Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Fredship Story

You may think I accidently misspelled “friendship”, but that is not the case.  Because a Fredship is so much more than a friendship.  A Fredship involves a goat-friend named Fred and ends with Fred being thrown on the fire and everybody eating him.

First, you have to meet Fred.  We journeyed out to the mbuzi (goat) market to find ‘trollin’ for a nice looking (and reasonably priced) goat to take home.  It was quite an experience, and I don’t think I can quite fit it into words.  The market itself was just an open area with goats and men in their shukas scattered all around.  But when the mzungus and the rasta tumbled out of the minibus, they grabbed their goats and started to show them off, yelling “Mzungu!  Mzungu!  Rasta!  Rasta!”  Jenni settled on a nice spotted fellow that she lovingly named Fred.  


We tied Fred up in the back for the ride home where he pooped a lot and made a bit of a mess.  He was bleating a lot at first.  I think he was just wondering what kind of party he was getting taken to with this bus load of mzungus, but he quieted down after a bit.  Every once in awhile, he would have to bleat to remind us he was still there though.  And everyone would kind of laugh at the situation of being in a minibus with a goat tied up in the back to take home to slaughter. 

Fred, in the back of the minibus with the coal he will be cooked over

 We got him back to Peace Matunda, and he had a great time hanging out  with us.  Jenni and I really bonded with him.  We both fed him and I even tried to ride him.

Jenni Feeding Fred

Me Ridding Fred

This is where the Fredship story starts to get a bit graphic, so I will warn you now: you probably want to turn back now if you have a weak stomach or are a member of PETA.

Banana leaves were laid out for Fred’s (literal) death bed.  But I think he was slightly confused about what was going on because he kept trying to eat his death bed.  I guess I might keep trying to eat my death bed too if it was made out of banana leaves.  So, I stood next to Fred and kept my leg out to keep him from the leaves.  This got Fred really excited, and he even put the excitement in his mouth.  I never knew I turned goats on so much, but I am  Capricorn, so it makes sense.  And I did try ridding him, so maybe he got the wrong idea.

Fred met his death with a quick slice across the throat, and our watchman cut him up and skinned him.  It was actually amazing to watch, and not nearly as bloody or messy as I thought it was going to be.  Some of the kids even hung out to watch with us.  And Corfield got right in there and claimed the hooves for himself.

Corfield with Fred's Feet

After Fred was all skinned and cut up, he was ready to marinate and cook.  And once the sun went down, we threw him on the grill, and the party got started. 

Fred on Fire

I am a vegetarian, but my dietary decisions are not deeply rooted in the idea that eating meat is cruel to animals.  There are other reasons that come well before the cruelty to animals argument. This being said, I decided to try a bite of Fred (because eating Fred is not really in serious violation of my vegetarian decisions).  And I still have absolutely no desire to eat meat again (unless it is to try new and unusual species).  I also kind of enjoy the face Sean is making at me as I put the meat in my mouth.

Eating Fred

To top off the evening, we had the pleasure of experiencing a total lunar eclipse!  It was so beautiful, and it was kind of amazing to see a lunar eclipse in Tanzania.

Currently listening to: Bongo Flava (again).  I am practicing learning two of lines, but the hard part is trying to rap that fast in Kiswahili.  I will succeed though.  I will succeed.  (As an update, I did succeed.  I can now sing in Swahili.)

PS- Danielle kept Fred's beard, and I think she still has it.  I don't remember what she said she did with it... maybe gave it to the dog or something?  I will have to investigate and let you know.

Making Kahawa

Spoiler Alert!  This story gives away what I am going to be bringing back for my grandmothers, so if  you are one of my grandmothers and you want it to be a surprise, stop reading now.  If you are not one of my grandmothers, feel free to read, but don’t tell them what they are getting.

Besides tourism, Tanzania is also known for it’s coffee (or kahawa in Swahili) industry.  Here at Peace Matunda, cultural tours are offered, and part of the tour is making coffee.  As in roasting and grinding by hand. Not putting some grounds in a percolator.  Since both of my grandmothers like coffee, I thought it would be cool to make them some while I was here so I can take them back some coffee that was ground with love.

Here is a picture of the beans and the flower from the coffee tree.  

Kahawa Beans and Flower

 But when you buy it at the market, the outer shell has been taken off and it has been dried.  After waiting for the beans to dry, you have to grind them to get the flaky outer shell off the beans.  And to separate the flakes from the beans, you flip them up and around and let the wind whisk away the flakes and leave the beans.  I was completely unable to do this, but Bella is a pro.

