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



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

Natembea sana

My lesson for the weekend: if a Tanzanian gives you directions and tells you you won’t get lost, don’t believe her.Friday after I finished teaching my morning class (I only teach in the morning on Fridays) I went home, switched my skirt for a pair of pants, put on sunscreen and a hat and my backpack, and headed out towards Bulongwa. On my way out I ran into my headmaster and told him where I was going; he said that he’d be going out that way in the afternoon, and if I was still walking he’d pick me up. A far cry from stories I’ve heard from other PCVs about headmasters who lecture teachers about how they have to be at school for the whole school day. I’m happy to have a laid-back headmaster (for the most part…I do wish repairs to my house were done in a more timely fashion! The back door has been broken since I arrived!)

The weather on Friday was beautiful, sunny and breezy, maybe 75 degrees. I had planned to walk on the road, but I knew that there were shortcuts that would significantly shorten my hike, so when I started chatting with a woman carrying firewood that was on my mind. She asked where I was going and I told her; she told me not to walk on the road and pointed down into a valley. “You see that child there?” (I did: he was hard to miss, wearing a bright red sweater) “He’ll tell you how to get to Bulongwa. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost.” So I went down into the valley, lush grass and tall pine trees, and caught up with the child.

“Where are you going?” I asked. “Far.” “Far where?” He named a town I’d never heard of. “Do you know how to get to Bulongwa?” “No.”So much for that idea. I decided to see if I could find the shortcut myself. Long story short: the valley was beautiful, and I got totally lost. I wound up wandering through farms on a mountainside, patchwork-disorganized, just trying to get back to the road. Eventually I climbed up a steep slope covered in long grass, grabbing on to the grass to keep from falling back down, and reached the road again.

Shortly after I made it back to the road I met a student of Bret’s, a Form IV girl who was in Makete on a school day to post a letter for the school. She kept me company for the rest of the hike and showed me the (steep!) shortcut over the tallest mountain between Makete and Bulongwa. We chatted in English and Swahili. Not too far away from Bulongwa she said, in English, “I want fruit” and then went and spoke to an old woman threshing grain for a little while. I guess the old woman said karibu fruit, because we filled her bag with pears from a nearby tree, and later picked pears as well.It took a little more than three hours, counting getting lost, to get to Bret’s house. He had to teach, so I sat around and drank water, which was all I wanted to do at that point.

The weekend was wonderful, as it always is when I get to see other PCVs. Going back on Sunday I hoped to get a lift, so I went down to the village the vehicles pass through and started waiting. After a couple hours of waiting it was lunchtime, and I was hungry, so I got some beans and rice at a restaurant in the town. Of course, as soon as I started eating, a lorry came by. I wanted to finish eating and figured that there would be another car, so I let it pass.And then waited for a few more hours. There wasn’t another car. So I decided to walk back.

The weather on Sunday was even better for walking than Friday’s weather. It was cloudy and cool, with occasional sun and no rain. I set out on the road and walked for a ways with two little girls who were heading home. I guess the way they took me wasn’t the best, because when we turned off the road and into a village a woman chastised them and handed me off to an old man, who showed me the beginning of the shortcut over the mountain. “Go straight,” he said. “You can’t get lost.”I got lost. And wound up back in the same village, saying hello to the same old man. He and another woman delegated a few kids to show me the way across the mountain, which they did with gusto. They had enormous amounts of energy (and weren’t carrying backpacks) and a couple times I had to tell them that we needed to stop so I could catch my breath. After an hour or so of going up we made it and, after getting some change to give them, I continued on the road.

Clouds began to threaten rain. I started chatting with a man also walking to Makete. He was studying at the seminary (I think). He showed me the shortcut I should have taken on Friday. When we got close to town we ran into some students, and he left without saying goodbye as I got bogged down in conversation with them. “I like your hat.” “Thank you.” “Can I have it?” “No, I need it or I’ll burn.” “If I come to your house now, what will you give me?” “Right now? Water. I’ve just spent the weekend in Bulongwa!” And so on. Everyone wants something.As soon as I unlocked the door to my house it started to rain. I went inside and drank a liter of water. Some students came to visit and we talked for a little while, but I turned them out by telling them I needed to sleep, then retired to bed with mashed sweet potatoes and a book.

And that was my weekend, less the fun social parts. We cooked a lot and talked a lot and Bret played his guitar. That’s the time I spent in Bulongwa.


Comment from Linda Gutterman
Time February 19, 2009 at 6:43 am

Hi Marie –
Love reading your blog (glad you got my postcard) What is your email address?
I promise to write!
Love, Linda G

Comment from Jan
Time February 20, 2009 at 8:11 am

Hi Marie,

We are so glad that you got home safely if a little wearily in the end. Do be careful on your explorations! Though your hike did sound very interesting. A new masher will be on it’s way to you today!

loads of love,

Jan, Ron and Henry
x x x x o x x x o x x x o x x x x

Comment from Lisa
Time February 20, 2009 at 9:27 am

Perhaps you don’t really need the GPS after all, you seem to find your way in a much more interesting fashion. What fun would it be if you didn’t get lost?

I like the new photo


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