This last weekend I (Jamie) took a trip to Mbeya. I took 2 SIL girls with me who were at language school here in Iringa and were moving to Mbeya to work in the cluster project there. It is a pretty long drive and I wasn’t worried about going there with so many of us together but I was a bit nervous about driving back alone. So, we asked Lwiti (a friends’ house worker) to come with us. It was good for him too because all of his family lives in Mbeya so he was grateful for a ride to see his family for the weekend.
The point of the trip was to check on some stuff that we have stored in Mbeya. Our friends moved a year and a half ago and had a whole houseful of stuff that they needed to sell. Since we didn’t have any furniture or anything and Mbeya is the closest big town to where we will be living we just paid one lump sum for it all. The problem was that we couldn’t remember anything about what we bought and had never seen it. So, I went to check it out.
After I dropped the girls off at their new house, I asked my long time friend, John, to take me to the house because I couldn’t quite remember where it was. John, being older and wiser and a little more forgetful, we naturally got completely lost in a part of town called New Foresti. We started asking around and finally found someone who knew about the house that the white people used to live in and took us there.
Unfortunately, in one of the times I had to turn around, I got the back left tire stuck in a ditch. I got out of our Land Cruiser and decided to let John put it into 4-wheel drive to get it out. There happened to be a whole bunch of guys working on the road right near where we were. I was a bit embarrassed so I started talking in Swahili saying that I was a bad driver. And they said “But you aren’t a bad driver, it was just Bahati Mbaya (bad luck)!” We had a good laugh at this because no matter how stupid someone is being they will always just say that it was bad luck. They never actually blame the person who did something wrong.
We finally found the place and I went in to check out our stuff. Unfortunately, rats had gotten into the storage area. It was hard to tell exactly what they had gotten into because everything was so packed in there. Except that it was quite obvious that they had absolutely destroyed the fridge. They ate a hole all the way from the back and underneath through all the styrofoam and plastic and even some of the metal into the inside of the fridge and all the way up through the bottom drawer. It was pretty incredible. I didn’t think it was possible. I was just glad that they hadn’t gotten the stove or the washing machine and seemed to have left the mattresses alone although I couldn’t really get to all of them. The funniest part was that the guy really seemed convinced that the fridge could be fixed!!
While I was in Mbeya, I got to visit my Tanzanian family that I lived with when Junio came into my life. It was so great to see Pastor Damianus and Mama. They call me their daughter and I got to see all of my Tanzanian sisters and brothers. Even Grace, who happened to be home from college in Dar that day. It was wonderful. In fact, it turned out that Grace was heading back to Dar the same day I was heading out so I drove her as far as Iringa and then she took a bus the next morning for Dar.
I stayed with the 2 girls that I took to Mbeya and it brought back so many memories of my time being single and moving into the same exact house for the first time. Trying to figure out how everything works and how to cook and where to buy food. They will do just fine but it is those first few days that I remember being so overwhelmed.
I made it back fine to Iringa and in pretty good time too. We only had one policeman stop me and he just wanted to talk. He asked which state I was from and things. It was funny, anyway! Jer was glad to be relieved of single-parent duty and the girls hung on me non-stop for the next 24 hours So in all, it was a good trip.