Friday, June 6th
Back to MobilityCare this morning to keep working. With the woodwork outsourced to the fundi in town, we still had to make the steel brackets, cut the pipe, and weld various bits together.
The morning got off to a good start with peanut butter and banana sandwiches. In case you haven’t noticed, I eat these a lot when I’m here. The bananas are just so good! I’m going to start counting how many bananas I eat each day, but if I had to guess I would say I’m eating at least 5 or 6 each day. Mmmmmmmm.
Joseph cut the large piece of pipe into the smaller couplings and then I drilled most of the holes for the screws. If nothing else, 2.007 taught me how to drill holes. Thanks! Joseph was working really fast and within no time he was welding everything together. Everybody has promised that they’ll teach me how to weld this summer, but I was in no rush to learn today.
So I took the prototype small-business wheelchair outside and wheeled it around for a while. Yesterday we finalized the design of the drawers and desk, but somehow I had forgotten about the umbrella. Originally it was supposed to slide right into one of the hollow pipes behind the user’s shoulder. But in riding around I found that my arm kept hitting it when I reached backward. Not good, but nothing we couldn’t solve. I took the chair back inside and shared what I found with Daniel and Joseph, who both quickly agreed that we needed to change something. We found a new spot on the outside of the sideguard where there is space to mount a holder for the umbrella. And by moving the umbrella to that spot it covers the user so much better. So it seems like a win-win.
After we finished everything up we headed into town, which was really bustling with people. The streets were literally packed from end to end. Luckily Joseph knew exactly where he wanted to go. His church is doing some major renovations and they need five new toilets, which his mom had volunteered him to buy. The first toilet store didn’t have what he was looking for so we went to a second. And then a third. Who knew there were so many toilet stores in Arusha? He finally found what he was looking for, and now I know exactly where to go if I ever want to buy a toilet in Arusha. You never know when that may come in handy!
One of my favorite things about Tanzania is that people don’t really plan things too far in advance, and some of the best times happen completely unexpectedly. Tonight was a perfect example. We went to a place called Triple A which is a radio station, restaurant, bar, night club, barber, and car wash all rolled into one compound. I definitely recommend passing by if you are ever in town. We had gone to get tea (called “chai” in Swahili) because it was getting dark and chilly, at Triple A’s restaurant, and found out that they were hosting the Miss Arusha 2008 pageant in the main hall later that night. There was no way I was about to pass up that opportunity!
Tickets were 10,000 Tanzanian Shillings (about $8) and it was well worth it. Ironically the tickets stated that the show started at 8pm, everybody said it started at 9pm, and it didn’t end up starting until well after 10:30. I didn’t mind that it was starting so late because I knew I could sleep-in the next morning, but it seemed crazy that it would start 2 and half hours late! And everybody seemed to know that it would start so late, as half the crowd didn’t show up until 10pm. When I asked why everybody was so late all I got was, “This is Tanzania. We’re not in a hurry. We’re on African time.” Good to know!
There were 12 contestants who competed in formalwear, swimwear, a design of their choice, and answered interview questions. Although most of it was in Swahili, my favorite DJ was one of the presenters and he happily translated the important parts into English. From the first round I picked number 8 as my favorite and I guess I have good taste because she won! Aside from winning a car, refrigerator, and television, she will go on to compete in the Miss Tanzania pageant later in the year. I hope she wins!
*The title of this post was inspired by a Maasai named KinyeKinye who I met today. While I was having some tea at the Triple A restaurant I was surrounded by a group of about 8 Maasai. The Maasai are one of the most well known tribes in East Africa because of the bright red cloth they wear. Apparently the Maasai I met today were Tanzanite brokers who must be doing quite well because they had a really nice car! And although their bright red "shukas" looked cozy and warm, I caught most of them wearing pants and jackets underneath. Oh those Maasai...