Many posts consolidated

17 10 2010

So as you’ve noticed, I haven’t been able to post as much as I’ve wanted, but I’ve been keeping up with the good ole fashion pen and paper.  I’m just going to cut and paste the entries that I was able to copy to my laptop then post them here.  I apologize for any typo’s, but this is the best I can do until I get a portable modem and have my own internet.


So yesterday I officialy played my first soccer game in Africa. We were allowed to walk down the road from the CCT (complex where we are staying prior to moving in with our host families) to a huge open field, right next to a huge cemetery. Nice setting I know, but this was the first chance in a couple weeks any of us have been allowed out of the complex where we were staying to exercise. We got to the field but had to wait because a local club soccer team was using it. Our Tanzanian group leader then went over to talk to the team about us using some of the field. The team was more than happy to let us play. I don’t know if was because they were being hospitable or it was because I had brought a brand new soccer ball I bought at Wal-Mart before coming here. Apparently the cheap ball I had with me was about 10 times better than anything they had, so they invited us to play. Jumapili (our group leader and also the Kiswahili word for ‘Sunday’) also agreed to officiate our little game because the coach of the team wanted to play as well. About 4 of the wazungu (white people) decided to play (me, Ghee, Eric, and Katie). We were only supposed to play for about 30 minutes until it got dark but we ended up playing for over an hour. Needless to say, I was tired as hell since I really haven’t done much physical activity since arriving here. Anyway, the soccer field was real shotty, with no real out of bounds, and with logs nailed together to form the goalposts, and no nets; just about what you’d expect from a soccer field in rural Africa. However, the town we are staying in lays at the base of a huge mountain, so in the background of this little rinky dink field is this beautiful mountain as a backdrop. At one point during the game I looked up at the mountain as the sun was setting. I wish I could have snapped a picture because no amount of description here can justify how awesome it looked. It was then that it really hit me that I was in Africa for REAL.

The next day was the first day that we started official language lessons. It was a both a relief that we’d finally started to learn the language but also a little disappointing that the days of 5 meals a day and no homework was coming to an end. We started off learning all the possible greetings in Kiswahili, which is EXTREMELY important in Tanzanian culture. In America, if you want to ask someone a question you just ask it. It’s direct, efficient, and to the point. Not here. If you tried the same thing here, you wouldn’t get much help. Greetings are the gateway to any other topic of conversation you may engage in. It is considered extremely rude to start a conversation without saying something like this:

A: Mambo! (Hey, what’s up?)

B: Poa (Not much, good to see you)

A: Habari za gani? (What’s the news?)

B: Nzuri! (The news is good!)

We get plenty of practice with this since we all practice on each other, but the Tanzanian trainers, LCF’s (Language & Cultural Facilitators) make all this language learning possible. They are responsible for teaching us Kiswahili in small groups of 4-5 people. Also, it’s really easy to practice with people you meet on the street. Everyone looks at you as if you came from another planet, and when you greet them in Kiswahili, they just think it’s the craziest thing and will probably laugh.

Tomorrow we’ll continue with our language training. It’s amazing to me to think about how much we know/how much we’ve learned in 2 days of real class. I guess there’s a reason people say that the PC is the best place to learn a language. You learn it from native speakers, and are immersed in the culture and language 24/7. Tutaonana!


