Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Chose an East African For A Running Partner

"I was born a rebel, Down in Dixie on a Sunday morning, Yeah with one foot in the grave, And one foot on the pedal, I was born a rebel." -Tom Petty

August 24, 2009

So I am what would be categorized as slightly overweight or what I prefer as "curvy". This is a body type that is considered ideal in E. Africa. But after a visit to America I could not shake the feeling that I was hoping to Punguza (reduce) a bit in Tanzania. So I try to explain this concept to Mama Lau, Mama Latifah, Juster, Mama Johnson, Jen, and Mary this morning when we are all having chai together. I explain that I am actually hoping to be attractive to Americans when I return (which dashes all their hopes that I will marry and live in Image forever). I try to explain my unrealistic goals of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, learning to rock climb or (yikes!) competing in a triathlon. Mama Lau stops me here. She doesn't understand: Are you looking for food? What is the point? That seems like a lot of wasted energy for nothing... I try to explain athleticism... they don't really get it but finally agree to stop stuffing food down my throat at every possible minute. I also suggest that I want to start running. No village Tanzanians run unless there is a hurry or something to get away from. But since I am always the weird girl anyways I decide to start. Since I will get stares anyways, I think I will feel better with someone else, so I ask Jen because we are of similar size and I figure it might be more fun to do with someone else. Let's just say that I must have forgotten that this is the same woman who can dance for 5 hours straight, carry a sack of potatoes on her head uphill and be not even fazed, this is a Tanzanian woman who apparently even though we are the same size is solid muscle. The Brie/Jen running date practically killed me. Plus I felt like it was unfair to be trying to lose 50lbs. while she should not lose an inch to stay beautiful in this culture.

So I decide to start helping with the farming on a more regular basis. The farms are on the outskirts of the village so the walk is long and I even go with Anna on my back for added weight. I dig until Mary notices that my palms are bleeding and my legs are covered in thorns and tells me that no American would want me looking like that and forbids me to continue digging. So I try to exercise by running around like a little ivory fairy gathering the potatoes that are being dug up into sacks. I am still set on farming but Mama Latifah suggests that we have an all female dance party for exercise instead.

So that night under the thatched roof of Juster's house I am instructed on how to move my behind in ways that an exotic dancer could not even imagine. The women can move every body part independently and I am like their little apprentice. Finally Mama Johnson tells me that I better not lose any weight because I am perfect now and if I lose anything there will be nothing left to shake and I will dance poorly. So I am what I am... so much for the triathlon, because if I can shake it than I am in with the Tanzanians.


mom said...

I love the expression..Dance like no one is watching. I think it really lets you clear your mind and let the inner you out. Seems like they know that in your Village.Life is so good. Hug my Kate when you see her and tell her it's from me.

mom said...

Hope you and Kate have a safe journey back to your Villages..You had a week of fun in Dar, so now it's time to go back to your more showers,toliets or ice.Back to the program.Hugs to my girl.