Every moment, every day, every week is filled with so much new information, unexplored adventures
and many many captivating moments.
Of course, moments of this week feel amongst those qualifications.
After being on the island for over a month now,
there are still unchartered areas in which my eyes have yet to wonder.
Tuesday afternoon, I ventured down into Utende which is on the southeast side of Mafia Island.
A pikipiki speedily brought me there as it's about 11 km away from my home.
At times, the roads seem as if they're endless.
Leading further and further into the forest that accompanies all in which inhabits this island.
Each turn still makes me more giddy than the last.
As these are the moments more so than others that I find myself with a face wide smile because
yes, this is where I am living, this is my "commute."
Utende is a beautiful tucked away village that in the past few years has become a tourist destination where those certified or looking to be certified divers pay far too much money to stay in resorts
within the Mafia Island Marine Park.
Once entering the Marine Park gates, one immediately understands why.
There is a tiny village amongst the roads of the Marine Park, to the right and left sides you see mangrove homes, roadside stores and restaurants, children playing under trees.
Life does not change in Utende just because there are an abundance of tourists, it's just more of an opportunity for the young African youth to see a diversity of nationalities and ethnicities.
Once I got into Utende, my mouth literally dropped as I arrived as the bright daylight was turning
into a golden evening light.
I walked onto the sand, took off my shoes and with each step dug my toes down as far as they can go
as I was in complete awe at that in front of me.
It literally was beyond anything I've seen.
The photographs in the Tanzania travel books did not do this place any justice.
White beaches, covered swinging cots to lay out, wooden boats (ferries) of people wearing bright colors being escorted to and from the coastlines, palm trees swaying with the breeze, boats with the Tanzanian flag waving proudly about, water changing from turquoise to bright blue depending on the depths below all the while the sun was shinning so perfectly with its evening golden light.
I was picked up by a boat of new friends, all but one I had just met.
We ventured across the waters to an even smaller island called Chole Island where I spent the evening celebrating the existence of a new friend, sharing everything from understandings to philosophies to random ideas with another and purely enjoying the company right in front on me.
In all honestly, for the first time in awhile, I felt like I was amongst people that understood me
without having to use too many words.
The evening ended with singing happy birthday, eating Tanzanian homemade birthday cake, taking the boat back across the waters in the black of night and spending a bajij ride home discussing the power of photography and videography.
And the Utende and Chole Island moments continue….
A few days later, back down to Utende for an afternoon in the Tanzanian sun.
Snorkeling along the coastline, afternoon bea and tangawizi, acro yoga, boat rides, music,
more boat and pikipiki rides.
And the Utende and Chole Island moments continue….
I woke up early Saturday morning, had breakfast with two of my teaching mates.
About an hour later, we met up with all the international and local volunteers and several local teachers.
Back down to Utende.
This time, taking a local wooden boat filled with teachers both local and from afar over to Chole Island.
We all got out and explored the delightfully quaint island where we walked about seeing dozens of bats sleeping in trees, forestry for days, children playing in their front yards excited to see visitors, talking to local shop owners and having our teachers literally hug a tree to see how old it was!
Back in the boat.
This time we ventured to a very small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean
as the tide was low enough to have such structure.
The boat anchored, a small white shaded cover was constructed and a picnic lunch was served.
Sitting in the white sand, looking out at the crystal blue and turquoise waters, I was in complete awe.
And in the boat we go.
This time heading even further into the depths of the Indian Ocean arriving at a large coral rock structure.
We anchored and spent several hours snorkeling, swimming, laughing
and simply enjoying being in the womb of mother nature.
The bright colors of the day began to shift into the golden colors of the evening and our wooden boat headed back to the Utende shoreline.
Simple as that.
Absolutely incredible as that described above and the photographs below.
I am in love.
Love with all that exists.
Love with life.
Love with this island.
So much love.
Facts! Just 35 Straight Facts …. some interesting, others adorable and some a little too intense to handle!
"Singing don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be all right… don't worry about a thing cause every little is gonna be alight!"
In all honesty, I woke Sunday morning with melancholy consuming my mind, body and spirit.
