Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Dar es Salaam Driving Experience: In Pictures

It really is only about 10-15 miles to downtown from our house, and thus everywhere we need to go.  But bad roads, lots of traffic, non-working stop lights, and various other adventures mean that we spend a lot of time in the car when we go out.  On a recent loooong trip home with lots of traffic, I documented the journey in pictures.  So here we go:  A Dar es Salaam driving slice of life.

This is a fun part of the driving experience:  Numerous vendors that sell stuff to you while you are in traffic or at a stop light.  This guy is selling cashews. 

This guy is selling tangerines.  Other common items for sale:  gum, hankies, phone cards, toys, pillows, hangers, large maps of Tanzania, coat racks, mosquito zappers, and fire extinguishers.

However, this was the very first time we had ever seen someone sell guinea pigs to people in cars at a stop light.  It was this picture that got me started on my picture-taking spree that day.  However, as unique as this was, just a couple days later I saw something even more amazing:  a guy trying to sell a small fish tank, filled with water and fish, balanced on his head!  When you realize that these guys have just a few minutes (or less) to make their sale, it's pretty crazy to think that someone would buy a fish tank that way.  I would love to know if he sold it!

During rush hour, traffic police (center in white) often take over guiding the intersections.  This was important to learn when we first came to Tanzania, because when this happens, they don't turn off the traffic light.  So that means that when you come to an intersection, you have to first look for an officer before you look at the traffic light...or else have disastrous consequences!  (i.e. The traffic light could be green but if the officer says to stop, you'd better stop!)

One of many taxi stands.  Taxis are always white.

These kind of carts join the cars on the road.  The traffic was bad that day, so this guy passed us quite a few times as we inched up the road.

One of hundreds of cell phone service billboards

Piles of trash left behind by flooding water.

Potholes left behind by flooding water.

Our kids point out these bikes to us every time we pass them.  Hmmm...wonder why???

You can see on the far right that this is a rain gutter...filled to the brim.

In the past couple of years, Dar es Salaam roads have become infested with these little buggers.  They are a form of taxi, electrically run, and can go about as fast as a golf cart.  It's a pain to get stuck behind one, they are hard to see, and do all kinds of dangerous things like drive on the sidewalk.  Ack!  Can you tell they drive me crazy?  (Pun intended)

The "dolla-dolla"--classic form of Dar es Salaam public transportation.  They also drive on the sidewalks, but at least they are easier to see.

You can't really tell from this picture, but this part of the road was completely washed out by the rain, causing traffic jams for miles.  Thankfully, they have now begun to repair it!  Oh happy day!

People often say that the things that are hardest about life in Dar are the heat, the electricity, and the roads.  I think we would agree.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Those Games

The entire world is focused on South Africa right now. Except perhaps, the United States of America, which prefers its baseball and basketball and American football. Even Josiah, at 2 ½ years old, knows how to distinguish between a football and a ‘merican football.

Did you know that worldwide, the World Cup is bigger than the Olympics? I don’t think I would have known that if I had lived my life in the States. Well, and if I hadn’t been married to a maniac soccer…er…football fan. This morning he left for South Africa for a week. Which he’s been talking about for the last four years. I have to go, he told me. Because South Africa is so close. Yeah, close. Like Chicago is close to Los Angeles, that kind of close. But how could I disappoint him? Since he’s been talking about it for four years? The first plan was that he and about 25 of his students would take a road trip down there. But let me tell ya, taking a road trip through Zambia and Zimbabwe and Botswana isn’t exactly the same as a road trip through Utah and Kansas and Colorado. Small differences, like you don’t need three visas and an armored vehicle to get through Kansas. So you could say I was relieved when he decided to fly. Needless to say, the enthusiasm of the students (or rather, their parents) waned over the last few years and now there are only 4 students going with him. But they are very, very, very excited. So I am excited for them.

He’ll be at the Spain game on Monday and the USA game on Wednesday. So if you join the world in watching, look for him in the stands! And the rest of the time he’s there? Well, he’ll be shopping for me! Of course.

So this week I am officially a World Cup Widow. And how will I be filling my time? By potty training Josiah.

Let the games begin!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's Kept Me Busy in June

Coupled with the T-Square incident, I stopped blogging for a couple weeks simply because I had way too many projects going on. Planning the Bible Verse Competitions, being on the graduation committee, being put in charge of the Last Day Assembly, and chaperoning some students on a weekend retreat all kept me pretty busy. But today was the Last Day of School. I am free! Expect a lot more posting in the next week!

