Thursday, May 28, 2009

You know pole sana?

Well, I had a surefire plan to upload pictures. We brought along the Macbook from the CSA office, so I was going to put my photos on there and then do something. As you may or may not know however, power surges in Africa are quite common. In fact, we lose power every Thursday night like clockwork. Unfortunately for my plan and for the laptop, the computer was plugged in during one of these surges, effectively frying the laptop. Pole sana.
In other news, we've been playing a lot of Uno, Tanzania-style. I consider Uno to be one of the most boring games ever, that is until I played with a bunch of the Masai that hang out around the hostel. Here's a brief overview of the Masai rules for Uno:
-Mistake: if you ever make a mistake during the game, say throw the wrong color, you must draw seven cards.
-Calling Uno: if you forget or wrongly call Uno on someone else, you draw two cards
-Doubles: (this is crazy) let's say a green nine is in play, if you have a red nine and a green nine, you can play both cards. This even works for Draw +2 cards and Wild +4 cards.

This promotes general mayhem. Before one of the Masai play one of these draw +2 cards, they look at you very sincerely and ask "You know pole sana?" Meaning: do you know how to say 'very sorry' in Swahili?
Good fun.

Yesterday we traveled to Arusha to see the Rwandan Genocide Trials. Most of the time, the trials can be extremely boring, with you listening to three hours of people asking "Did you staple the dossier?" "N0, it was paperclipped." "But where is the staple?" Etc...
Lucky for us, we got a cracker. It played out just like a movie. The defendant, Mr. Caremera was the Minister of the Interior of Rwanda during the genocide and VP in the interim government established by the Hutu Power groups. Needless to say, he was being charged with several counts of war crimes and what not. The prosectuor was a bad ass from America, and he was just grilling Caremera, who managed to deflect every question. At one point in the trial, Mr. Prosecutor (as he was referred to by Caremera) asked him whether Caremera was aware that government soldiers were using rape as a weapon. Caremera took 43 minutes to respond to this yes or no question, instead focusing on how clean and tidy of a person he (Caremera) is and how impatient the prosecutor is. Naturally, the whole group of people watching the trial was cracking up at this point.
Afterwards, we went to the Masai Market in Arusha, which was a terrible experience. There must be 50-100 shops crowded together, all selling the same mass produced souvineers at extremely high prices. And not one of them was Masai. After an painful 30 minutes of haggling, I left the market.
Teaching at KYGN has been going well lately, somehow I've been teaching math. One class is learning fractions and the other is learning basic Geometry. They latched right on to the Pythagorean Theorem the other day, although they have some trouble pronouncing Py-thag-or-ean. We finally bought a math book today, so hopefully the lesson plans will be a little more concrete. Luckily, a group of Israeli volunteers wandered into KYGN looking to teach the other day, and with us leaving for safari tomorrow, it was perfect timing.
Off to Lake Manyara, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Natron tomorrow!

Oh, best Swahili word so far? The word for round-about: keepi lefti.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike,

    Not sure if you are receiving our emails through gmail, so I;ll shoot a hello via Blog.

    Thank you for writing such vivid accounts of your experiences. I still chuckle thinking of your teaching experience with the students who could only say, :"teacha.' And now you are teaching math- so cool.

    I hope you have a wonderful side trip and look forward to learning about more of your adventures.

    Miss you - Love you!