All that I could feel.
Upon waking, my body drenched in sweat, my sheets as if they had just been washed.
A morning routine, bucket showering, getting dressed, pulling back my hair and adventuring out for the day.
I did this all as I usually do, but something was missing, something just didn't seem right.
Solo, I walked up to hill to Kilindoni from Harbor View Hotel where the Mafia Island teaching team stayed the entire weekend.
One half of the group was on a boat exploring the Indian Ocean for whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea.
While the remaining four did their own things.
Got to the top of the hill, opened my book.
The Road of Lost Innocence. Somaly Mam.
What a great honor to have met this woman several months back and documented her speaking event in Pasadena, California.
Her words are painful.
Her words are so vivid.
With each line, I feel her pain. I breathe her pain. I clenched my book a little tighter as each page describes
rape upon rape upon beating upon beating.
This was her life, her youth, her reality.
Oh, how I just want to hold her.
I sat outside the internet cafe intrigued by Somaly's story awaiting the doors to open.
It was then breakfast time, melancholy still filled my body and even more so,
my mind was stuck of the idea of rape.
This idea of her reality.
I got lost walking back to the hotel and found myself protected by the forest of Mafia Island.
A tiny creature amongst all the forest, all the greenery.
I walked a bit further as I knew I had made a wrong turn, but I was just too intrigued to go back.
Eventually, I turned around.
And went back to where I needed to be going.
Breakfast was had and back up to town it was.
Back to the internet cafe to handle some business.
The power of the internet.
I logged into Facebook and the first thing I saw was a photo of dear Kima Lou and myself back in the 6th grade.
The 6th grade.
Oh the years of memories. The happiness that filled my body and of course the tears that filled my eyes.
The melancholy had subsided and a sense of comfort filled my being.
How incredibly blessed I am to have the uniquely divine souls in my life!
There is nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.
Every little thing will always be all right.
I spent this past weekend with my fellow international and local volunteers alongside the local teachers discussing the in's and out's of the six week intensive English course we are teaching in secondary schools throughout Mafia Island.
What works? What doesn't work? What needs improvement? Are we teaching what we're supposed to be teaching? How much longer should volunteers be here? What needs to continue for this program to successfully expand and impact the community? Who does this program ultimately belong to? And on and on.
These were some of the most effectively constructive conversations.
So many new ideas, way to solves situations in which aren't fully working.
Brainstorming on how to make this program that much better in the years to come.
The program is on its third year here on Mafia Island and on its first for the Kilwa district on mainland Tanzania.
The statistics are startling.
The effectiveness of this program is beyond belief.
The year prior to the launch of this program(2010), out of 135 Form I students,
only 9 students passed their English exams.
That is only 9 students out of 135 students.
Just a little over 6% of the students pass their exams. SIX PERCENT.
The year after this program was implemented, out of 145 From I students,
103 passed their English exams with only 42 students failing.
103 out of 145 students passed their exams after the implementation of this program.
The numbers jumped from 6% to just over 71%.
After six weeks of an intensive English course from native English speakers along with local Tanzanian teachers fluent in English, look at the results.
Look at the difference this program is making.
Our program sparks a newfound self confidence in these young minds.
In brings about a whole diversity in culture to these rural island communities.
Although we are only here for six weeks teaching the English course, studies have shown that once you get a language platform, that platform stays with you.
The English knowledge we teach, sticks with them, it may not always be used, but it does not disappear!
If those numbers aren't inspiration in itself, I don't know what is.
I walked away from the Friday evening and Saturday morning meetings with a whole new perspective, a whole new feel and understanding of this program.
Anne, known as MamaChole on the island has implemented something extremely drastic, something that is honestly changing the structure and effectiveness of the education system on Mafia Island.
It is the goal to have this program expand all throughout Tanzania.
And I know, one day in the very near future, it will be.
It will be in the hands of the schools themselves.
The possibilities are endless.
The inspiration at it's finest.
And hope beyond imaginable.
Thanks to the dedicated government officials, heads of school, local teachers, local volunteers, international volunteers, donors and so many people in-between, Mafia Island is witnessing something so new, a drastic shift in the education of their environment, in their country.
Again, the power of community and what they can accomplish when working tougher towards a common goal, towards improvement for their community.
Purely exhausted from my weekend discussing all topics just mentioned, after our Sunday lunch, Seif, Patrick and myself anxiously jumped into the government truck.
We pulled up to my school, I jumped out of the bed of the truck, put on my backpack and turned around.
As I turned around, I hear "Ashley, Ashley" with two of the neighborhood boys running towards me
with their arms open ready for a big hug.
I picked up one, squeeze him tightly.
Put him down and then did the same for the next.
Seif and I then walked to MamaDixon's house where everyone was cheering "Ashley, Ashley, Seif, Seif"
and they ran up giving us HUGE hugs again and again.
This is my new family.
This is my new home.
This is my new community.
I missed my "home" and "Tanzanian family" dearly this past weekend.
This is beyond amazing.
My family has grown.
My community has grown.
Oh, how my world has expanded.
Below are some of my favorite photos from this weekends adventures!
Photos are a combination of where I stayed this weekend -- the water tower outside my room.
Then photos from our Saturday meeting and all the other volunteers and local teachers.
As always please enjoy these images and receive all the love I am sending along with each and every one!
Last Saturday, we were Bweni Bound.
Be ready at 8am, a car will pick you up.
TIA. TIA. TIA.
This is Africa.
This is Africa.
This is Africa.
The car arrives a little after 11am.
We pack in -- international volunteers, local volunteers, local teachers and
members of the Mafia Island Steering Committee.
Thirteen packed into an SUV.
We're picnicking in Bweni.
Here we go.
Mecheni, Kitomondo, Kilindoni, Beleni, Kirwangee.
Another car being filled with all those in-between.
I'm pinched on the edge of a seat and a body with my legs startling my backpack.
Just enough room to have my head slightly out of the window and my camera around my neck.
Two hours down a windy, bumpy dirt road.
Small village after small village.
Smiling face after curious face after youth screaming "good-bye!"
It's time, jump out of the LandRover.
Onto the white sanded beach with the tide so low boats are land strapped with no way of getting out of their current spots until the sun begins to set and the tide begins to get high again.
Seashells line the coastline.
Large conch like shells.
Crabs living in colorful swhirley ones.
Spider like starfish living in large sand filled abandoned clam shells.
Sand crabs scurry about as they come out of their holes.
Small eyes in the distance looking to those laughing and
collecting seashells along the edge of the receding waters.
One youth in particular laying stomach down on the bow of a land strapped boat
with his eyes so deep of curiosity.
I turn to him and say "Samahani ninaomba nicupege picha! (Excuse me, I beg of you to take your picture)"
He looks at me, smiles and says, "indigo! (yes!)"
I excitedly take his photo and when finished walk to show him the image on my small camera screen.
His eyes get wide with excitement.
I look over and two other young boys are staring and ask why I'm doing.
I walk over.
And again say the four magic words, "Samahani ninaomba nicupege picha."
Again, I get an excited "ndiyo"
I take theirs.
This time with the two of them laying over the edge of the boat.
I turn, show them their image and smile.
Lots of asante sana's (thank you very much) and laughs were exchanged.
I walk away with a huge smile on my face as I knew I just took two of my favorite pictures since being on the island.
We gather our shells, walk up to the LandRover and onward we go for Bweni Bound.
Again, a familiar but new sight.
Forest lined dirt roads with nothing but more trees and huts in sight for miles.
These forest entertain those of monkeys as this is their home!
The only lighthouse on the island.
Brought here by the British in the 1800's.
The door in unlocked, we sign the guest book.
Ten by ten and some we go up to the very top of the lighthouse.
There are twenty three of us in total.
Up the dozens of narrow flights of stairs.
Out a three foot red door.
Onto a rigged old circular platform enabling those that venture here
an opportunity to see the entire tip of Mafia Island.
Acres and acres of rainforest to both the left and right.
The Indian Ocean just beyond the greenery.
Mangrove huts amongst those palm trees.
Schools, communities, farms and small shops tucked even deeper into the depths of the Mafia Island forest.
I am ecstatic.
I am living a LIFE documentary.
Only, this one is NOT narriated by Opera, this one is narriated by Ashley Strong.
This one is documented through the lens of Ashley Strong Photography.
I am in an environment which I knew existed, but only in my dreams.
Only on a television screen.
Backdown the narrow staircase.
Onto the seaweed colored sand of the Indian Ocean coastline.
Back up to the vacant building for our group picnic.
Picnic is Bweni!
We have arrived.
The food has arrived.
The bea (beer) has arrived.
Bread, peanut butter, mangoes, watermelon, chipias and CAKE.
Yes, that does say CAKE.
My first piece of CAKE since leaving the states.
One of my first sweets since being on this island.
We have introductions to those new faces.
We enjoy a day off, being in the countryside of Mafia Island.
Peacefully being in the company of one another.
And off we go again.
Bweni Bound continues.
Down the dirt path to an Australian owned resort given the name "Turtle Rock" by our dear international volunteer Sean.
We are free to roam, explore, experience the land.
We walk with our toes in the sand and of course a beer in hand.
The image of that in front of me is surreal.
The most simply elegant scenery.
Bare bright trees in the ocean water.
Roots coming up from the sand wanting attention of that above the ocean's surface.
Bweni Bound has reached its peak.
Everyone is together. Smiling. Laughing. Sharing even more stories.
It's time for a sunset swim.
Those ready for the ocean waters jump right in, while others converse on the sand.
The sun begins to set.
We look at one another in gratitude.
What a beautiful day spent in the presence of those making a drastic shift in the Mafia Island education system.
Twenty three in total.
Teaching. Gesturing. Lesson Planning. Giving. Receiving.
We are all doing this together.
We play hard, but work abundantly harder.
Bweni Bound was a day away.
A picnic amongst the forest of Mafia Island.
Racing along the dirt path with headlights on brightly towards our villages.
Bweni Bound was beyond a day of pleasure.
It was a day that will remain vividly in my mind.
The photos captured that day will be shared.
Shared with many.
A day of experiencing the power of what mere strangers can accomplish when mindsets are smiler and determination is at largely at hand.
It is possible.
It is definitely possible.
It is happening.
The Mafia Island education is improving.
We are beginning to make a difference.
Blessings and love from Mafia Island!
Oh, my students! My Students. My students.
What to say about my students.
So much to say about teaching in Tanzania.
So much to say about my students.
Well here it goes….
I am nearing the end of my third week of teaching TEE - TZ (Technology Enhanced English - Tanzania).
A quick run down of the program… this is a semester long program consisting of being here for a little over nine weeks. One week of training upon arrival, one week of pre-testing at our designated school, six weeks of intense English lesson plans, one week of post-testing and traveling time in-between.
Training is where we learn the in's and out's of Genki English, Genki phonics, our lesson planning and our schedule for the six weeks. Pre-testing is a combination of seven tests both written and oral seeing where the incoming Form I secondary school students perform in their English skills.
Our pretesting consisted of only testing 45 out of the 120 enrolled Form I students as testing is done during an option week of school for the children which is usually a week that is heavily labor intensive.
The six weeks then includes Genki English computer lessons, Genki phonics lessons with lots of pronunciation and gestures and 37 lessons ranging from greetings, body parts, questions, dictionaries, time, present tense, parts of speech and so much more!
Testing didn't take up the entire pre-testing week, so I used Thursday afternoon and Friday morning (as Friday's are half days) to get to know the students on a more personal level by giving them mediums to express themselves. The first thing I did was teach them "Slippery Fish." This is a song I learned during training at Isabel Patterson Child Development Center in Long Beach. It's a song that kids instantly love because the hand gestures are so much fun. Seeing as I am teaching these students very basic English skills, this was perfect. After writing all the lyrics on the board with animal names in both Swahili and English alongside very poor drawings, we went through it a couple times and before I knew it, everyone was happily singing slippery fish!
