Monday, October 26, 2009

My favorite Norwegians

Hiding out from the rain with my favorite Norwegians.

The Quiet Karen:

The Awesome HanneSophie:

Melkerull. Amazing Norwegian chocolate. Often featured in our "chocolate parties" :-). It also happens to be the only word of Norwegian I know :-D

I'm missing these lovely ladies! Can't wait to see them next weekend...

Photo Edition: Rainy Weekend

So Dar has been going through a drought, which means electricity is on the blink. Let me explain... Since Tanzania relies on hydroelectric power, no rain means no water and no water means no electricity. To avoid things becoming dire, Tanesco, the power company, has stepped in and set up a system of power rations to stretch the remaining water until the heavy rains show up. They divide the city into sections which takes turns being without power. For us that means as long as the dry weather continues we will have a lot of days without power and since indoor plumbing relies on water being pumped (by an electric pump) into the pipes from a huge tank, no power can mean no running water. The family I live with is used to this situation so we have tons of back up water stored in tanks and containers in an around the house. But as a spoiled American for whom lack of power and running water are extremely rare, these things can be maddening. My office usually runs on a generator so that we can still get things down with electricity but they are really expensive and they run on gasoline which means the produce lots of disgusting fumes and I read somewhere that gas cost something like $5/gallon here so most homes don't have one b/c its too expensive. We certainly don't have one.

Anyway, it seems like we might be looking at an end to the drought because on Saturday it rained and rained like crazy.

I had a 9 o'clock appointment that I was on my way to when it started raining. Ok, more like I was being stood up for my 9 o'clock appointment when it started raining. Needless to say, I was not happy. I had to wake up early after clubbing until 4 a.m. to travel through a typhoon only to be stood up! (The day only got worse as I paid a lot of money for disgusting food, lost my umbrella, had to pay a ridiculous price to get another one, got hit on by several creepy guys, and got begged for money by a street kid who has out-of-his-mind-high on God knows what, all within the same 6 hour period). My housemates and I had plans to head into town to do some shopping but when we saw that the torrential downpour wasn't going to let up we decided to head back home instead. We changed into dry clothes and spent the evening huddled in their room talking, reading, and listening to music (read: Tegan and Sara. I've got HanneSophie hooked). On Sunday they left for Zanzibar (where I will hopefully be joining them next weekend) and I spent the day preparing for Monday and hanging out with Sia. Being trapped inside for most of the weekend bored me out of my mind so I grabbed a camera and started snapping pics of anything that looked interesting. These pics should help you guys get a feel for what my house is like. Enjoy ;)

(The crazy multi-country adapter thingy my housemates use to plug their Norwegian appliances into the Tanzanian outlets).

The view from my back window during one of the rare breaks in the rain.

front window

stairs (pretty self-explanatory, huh?)

the dryer. lol.

upstairs hallway.

corner of the bathroom.

yes, the washing machine is in the bathroom. The big cylinder uptop is the water heater which makes hot (bucket) showers possible. In TZ the "bathroom" is usually only the tub/shower and a sink. The toilet and another sink are in a separate room. I thought it was weird at first but with seven people living in our house it definitely cuts down on traffic jams. (If someone's using the "bathroom", I can always use the sink in the toilet room to brush my teeth.)

lunch preparation.

most of the meat we eat is boiled in this pressure cooker. I'm still not sure how I feel about boiled meat. Both of my parents hate boiled meat so in my house it was always a no-no. Since I didn't grow up on boiled meat I would prefer baked, brazed, roasted, grilled or even fried but hey...I'm not the one cooking.

So I guess one good thing did come out of this weekend. I'm glad I got pictures of my house. I feel like in the future it'll be nice to look at them and reminisce about where I lived when I was in TZ. As for the weather the rain was a bit intense but I'm getting tired of the "power rations". I can't decide whether I'd rather have (more) consistent access to electricity or dry weather. We'll see what the rain gods think.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Photo Edition: Art and Fashion

Since I've been here the local fashion has really grown on me. I've made a few purchases including bracelets, earrings, clothing, traditional fabrics, etc. and today I've decided to share them here. Check it out:


These earrings are really cool because both pair are made out of banana leaves. I'm not entirely sure how they do it but the end result is pretty cool (and surprisingly durable). I paid 1,000/Tshs for each pair. That's about 77 cent per pair.

These earrings are made out of bull's horn. After they are formed into a shape they are dyed. It didn't really show up well in the picture but the ones one the bottom are a really pretty shade of purple. These also cost 1,000/Tshs per pair.

Both pairs of these earrings are made out of ebony. These also cost 1,000/Tshs per pair.

