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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bagamoyo Update

There's so much going on here and I haven't had the time to think about how to communicate it.  And there is so little opportunity to use my own computer and there's usually a line waiting at the internet cafe.

This is a wonderful experience and I'm not sorry to be having it.  The people who welcome us are wonderful but there are many more who are not happy we are here.  I'm very comfortable in my skin color here as far as not really feeling different inside myself when I'm out on the street.  I could forget that I'm white except that we are the local entertainment in a way.  Everyone looks and points.  The women giggle and hide behind their kangas (head veils).  The children run up to us and want to hold our hands and then very soon they ask for money.  The men are either abrasive or try to pick you up.  Age doesn't matter.  They assume you will be happy to give them money.  It is not safe to go more than two blocks from CCS after dark even by bajaji (a small three wheeled taxi).

I miss the freedom to move about freely, stop in a local cafe for a coffee, or eat outside the compound.  We are lucky to have very good cooks making our meals but the food is the same every day.  On the other hand we are being fed and that's more than many people can say here.  It also feels strange to walk into an oasis in the midst of such poverty and then be  locked up and guarded all day and night.  There is one bar/restaurant we can go to that is two blocks away.  The food is not edible but the wine is excellent.  It is the highlight of our day.  At 4:30pm, the mamas (as 4 of us are known) head for Hillside and have two glasses of wine before dinner and being locked up for the night.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bagamoyo Young Artist Center

 Dee getting tangled up in her mosquito net.  It sounds kind of glamorous.... not so much.  But we're grateful to have them.

Our room.  I lucked out with the non-bunk bed

Zikulu, the CCS program director and Jane, our new friend from the UK.  Another "mama" as we oldies are known.  The greeting for us is "Shikamoo"

The Bagamoyo Young Artist Center where I'm working.  It actually looks much better in this photo than it truly is.  We have been asked not to take photos of the village.  Two brothers and two sisters who are musicians and artists opened the BYAC in March to support children who are interested in the arts, get them off the streets, and teach them how to avoid HIV.  The children range in age from 4 - 18.


  Amulike - 4

Irham, Taji, Anulira, Massiga - The Teachers
They are telling the story of what happens to young  people when they are promiscous.  They get aids and go crazy.

BYAC does not charge children to attend their program but they can't move beyond drumming and dancing because they have no supplies.  I wish you could see how happy these kids are to have a piece of paper and a pencil.  More the next time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Dee at Cell Phone Store
The door to our room.  It has since been fixed.  Yea!!
Our first introductory stop was to the cell phone store in Bagamoyo. Yes we had to cross that rickety bridge to get from the road to the storefront. Now I'm not sure why I bothered to buy one because I don't remember the number and forget to carry it - but it only cost $20 USD and I can buy 12 minutes of phone time for $2.50 so don't be surprised if I wake you up at 2AM someday.

Our days have been jam packed with little free time.  Mornings we spend with our placement assignment and afternoons are filled with Swahili lessons which are frightful because we can't understand what she says in English so we think she's saying "land" and she's saying "learn."  I'm sure it's the same for the students we're trying to teach English.  Actually, they are way better than us.

Our first drumming and dancing experience.  We visited one family of the Mwongo tribe and they shared
their talents with us.  All hand made instruments from natural products - gourds, palm bark, etc.
Some of the children I'm teaching.  They are painted because they danced in costume for me.
More pictures later.  I walked two miles for wi-fi.  Have been here an hour and this is all I accomplished.  I keep losing the connection.  More to come another day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello Bagamoyo

This will be short and sweet since the connection is lacking.  The flight from Italy to Dar Es Salaam was not fun.  I was very sick the last couple of days in Italy so two train rides and a delayed flight did not make for a great time.

As our flight was about to depart from Rome, a commotion occurred on the plane.  A woman wearing muslim garb refused to take her seat and kept crying very loudly.  The flight attendants tried everything to make her comfortable and to get her to sit down without success.  Airport security boarded the plane and removed her.  All the luggage had to be removed and we all had to deplane, return to security which was a busride away and redo the boarding process.  All this while I wasn't feeling well and at 1 am.  Anyway, we finally took off about two and a half hours late.  Still managed to make the connection in Addis Ababa and arrived in Dar Es Salaam on time.  Then to wait six hours for the driver to pick us up.  It then took four hours to drive 60 km to Bagamoyo.

