vignettes 3

by zunguzungu

–The urinals in the New Arusha Hotel (one of the first buildings built in town, not long after the German fort, before WWI) are filled with ice. Its kind of a fun idea (very organic, in a way), but also pretty bizarre. And ice is rare here, not only because we’re on the equator, but also people aren’t used to drinking it; freezing water doesn’t kill the nasty bacteria, so its potentially dangerous to drink. So not only should you not eat the yellow snow, but you should also not strain your martini through the ice you got from the men’s room. In case you were wondering. But, more importantly, I wonder who refills the urinals? What is his job title? And what do you tip him?

–A lot of people have been asking me to join them with their work lately, from the women carrying sand in buckets on their heads to the guys using hand carts to move lots of sand.  How do you demur without sounding like a wazungu snob? (and I’m not talking about “help me carry this bucket from here to there,” I’m talking about “Hey mzungu! We’ve got a job this afternoon!  Come make some money with us!” Perhaps saying yes is the best tactic; the woman wouldn’t let me put the bucket on my head and I escaped unsullied by manual labor.  But what if they call my bluff? I’m just a lazy wazungu, gosh darn it!