Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First World Pleasures in the Developing World

Did I tell you Mwanza got a new bakery in town?

 "American Doughnut" from Royal Bakery
Oh, yeah!

And it's gooooOOOOOd. I'm also happy to announce that the chocolate glazed doughnut is pretty good too. I ate that one too fast this afternoon and didn't get a picture. Maybe next time, people.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Real Mass

Chris and I went to a 3 1/2 hour Mass in Swahili today. How's, that for devotion, huh? Well, I don't know about that actually but it sure sounds good. Or crazy. The parish was having 74 baptisms and 91 first communions this morning. In the past we've gone to a different Mass because we know how long these services can take but we decided to bite the bullet and go see what it was about.

I have to say, it was quite enjoyable. I didn't take any pictures because we were way up in the back of the church, outside actually, and it wouldn't have really shown anything. But it was neat, for sure. The girls were all dressed in fancy, frilly white wedding-ish gowns (which I always find kinda creepy, even in the States). Most of the people who got confirmed or baptized were middle school-age-ish. And it was all quite a celebration. After each child was baptized he/she stood in front of the church waving and everyone in the congregation raised and waved their hands and kigelegeled (made that ululating sound with their tongues). Everyone afterwards were taking pictures and it was just very joyous. We even got asked to be in a picture with two cute girls.

All in all, I'm glad we went to that Mass today. It felt like an important thing to do as part of the community and it was neat to be a part of the cultural event. (Though also, now next time I won't feel so bad if we skip the long Mass and go to the shorter one. ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Office Assistant

I'm doing some work at home this afternoon and since it's so hot I thought I might try to work outside under our little covered sitting area*. I learned two things from this, the afternoon sun is too hot and too strong to be deterred by the little bamboo covering. And, Smokey LOVES it when I work outside, which I guess technically is her office.

It's an exciting day when mom works outside in MY office!

It was too much for me, so I had to move back inside. That didn't deter my little office helper though.

Smokey likes to help when I work

*which is affectionately called "The Embassy."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Adventure Weekend

One of the promises I made myself in this new year was that Chris and I were going to get out and do more fun things. We have a tendency to get in ruts and not do anything different or not get away from the humdrum of daily life.

So this weekend I was really happy when I came home from work on Saturday afternoon and Chris suggested we go out to lunch. We never go out to lunch! We had heard of a new fast food restaurant in town so we decided to check it out. Mwanza has no lack of restaurants, but all the restaurants have the same kinds of food, either Tanzanian (ugali, rice, meat, fish, veggies) or Western (pizza, burger, pasta). The new fast food place doesn’t have anything that’s way too different (mostly chicken), but I got the chicken shwarma wrap and it was good! I just like anything wrapped up in a tortilla-like thing. And this had french-fries and coleslaw inside the wrap. Even better!

After lunch we went over to the new bakery in town and it was AMAZING! I wish I’d taken pictures, but I’ll definitely go back, so I can do it then. They had both Tanzanian and Western treats including doughnuts, croissants, mendazi, samosas, cake, cookies, and bread. We went a little overboard and got a huge cookie, a doughnut and a slice of carrot cake as big as my head! We took our horde home and shared them. The doughnut was by far the best thing we tasted. I feared it would just taste like the same old bread they have here. But it was so good. Light and fluffy, fried to a nice crisp and the cream was amazing. Afterwards I was so sick to my stomach I had to take a nap to sleep my sugar hangover off!

Our other adventure for the week was on Sunday. The 5 lay missioners in Mwanza headed about an hour out of town to try a restaurant we’d heard mention of. It’s a place right on the lake and it serves western food and steak. 

