Snows of Kilimanjaro running through my veins (and esophagus)

Random stories from Tanzania

I saw a baby who had a black strap tied around her waist. Inside the strap was a lock of her hair, some of her nail clippings, and part of her umbilical cord saved at birth.  Apparently it is meant to keep bad spirits away.

People think bad spirits live inside the Baobob trees.  However it’s ok to chew on the seeds.  I guess the evil spirits don’t live in the seeds.

I heard about a woman who gave birth on a hospital floor.  She tried to get the nurses’ attention but they were all sleeping.

The most profitable companies in Tanzania are cell phone companies and beer companies.  One Tanzanian commented, “That’s what we like to do here. Talk and drink.”

Today a young man got a pair of new black shoes as a gift.  You would think he was given a pot of gold from the look on his face.

They have an interesting way of cooking okra here.  It’s very goopy.  But delicious.

I saw a woman carrying a large variety of men’s shirts on her head today.  I was tempted to stop her and do some shopping but I thought that would be weird to shop on someone’s head.

I heard about one boy who died of malaria recently.  He had pneumonia, and when he went to the hospital, they treated him for pneumonia and neither he nor the doctors realized he had malaria too, so he died from the malaria that went untreated.  I bought some malaria medication to take home to America in case I ever develop it after a trip.  The best treatment for malaria, made from a Chinese herb, has not been approved by the FDA, but it is available here for $5.

Today I brought some kids to visit Pete O’Neal in Arusha.  Pete is an exiled Black Panther. If he returns to the USA he would be arrested, so he has lived here for 40 years. His passion now is being Babu (Grandpa) to 23 young children at the Leaders of Tomorrow Orphanage he built on his property. GO Campaign funded the closed-in porch on the orphanage a couple years ago so the kids would have somewhere to gather and study when it rains.  The kids are lucky to have Pete and his wife Charlotte raising them with such love.

They have an old horse on the property that the kids love. They used to have a giant boa constrictor but ants ate it alive. Who knew ants could eat a snake?

I was invited to futari – a Ramadan dinner – at a modest home outside of Moshi. We started with mandazi (donuts) and chai, then had sweet potatoes cooked in coconut, then fish. The fish are whole fish, with heads and bones.  And at people’s homes you generally eat with your hands.  I took local transportation back to my hotel.  That part of town is a little daunting at night because it so dark and there are lots of people walking around all of whom blend in with the night except for me. But I made it home in no time without incident. Clearly Allah was watching over me.  Even scarier than the ride home, was the glass of water they gave me at dinner. I hoped it was safe to drink but wasn’t really sure and I didn’t want to be rude or waste the water. I think it was just from the municipal water supply, which is water that comes down from Kilimanjaro. I suspect others may have advised against drinking it but I was fine. I now have the snows of Kilimanjaro running inside my veins.

Today I learned how to say ‘hi’ in the Maasai language.  It sounds like “Yay-RO” with a bit of a rolling r.  I tried it out on a Maasai Warrior walking on the street tonight and I got a big smile.

Yay-ro to anyone reading this blog….

Now it’s time to sleep…