Sunday, October 21, 2012

what I do on my day off

I've told some of you... I work a lot here.  Mining hours are 24/7, and my hours have become 7 am - 7 pm, six days a week.  And everyone knows just how pretty I am at 7 am.  But, I love the work and I love Africa, so I don't mind that my time here, right now, is mostly work.  Also, the mine site is miles and miles (kilometers here, and frankly I haven't a working conversion-in-head go-to standard yet, though I change dollars for Tschillings like no one's business, so anyway, I'm still measuring in miles)... miles and miles from anything.  So really going exploring is a plane ride and two days. Today was my first full day off.  I looked forward to it.  Mostly because I got to sleep in.

I borrowed a bike from Lydia, who is currently acting as the assistant to the General Manager.  She's helped us with a lot of things - getting our office set up, how to say you-name-it in Swahili, how to use the phone.  And she was the bearer of surprise soup a few days ago when I had a cold.  Anyway, she also lent me her bike for the weekend because she'd be away.  I was very excited.  My bicycling days of Key West were fondly remembered and I hoped to get more of my bearings on a bicycle.

The bicycle is huge.  I was only able to ride it by not sitting on the seat.  I fell, but only a few times, and I don't think anyone saw.  I sure hope not because everyone here rides bikes everywhere and I'd like to think I can master at least a little part of their way of life - or at least not look like a total fool while trying.  Being on the bike though, however awkward, was just as enjoyable as ever.  I did reorient myself to the site, though I didn't find a good vantage point for the sunset.  I think I could wander through the golf course and maybe find a good spot there, but it will take some more exploring.  Maybe next Sunday.

I'm nearly finished my second book - and my third is Travels with Charley.  I know, from experience, that even slowly, that will only last three or four days.  The security manager spoke of Cocktails under the Tree of Forgetfulness.  He'd picked it up when he met with us in Dar es Salaam for the workshop, at a fantastic bookstore that I will be sure to visit the next time I am in town.  It's about Kenya he says, and raves about the bookstores of Tanzania.

I am interested in becoming more connected to this community.  As a consultant, I am not really part of the work, simply an advisor, an interested and useful bystander.  I can't jump in at a moment's notice and save the day.

I volunteered to read or help with homework or anything at the school on the site, but that has not actually panned out.  It's a very small school - six children - and it seems that in addition to the teachers, the parents, and others are all very involved.

I did become fascinated about the idea of libraries in Africa, as I loved my library as a child, and wish for one on the mine site (however impractical an idea that is).  Googling led me to Libraries Across Africa, a really thoughtful idea which encompasses community empowerment on a number of levels.  Though they don't seem to have been active in a while, I may contact them anyway.  Otherwise I have to find something else...

Googling is a great past time.  In addition to libraries and the current conflict in Dar, I've learned about types of Tanzania dance (and decided that I'm going to stick to riding a bike) and black swan theory.  Black swan theory is terribly interesting because it both deals with commonly held beliefs about what impossible is and how humans react to the impossible once it becomes reality.  I've never head of black swan theory, but I'm going to begin incorporating it into conversation as soon as possible, because I think it's a fascinating line of thought.

Also, it isn't only Google who can teach a person things.  Today, I found out that that mine's vector control guy (the mosquito - and it's said mo-SQUEE-to here, which I prefer now), also has a farm.  He went to visit it today.  I can't wait to hear more about Dastan's farm, and if maybe he can identify the maybe-a-coconut, maybe-a-mango tree in the backyard.

Friends of mine got married yesterday.  And though I got a picture, it's nothing like being there in person.  My littlest sister (the munchkin) has left to fend for herself (okay, so at college, it's not really survival-mode) while three-quarters of the Kearby clan is overseas.  I miss my car and my heels and using my phone as something other than an alarm clock.

When there isn't much to do, I get lonely.

Luckily I found a friend... this is as close as I got to him (probably two feet away), but he was nice enough not to run out of the picture...

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