St. Patrick’s Day in Dar

Ok, so there’s really no such thing.  But I did explain the concept to the staff here, and even made one of them a card.  The discussion led to their awareness that I am Catholic, and one, Augustine, spent most of lunchtime trying to convince Kristina and I that we needed to go to church in order to get to heaven.  Had a pretty interesting conversation actually, and I told him  that if I made it to heaven I would be sure to let Mungu (God) know that I did it w/Augustine’s help.  He replied that that would help him get credits there.  True Catholic thinking.  🙂
There are actually many Catholics here, which is so interesting that in theory I share this in common with the Tanzanians I am meeting.  The Country is ~45% Christian/45% Muslim. 
Switching gears:
Often I feel like there are ants crawling on me.  And there often are.  Have I shared this already?  Lately I’ve been waking up to discover I am covered in little red bites.  My legs were devastated after a night out on Saturday.  It’s a recent phenomenon, the level of bites, and they are not from mosquitos.  It’s not so pretty.
We had an amazing day at the beach on Sunday for Kristina’s 29th.  About 10 of us assembled, primarily American women, and drank beer and wine and leafed through Vogues and Peoples etc. while our rafikis (friends) Bjorn and Pedro grilled fish for us.  Bjorn had a video camera and he got some excellent material, incl. Kristina and I singing Britney Spear’s Lucky in his car on the way.  I am crossing my fingers he makes us copies as he’s promised. 
I also am in the process of getting some pictures up on the ‘net, finally!  I will let you know when they’re available.  I am a pretty terrible photographer, even w/the digital camera, so hopefully you’ll be able to deal w/the fuzziness of some.
Swahili lessons are progressing smoothly.  I am really enjoying picking up the language, albeit slowly (pole pole).  It’s an interesting language in its maximization of a few words and letters to express multiple similar concepts.  For example, ndege = bird AND plane AND someone attempting to fly.  Nzuri is practically the only adjective they have, meaning good.  You use it for just about everything.  And Ku added to the beginning of a verb changes it to the infinitive tense and is also used to mean “to you”.  (I went to visit you = Nilikukwenda kutembelea.)  To communicate you largely attach prefixes to verbs so a word with initially 6 letters (kwenda) becomes 12 letters.  And they are often k,m,w,i,n.  It’s relatively easy to grasp once you get the rules down pat.
Kristina and I are going to a Muslim wedding ceremony tonight for the sister – Saphia – of a woman we recently met here.  (Introduced via a friend of a friend)  We went to her bridal shower on sat night and were the only 2 white women among ~70 Tanzanians.  People were decked out and K and I were wearing simple linen numbers and looking very plain.  We joined the dancing – we basically walk/mildly groove in a circle around 1+ women in the middle gyrating their butts.  I was pulled into the middle at one point and managed to keep up, but I could feel the flush in my face from mortification.  The women seemed to enjoy this mzungu’s best efforts.  So the wedding is the religious ceremony that officially makes this couple married according to Islamic guidelines.  The fiance lives in Boston, so his brother is standing in for him.  Saphia flies to the US next week for another ceremony with her fiance.  I have borrowed the requisite garb (salwar kameez) for tonight and am relieved to finally blend.  😉
So just wanted to share the updates.  Not too much else to tell.  It’s raining here more often.  It smells great and cools the city down so it’s refreshing.

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