A MOUNTAINTOP AND A HANDFUL OF BEANS
JAMBO BWANAS (Hello Friends)
Hi from Africa! I'm now living in a rural village in Eastern Africa in Tanzania. For our regular readers, I DID spend my 65th birthday on Mt. Kilimanjaro, fulfilling this lifetime dream!
I also spent a half day in a Chagga village on the side of the mountain where the entire village turned out to help celebrate my birthday!!! I sat by myself on a high throne and was introduced to the village by the mayor. Many curious, but grumpy, old men sat on a long bench outside the mayor's office staring at me. The lady dancers came to the center of the village and sang and danced for a while before asking me to climb down and join them. I lasted three challenging dances on a rocky muddy slope and was finally (much to my relief) able to climb back to my highly decorated throne covered with bright wildflowers and TINSEL (much to my surprise). A special robe was blessed for me during one of the dances and then my head and shoulders were wrapped in it.
The mayor came to me with a large carved dipper of local brew and I was asked to take a sip as the guest of honor. (Thank goodness my guide stayed close and whispered in my ear with directions the whole time so I wouldn't insult anyone!!!)
As the celebrated guest, I then had to give the dancers $10 to buy a 5-gallon bucket of brew for the entire village---when it was gone, even the elderly men, with their toothless grins, came up to kiss me on the cheek and they had big smiles as I left. I also was told I had to meet the mayor's mother and father, so we went to their tiny hut. Pappa is 106 and is quite senile but nice. Momma is a young lady of only 100 years and is very sharp. As we left and climbed back into our truck, I asked if I could uncover my head, but was told I had to keep my head covered until we returned to my tiny lodge on the mountain.
Because of continuing heavy rain the next day, I spent several hours giving the young men who work at the lodge English lessons (my drawing skills really help!!!). After lunch, we decided to go to my home base. Sounds innocuous, but it became the most terrifying ride of my life. The road down the mountain was very narrow, rocky, and muddy. We slid out of control many of the times -- I was terrified -- at one point the guys stopped to dig up the road in an attempt to get more traction. FINALLY we were low enough so that the road became a little better. My driver quietly peeked at me, gunned motor and we again slid a short time. I knew he was teasing me, so I hit him on the arm (lightly) -- everyone laughed.
I will continue to share my adventure with our readers this summer WHEN electricity is available, and WHEN I can walk the challenging rocky road to a town where there is a computer. I LOVE where I am! It's exactly what I had hoped for. I feel, in a unique way that I'm home. I'm at peace. I CAN make a difference!!!!!
My favorite quote so far this summer: The real measure of a man is NOT in moments of comfort, but in moments of unparalleled hardship. -- Martin Luther King Jr.
Kwa Heri (good-bye)
Mamma Matumai (my Swahili name)