Visiting Pop's Restaurant outside Mwanza
The profits from the restaurant go toward two schools and an orphan program. We discovered that the founder and Executive Director is a fellow alumnus with me (NYU’s social work program). He’s younger than me and has been here 7 years already. Yes, it made me feel a little inadequate but it also inspired me to keep working and great things can happen. The place was very relaxing and the food was good. It was a great adventure and I definitely think we’ll be going back there again!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Just returned from a nice visit with some new friends. I'll tell you what, Tanzanian's know how to welcome people. We Westerners could learn a thing or two. They cooked us a wonderful meal, served us drinks and cookies, and Bibi Nancy even gave me 2 different fabrics to make a dress. Really nice folks.

Visiting Bibi Nancy & Actual Nancy

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In "Case" You're Keeping Track

Tanzanian Court System: around 5 (I've lost track of exactly how many times we've gone)
Reids: 0

Here's the pattern thus far of our court case from the robbery in July.

October sometime: This was our first court hearing and it was rescheduled for November 7 or sometime around there.

November 7(ish): rescheduled for December 6

December 6: rescheduled for December 21

December 21st: rescheduled for January 10

Today, January 10: rescheduled for January 24th (even though it's a public holiday and the court will be closed)

Each time we go to the court we spend about 2-3 hours waiting outside for our name to be called. Then we go in, along with the investigator who is pressing charges (if he shows up) and the accused robber. They talk for a minute or two and for one reason or another they reschedule the court case. The reasons thus far have been: too many cases for the day, the investigator isn't there, the translator isn't there, the judge isn't there.

Next time I propose that we're not there.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


I just realized that today is Epiphany. And we skipped Church. I don't like skipping Church on a regular day, but I like even less on special days like this. But we're having a purely Tanzanian issue right now. With all the rains we've been having, our bridge is out of commission. Unless, of course, you feel comfortable driving over jagged rocks precariously piled on top of rebar as the only thing between you and the gushing creek below. Call me a worrier, but that's not really the way I want to go. We've found another rout, but there's this one puddle that I have to drive through and it's about as deep as I think is advisable before you start doing some damage to the car*. Well, last night we got some more rains and both Chris and I were a little nervous to head out not knowing the current state of the bridge** nor how much deeper the puddle is. So we made the decision to stick to home this morning and explore on foot to see if we can find some other alternate paths.

So, long story-short, we just finished a walk (abruptly interrupted by rain) and found another route that I think will hold out for as long as these rains continue. But we still missed Church. So, happy Epiphany, everybody.

*On that same road earlier in the week, while transporting a new missioner, I made a bad mistake and got stuck on a rock in a puddle, stalled, restarted the car and backed up, dragging the big rock with us. That little mistake caused 370,000 Tshillings worth of damage (around $240).

**Guys in the neighborhood on a daily basis will go out there and pile smaller rocks, dirt and grass on it. But then it'll rain and it all gets washed away again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Years 2013

I don't have any reflective or thoughtful messages about the ending of one year and the beginning of another. We've had our ups and downs this year, for sure. But I can honestly say that at this moment I feel really good. I'm excited about 2013. We've got a lot to look forward to and I hope we'll be more confident and competent to accomplish more work-wise here in Tanzania.

To ring in the New Year last night we had a little gathering at our place with the newly-expanded MK community, having just welcomed 2 new lay missioners on the 30th. It was no "Reid Annual Christmas Party" but pretty close and we all enjoyed good food and good company.

MK New Years party 2012

MK New Years party 2012

MK New Years party 2012
Mark and David welcoming Veronica, one of the new missioners.

MK New Years party 2012
Fr. Jim and new missioner Rich get acquainted.

After spending the morning in Church and after a rainstorm, we made our way back home to find that the bridge leading to our street was overflowing with water.

Overflowing bridge in our neighborhood

Overflowing bridge in our neighborhood
Yeah, this is a bridge.

This is the main way to get to our house and we didn't know if the other ways would be overflowing too. So we just waited it out until the water was low enough for us to walk across.

Overflowing bridge in our neighborhood
I had new shoes on so like a Tanzanian, I just took my shoes off and walked the rest of the way home barefoot. Here's hoping I don't start 2013 with worms!