New Blog!

If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Short Post--Another Couple of Books

Two posts ago, I said I'd be posting about my travels through various American National Parks this fall, starting with Sequoia National Park. OK, I'm still going to do that, soon. But first, just one more post about books I really liked and other odds and ends.

The Tanzanian tribe that gets the most attention (at least from Westerners) is the Maasai, They traditionally are nomadic cattle herders who roam large areas of East Africa. When you see pictures of a slender warrior draped in red robes, standing on one foot, leaning on a staff with the sun setting behind him....that's a Maasai. I've mentioned them in various posts and included a few photos. Here's my review from the Goodreads website of a sweet book that provides an inside view of Maasai culture.

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African SavannaFacing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A children's book, but one also suitable for adults as a quick read. The author is Maasai and grew up in a traditional cattle-herding family in northern Kenya, but ended up attending university in America. Now he spends half his time in America teaching at a private school, and half back home with his family. He tells the story of his childhood with the perfect balance of the personal and the cultural. Fun stories from his boyhood illustrate the main points of Maasai culture. As I read, the humor and overall tone kept reminding me of the few Maasai I got to know a little bit in Tanzania.

This blog gets about 30 hits per day from search engines, mostly Google. Many of those deal with Maasai topics, such as "Maasai shuka," (the traditional robes). Most of those come through Google Images and pull up various photos from various posts. Here's a new one to search for:

Sebastian, a waiter at Kundayo Apartments, demonstrates the proper way to wear shuka and a few Maasai dance steps. He also showed us a few different shuka patterns and explained that each was worn by people in specific gender and age groups.

 But of all the beautiful landscape photos and fabulous wildlife photos and fun people photos that I've included in this blog, the one photo that people search for the most is the ugliest. Here it is:

My foot with a jigger, or sand flea egg case near the end of its gestation period. Bleah!

That post, "Well, I'll Be Jiggered," has received 948 views, more than double the views of the next runner up. I guess if I  were embarrassed about this unflattering photo of myself, I wouldn't have published it in the first place. I'm viewing it as a public service on my part, informing numerous visitors to Tanzania and Kenya that the ugly bump on their foot is a jigger and that no, they can't ignore it until it goes away. Who knew there were so many jiggers out there waiting to pounce on unwary foreigners? I'm sure they pounce on the locals, too, but I'm guessing the locals recognize them without doing a Google search.

I also get many Google hits on my goat curry recipe. Most of those hits seem to be from India and Saudi Arabia. I always imagine that they're disappointed by the recipe, because it's such a basic recipe for an Indian or Saudi cook with more experience of cooking with goat meat or curry.

Another source of hits is the phrase, "Tanzanian manners," which leads to a post with a brief discussion of one or two points about eating at restaurants. Probably not very helpful for foreign volunteers getting ready for their first trip. I thought of that when I recently read this book about Tanzanian manners. This will give them something more substantive to search out:

Tanzania - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & cultureTanzania - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture by Quintin Winks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good, straight forward primer on how to behave politely in Tanzania. Tanzanians seem to me to be quite patient with foreigners blundering around socially, but still, Tanzanian manners are much more complicated and demanding than American manners (well, maybe everybody's are--we're all pretty casual). After spending over a year in Tanzania, then reading this book, I found it to be accurate and helpful. I especially liked that the author, a foreigner, is respectful of Tanzanian culture. (I'm partway through the Botswana guide, by a different author who is disdainful of Botwanans.)

That finishes all the odds and ends floating around my brain for now. Next time, I promise the Giant Sequoias!

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