Monday, June 28, 2010

Progress and Bao

Bao, like the bow of a boat. But that’s not the important part.

This morning, we met with the Village Chairman. Bruno, our “landlord” if you will, was our interpreter. The meeting very short, but productive. We explained why we were in the village and how much money we had available to help the village relieve it’s water crisis. He was receptive and happy to hear that we were there to help. The next step is a meeting the chairman is arranging on Wednesday between the village executives, the Tanapa staff, the Saadani Safari Lodge, and us.

Obviously, Logan and I are very inexperienced with this sort of thing, which means that we are learning a lot. One of the things that we have learned is that there is a lot that goes into a project like this, and we are just one player of many. While there are new challenges waiting around every corner, we are learning that resilience, flexibility, and determination can overcome most any obstacle. While that may sound corny and a bit cliché, it’s true.

We charge our computers at the Tanapa office during the day, and this evening, we went to fetch them. On our way there, we ran into many people, some of which were play Bao. They told us to come play with them, but we had to go to the Tanapa office first. After picking up the computers, we checked the score of the Netherlands – Slovakia game (1-0 at the time) and went to play Bao. Bao is mancala, or rather super mancala. Instead of the two rows, there are four, and no end slot for the rocks. The rules are also a little different as well. These old men were very impressive with their Bao skills. At times when they had three rocks left in their hand, they would flick their wrists, letting the rocks fly to the next three consecutive slots. After watching them for one game (while trying desperately to figure out their seemingly erratic and non-consistent game play), Logan sat down. While he didn’t choose which rocks and some of his turns were made for him, he came out victorious after his first match. Then, it was my turn. After watching the first two games, I had a pretty good handle on the rules and was able to play without too much instruction. (Remember, that we hardly speak Swahili and they hardly speak English so much of the instruction was pointing and gesturing.) I, too, emerged victorious. But they were probably just letting the wazungus win the first time around. They invited us back tomorrow evening for another round.

Afterwards we walked back to our cabana enjoying the sunset over the rest of Africa to the west.

One thing that has been very difficult for me on this trip is the maintenance of my hair. While it may sound superficial and petty, it is a constant source of agony for me. After being in Senegal, I swore that I was going to cut my hair before going overseas for any extended period of time, but now it’s actually worse. When we were in Dar, I bought super cheap shampoo and conditioner because I needed it to deal with my long hair. Like the genius I am, I left it with our host family. To wash my hair I am currently using a bar of soap and leave-in conditioner after I get out of the shower. Even with the leave-in conditioner it is a nightmare to brush my hair. Oh, yeah, and we’re taking bucket showers. I have no problem with bucket showers, it just takes this whole my-hair-is-a-pain thing to a whole new level. As I write this, Logan condescendingly uses the most popular phrase of Swahili: pole (pronounced poh-lay) which means: I’m sorry. When used condescendingly it has the sarcastic tone of “Oh, your life is so difficult.”

We shaved his head before leaving so he could avoid this problem. >:|

1 comment: