Ultimate Village Showdown! Pt 2

written 1/7

As promised, here are the other large factors that I think affect our quality of life and the comparisons for how each village racks up. Ready for the battle to commence?

Temperature

We have definitely moved into summer and Tabora has gotten to the point where it has days that are just too hot to do anything. I suspect it’s one of the hotter 2Seeds villages, but I think most people are suffering from the heat. The difference is just that Magoma can drink cold things.
However, up in the mountains they seem to be living happy, cool little lives. They sometimes wear jackets in the mountains. When we were there it was incredibly pleasant the whole time, causing great jealousy to rear within me. The one downside of having nice weather is that whenever we go into Korogwe the people that live in temperate climates have to deal with the horrible shock of how hot it is.

Size

Tabora is, by far, the smallest village that 2Seeds works in. It is incredibly compact and has very clear delineations between where people live and what is surrounding land. Most of the other villages are actually made up of a number of sub-villages that the PCs travel between to work with partners. The village closest to us is Mandela and it is about half an hours walk away. Most of the other 2Seeds villages have sub villages within them that are much farther away than that. Magoma even has a second initiative in a place that takes about an hour and a half to get to and they must go there frequently for meetings. The trouble is that when their partners don’t show up to the meetings, then they have to resign themselves to turning right around and walking back the way they came. It would be impossible for us to visit a house in Tabora that is more than 10 minutes away (and that includes stopping to greet everyone that we see on the way over.)

Availability of food and goods

Tabora has a large number of dukas for how small it is, so if you ever needed to buy salt or beans or biscuits, you are always in luck. Our fresh food options are much less abundant and one of the two places that you consistently can get a variety of vegetables has been closed for the last month. Thus, we do most of our shopping in Korogwe. Other (bigger) villages have many more options. Bombo has a weekly market, Kijungomoto is right next to a fairly large town, and Magoma permanent market place in the middle of their village. I believe Magoma is the largest of the 2Seeds villages and thus it is almost like a small Korogwe. You can buy things in it I could never dream of getting in Tabora- kangas that are sold from shops, medicine, and there are stores with buckets and brooms and paint. We end up carrying so much stuff back and forth from Korogwe, but if we lived in Magoma every meeting wouldn’t also have to double as our shopping trip.

Cell Phone service

I nearly forgot about this, because it is such a nonexistent problem for us. We have good and consistant cell phone service in Tabora and so never think about the possibility that it might be hard to get in touch with someone. Bombo, however, has very little service. They ended up changing providers in an effort to get better service. If they stand right by the bathroom or hike up to a particular spot then they can make and receive calls. Otherwise, they mostly just can’t communicate with anyone. There is no voicemail here, so if someone is out of range you can’t still tell them what’s going on. Also, the texts that I have sent them have only sometimes gone through, so even that is not reliable.

House

It’s hard for me to say if I like our house the best or not. Ours is certainly very spacious, but it is also very bare. It’s mostly just a concrete box that we live in. When we saw Magoma they had just gotten some furniture, so their house was full and looked more like a place from home. They also, bizarrely, have architectural decorations, which makes their house more pleasant to be in. Lutindi’s house is so full of stuff that it feels like a real living space. The only thing is that their house has very strange architecture, so to get from one part of the house to the other you have to walk outside.

Children

As judged by Bombo and Bungu, we have the worst children. Tabora has so many kids that are always looking for attention. I enjoy playing with them, but they can all be huge brats if they want to. I have previously talked about our problems with their obnoxiousness when we are inside working. I did not realize, however, that this is not standard throughout this area of Tanzania. No one else seems to have children stalking around their house calling our names incessantly. No one else has kids that will spit on you and order you around the way ours do. I think, because of this, I am a good person to live in Tabora because I can deal with it. However, I do wish I knew how to make the kids stop doing some of the more annoying things. Every time I’ve tried to yell at them or order them to stop, they only laugh at me and continue what they are doing. don’t got no respect.

Tribes

Every other village that 2Seeds works in is dominated by Saamba people, a regional tribe. This is culturally important to different degrees- in some villages the PCs are learning lots of Saambaa as it is frequently the language of communication and in others it is just an ignorable fact of life. We seem to be the most culturally diverse village (we have many Zigua people as well and a handful of people from many other tribes) which means that, as everyone does not know the same local language, everyone uses Swahili to communicate. The only marker of a person’s tribe that I’ve really seen is the language they use, so it’s totally possible that, despite our greater variation, there isn’t actually anything culturally different about Tabora stemming from this fact.

Bugs/rats in the house

It is really unclear to me if Tabora is better in terms of rats and bugs than everywhere else, or if it just bugs me less so when the PCs tell horror stories to each other we just don’t end up being very vocal about our problems. We have bugs all over our house including moths, flies, crickets, daddy longlegs, spiders (of all sizes), and cockroaches. As Rachael said about last year, the cockroaches become like bunnies- you just get used to having them running around. They don’t bug me in the least (although their presence makes me feel like our house is very dirty), and I only really am unhappy about them when I am trying to catch one to get rid of it and it escapes. Although every time one climbs into the toilet (from which they cannot escape), I feel a large sense of glee. The bugs that have given Ashley the most trouble are the spiders, as she does not like them at all. We have had a few full bodies spiders that are about 3 inches across and, although she has done a really good job of living with them, those huge ones put her over the edge a bit.
Thankfully, we have had no rats. They were a big problem in this house last year, but over the summer a ceiling was added (underneath the roof) and all the holes where the rats were getting in were plugged up. I am very grateful for this, as it makes our lives so much easier. We also barely have mosquitos in Tabora, which is a blessing.
Not all projects are so lucky about the rats, however. Lutindi has a few rats and Kijungomoto has, not only rats, but horror stories. When they first arrived they had a number of problems with one of their toilets that they later discovered was caused by the rats using their toilet as a provider of midnight snacks. The rats got into the bathroom by scampering across a clothesline that traversed much of their interior and connected to the gap in the wall about the bathroom. This meant that every time the rats indulged, their dirty little feet would walk all over the freshly clean and drying clothes on the clothesline. Unpleasant. The rats also, on occasion, ran onto the beds at night and Caitlin has reported being woken to the feel of rat feet on her face. Rats running across your face while sleeping is one of the worst things I can imagine having to put up with in daily life.
Bungu also has swarms of mosquitos in their bathroom and Magoma has waged a war against their cockroaches with poison. Kijungomoto also has these giant spiders, but in much more abundance than we do. Regardless, all of us are sharing our homes with bugs.

That about wraps it up! Which village do you think won? If you had to choose between each of our ups and downs, which would it be?

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