Wow. So today we officially left the CCT complex where all the PCT’s (Peace Corps Trainees) have been living since we moved from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, and moved in with our host families. I don’t usually get nervous often, but holy shit was I nervous. We loaded up a huge van, with all 10,000 pounds of our luggage and departed off to each of our homestay families’ homes. The first girl who we dropped off looked like she had a sweet deal. There were definitely power lines running to the house, so it’s safe to assume she has power. I was the second person to get dropped off. I was actually dropped off across the street from the first girl, so it’s good to know that someone who speaks my language lives close by. So, the van pulled up, they dumped my bags out, and I saw my Tanzanian Mama standing in the doorway. I greeted her with the traditional young-person-to-elder greeting of ‘Shikamoo!’ My Mama’s name is Lydia, and when she saw her new American son, she yelled, laughed, gave me a big hug, and promptly ushered me inside. The house is not bad at all! It has a huge porch, huge living room/dining room with new couches, a little kitchen area (however no typical kitchen appliances), and about 4 bedrooms. My room is about as big as my room I had as a kid, if not bigger, with a queen size bed. For those of you who saw my room in Atlanta, my room in Tanzania is about twice as big. Go figure. After I dropped my bags, I went out to the kitchen and met Lydia’s 3 kids. She has two girls, 10 & 14, and one small boy who is less than a year old. They are so dang cute, and they absolutely love hearing me attempt to speak Kiswahili. Immediately after hanging with the watoto (children), I was given a cup of fresh chai, a juicy papaya plucked from our backyard, toast, and 2 hard boiled eggs. After I was forced to eat this delicious food, I busted out some of the awesome gifts Audrey got me as an ice-breaker. Because I mean, what else do you do when neither you or the family you are staying with speak the same language? I gave them 2 beanie babies and showed them how to blow bubbles. All three of the kids loved the bubbles. We sat there for probably 30 minutes and blew bubbles. The little 1 year old boy literally laughed everytime we blew a bubble. So, THANK YOU Audrey for the perfect gift! After playing with the kids for a while, Lydia wanted to show off her new white American son to all the neighbors. Now, Lydia’s house is pretty nice, I’d say middle class by Tanzanian standards, all plush with power and all, but her “family friend” lived in damn mansion. It was on par with any nice house in America that’d I’ve been in and was 3 stories high with iron gates and a call box. I’m thinking this is crazy, because all of you reading this, and don’t lie, didn’t expect me to be sitting in some mansion drinking ice cold beer when I got here. The servant comes to the gate and lets us in and shows us the entrance (right near the 3 car garage). We get to the door, remove our shoes, and go inside. There are two old guys sitting on the couches sipping on some beer. They offer me one, and of course I didn’t want to be a bad guest, so I accepted. I introduce myself using my newly acquired broken Kiswahili greetings and sit down. While mama is talking to these two guys in Kiswahili, the girl who let us in the gate busts out a bottle of vino from the wine closet. I’m thinking to myself, what the heck does this guy do for a living? Anyway, I join the conversation in Kiswahili but exhaust my entire vocabulary in about 5 minutes, so the oldest guy starts talking to me in perfect English. He proceeds to tell me he knows the Peace Corps well and remembers when JFK started to the PC. He also informs me that he got a graduate degree in the states (Tennessee of all places). We talked about American politics, Obama, and the upcoming Tanzanian presidential elections. All the while, I can’t believe I’m sitting here in Tanzania in some guys mansion, watching TV, sipping on an ice cold brew dog, and talking American politics. Eventually Lydia and I say our goodbyes and she takes me down the street to meet yet more of her friends. We stop by two other houses, both of which have volunteers staying there, and both of which have power, TV’s, and refrigerators. I think I make a good impression and don’t embarrass myself too bad. The next couple of days should be interesting…


So for all of you who were curious what the food is like here, I’ve put a list of what I’ve been eating below.




Boiled spinach

Salted pork




Jegere (peas with Indian spices)


Anddd Utumbo (aka cow intestine)


Chai (tea, but about ¾’s milk)

Bread with butter


Tanzanian donuts (these things are AMAZING)

Freshly brewed juice

Most everything I’ve listed is delicious, except for a couple items. Well 1 item. The cow intestine. I didn’t know what it was at first. I knew it looked suspicious, but I figured hell, I don’t want to offend my family so I’ll try a piece or two. The first piece wasn’t terrible, but the second piece almost made me vomit. After trying the second piece, I tried asking, again in my broken Kiswahili, what I was eating. My mama pointed to her stomach and said “cow stomach!” I wish I could have seen my own face after she told me that. Otherwise, everything here is super good. At just about every meal there is rice, which is mixed with some type of meat (beef, chicken, pork, other), or veggie dish. All the food is ridiculously fresh, since my family only has a small refrigerator, all the food is bought and prepared fresh daily. My favorite parts are the fresh veggies and fruits. The meats here I’m not a huge fan of quite yet. All the meat is super fresh, but that means someone goes to the local butcher, they have a cow sitting there, and the guy hacks off a slice for you. When the meat is cooked, it’s usually just chopped up and simmered in some kind of spice. This means that you have to eat around the bones, cartilage, and all that real tasty stuff that us American’s probably don’t think about very often since our cuts of meat we buy in the store are pumped full of all kinds of hormones. It’s a lot of work for a little bit of actual meat, so I’ve been sticking to mostly veggie dishes when I can. The one exception is the fish. The fish here is delicious when it’s fried or boiled. It tastes almost like a whitefish and goes well with just about any rice/veggie dish.


So it’s Saturday, and it’s COLLEGE GAMEDAY. The first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning was how I was going to get to a computer with internet and check out all the pre-game hupla. I also heard that gameday in in Ann Arbor. PLEASE LET MICHIGAN WIN. So, college football aside, my first week on-site at my homestay was awesome. However, the language classes are getting super intense since we have about 6-8 hours of instruction a day. The class combined with the fact that things as simple as communication with family members is a huge mental and emotional drain. Trying to talk with my family is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. However, it’s only been a week and I’m able to converse about simple topics such as where I’m from, where I’m staying now, what I’m doing here, and when I’m doing it. My best resrouce for learning thus far though is my mama’s little niece, Upendo (‘Upendo’ means ‘Love’ in Kiswahili). Every night after dinner, I sit down at the kitchen table to do my homework and Upendo sits down with me to help me with pronunciation and vocab; she’s absolutely adorable. Some nights she’ll even bring out her own Kiswahili books that she uses at her primary school, and we learn Swahili together. The kids here make the best teachers because they are so patient, and are always willing to help you out, not matter how good or bad your language skills may be.