Bella Flipping Beans  

We were finally ready to start the roasting.  We put the beans in a small pot over a fire and stirred and stirred so they didn’t burn.  We were allowed to stir for shorts periods of time, but we were always told to give the spoon back to let the experts do it.  I was never pole pole enough.   

Me Stirring Kahawa Beans

Once they turn a nice dark brown color, it was time to dump them in the grinder thingy and start pounding.  Pounding the roasted beans by hand could become a tedious process, and it was definitely an arm workout.  And we had 10 kilograms of coffee to roast and pound.  Even though it was tough, we split it up over a period of several days (and really, it was more like several weeks), and made a rule to not drink any bokery or banana beer until the roasting and pounding of the day was done.  Here is me getting serious about the pounding:

Serious Pounding

From Tanzania to the States: The Numbers

From Tanzania to the States: The Numbers

24: Number of hours spent in Cairo

1: Number of flights barely missed

18: Number of people on the flight that was delayed

10: Number of minutes we missed the flight by

3: Number of times my eyes swelled up with tears before I even got out of Tanzania (The first was when we were driving by Phillip’s because I was really hoping to see the minibus parked outside; the second was when we were going through Arusha because I knew I wouldn’t see it again in a long time; the third was just at a random spot along the road where I was admiring the landscape of Tanzania.)

5: Number of hours spent on the shuttle from Arusha to Nairobi

11.5: Number of hours spent waiting in the Nairobi airport for the plane to show up (I was only supposed to have to wait about 8 hours, but the plane we were taking was late arriving, ironically enough, from Cairo.)

1: Number of Masai women that gave me a “gift” bracelet at the border and then asked for it back when I wouldn’t buy another one for my mother

87: Number of times I regretted not buying that bottle of Absolut vanilla in the duty free shop in Nairobi (Spending the afternoon in the sun always warrants a nice cold drink of sorts, and then when your night gets ruined by The Notebook coming on after Back to the Future II, a drink is just that much more warranted.)

3: Number of times I got a big smile on my face that wouldn’t go away (The first happened when we passed where the real Masai market is and I remembered when we went there and it was Sean’s first time driving in Tanzania and he drove with no hands; the second one was when we passed where we got dropped off and told to wait until Kaaya and Nelson came back with the papers they forgot in Arusha because TIA; the third was when we got to the town where you turn off the main road to go to Gilaibomba because I saw the name of the town and it is not nearly as weird and complicated as Scott and I thought it was but I still can’t remember what it is.)

1: Number of hot dogs that came with my breakfast on the plane

2: Number of men that have oogled over my eye color

2: Number of desserts I had at the buffet dinner (I couldn’t pick just one, and they were both delectable- one chocolate cake and one chocolate creme shit; plus, I kind of almost justified it because I had swam laps and my stomach was growling like no other and I had only had tomato soup, a plate of veggies, and some fruit for dinner.)

1: Number of people I saw snorting blow in a phone booth at the JFK airport

13: Number of hours I got to spend with Danielle while starting my adjustment to life back in America (I should have spent a day and a half with her, but EgyptAir just isn't cool enough to get me to New York on time.)

1: Number of flights canceled going from La Guardia to O’Hare (Meaning we could have woken up an hour later and still had plenty of time.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 25th Hour

(Please keep in mind that TIA ((This Is Africa)) when reading this story.)

This story starts with a 4:30AM wake up.  We were scheduled to leave at 5AM (or 5:30- the time changed a couple to times in the course of an hour the night before) to head out to Gilaibomba, a Masai village out in the middle of bum fuck Tanzania (BFT) where there is no power and dust is literally everywhere.  We were leaving before the sun was up (and predicting to be back well after the sun had set), so we had to bundle up in our warmest wind-proof clothes.  I looked like an absolute moron, but I wasn’t too cold (until the ride home).
Scott and I bundled up
We finally got on the road around 6AM and actually headed out of Arusha by 7, only an hour or two behind the original schedule. (TIA moment number 1- running late.)  (We had to stop a couple of times to pick up people that were going to be joining us on this fine journey.)  This was doing relatively well, considering the last time they went out to Gilaibomba, it was after 9 when they actually left Arusha.  So off we went, when somebody figured out that they had left some documents back in Arusha that were necessary for the hunting that was going to be happening while we were out in BFT.  They dropped us by the side of the road to wait.  (TIA moment number 2- forgetting important documents and leaving people at the side of the road to wait while you go get them.)  We only had to wait about 45 minutes or so before they were back and we were back on our way.

