Creepy crawlies and other animals (2008)

I came into town yesterday and stayed overnight. I bought one of the young guys from the village in and packed him off on a bus in the evening. He got to experience ice cream and computers for the first time. Sometimes I wonder if it’s fair giving these people little treats cos it makes them more aware of what they don’t have, but at the same time they seem to enjoy it.

The rains have started. There arent regular seasons here like summer, winter etc – there is a wet season and a dry season and both are clearly defined. It doesnt rain at all in the dry season and the ground is sandy. In the wet season it tips it down for hours each day and everywhere quickly becomes green. It also somehow multiplies the insects, arachnids and reptiles. I have no idea where they go in the dry season – can they hibernate?

The animal that most terrifies me is the scorpion. There are thousands of holes in the ground near my house where they live. I’m convinced they’ve camped out near my place just to terrify me. The locals kill them when they see them, but they are underground most of the time (the scorpions – not the locals). Seeing a boy stamp on one with flip flops on (the boy was wearing the flipflops, not the scorpion) (I must stop these unfunny gags) was terrifying – I’d only stamp on one if I was wearing kevlar boots.

This is the biggest scorpion I’ve seen to date. It was around 8 inches in length.

I hang out a bit with two brothers, Tech and Alan, they saw me shriek when I saw a scorpion and now when we walk along they’ll pretend there is a big one by my feet and then go into hysterics as I jump in the air. Two days ago I was admiring a massive line of inch-long ants near my house. My admiration evaporated when I realised they were in fact moving house. Their new residence is a crack in my wall. I went to war and used three types of insect spray and filled the hole as best I could. I then tried blocking the entrance by using the wax from a candle – only the candle ignited the spray and there was a WHOOOSH and a puff of air and flame shot out.

This is only a part of the line

In rather surreal news – one of the families who live in the rehab centre has had a baby girl this week. I saw them on Wednesday and they said in order to thank me for my help they want to name the baby after my mother. They didn’t have a clue what my mother’s name was so lucky for them she wasnt called Chlamydia or something. Anyhow, there is now a baby called Sara. I’ve emailled my mum about it and I expect her to be rather amused and embarrassed by it. I think its funny and sweet.

Mamma Neema, Isaiah and baby Sara

In news about John’s cancer – as I write this he is on a bus bound for Dar es Salaam. He has a referral letter and enough money for he and a relative to stay there for around two weeks. There is an issue about funding the treatment as the healthcare is funded regionally and they don’t have the equipment to deal with his problem in this region and can’t fund treatment in another region. The place is way too bureaucratic, but that’s how it is. He’s keeping in touch with me by phone and hopefully he’ll get his treatment free.

I found myself in a strange situation the other day. I bought a couple op shirts for a local boy who has only one shirt which dwarfs him. One was £2 and the other £1.50 which is nothing. Anyhow, I just asked in passing how much it came to. I can obviously do the maths but here they like to use calculators for everything and its part of the buying process to let them add up. She then looked at me and said ‘How much do you want to pay?’ so I found myself bartering for something which I was happy paying full whack for.

In fact the whole money thing is strange – as most people are dirt poor they will go massively out of their way to get things cheaply. As such I find myself about to buy something in a shop and the person I’m with will say something like ‘let’s not get this here, its alot cheaper down the road’. When ‘down the road’ is a couple of miles and ‘alot cheaper’ is often around 5p. It must seem like I’m extravagant throwing these 5pences away!

Time to stop writing and do a picture dump:

Here I am with Tech outside his house

And with his brother Alan

They breed birds for food

Which I tried eating slightly raw

I quite like the colours in this one

Cue jokes about being a tosser

Say no biscuit, see no biscuit, say no biscuit

I seem to be playing more pool than ever before

Thomas, Emmanuel and Kenny after eating. There isnt much food left on the plates.

Around one person in 80 in Tanzania is albino. This past year 20 have been killed so their body parts can be used in witchcraft

The blind children have gone home now for Christmas. This was taken on the last day. On the final two nights of term they came to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Even without vision it is exciting hearing the music, cars, planes and guns. I also plied them with fizzy drink, lolly pops and biscuits. It was fun.

The boy is getting me a couple of papaya. These are some of the trees I planted in 1999.


About Imo & Tom Feilding

I'm in my 30s and work for the University of Bristol, I regularly visit Buigiri Village slapbang in the centre of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a very poor semi-desert area. I spend much of my time and money helping individuals improve their situation and I write about it on here.
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