Just a closer look at my little baby elephants :~)

These bracelets are made from small plastic beads strung onto a wire. They are made by Massai ladies and you usually get about 5 for 1,000/Tshs. The Massai are famous for their intricate beaded jewelry. Here's another cool pic of Massai jewelry. Click here to read more about the Massai.

I'm not exactly sure what the gold-ish ones are made of but they cost me 1,500/Tshs each. The one in the middle is made of soapstone. I actually bought it last year so I don't remeber how much I paid for it but I'm almost sure it wasn't over 3,000/Tshs.

These anklets were also made by Massai ladies and they cost me 1,500/Tshs a piece. It is Massai custom to wear an anklet on each leg as some sects don't believe anything comes single. For them, everything comes in twos.


A friend of mine had this cool ebony statue made for me for my birthday. The giraffe is the national animal of Tanzania and she is also one my personal favorites.

He had the words "Happy Bday Krista" carved into the base for me.


In Tanzania you will find a mix of Western and traditional fashions. Many women choose to buy sheets of raw fabric (vitenge) at the market and take it to a seamstress to have it made into traditional clothing. I've purchsed a few different patterns with the intention of having clothing and other items made from them.

I like this one because it's so BRIGHT but I have no idea what I'm going to make out of it yet.

This one is also pretty awesome but...

... ^this^ one is my absolute favorite so far :~)

I'm kind of one the fence about this one. I bought it last week and now I'm not sure whether I like it or not :(


Kangas are very common in Dar and are native to East Africa. They feature bright colors, cool patterns, and a saying at the bottom. They come in pairs and here in Dar the going price is usually between 3,000/Tshs and 5,000/Tshs. Check out this link for more on kangas.

Kangas are pretty big (about 1.5 meters by 1 meter) so I enlisted the help of my housemates. The Mama and Baba at my house gave me this Tanzania themed kanga for my birthday. This particular kanga is pretty common among tourists b/c it sums up most of the pretty awesome parts about Tanzania. The edges are bordered by various wild animals since TZ is known for its game parks. The national animal, the giraffe, is also featured near the center.

Here's a close up of the center. Serengeti, Ngorogoro, and Mikumi are the names of some pretty famous national parks in TZ. The saying at the bottom says "Ubaya hauna kwao Mola nisitri njama zao." It basically translates to something along the lines of "God, protect me from their bad plans."

All of East Africa is psyched about Obama...but not for the same reasons we are. Most of them care less about the fact that he is the first black president in America's 200+ year history. For them the excitement is about his Kenyan ancestry. Obama kangas started popping up all over E.Africa after the election and they're being sold at 2 to 3 times the normal price. Nowadays the price is even higher since they're starting to become more and more rare. I got lucky because I got this one for my birthday. I don't own one but when Micheal Jackson died a Michael Jackson kanga also popped up on the market. It says "We will always remember you."

Here's a close up of the center of the kanga. "Hongera" means "congratulations".

The saying "Obama Chaguo la Mungu" translates to "Obama-- God's choice."
Here's another version of the Obama kanga. Instead of american flags it has Africa on either side of Obama and the saying says "peace and love. God cares about us."

This is the first kanga I bought this year. I mentioned it in the Kipepeo Beach post.

The message "Nakuvika pete yangu uwe mchumba wangu" pretty much translates to "I'm giving you my ring to wear. Be my fiance."

I must admit that I am falling in love with polka dots. I picked this one up at my local market.

The message says "Nyumba yenye upendo haikosi riziki." This translates to, "A house that has love is not missing God's blessings."

Besides Obama, I think this is my favorite one so far. I like brown a lot, I think the leaves are really pretty, and I really like the message.

The message ("Udugu mzuri mpendane sio mnyanyasane") translates to " A good relationship/kinship is to love each other not harass each other."

Kangas are usually worn like this:

Here's Anna Sophia wearing a kanga:

Here's a picture of me wearing a pair of kangas last year. One around my waist and one on my head:

Kangas are very versatile. Here in Dar a lot of women use them to carry babies like this:

or like this:
Notice that this woman is also wearing a pair on kangas as clothing, one on the head and one around her waist. In TZ, Muslim women often use kangas as hijabs. I told you they were versatile.


Here are some dresses I bought. They are long, loose and flowy which makes them quite popular with Muslim women because they in are compliance with the Islamic standards of modesty. Often times they come with another piece of cloth. Muslim women use the extra cloth on their head as a hijab and other women may wear it around the waist or drape it accross the shoulders if they get cold.

This one is my favorite.

Future Purchases:
In TZ, soda still comes in glass bottles like this:
A few of the craftsmen at my local market make really cool earrings out of the caps and I'm looking to invest in a pair of Coca-Cola earrings. When I get my hands on them I'll post a pic. I also plan to post pics of my traditional clothing after I have it made. More purchases and pictures posts to come...