During the week, all the volunteers separate off into small (4-5 person) groups for language and teacher training, so we don’t get to hang with the 34 other volunteers that we’ve became such good friends with. Yesterday though on Friday, all the volunteers came back to the CCT for some large group sessions on teaching methods. It was really interesting to learn how the education system works here, and how all the tests to determine whether you pass or fail the grade are standardized at the national level. All kids here, after each level of schooling, take the exact same exams. This also means all the teachers are working off the same exact government mandated syllabus which has it’s pro’s and con’s. Obviously, some kids learn faster than others, so I’ve heard from other volunteers that it’s a real challenge to cover all the material and have the kids pass. In Tanzania, a passing grade on the year end exam is 20%. Yea, that’s not a typo. A 20%. However, the vast majority don’t get above a 20%. I’m still trying to figure out why the scores are so damn low, but I’ll let you know when I have some more insight into this predicament.

After sitting in lectures about teaching methods all day, about 12 of us decided to hit up the local bar/grille that is right around the corner from my house. What’s important about this place, is that it’s one of the only places in town that serves pizza. They also only have pizza available on Friday’s and Sunday’s. I can tell you that while Tanzanian food is pretty good, it can’t hold a candle to a good old fashion American pizza pie. We were all craving pizza. Cheese and chocolate are two things that are super expensive here. For example, a snickers bar goes for about $1.00 in the states, and it goes for a little more than that here. When you factor in that most families live on what we’d consider pennies, snickers bars = gold here. However, even the Tanzanian’s that I’ve talked to who have had cheese, oddly enough don’t like it. I can’t figure that one out. I didn’t realize how much I missed cheese, but I’d put it up there right behind family, girlfriend, and friends on the list of things I miss most. The first thing I did when I sat down at the table was order a large veggie pizza for myself. When it came out (about an hour later), I absolutely destroyed it at an earth shattering pace, and washed it down with an ice cold Kilimanjaro beer. Nothing brings you back to the feeling of being in America like hot pizza and an ice cold beer. While I was woofing down my pizza, I had a chance to talk to two current PCV’s (Peace Corps Volunteers) who mentioned two things that anyway who wants to visit should know. 1. There is a HUGE music festival on the island of Zanzibar that is supposed to be amazing. 2. The second is that there is a marathon at the base of Kilimanjaro If you’re interested in doing either of these things, definitely let me know.

Finally, today I ran out of clean clothes and was forced to do laundry. If you thought laundry in America was difficult, you obviously haven’t been to Tanzania. You have to hand wash everything using either powder or bar soap, buckets, and water. Doing my wash my hand that’s been accumulating for 2 weeks was not the most enjoyable thing in the world, but oh well, clothes gotta be clean. I also successfully explained to my house mom who Audrey is. She was extremely interested in her, how we met, how long we’ve been together, and how we communicate with me being here in Africa and all. She already told me that I’d better be sure to bring her to the house to meet her. That’s about all I have for now, I’m gonna try to lala fofofo (sleep like a log), but first…. GO BLUE. P.S. Thanks to Geruso who will be sending me text updates during the game.


This morning I woke up a little earlier than usual so I could have time to write. I normally wake up at around 6:15am, but not by choice. There are three things that wake me up every morning without fail. The first is dogs. Damn dogs. I apologize to all you dog lovers, but dogs here aren’t usually kept as pets. Most of the dogs are wild dogs or half domesticated dogs that roam the streets and I swear all they do it fight and bark loud as hell. The second thing that wakes me up is roosters. Roosters are loud. That’s pretty self-explanatory. The third thing that wakes me up no matter when time I set my alarm is the sound of people right outside my window sweeping their yards using straw brooms. Everyone sweeps their yard, every morning. When I say yard, it’s not like a yard in the USA where we have grass. These are dirt yards. Basically loose dirt on top of rock hard dirt, and without fail around 6am when the sun starts to rise, the sweeping commences. What makes it even worse is that the city I’m living in is experience a little bit of a water shortage. In case you weren’t aware, here in Tanzania, there are two seasons. The dry season and the rainy season. Additionally, the sun rises and sets at about the exact same time of the day, regardless of the time of year since we are so close to the equator. Kiswahili actually has its own method of keeping time. The day starts at 6:00am (aka 12:00am) when the sun rises and goes until 6:00pm (12:00pm) when the sun sets, which is kind of a pain because I always have to subtract 6 hours from my watch anytime someone asks for the time….

