Sunday, December 12, 2010

One day and 18.5 hours

Until Christmas break! Though tomorrow is a very lax day and I just have one lesson on Tues. As of tonight, I am solo for the next two and a half weeks. My housemate is going back home to Sweden (will miss you!). Luckily the plans are coming together and I finally have options for Christmas. I'm going to keep things open-ended for now. Hence how I finally have time to journal.
Thanksgiving was a huge success!!! We had a Thanksgiving potluck style on the day of with all the traditional foods like a turkey, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and pecan pie, and stuffing. I was thrilled considering you usually can't find yams, pecans, or cranberries here :) But being a potluck, we also had nontraditional foods like gazelle meat, tomatoes with cheese and basil, green salad, and more I've forgotten already. It was great to celebrate with ex-pats who understand Thanksgiving and cool to see my Swedish housemate love an American holiday (how could you not!).
But then, I decided as an early Christmas present, I would make Thanksgiving dinner for my house staff. I've never paid so much for any type of food in my life, but it was so worth it! I attempted to pray in Swahili, granted it was short, and went around in a circle and said what we were thankful for. I was so happy. I could taste my dad's cooking, but it was me who made it! :) A 7.22 kilo turkey, cranberry sauce made from sweetened craisins and cranberry juice, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy (dad's recipe), and stuffing with homemade bread crumbs, it was such a success and I have a new appreciation of people like my dad that cook the whole meal by themselves! I was in the kitchen from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, but they all enjoyed it so much and it was so cool to share such a cultural thing.
Socially, it is still quite difficult to make friends. I have lots of acquaintances, but few people I could just call up to hang out, especially females. But I've decided over break I'm just going to go to things cuz that's how I'll make friends and I do have a travel buddy so that's really exciting! WE're going to see the Hatzabe tribe, one of the last hunter-gatherers and you go hunting with them using arrows and running and all, and it's on a beautiful lake so it will be a nice getaway.  This will be followed by a strenuous climb up Mt. Meru 4,000 some meters and I've heard the climb is harder than Kili as they call Mt. Kilimanjaro here, but a much more beautiful hike since it's less touristy. I'm doing both so we'll see. I'm going to volunteer at an orphanage a few days and I hope to take some day trips to the nearby parks. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing for Christmas, but I've been invited to a few things, some in Arusha with expats and one with my one Tanzanian female friend in their place in Moshi. My only thing is they're going for 3 days and I may feel a bit...not bored but isolated maybe is a good word? Lots of restaurants are having stuff here so I think my first choice would be to stay in town and hang out with people but we'll see. And then it's off to Longai, the only active volcano! And then Nina comes back and that'll be another post, but I'll try to be better at updating now that work has slowed down considerably.
The end-of-term concert went SO well! I was so proud of all of them and have received nothing but positive feedback. And our goal of filling the church (~200 people) was attained!!! To see the progress of the Umoja Ensemble kids made my heart literally go pitter-patter.
I went to a contemporary dance piece last night. I won't lie, I surely had my doubts due to my experiences with contemp dance in the past...but, this was AMAZING! Shirtless, VERY built, Tanzanian and Madagascar men doing headstands, jumping 3 ft in the air, balancing on each other, flips, the whole nine yards, and to think it was on cement!!
Oh and I had the BEST haircut complete w/ steak sandwiches, sweet corn which I didn't even know you could get here, and a shot of Zambuka, all for less than 15 bucks!
Well I'm off to a benefit concert. Check out the Sowers group, contemporary African music, really good!

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