The second activity I did with the students was a writing and drawing in response to the question, Unataka kuwa nani ukikua? (what do you want to be when you grow up?). I put example professions in both English and Swahili on the board and explained what each one was. I then gave every student their own piece of computer paper and had them visually express what they wanted to be when they grew up.
This was an interesting exercise as many of them just copied those ideas and drawing around them, while a couple were very creative coming up with their own design and profession.
Reality is, many of these young minds haven't been exposed to the sample professions and even more so reality is many of these students will not pass their exams to move onto Form II and then assume full responsibilities of supporting the family. I took these pieces of paper, attached them to a large post-it like paper and hung them around the classroom with the title on top. After morning and afternoon breaks, the students excitedly run to the posters to see what others drew and said about their future.
From the second week of the program on, there are four English Form I semester teachers including myself, Seif (local volunteer), Regina (local teacher) and Issac (local teacher).
There are three streams (I, II, and III). I created a schedule with an even rotation where each week a teacher is assigned either Stream I, Steam II, Steam III or Genki English enabling the students to get a variety of English teachers pronouncing the necessary words for them to advance.
Materials are extremely scare here. Students come to school with their mathematical boxes, a pen, pencil and notebook. Some have backpacks, but not all. I have one very large blackboard at the front of the classroom with a box of chalk. My hand definitely cramps up by the end of the day as I have to press extremely hard to get the necessary words on the board. The chalk box says its dustless. I beg to differ.
By morning break (which is when I eat breakfast) my clothes are half white as they are decorated in chalk.
The students are responsible for writing down the necessary information from the board into their notebooks. This process becomes extremely tedious as in primary school, the use of rulers was obviously extensive and everything has to have a perfectly straight line and their drawings have to be done in pencil and mirror exactly what mine looks like on the board. And oh yes, my images on the blackboard are not ones that should be duplicated. They are quite entertaining.
Corporal punishment is sadly something that is regularly used in Tanzanian schools.
And yes, I have seen it far too many times since I've been teaching at my secondary school.
There is a lot I have to say and to be said about corporal punishment, but this is not the time nor the appropriate medium. My first week I was extremely intimidated and felt at a disadvantage because I could not speak fluent Swahili and tell them everything I waned to. Now, after almost three weeks of teaching, I am embrace that I am not fluent in Swahili (that is ONLY in the classroom) as it forces the students to ask questions and talk to me in English, which is getting easier for them but still tough.
This past Friday, I did an activity with my Stream II students about reading, understanding and creating monthly calendars. I put the class into seven groups and handed each group a notecard including the month, how many days in the month and special Tanzanian holidays during that month, a marker pen, a large white piece of paper and sent them outside to create their calendars in their groups.
Not only did I get to witness these young minds working together, I got to see a new kind of excitement and empowerment radiate from them. The seven groups were all so proud of their calendars, each a little different in size and shape, but all including the necessary information. Once each group completed their calendars, I took group photos. I think this was their favorite part as everyone was surprisingly overexcited to take photos.
These group photos turned into massive class photos when as many people trying to jump in the picture as possible. This outside activity proved extremely beneficial for the students as it took them outside their strict classrooms norms and into the beautiful jungle of a schoolyard all the while applying what they learned and being able to express themselves.
I am constantly amazed at how quickly these students catch on.
If one does not understand the English task given, that who does understand will turn to the other and say the directions in Swahili. Students are extremely quiet at first, it takes them quite some time to come out of their shells. Girls especially do not talk very often and I have to ask them multiple times to repeat what they said so I can actually hear them. Muslim names differ greatly from that of Christian names.
All girls have to have their head shaved regardless of wearing a hijabu or not.
Uniforms are stickily enforced where the students clothes need to be clean, ironed and according to dress code -- the boys wear black pants, a dark belt, a white colored shirt and black shoes -- the girls wear forest green skirts, white colored shirts, white socks, black shoes and if Muslim a large white fabric known as a hijabu over their heads.
