Friday, December 31, 2010

A 2-dimensional Christmas

Inspired by some Mennonite family blog, Kacey created a lovely Christmas tree made of wrapping paper. We spent Christmas morning placing some hand-made ornaments sourced from Townes's obsessions - trains, drums, the Gingerbread man, and a few others. It was a good morning, but unique in its inward focus. We hope that all the families out there appreciated the big gatherings, we certainly missed ours.

Luckily, my colleague from EFTA, Israel, invited us to his house for Christmas dinner. Townes had a blast running around the house with his grandson, Prosper, hiding his cars from the other kids, and meeting the turkeys, ducks and chickens that lived behind the house. The meal was a combination of Tanzanian specialities - such as spiced rice dish called, Pilau - as well as fried chicken. Thanks Israel and Rose for the great home cooking!

Townes having a blast with the Christmas ornaments:

TukTuk Style

There is a lone TukTuk in Moshi that serves as a relatively inexpensive means of transport. The term "TukTuk" comes from the sound of the 4-cylinder engine that powers them.

Dar es Salaam is flooded with TukTuks, but perhaps due to the longer travel times in Moshi, there are relatively less common. It's a nice way to go, the only problem is being passed by 18 wheelers at 3x's the speed. Our guy was almost blown off the road.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Your contributions to Goodwill...

...may have traveled further than you think. In fact, Townes could be wearing some of them right now! This morning an Aussie expat introduced me to the big market with stall after stall of clothes and shoes. Townes has been growing out of his pants at a rapid rate so this market was exactly what I needed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Yesterday Townes turned Mbili (that's two in Swahili). I know that I’m meant to say how quickly time has flown and that I can’t believe he’s already a toddler but the truth is that when I consider how much he has grown and changed since we met him on that snowy night in Zurich, it’s harder to believe that only two years have passed.
With scraped knees and a skater’s hairdo, Townes is no longer a baby. He has a knock-out memory (that I’m happy he picked up from his papa). He often sings himself to sleep with Baa Baa Black Sheep in its entirety or just chatting away with his duck. He loves his collection of matchbox cars which is a good thing considering how little space we made in our suitcases for toys. He can identify numbers 0 to 10 but a typical attempt to count his fingers on one hand can range from 3 to 8. He loves books and can fill in the blanks when we leave out words...this is also probably connected to the fact that we only brought about 8 books with us and have read them hundreds of times. He can greet and thank people in Swahili now which delights the folks we meet around Moshi. But for some reason the only question he knows how to answer is ‘How are you?’. If asked about his name, he will always reply ‘I’m fine.’ He loves running laps around the house and playing peek from behind the trees. This week he has mastered jumping with both feet leaving the ground but we’ll be in big trouble when he figures out that he is probably capable of climbing out of the pack’n’play he sleeps in every night! He has discovered that the best place to throw a tantrum is when in the backpack because there’s virtually nothing that can be done but to let him thrash about while enduring everyone’s stares. Since the introduction of time-outs a few weeks ago, Townes has spent his fair share of minutes behind a closed door weighing the cost of isolation against the fun of screaming or hitting. I suppose Townes let us know by crying for four months straight when he was born that he won’t ever be an easy kid to raise but he sure has brought us a lot of joy. Happy birthday, boy-o.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tanzanian I Do's

On Saturday, Coy's colleague, Israel, invited us to a friend's wedding. It was a lively affair that, for us, started with photos and music in the roundabout in Moshi. The musicians played drums and horns; it felt a bit like a New Orleans jazz-up.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the wedding was when the featured guest - a whole, fried goat festooned with sliced hard-boiled eggs - was literally danced out to the wedding party. The flopping of his head was a bit unnerving, but overall, the goat was a pretty good dancer.

And yes, he tasted delicious.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Townes has a fascination with tunnels these days - even makeshift ones. His memory is interesting in its selectivity: when he thinks about tunnels now he remembers driving through the tunnels to the Zurich airport in Jake's car. He says "tunnel...Jake car...Nancy, Rachel, Julia house".

Sadly, there aren't too many tunnels in Tanzania, but the tablecloth at a small cafe in town worked just fine.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The road to Marengu

Last weekend, we borrowed a Rav 4 from a Tanzanian lady named Flo to drive to Marengu, a small town north of Moshi. The first couple of weeks had been quite busy with work and getting settled, so we were both quite excited to get out of town and see the countryside around Kilimanjaro. Some friends had recommended that we get to know a couple from Atlanta working in Dar es Salaam, so we had orchestrated to meet them at a small hotel about an hour outside of town. The stage was set for a great weekend.

As we were leaving Moshi, blazing through the savannah, we felt the freedom that only the start of a good road trip can create. We scanned the FM radio band, which interestingly only ranges from 73.5 to 82.5MhZ, and found nothing, so we contented ourselves with the wind as it blew in the open windows.

Then the hood on the Rav 4 flew up at about 50 mph.

We were blinded, and quickly ducked to look under the small space under the hood to navigate to safely. Once on the side of the road, we closed the hood and inspected the damage. Not too much, but the hood wouldn't close. We looked around us - nothing and no one to help. We decided to drive up the road a bit to see what we could find.

Soon, we ran across a bar full of off-duty dala dala drivers (dala dala's are the Tanzanian equivalents of tro-tro drivers in Ghana). We pulled into the bar and showed them the problem. In a flash, we had 8 dala dala captains come to our aid. They pushed, prodded, lifted, tugged, pried and shimmied, but accomplished little other than further damaging the hood of the car. The lid of the car would not shut firmly enough.

After about 15 minutes of muscling the hood, we conceded that the hood wouldn't close and another guy brought some tether to tie it down. This seemed to work.

We all felt quite good about ourselves. I paid the dala dala captains 5,000 shillings (about 4 dollars) which resulted in a round of cheers and handshakes, then a group photo.