Thursday, August 23, 2012

The dog days are over...

This is one lucky pup!

This morning, as we were enjoying our breakfast, my new roommate Millie brought up how her friend had just found a puppy that really needed a home. We both agreed that it was a shame we don't have the space or the time to have a dog here. A few minutes later, I left the house with my friend Jimmy to go from business to business asking for raffle donations for our Meru Animal Welfare Organization fundraiser in september. My mind was already totally on dogs for the day.

On the way to one part of town, we passed one of the most tragic looking dogs I've ever seen still alive. It was unbelivably skinny, lying on the side of the road by with its head still held up so I knew it was still barely alive. Oh it was so unbelivably sad to see. I immediately called the vet that I knew to see if he could bring the drugs to put the dog to sleep there. It was going to be a feat of arranging things to make that possible, as I was running all around town and so was the vet.

So I had to continue on because of Jimmy, my driver's, schedule. Soon Jimmy had to pick up another person who needed him as a taxi and the three of us went together to a super market. On the way there, however, I received an unexpected phone call. A woman had found a tiny puppy in her yard out in the coffee fields here. She had called a bunch of people, whoever she thought would be able to help take in the puppy, and three of them recommended that she call me! As she told me this, I thought "oh great, what a repuation I have given myself!" when actually, I was feeling quite proud that I was a go-to person in the community for helping animals. I told her at first that I wasn't able to help her, but she explained that she was about to leave the country and had no other place for the pup. I caved in a bit, but told her I had to check with my roommate.

Meanwhile, we had just arrived at the super market. I wasn’t there for a few seconds before I heard my name from another car- it was the parent of one of my students. I greeted him and then, slightly sarcastically, asked if he wanted a puppy. He said, “oh, really?! Actually we’re looking for a puppy!”… I couldn’t believe it. He asked me to send him a picture of it when I saw it. I immediately called the woman who had found it and told her of this crazy lucky. We decided that she’d bring the dog to the grocery where I was and I’d take it home for the afternoon before we decided if the parent I knew would want it. As soon as I hung up that phone call, however, another young woman approached me and said, “I heard you say that you have a puppy! My boss is looking for a puppy” – this was super good luck, especially for Arusha, to have two people immediately interested in this puppy! So I gave her my contact and waited for the dog.

Not long even minutes after that, my colleague Tiana drove into the same parking lot! I went over to talk to her while I awaited the pup’s arrival. We were enjoying some nice lunch when the woman arrived with the puppy in a box. She thanked me a lot, spent some time talking to us, went and bought the dog some shampoo and de-wormer, and gave me more money for food, vet, etc. It was all very nice and the puppy was being very sweet and sleepy inside the box. Just as my food arrived at the table, the dog got really jumpy and kept trying to leap out of its box. It was completely disrupting the meal and it was clearly very upset that it couldn’t get out of the box, so I had to wrap up my food and jump in a taxi.

We arrived home and I made a nice little bed for the doggy. When Millie arrived home, we gave the doggy a bath, sprayed it with flea medicine (that should have killed her many fleas, but seems to have had little effect…) and spent a lot of time feeding and playing with her.

She’s so skinny it’s amazing. You can totally see her rib cage. But she’s been remarkably good, social, and very people-friendly. We’re quite amazed. We’ve called her Lucy for now, but hope to find a home for her very soon. It all just seemed so serendipitous that we should have started the day talking about puppies, then I spent the day fundraising for dogs, and then all of this dog stuff happened all afternoon! Perhaps a much more appropriate name for our “Lucy” would be “Lucky”! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back in A-town

My community- Aug 18, 2012

I arrived Thursday night and yesterday I stepped out to visit and see my city again. I spent most of the day walking around the market with Fraser, remembering the language, the smells, the etiquette of the culture here. One thing I immediately noticed was how much more indifferent I was to being sought out, stared at, and hassled because of the color of my skin. Perhaps the break from that this summer did more good than I expected. It was really only as I was walking back to my home in the afternoon, however, that I realized the community and neighbors that I have here. First, I walked past a small printing shop where I do my photocopying and printing when I need it for school. I wasn’t even thinking about the shop when I heard, “daniellllla” called out from the window. A big smile spread across my face as I headed into the shop to greet my friends there, surprised that they could recognize me and remember my name (I guess there aren’t too many white girls where I live though, haha).

 I continued on to the duka (little shop) close to my house where a man named Daniel works. We were excited to meet the first time, discovering that our names were almost the same (I go by Daniella here usually though). He was so excited to see me, it made me laugh. He ran out of the shop and gave me a big hug—the typical hug here is a loose embrace of the shoulder and a hug to the left, a hug to the right. It’s similar to the way the French kiss on each cheek, only there’s no kissing here. Then he took my hand and held it as we talked—this is also a very common greeting and it took me a bit of time to get used to it with the men. Usually the men stand and hold hands with each other, like a very extended handshake without the shaking, for at least 30 seconds or a minute as they converse and ask each other how their families are, etc.

 I felt very happy as I continued on down my street to my house. There outside my house gate, next to the road stands a little group of piki-piki drivers (motorcycle taxis). I wasn’t sure if my friend that I always saw last year was still there, but my glances toward the group of drivers were confirmed as I heard the words “mayai!” I couldn’t help but start to laugh. This goes back to a personal joke this man I have—a guy with whom I’ve never really had a significant conversation because of my knowledge of Swahili and because he’s usually surrounded by other men (I stay clear of large groups of men if I’m by myself, even if I’m close to my home.) But “mayai” goes back to a day last spring sometime when I kept hearing this strange old man shouting out “maaayyyaaaiiiiii, maaayaaaiii” in all different inflections of pitch, the words ringing throughout the neighborhood and buildings. I seriously thought the man was just deranged and wandering around shouting sounds. But then I listened really to the word he was saying “mayai” means “eggs”! He was going around selling fresh eggs and notifying the neighborhood that he was passing through. One morning I was standing at the corner of my street near the motorcycle group and I laughed out loud as the egg man came by again with his screeching echoing around us. This pikipiki driver laughed too and said, “mayai!”—thus, that became our way of saying hello each morning as I left to go to work. It was so nice to see him, to greet him again. Just another familiar face with a story I don’t yet know.  

A new feeling- Aug 09, 2012

I was listening to some tunes tonight and thinking about Tanzania—and suddenly an oddly familiar pang of restlessness hit me, but in a new way. I realized, smiling to myself, that I am at last homesick for Arusha! How many times I sat in my Tanzanian home, thinking about the people and places I miss in the US, but now I realize that I’m ready to go back to Tanzania, ready to take on another year, ready to have another year of incredible memories and adventures. I’ve barely stopped going this summer: moving between Atlanta, Brazil, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Tennessee in less than 2 months. Uff. I’m ready to be back in Arusha, in my home, and be in one place for a little while.
There are little habits I see in myself now that have been born out of my life style in TZ. I wonder, when I do finally leave Arusha how long it will take for those quirks to fade away. Things like, being delighted to find bathrooms with soap and toilet paper, how I no longer ever keep my laptop plugged into the outlet (in case of electrical surges as are common in TZ), constantly being aware of the location of my flute (after having lost my previous one in TZ), not taking showers every day as I used to, wanting to play with and hold little children, and being perfectly content to be squished hot in a hot car or to not be a picky eater. I talk about Tanzania all the stinkin’ time with my friends, family, and new acquaintances. Everyone can tell you a hundred times that moving to Africa will open an entirely new world to you, but when you finally see how it has transformed you (in some ways, forever) it’s quite remarkable.