Anyway, this past Sunday was very interesting. Earlier this week I accidentally agreed to cook dinner “American Style” on Sunday. The easiest thing I could think of was pasta and homemade tomato sauce. So on Sunday, I wake up after sleeping in until 7:45am, did a couple hours of homework, then departed to the market/city center for the first time by myself. It is about a 15 minute walk and a 10 minute “daladala” ride. A daladala is basically a van taxi that runs a certain route; the thing is there are no seat belts, and you can ALAWAYS fit one more person. At one point last week, I think we had about 25 people in a car the size of a mini-van. I was basically crowd surfing in the van while we were careening at about 185 mph down the road, so I’ll leave it at that, I think you get the picture. So I successfully flagged down a daladala and got a ride into town. I was able to jump on the internet and see that UofM got crushed by MSU, which was great, but I was able to write two entire blog posts. After hitting up the internet café, I bought a huge pack of pasta, which by the way is WAY more expensive here than in the states. A pack of pasta is 3800tsh, which is about $3.50 USD. Pricey I know, but we are supposed to stick to about 4000tsh per day during training. While I was doing my shopping, I ran into some other volunteers and we grabbed a bite to eat at a café in town called the “Heart Snack Café”. They have an extensive menu which (very similar to most other cafes in town) consisted of 1 item. Chipsi mayai (home fry’s and eggs). After chowing down, I was able to catch a ride home from one of my friends homestay dad, who owns a mosquito net shop in town. When I finally got home, my family couldn’t wait to see white man (and I emphasis man because 99% of men don’t cook here) was cooking them for dinner. When I would tell the neighbors that I was cooking, they broke out into laughter. I started boiling the water for the pasta on the charcoal stove around 5:45, and it didn’t finish boiling for over an hour. I only 1 charcoal cooker to use so while I waited I diced up tomato, garlic, and green pepper and threw them in a pot with a little sunflower oil to make my sauce. After the pasta finished, I simmered the tomatoes into a saucy stew. My host sister and mama watched in delight as I set the table and proclaimed “Karibu Chakula!” (Welcome to food!). I think they all liked it. They told me they did, but who knows, they could be just eating it to avoid being rude like I do on occasion. Either way, I thought it was damn good, and was fairly impressed with my first attempt at homemade tomato sauce using no recipe and basically no other types of kitchen equipment you’d find in the states. Pasta with homemade pasta sauce will definitely be something that I’ll be cooking on my own once I get to my permanent site and I have to live on my own.




9 responses

26 10 2010
Don Kreiss

Hey Glen!

It sounds great and like you’re having an amazing adventure. Keep out the blog, please (which is great) and God be with you in the days and weeks ahead. Don Kreiss

6 11 2010

Pastor Kreiss, so good to hear from you! It definitely has been an adventure thus far, and it’s only just starting. I will try my best to keep this updated as reguarly as possible. Thank you for your prayers; definitely keep me in them!

23 10 2010
Tammy and Neil Sawyer

Hi Glenn,
It’s great to read your blog! I will enjoy following your progress and amazing journey. Prayers and blessings to you on your time in the Peace Corps!
God’s Peace,
Tammy Sawyer

6 11 2010

Tammy, so good to hear from you and I hope you enjoy the blog! I’ve also heard that someone from our church has been over here in Tanzania to partner with a Lutheran Church here, so I’m going to try and get that information from my parents. Anyway, thank you for the blessings and I hope you and your family are also doing well!

18 10 2010
Nancy Legacki

Glenn, I am a bit behind in reading your blogs, but I have to say, now that I am caught up, I am really enjoying them. Please keep them coming.

It was great to talk to you as well for a little while on line yesterday. Hopefully I will catch you again online real soon!

Love ya!

Aunt Nancy

6 11 2010

Aunt Nancy, sorry for the super long posts! At the beginning there it was difficult to charge my computer much less get to the internet cafe in town. Also, I heard that the Giants won the world series?? What happened to the Phils?? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be in touch. Now that I have internet on my computer here, I’ll be online more often so we’ll definitely catch up on gchat!


18 10 2010

AHH! Glennnnn! It sounds like you are doing so well…i LOVE reading about you adventures. Keep it up! We miss you!

17 10 2010
Aunt Lynn

Holt, I am truely enjoying your entries. You are making an important difference and touching so many lives. I finished my resume and have a few job prospects. I am beginning to study for my licnesing exam. I like you am also learning a forgin language, (tehee,tehee). Poland was great! Take Care, you are in my thoughts and prayers! Love Aunt Lynn xo

6 11 2010

Aunt Lynn, are you familiar with skype? If not, maybe we can have Lindsey hook you up. It’s a free way to make calls to other computers. I want to hear about your trip to Poland!

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