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July, 2009:

Back to work

Today is the last day of my jobless existence. Tomorrow morning at 8 I’m expected at the secondary school campus. As the three days are introduction for new teachers and the week following that are in-service days where teachers work when the students aren’t in the school my first day of actual teaching will not be until the 10th of August. I am getting a little nervous. The main worry: Will there be a working car here tomorrow morning?

PS: Two of the 3 tomatoes have been eaten by a monkey. It didn’t care that it wasn’t even remotely red yet. Hopefully we’ll have more tomatoes than the monkeys can manage but I doubt it.

Funny how time flies ….

Oops. I’m not staying on top of things here. Every morning Tarek has a long nap. It gives me time to do things like fix some of his food for the day. Spend some time e-mailing. Theoretically it also gives me time to work on the website. But that’s theory. And I’ve not even started the new job yet. That’s another thing on the to do list for the day: figure out when I’m supposed to start. The other things on the list? Buy lunch food (quickly, so Cecilia can start cooking), make flap jacks, do some paper work. Will I get it done? No way. Every evening I’m exhausted but looking back at the day I wonder what I actually did. Good thing there are (facebook) friends to remind me that’s how many a mom feels.

PS: the first 3 tomatoes are swelling. Not sure what’s up with the pumpkins though, lots of flowers but no fruit.

Hello world – this is East Africa

No longer is my joke valid: the Tongo Islands have faster internet than East Africa. Today East Africa is connected to the global fibre-optic network. The Seacom cable comes from India and is the first of a total of three, which will be realized in the near future. Now all internet traffic north of South Africa is via satellite, at huge costs and at sad speeds. I do not think this means that we will have fast internet soon, but it is a start. Sure hope they realize that the cable from sea has to be connected to the mainland.
East Africa sea bed cable
Source: BBC website

Hey dude, where’s my car?

In the entry below did you by any chance notice that I mentioned the car being in the garage? It feels like the Harry Potter books or a thriller movie sequel: Toyota Prado in car killers’ conditions. There is always a little difference with the previous episode. This time it started off with something old reappearing. The brake light stayed on after the engine was turned off. And if you don’t notice that soon enough, the next time you try to start the car, the battery could be flat. Which it was last Friday. Not so empty that 2 guys and me pushing it a little couldn’t do the job. I drove and drove, to Masaki and then to Mwenge. By the time I got back, the driver of Heins’ office that helped start the car had convinced Hein that we needed to see a fundi. Despite me telling all involved it could wait as it was not the alternator –whatever that may be- but the fairly new battery (no need for a new battery thank you very much) that needed charging because of the stupid brake light that yes, we need to get fixed, but no thank you, not by some fundi I don’t know. I had to admit though, that there were more than a few things that needed looking at. That’s how the car ended up in Joe’s Garage last week. Actually in Josephs’ garage but I couldn’t resist a little Zappaesque joke there.
Car free car park
The car park has been car free for app a week now. Gives a good view of the pumpkin, bananas and tomatoes.

Josephs’ garage is located smack in the middle of dirt road Magomeni. I’ve been there 3 times now and still I don’t think I could find it. The garage does well, it shows. I saw at least 3 diplomatic license plates as I walked in. This means that embassy people (read: people who can afford to care more about a job well done than about the cost of it) take their car to Joseph.
Joseph is a man who has done well for himself – it shows. In subtle ways, a small gold chain, a crisp ironed quality shirt. He’s not at all like some Tanzanians that made it big and feel the need to show it through a heavy load of golden jewellery and huge flat screen television in their office with gold coloured edges to the table. Hmm. I have to admit to not having seen Josephs’ office. All in all, I liked him. Until he phoned me to tell me that he needed to get a spare part that would cost $400,-. Not for the battery, the alternator or the brake light. This is for the steering. He seemed honest when he said it was a decent deal. He seemed to like my silly Swahili. He went to great lengths to answer my questions on how it all worked, what needed replacement and why. So I still kind of liked him. That is, until Hein went to collect the car yesterday, a day later than agreed, and found the car bado tayari (not yet ready). Labda baadaye (maybe later). But when I phoned around 5 Joseph told me the car was ready but the garage closed. At 5 in the afternoon? What kind of Tanzanian garage closes at 5?!
This morning I phoned bwana Joseph, to ask if the gari was tayari. Kusubiri kidogo (wait a little) I will phone you in half an hour. Now I’ve been waiting for a call from Joseph for 2 hours. I really want to collect the car before Cecilia finishes work. It would mean she can be with Tarek while I do some shopping. The endless waiting for the car means we ran out of essentials such as drinking water, rice and washing powder. All things that I can buy around the corner but prefer to buy in bulk. Especially the washing powder. Tareks’ poo still has not returned to a non spilling consistency, but that’s probably a detail you didn’t care to know about.

Tarek sick …. or is it something else?

Sunday night at Dolar and Marjans’ place an unusual thing happened. Tarek refused to go to sleep and cried until his throat was soar. On Monday he didn’t eat very enthusiastically and rather than once a day he soiled his nappy every hour and a half – the stuff in his nappy becoming runnier every time. In the evening he refused food but drank a lot from one breast. While getting ready for the second breast his mouth fell open and there were the kind of convulsions that that often precede vomiting. And there it was! He forcefully spat out more than 100 ml of milk. I managed to catch most between my cupped hand and my hip, that’s how I know how much it was. We took Tareks’ temperature; it was just below 39 degrees. Three hours later it was 39.6. Such temperatures, our literature tells us, are a reason to call the doctor. Especially combined with diarrhoea and another of the violent vomiting events. I think he needs a shot, the doctor said. Go to the clinic, I’ll instruct the nurse on duty to administer it. While putting our clothes back on, trying to comfort a very sad and exhausted Tarek and ensuring we brought enough clothes and cloth to withstand some more bouts of diarrhoea and vomit Hein realised that we had no car. Our car was in the garage and the key to the company car was with a driver from work. We decided to resort to the Dutch technique of pappen and nathouden. If it got worrisome, we could call for a cab. Until then we’d ensure Tarek would take in some liquid and we’d give him some more paracetamol. Some of us even managed to get some sleep that night albeit restless.
The next day at the doctors’ it was concluded that he probably had a virus. Rather than put him on antibiotics, we’d continue with the same technique. Milk started to stay in though. No more vomiting. And the diarrhoea became less frequent, his temperature went down a little more and the little man managed a little smile occasionally. I took an afternoon nap and we all went to bed early that evening. This morning the fever was all but gone. Tarek was still a bit fussy during feeding though. And then we saw it: two little teeth had appeared. No longer is he Toothless Tarek. There goes my song: ’daar is Tarek met de tandenloze lach’. As long as the lach (smile) is back, I don’t mind having to give up a song.