This coming weekend marks our midpoint evaluation where the local teachers, local volunteers and international volunteers come together to discuss what is and is not working with their schools and the program as a whole. I speak my mind to the extent that needs to be heard, but I do have to constantly remind myself that the Tanzanian school system is not even comparable to that of the American school system. The hamna shida no hurry way of life is admirable in a multitude of ways, except when it starts to affect youth's education. Unfortunately, school is not a top priority, teachers are hard to come by, those who are teaching are not always that dedicated, schools have very little resources and the list goes on and on. This is not always true as there are some incredibly dedicated teachers who heavily promote the advancement of the students. I am, as always just extremely thankful to have this opportunity to contribute my passion and love for education, knowledge and humanity at large.
All in all, at this time in the teaching process, I can honestly say…. teaching has brought about a whole new happiness, new kind of gratification, new understanding for youth and education systems as a whole. Seeing as this is my first time in a classroom environment responsible for teaching an entire class, I was bound to have "new" emotions, but just wasn't too sure what they would hold. Monday mornings are a little tough as they ended last week with a different teacher and they just had the whole weekend off. But by Genki phonics time, I have the kids standing on their chairs jiggling around like jello! Not only is J one of our phonics words with the gesture of jiggling, it is a wonderful tool to get them excited about the days lessons. I am absolutely loving my time in the classroom, getting to teach these students an intense English curriculum with my flavor and spreading/sharing so much love, positivity, encouragement and inspiration.
Not just from me to them, but most definitely them towards me.
I know my remaining three weeks will be even better than the previous three weeks as with each lesson, each day, I am getting more and more able to them in the way best way possible.
I am blessed. Thank you for reading, listening and embracing.
A moment of warmth so pure, so new.
So new to the spirit.
Not the warmth of a mother's hug, one that I miss dearly every morning and evening.
Not the warmth of an infant gripping onto your finger as tightly as their little limbs can do.
Not the warmth of your loved ones expressing their appreciation for your existence.
I am talking about the warmth of our universe.
I am talking about the warmth of a young soul's smile within our universe.
A smile with so much admiration and excitement to have an English conversation with the schools international English teacher.
This warmth, it is almost indescribable.
Although you were not present for this specific sunset walk around my Kitomondo neighborhood,
I will do my best to explain what I mean by this form of warmth.
What I experienced that very evening.
Warmth from the universe.
Warmth of a young soul's smile.
Taking a solo walk, getting lost and consumed by the African forest.
New faces carrying their loads.
Exploring the emotions throughout my body.
Words swirling around in my mind.
My camera has been my form of communication for several years now.
It has been my vehicle.
It is my vehicle.
Allowing me to express my innermost being.
To the world.
To the world at large.
My photographs tell a story.
Tell my story.
One in which I experience and live each and every moment.
One in which I feel blessed to share with my community.
With all communities.
In the states, a desired weekend day is spent getting lost amongst the trails of a botanical garden.
Not one in particular, just one open for an explorer.
Taking in all the colors and reflecting on the talents of our dear mother nature.
Circle of life.
One feeding another through the death of their leaf.
Spreading the seeds.
In many cases, the wings of a flower.
Our world is abundantly interconnected.
Each part working together or in some cases against one another.
But, all creating a whole.
Providing to those whom cannot provide for themselves.
And yes, being selfish and taking only what they need with no intention of giving back.
This is our society.
This is our world.
Humans, you ask?
Not just humans.
The dirt we walk on.
The trees that provide our oxygen.
The sun creating and sustaining life.
The fish in the ocean.
The coconut way up high.
Yes, all life.
Every living thing on this earth.
In this earth.
Around this earth.
We are minuscule to that which lies beyond our present physical existence.
These gardens I speak of.
This desired weekend day is not one that is desired.
Nor is it just a weekend day.
This botanical garden I talk about is that which I am surrounded by everyday.
That which I wake up to and lies right outside my bedroom window.
That which blows above me as I walk to school in the mornings.
That which glistens in the evening sun as I run down the dirt path leading to the next village.
That which surrounds my walk into town.
Oh yes, it is true.
I am living in one ginormous botanical garden.
One that is more than the art of mother nature through that of flowers, plants, trees, birds and cows.
It is one of a human botanical garden.
Faces with smiles bigger and more curious then seen by my two eyes prior to this reality.
Ones in which colors of fabrics radiate every vibrant color known to man.
