Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Tanzanian education continues

Bananas anyone?

OK, gang. It is 1:45 a.m. here in Tanzania on Sunday, June 29, so I am going to try and make this quick. Today was a longer day, but a slower pace, if that makes sense. We arrived at James Kiphizi’s house around 11 to greet Karen Klemp and Amy Martin, who arrived in Tanzania that morning. 

Excitement abounded and we were soon sharing our stories. Before I knew it, it was 2 p.m. and time to head out for lunch. On a side note, that is one thing that some of my fellow travelers had to adjust to. Meals are eaten later in Tanzania. Lunch is between 2 and 4 p.m., while dinner is served between 8:30-9 at night. I’ll be honest, the later lunch does get to me sometimes. My stomach will be growling and I will be like, oh, it’s 3 p.m. Yeah, no wonder I am hungry. But back home, I usually eat dinner no earlier than 7:30, and have it as late as 9 p.m., so that is not as big a deal.

I am all about trying new things, or things I cannot get in the states. Or, if I can, I would not know where to start. With my sandwich (avocado, chicken, lettuce and a special sauce) I had a tropical smoothie. I know it has avocado and passionfruit in it, along with two other fruits. So far everything I have had has been delicious. There was one vegetable, it is a kind of white tomato, that I did not really like, but then again, I do not normally like tomatoes. I figure if that is the worst of it, I am doing good. (:

Is it just me, or does this look like something from National Geographic?
I did do a little shopping before my meal. These quaint little stores surrounded the restaurant. The places had fixed prices and no bartering, but I thought the prices were pretty fair. I picked up a few postcards. I know my grandfather really wants a postcard from Tanzania, and I thought I would send some out to my family as well. 

I also stopped by A Novel Idea Bookstore. I am incapable of visiting a foreign country without purchasing some books. I walked away with a Swahili-English book, an informative book on Kilimanjaro and Northern Tanzania, Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby and Mwendo. 

My new reading project
When I saw Mwendo, I could not resist. Of all four of the books, it is the only one I purchased that is completely in Swahili. What good will a book with no English be? Well, it is true that I cannot read a word of it now. But every day I am falling in love with the people, the colors, the food, the scenery and the language. I am jotting some words down in my notebook and make a point every day to use more and more Swahili. 

Here is what I have learned so far:
Hujambo: Hello
Karibu: Welcome (to a place) or You’re welcome.
Asante: Thank you
Asante sana: Thank you very much
Leo: Aside from being my boyfriend’s name, it means Today in Swahili
Ndio - Yes
Hapana - No
Kiasi Gani  - How much?
Habari Gani - How are you?
Nzuri - Good

And some slang...
Mambo: No, it is NOT a dance. This is the informal way of greeting someone. It mean’s “What’s up?”
To which you can reply “Poa” which is “cool.”

Other words are not that different.
For example, mother is mama. Father is a little different, it is baba. So mama and baba.
If you can soma might be my new tutor! (;

Ni means I.
Na means am.
And soma means read. This word can be used for all tenses. 
So “Ni na soma” can mean “I am reading” and Ni spma can mean “I read.”

Then there is the most important word of all: Sielewi. If any of my high school peers are reading this, if we ever had a Spanish class together, you might recall my hand shooting up in the air and me saying, “No comprendo, Senior Ison.” Yup, you guessed it. Sielewi means “I don’t understand.” A vital word for me in any language. (;

Nothing like having the band follow you to spice up a wedding 
Ironically, my Spanish education comes in handy when speaking Swahili. How? Well, it is simple. The vowels are pronounced the same as in Spanish, and many of the consonants. A couple notable differences are the J and G. These are pronounced similar to English, with a hard ja or ga sound. But nine times out of ten, I can look at a Swahili word and pronounce it perfectly. 

My Swahili is very rudimentary, but I take advantage and practice it whenever I can. If I can string together a couple sentences by the time I get home, I will be happy. And with a little time, I intend to pull out Mwendo and begin piecing it together. 

The new bride and groom
If you are rolling your eyes and going, “I don’t really care to have a Swahili language lesson,” then you might be interested in hearing about the wedding we crashed. There, that got your attention, didn’t it? 

Alright, I will admit, we did not really crash the wedding per se, but we did pull over to snap some photos. While driving around town, we noticed these cars that were decorate with ribbons and flowers. We figured, this has to be a wedding parade...or perhaps a funeral. We spotted the same parade later in the day. The front car had a woman in white and a man in a nice suit, so we figured wedding for sure. Behind them was a truck with a band in the back. 

A little later, we spotted them again and they were taking photos. While the fence kept me from getting a perfect shot, I did get a couple decent ones. Jane might have gotten a few on the sly, but when I pull out my honking professional Canon, all bets are off. Jane was like, “she is probably thinking you better not put those online or I’m going to come after you!” Well.......good thing the bride and I aren’t Facebook friends. (;

Reporters unite!
I also met a fellow reporter. His name is Charles and he may be the newest addition to the Kisongo Rotary group. We have exchanged contact information. The next time I visit, I would love to spend a day shadowing him and seeing what the life of a reporter in Tanzania is like!

Although I took far fewer photos today, I did manage to snap a beauty of Mt. Meru. It was totally clear for the first time today. Every time I saw it before the top was either shrouded in clouds or just the top was peeking out. Much thanks goes to my Uncle Dave, who lent me his telephoto lens for the trip. I am getting some AMAZING photos with it. 

I just realized that I have been typing for 35 minutes and have my longest post to date. So much for keeping this quick. 

Kwahere! Soma zaidi keshu!
(Goodbye! Read more tomorrow!)

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