The compound is an oasis in the town.  It has indoor toilets and showers although no hot water and some people were displaced from their room tonight because of a dead rat in the vents.  The smell in their room is ... well disgusting.  They are doubling up with the rest of us until the smell can be removed.  There are 16 of us.  All women and one man, the second half of a couple.  Four "mamas" or "shikmoo" as we older women are calld, two 20 year olds, one thiry, and the rest 18 and 19.  It all works and we're having a great time together.

Hopefully I can find wi-fi tomorrow at a local hotel and can post some pictures.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Arrivederci Lucca

One entry portal intoLucca

It's time to say Arrivederci Lucca!  I can't believe our time is up here already.  I'm just learning my way around.  Dee and I are going out tonight for our last hurrah.

Tomorrow we take the train to Rome and catch the midnight flight to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania where hopefully someone from Cross Cultural Solutions will pick us up and take us to Bagamoyo.  We're a little nervous but I guess it's too late for that.

From the wall.

So much for Rosetta Stone.  I am no good at all with the language here.  Panic sets in every time I try to say something in Italian.  Or if I do manage to say something in Italian, I don't understand the reply.  It took me three days to stop saying 'bon jour' and start saying 'buongiorno'.  Mostly I say 'mi scusi' as I stare down a  bicyclist coming at me.  Six weeks in Florence by myself may prove interesting.
Cafes and bicycles

Flower Stalls

Parks and walking path on top of the wall

Arrivederci Lucca!  Habari Bagamoyo! 
Last celebration at Buralli's

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Amazing Women

Dee and Ankie

One of the highlights of the Lucca trip has been the opportunity to meet some of Dee's friends who live near here, like Ankie from Holland who moved to San Quirico following a divorce and renovated a house into a B&B.  She hosts students from Holland who are studying Italian.  We walked to San Quirico from Lucca and spent a lovely evening with Ankie eating pecorino cheese, caper berries and drinking prosecco.  We hired a taxi to bring us back to Lucca.

This is the river we crossed on the way to Ankie's house.

Inger Sannes
On Friday, we met Inger Sannes, who quit a management position with IBM in Sweden to become a sculptor at the age of 49, eight or ten years ago.  She met us for lunch and then took us to her sculptor's studio in Pietrasanta.  Every piece she has sculpted since she started has sold.  Just the shipping  for some of her pieces is about 200,000 Euro.
Inger at Work

I wish you could see the way this piece looks when the light shines on it.  All of the marble is quarried from the same mountain as Michaelangelo's pieces.

Sillaboo Vineyard
Next we met Clara who owns a small vineyard called Sillaboo.  She shared with us what it takes to operate a vineyard and we tasted four white wines which is their specialty and one red.

I just want to hang out in this chair

On Sunday, Kathleen Dunne, an artist, hosted us for lunch on at her Tuscan home in Orbicciano.  This is Kathleen's dining room with a piece of her artwork.
Kathleen moved to Orbicciano from California with Sophie and Brando in 2002 when she was 70.

Dee and Kathleen walking Sophie and Brando.
Kathleen served us a wonderful Tuscan lunch of potato leek soup followed by panzanella with mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil under the wisteria arbor.  Also local italian wine and gelato.
Kathleen's Home

Potato Soup and Mozzarella

Is this heaven?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bella Tuscany

Where do I begin?  Albergo Piccolo Puccini in Lucca, our hotel?

The peccorino, parmigiana, salami, bread?

The churches...   the architecture...   the art?

Monte San Quirico?
The bare-breasted lady who fills our water bottles?

The picturesque cobblestone streets of Lucca?

The mountains made white marble.  The same that Michaelangelo used to create his sculptures?

The hillside town of Colonatta?
or the people enjoying it all?
Anne, Magdalene, Margie, Elaine, Dee, Tracy
Magdalene, Dee, Tracy

Elaine and Anne in Colonatta

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I keep losing my internet connection so these blogs are short and sweet.