Saturday, July 9, 2011


We are here at the guesthouse in Lushoto for two weeks.   Sabine is building another guesthouse and a two story structure with a meeting room on the bottom and bedrooms and a large balcony on top, but construction goes on as money comes in.  Right now you can see the foundation and the rows of bricks they are making out of the local soil.  It is very beautiful here, with views of the mountains all around.  There is one main paved road in town, but most of the roads are dirt and very rutted from the rains.  It makes it challenging to walk or drive around here.  Only 16% of the population has electricity and there are no streetlights.  We have scheduled blackouts for a few hours at a time to conserve electricity, but the power can go out at any time.  When we have no electricity, my room likes to watch DVD's on my computer, so we keep it charged up. We run out of water almost every day and they have to cart extra from town.  We have showers in our room, but usually end up washing from a  large bucket of water stashed in our bathroom, which is also used to flush the toilet when there is no water. 

My roommates in Lushoto:  Noah from Tucson, me, Gretchen from  New England, and Katie from Charleston

The food is very good here, since so much of it is fresh.  We get a lot of rice, chappatis, beans, cabbage, mangos, papayas, oranges and bananas.

One day we were divided in teams of three and sent to the local market with 5000 shillings (about $4) to buy mangos, tomatoes, onions, flour and beans in unspecified amounts.  It was an experience to find out what things cost and how to bargain.  Some people came back with 20 mangos and a little of everything else.  We bought carefully but then had most of our money left and bought 2 kilos of beans with the rest.  We compared prices when we got back and the guys were actually the better bargainers.

Yesterday after lunch we went to our homestays which were arranged for the weekend.  I was picked up by Sanitaa, a widow who is housemaid to my hostess, Lightness, who was still at work as a psychiatric and HIV/AIDS nurse at the local hospital.  We walked about 30 minutes to her house on the other side of the valley.  I was given tea and watched her prepare dinner on the clay stove outside.  When Lightness came home, she took me to her Friday night Pentecostal prayer meeting.      It was very mellow at first, with readings and hymns.  Then  the pastor showed up.  He is about 7 feet tall and wore a mustard colored suit and red tie.  He is bald and would fit right in as an NBA player.  He sat down while the reading continued and I thought he was alseep, but apparently he was just gearing up for his fire and brimstone talk.  It was in Swahili but with some English phrases interlaced, so I didn't understand most of it, but the tone was unmistakable.  He went around the room laying hands on people's heads, I assume to drive out the devil.  The parishioners started swaying and moaning.  I backed into a corner to get out of his reach as he went around.  After doing his rounds of the adults, the children went up for a special blessing, which was not so fierce.

We went back to the house and Lightness' eldest son Yohannes showed up for dinner.  He is a secondary school teacher in the Kilimanjaro region and was home on semester break.  He wants to go back to school to be a politician, and we had a good conversation about local politics and the education system.  The evening was spent talking and watching Nigerian and South African religious TV shows.

Lightness in her yard making breakfast on her stove

Lightness and her son, Yohannes

The next day, we went to the Lutheran church, which had lovely singing.  Afterwards, Lightness took me on a tour of the local hospital.  They have several wards of about 30 people in each room, with two staff members for each ward.  They just wash the instruments with no sterilization.  There is no isolation of TB or AIDS patients and they are just lumped in with the others.  The only IV I saw was in a lady getting prepped for a C-section.  There were separate delivery and surgical suites.  The newborn nursery had one crib and a portable heater.

After so much religion, I was ready to get back to Sabine's.  Our next activity was student teaching at schools about 30 km away on a dirt road.  The schools were basic, with no electricity or running water.

Driving to the school
children waiting outside the school
Erica from Washington DC teaches a class on emotions

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