Ones with skin so dark.
Ones that sing when they have the chance to have an English conversation.
Simply saying hello, ask my name and where I'm from.
That's all they need.
That alone will do.
Everyday is a new discovery.
A more clearer realization.
A point of growth.
A moment of confusion.
Even with the confusion being thrown into the mix, I go to bed each night with so much peace in my heart.
Calmness in my body.
Openness in my mind.
I wake each day with even more inspiration and determination than the day before.
I am here.
I wake up each morning in Kitomondo on Mafia Island in AFRICA!
I am here.
Samaki. Samaki. Samaki.
Fish. Fish Fish.
The smell of samaki along a dirt path.
The hill begins to decline.
The smell of samaki increases, one in which is not so pleasant.
Vibrant colors of those below become more visible.
The vibration of the sounds begin to pulse my body.
Piki-piki's are crazily honking their horns calling attention to them speeding down the hill.
Those at the gas station to the right talk loudly as if they have megaphones
while filling gas containers for their vehicles and boats.
Local shop keepers, small roadside restaurant owners sit outside with their chipsi (french fries), mayai (eggs) and mishkaki (beef of a stick) ready for those who are passing by with eating as a present thought.
The hill continues to decline and the voices of the local fishing port get louder and louder
as those below are hustling about.
The first sight once on the sand is that of young muscular African men with their shirts off and dark dark skin glistening in the sun as they are carrying massive containers of fish heavier than that of my body.
Two at a time they come.
Two at a time.
They come, one of each side of a large crate like container.
Running out of the crashing water and onto the white sand.
The containers are carried to those who support the men.
It is not other men or can I say rarely is it other men.
It is the women of the community.
The woman in which enable the men to do their societal duties.
Would not be in existence if it was not for the woman.
The woman of Mafia Island, of Tanzania are absolutely admirable.
The fish are then separated.
Guts are emptied onto the sand.
Yes, in those areas, the white sand is that of a light maroon color with an odor no human should have to smell.
We continue along the coastline.
Parallel with the fishing waters of the Indian Ocean and the palm tree,
mangrove traditional African house lined beaches.
The palm trees sway in the distance.
Doing mother nature's dance.
Giving beings a color show, flaunting all that she is capable of brilliantly creating.
This same occurrence, the one with men carrying massive containers of samaki onto the sand where they're greeted by women to begin the cleaning and slitting process and then back into the water.
Again and again and again.
Back into the water.
Foot after foot.
Dozens upon dozens.
Fishing boats tied.
Men hustling about.
Anchors do not exist as they are too heavy and the material to produce such device is far to expensive for that of a local fisherman's budget.
The boats exist steadily in the ocean waters by being tied up to their land strapped counterparts.
Those that are no longer working.
Those that do not have an active crew to operate.
We take photos.
The Kilondoni port coastline walk continues.
Amongst the natural colors of the Mafia Island coastal environment, the clear blue water, bright white and light yellow sand, green palm trees, dark brown trunks.
There are radiating colors.
Those of the woman.
Those crunched against land strapped boats using its shade,
a subtile release from the sun and its extreme heat.
And, even in this heat, these conditions, these woman are covered from head to toe.
Sit under a mangrove tree structure.
Absolute curiosity as to those and what I am experiencing.
Trying to take it all in.
It has happened again.
A mental overstimulation.
A physical calmness.
The locals look about, in curiosity towards us.
Yes, those who are not native to that of Mafia Island.
One in particular that is carrying a large black object around her neck and pointing it in multiple directions.
That would be me.
We move forward.
Our time at Kilindoni port coastline fishing village has commenced for now.
Until we meet again, here are the photos of these moments.
A few of these occurrences.
WIth much love, enjoy.
Jambo from Tanzania:
Living & Teaching abroad in Mafia Island, Tanzania
In June of 2012.... a dream came true.
I was accepted into a WorldTeach program to teach English in Tanzania on Mafia Island. In late December of 2012, I embarked on a 3 month journey to the motherland! Enjoy this blog as it was designed to share my photographs and adventures while living and teaching
on Mafia Island, Tanzania.