Disclaimer

The views expressed herein are mine and not those of the Peace Corps.

Links:

Archives

Useful Acronyms

PC Peace Corps
ICT Information & Communications Technology
PCT Peace Corps Trainee (pre-swearing-in)
PCV Peace Corps Volunteer (post-swearing-in)
PST Pre-Service Training
CBT Community-Based Training

Beating eggs with a spoon

I realized that I haven’t written much about the food here, which is a terrible oversight because the food is delicious. So I’ll give you a little outline of my average day, as exemplified by today because I can remember it, with a focus on food.

I woke up this morning at 6.45, making a conscious decision not to have a shower even though I heard water. Ate breakfast around 7.15: a chapati, a sweet cornbread muffin (what’s called “cake” here but really isn’t), a fried egg, a cup of tea (no milk this morning so I could drink it black instead of white), and the juice of 1.5 oranges. I poured water into my Nalgene, folded my books up into a kanga (I use a Japanese technique I learned from the Internet that gets lots of comments here) and headed off to school around 7.30, a little early.

Arrived at school around 7.45, the first one there. Chatted a little with a teacher in my halting Swahili as I walked in. Unpacked my books and waited for everyone else, who arrived around 8 when class starts.

Learned Swahili until chai at 10.15. Today was bread and butter (and tea, of course). Sometimes we have chapati, sometimes sweet potatoes, sometimes fried coconut pastries, sometimes sambusas (samosas).

Learned Swahili some more until lunch at 1. Lunch was rice, spicy pinto-type beans, spinach, and a banana. The food is always really good. After lunch we learned a little more Swahili and then broke for the day around 2. We all went up to the Teacher Training College to use the Internet there (Albert said we could use it whenever and we’ve been taking him up on his offer). Even there, the Internet is usually frustratingly slow. I was not able to upload any of my pictures.

Went to hang out at Bill’s house with Anita for a little bit: Bill’s mama had said she’d teach Anita to make sambusas and I wanted to tag along because they’re delicious, but they were about ready to start at the time I wanted to head home so I left and got home a little before 5. Did some reading, a little studying (in Swahili the words for “read” and “study” are the same, which makes me sound like a much better student than I am when someone asks me what I’ve been doing!) and some fooling around on the computer.

Mama got home around 6.45 and sprang into action to prepare dinner. My younger sister had already made rice and spinach (I love the spinach here–they saute onions and then cook the spinach down in the oil from the onions) and mama made a tomato-and-egg sauce (one of my favorite things), fried large sweet bananas, and unripe banana, tomato, and coconut sauce (another of my favorite things). We ate dinner around 8, which is a normal time for us (although early for Tanzanians). With the “standard” bananas we had as the fruit after dinner, I ate three different types of bananas in one meal and they all tasted different. The unripe ones are exactly like potatoes.

I’ve been helping in the kitchen more as I slowly gain competency. Yesterday I sliced half an onion over the pot before giving up and resorting to using a cutting board (which mama regards as weakness and tells me I won’t be able to find in the village, even though I keep pointing out that I can always just buy a piece of wood). Today I peeled the sweet bananas for frying without much trouble, which is more trouble than you might think (the unripe ones have to be peeled with a knife: the peel won’t come off at all on its own). I can shred a coconut, slowly. I’ve been able to cut tomatoes without a board since last week, although I do it gingerly and I know it entertains them how uncertain I am. I can’t wait to have my own kitchen and be able to cut things how I want! I will use the cutting board so much.

I think that one of the reasons I like the food here so much is that the ingredients are all so fresh. Everything we ate today was purchased either at the duka (neighborhood shop) or the market this afternoon, and that does a lot for the taste of food. I love going to the market and just walking around looking at the food, thinking about the possibilities. The fruits and vegetables are beautiful. (I also like looking at the kitchen utensils, thinking about my future kitchen! I’m very excited to cook here, even though it will probably be mostly rice and beans and spinach. But I’ll be really happy with that, if I can get the spices right!)