bored when you get back to Shakopee and face only wild and crazy junior high students in the classroom. Haha. The experience with the dogs sounds like it would have been especially scarey. I think even your super-macho-man Dad might have cowered in that situation. ;-)

Love to you, Dad
Posted on: Jun 20, 2007
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