I just ate an entire plate of anchovies. Yes tiny little dried fish. Actually “I think” they were anchovies because I was eating dinner with Amina and Aisha who do not speak a word of english and I had to look it up on my translator which is not always accurate (daga=anchovies). For those people whose palette is a little more advanced than my own you might think this sounds good but for me I basically have to leave the room when someone has either fish or anything fishy smelling. If you put anchovies on only one side of a pizza it pollutes the entire pizza for me and I won’t eat it. If Zoe needs to get me out of the room (usually to stop my long elaborate rants) all she has to do is open a can of sardines. I know my palette is picky, privileged and spoiled so eating this plate of food was a HUGE sign of how much I adore Aimina and Aisha since they had cooked it.

During dinner the girls showed me a picture of this huge pumped up guy on their phone and I said “anapenda mvulana kubwa” which in my stupid swahil kind of means “you like big muscles?” although I’m not sure how they interpreted what I said. They giggled and started acting out an elaborate skit of pumping iron. They are both so young and fun but their lives are hard and they are not that much older than Zoe. Amina is 21 and her son is 6 which means that she had him at 15 (which means she was probably pregnant at 14). I try my best not to judge but damn, 15, that’s a baby. It’s illegal to marry someone under 18 but obviously it still happens.

It was market day in Kondoa and as we were walking back from the office we stopped in on Moshi’s wife’s friends who were all making cloths in one of the stalls. They asked about my family and in my broken swahil I said I had one daughter (mimi binti moja). Moshi said they were really curious why I only had one child and I really had no answer other than that’s what I chose. Most families are big, like 10 children and the expectation is to have as many as possible.

I really wish I could take out my camera and take pictures of these more private moments but I just can’t because it changes the dynamic the minute you point your camera so in many of these situations I am going to have to remember details with the words that I write instead.

Usiku mwema marafiki zangu (good night my friends)