Elementary School Bible Verse Quiz winners.  Every year it gets harder and harder to get down to the last three! 

Secondary School Winners

The Secondary School Verse Competition.  The girl holding the microphone on the left won the whole thing. 
Yay Christa!

Some of the sophomores who were such good friends and will almost all be split up next year asked us to chaperone them on a weekend beach trip.  Such awesome, awesome kids...all but three are leaving this year...we will miss them so much!

My kids always convince our teenagers to allow them to play with things like cell phones, cameras, and iPods...you know...those things we never let them touch. This is Josiah, complete with headphones and iPod, and his buddy Jenai on the beach trip.

My kids and me at the beach.  We love that we get to include our kids in our ministry.  We love that they have so many big brothers and sisters to love them.  We love that we can spend a weekend at the beach and call it ministry!

Annual (I can call it annual now because it's the second year!) Family Graduation Banquet

HOPAC Graduating Class of 2010  (this was yesterday!)
 Beautiful families; beautiful day!


The Last Day of School. 
All School Assembly with many parents in attendance as well.
Gotta love kindergarteners.  And my husband's ability to capture great shots.

Last songs, last speeches, last times of saying goodbye.  It's hard, but I love being at a school where everyone is crying on this day: teachers, parents, students.  Because when there are tears, you know there has been a lot of love.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Year Everyone Left

We've been at HOPAC seven years now, so the years start blending together. It's hard to keep them apart.

But this one will be called The Year Everyone Left.

Because that's what it feels like.

She is leaving.
And them.
And them.
And them.

And more I don't have pictures of.

Every year, lots of teachers leave HOPAC. Many come out only for a year or two, so we have a lot of turnover. But there's always been those "pillars," those teachers that never leave...the ones you can always depend on to be there next year.

But not this year.

This year they are leaving too.  People like him.

And her.

And him.

And them.  Oh Lord, what will we do without them?  They are our friends, our mentors, the ones we called when we needed a repair man or advice or prayer or wisdom.

All the people who have been serving at HOPAC longer than us are leaving this year.  So that means that now, Gil and I, after being at HOPAC only 7 years, are the veterans.

It feels kind of lonely.

But I am thankful.  A new season will be starting at HOPAC.  God has filled in almost every single gap with new people--some who have already arrived, others who will be getting off those planes in the next two months. 

For example, I am thankful for them.  They arrived a few months ago; he will be our new secondary principal; she is already becoming my friend.

And Kate!  Kate is my friend, and she is NOT leaving.  Yay, Kate!

Many of these pictures were taken at the Annual Staff Appreciation Dinner last week.  It was beautiful.  But you can see that for yourself.

HOPAC teachers, staff, board and spouses, 2009-2010

A HOPAC era has ended; a new one is beginning.  What a privilege to be a part of it all!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fast Food, Dar es Salaam Style

You know those nights when you don't want to cook and really just want Taco Bell?

Yeah, me too.

But considering that replicating Taco Bell means, for me, making the tortillas, making the beans (which involves soaking overnight), making the salsa, and cooking the meat....well...it's not exactly fast food anymore.

So when we want fast food we go to T-Square. Here's the steps involved in our "Fast Food."

1. Spray self with mosquito spray. Drive to T-Square, which is about a mile away.

2. Order food at window. They always say "15 minutes."

3. Sit down with magazine and wait. Very important to bring a magazine because....

4. 45 minutes later, pick up food that is ready.

5. Normally, the French Fries are wrapped in packets of tin foil. This turns the fries into something that is as limp as a wet sock. So, I always bring my own container and ask them to put the fries in that instead of the foil. This time, as happens many times, they did use my container, but then covered the whole thing with tin foil. Sigh.

6. Bring food home to waiting family. Heat up oil on the stove and dump all the fries into oil to crisp them up.

7. Over one hour after leaving the house, serve very yummy fries, meat, rice and beans to family.

I'm sure the speed of this process practically took your breath away. But I did not have to cook it...so for me, it still counts as "Fast Food."

Now...for the post script....I had this post all ready in my mind on the evening we ate this...which was over a week ago. But that night, a few hours after dinner, I got violently ill and had one of those miserable nights that needs no description. All night long I kept thinking "FOOD POISONING!!!" Which it could have been. But since no one else in my family got sick, and two other families we know also ate the same food that night and also didn't get sick, and we've eaten there about once a month for the past 5 years and never gotten sick...well....it might not have been food poisoning. But let's just say I have a bit of "Psychological Poisoning" against T-Square now...so it may be a while before I go on that adventure again!