Anecdotes from the Field


Two Americans plan to meet one morning at 9am to have a little meeting before a big meeting.  Here’s how it might unfold in the morning – in a potential scenario:

1 – Hey, sorry I’m late. I was rushing out the door when I realized I didn’t save that file to the flash drive and then the traffic was crazy and my head is not screwed on right today because I don’t think I’ve slept more than 8 hours in the past three days.  I feel like a crazy person.

2 – No worries, I just got here.  I didn’t remember to bring that list we compiled last month but I think we can work without it.  Do you want to grab a coffee first or just get started?

Two Tanzanians plan to meet one morning at 9am to have a little meeting before a big meeting.  Here’s how it might unfold in the morning – in a potential scenario:

1 – Hey

2 – Hey

1 – Is all good?

2 – All’s good?

1 – Is all well?

2 – All’s well.

1 – How are you?

2 – Good, how are you?

1 – Fine, how’s things at home?

2 – Fine, did you sleep well?

1 – Ah yea, I slept well and you?

2 – Ah, for me, I slept fine.  What’s the news?

1 – No news.  How’s the work been?

2 – Oh fine, good. Everything is fine.

1 – Ah, good.  That’s good.

2 – Ok, so.

1 – So, should we go over here to talk?

2 – Fine, let’s go then.


T-shirt on distinguished gentleman in my favorite town café read:

My Indian name is: RUNS WITH BEER


To Rai:  Dada, how are you? (In English)

To boy: I’m fine.  I’m tired.

Man on dala: Tire. [then repeats the Kiswahili word for ‘wheel’]


Our builders were making a complex A-frame structure for the school roof – three men sawing dozens of 2x4s with a saw – a good old fashioned man-powered saw.  Then, they proceeded to hammer it all together, board by board with a good old fashioned hammer and nails.  Bravo!  But, I wonder if it wouldn’t be nice to talk to that portable solar panel company and see about sending out a panel as a power source along with a skill saw … sure would makes things go about 15 times faster … but then again, maybe their greetings would incidentally be reduced to two lines (or none) with the newfound sense of efficiency.  That would be bad!


You know when you’re super duper rushed and you start to not think too clearly.  Add to the ‘rush factor’ a little bit of nervous energy.  When the two combine, you really get to thinking with barely one half of the old brain.  Like, remember that one time when I squatted under a mango tree to pee quickly before the next villager passes by with a load on her head and I peed on my water bottle.  That was fun.


Corruption of any kind, even an overcharge to get a ride on the dala dala.  You want to charge me 500 Tsh ($.50) extra just because I’m white.  I’d rather walk.  (But damn, could it not have been on a day that I had already walked 5 hours!!)  It’s all about the principle!!

Enjoyed Immensely:

Sitting with Saidi’s Babu as he worked away on his tall grasses to make brooms for sale, surrounded by all types of baby animals and my favorite young students.  Ah, village life.  Napenda!

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