Once out of Arusha, there is close to nothing.  It is mostly just dust and some plants here and there- a totally different terrain than what I am used to up here on Mt. Meru where everything is green and lush and there is an abundance of banana trees. The sun had started coming up, providing us an amazing view of the Tanzanian bush.

Tanzania sunrise
To get out to Gilaibomba, you have to turn off the main tarmac road onto a dusty path-like road.  Once you turn off the main road, there is even less around, and if you have to pee, you have to squat behind a bush and hope a random Masai person doesn’t wander upon you.  I also got to experience my first ever dust devil!  They were amazing to see except when we drove through them and I got dust all up in my business. 

Dust Devil!!!

There was also some hunting going on on, and what is hunting without having a few Kilimanjaro beers?  (TIA moment number 3- using weapons while drinking alcohol.)  Watch for my future blog entry entitled Hunting with a Vegetarian for more highlights.

We finally arrived in Gilaibomba around noon, and we were sent out to go see the school that people from Peace Matunda helped construct earlier this year.  Frankly, I could have done without seeing it considering I have seen 17,000 photos of the place, but the walk was nice.  As Scott and I were leaving to go to the school, the others from the group were leaving to go hunting.  There were rumors they would either be back before we were or around 4 (which in Africa time means 5 at the earliest).  After we got back from the walk, we only waited about 3 hours until 5:30 rolled around.  That is when the safari jeep finally pulled up carrying not just the rest of our group, but also a nice sized wildebeest and a couple of gazelles.  (TIA moment number 4- sitting and waiting hours for people to come back, and then when they finally do, the vehicle is full of dead animals and blood.) 

The spoils of the successful hunting trip had to be cut up and divided before we left, and of course some had to be cooked for a pre-going back to Arusha snack.  Wildebeest liver, heart, and kidney were on the snack menu with Safari beers to wash it all down.

We finally got on our way back to Peace Matunda, but on the way out to the main road, we had to stop and hunt some more because they could still get some dik-dik with their hunting permit.  It took us three hours to get from Gilaibomba to the main road.  (TIA moment number 5- taking 3 times longer to get somewhere than it should actually take.) 

Once on the main road, we were flying.  We had to be going at least 100 kilometers an hour, and once we hit the wall of cold, it was well, really cold.  I was glad to be wearing long sleeves and two coats, along with two pairs of pants, shorts and a shuka over my head.  Just outside of Arusha, we get pulled over the police.  I don’t blame them considering the picture: Two mzungus riding on the top of a safari jeep and Bella in the back cuddling with a bunch of dead animals and a gun at 11 at night.  Kind of shady looking, I’d say.  But it was good they pulled us over because we were also out of gas. TIA.

While we sat on top of the safari jeep waiting for someone to come back with some more diesel, Scott said, “If I wasn’t sitting here right now, I never would believe this happened.”  I probably wouldn’t have either, so I am hoping you all believe this story because, well, TIA.  Anything can happen.  And it does.  We continued waiting, and all of a sudden we start to coast.  Scott and I were just sitting on the platform on top of the vehicle, and all of a sudden, we were rolling down the highway.  I think the funniest part was that it didn’t phase us much that were coasting down a main highway while sitting on top of a safari jeep.  TIA.  We actually coasted for quite a distance (just short of 5k or so), but when we finally had to stop (because there were no more diesel fumes left to start the vehicle with) I got out and peed next to a water drain pipe.  (TIA moment number 7- getting pulled over by  the police and having to ask them for help getting to a gas station because you are out of gas and then attempting to coast your way as far as possible on the fumes that you have left and then when you can’t go any further, get out and take a piss wherever you feel like.)

Finally, around 2AM we arrived back at Peace Matunda.  (TIA moment number 8- arriving back a few hours after expected.)  We watched Bella drag in the wildebeest and gazelle meat and put it in the kitchen.  It smelled terrible.  Bella got to go to bed after that, but Scott and I had promised Paul and Kelley we would go to the airport with them at 4, so we didn’t go to bed.  We boiled some water, had some tea and coffee, and road along to the airport.  Both of us were doing ok until the 25th hour came along.  That is when we got kicked in the balls and fell asleep in the minibus leaving the airport.

Sleepy Scott

  Gilaibomba is full of dust, and ergo, so were we.  After bathing my head finally hit the pillow around 7AM, and I was up again at 9 to do my washing.  Despite the absurd TIA moments, I had tons of fun, and I would probably do it again.  I would just remember to take a deck of cards to keep me occupied while waiting for the hunters to come back for us.