Monday, September 29, 2008

Oswin's Village - Tuesday, Part One

It seems a little odd writing this a year late, but having read my previous post on Mpandangindo, I'm pretty sure I can remember what happened the next day quite well.

I don't remember the morning perfectly. I'm sure I was fed by Mwenyekiti's wife, with maandazi, chapati and sweet black tea, and I think I may have eaten alone. I had been allowed to get up when I was ready, and then rushed because I felt like everyone else had been up and productive long before me.

While I ate, Oswin arrived and asked me if I was ready. Not quite, but I was sure I could be ready in a jiffy. Just as soon as I'd finished eating, put some shoes on, and applied a liberal layer of suncream.

There were four bikes parked up in the courtyard of Mwenyekiti's house: one for me, Oswin, Mwenyekiti, and I think the fourth person was the Mtendaji (village secretary). Oswin and Mwenyekiti had explained the previous day that Mwenyekiti's Land Rover was being repaired in Songea, and so we had to cycle round all the schools in nine villages in order to carry out Coco's research for the VTC.

Two of the bikes, which had been borrowed especially for Oswin and me, were the standard made-in-China-and-assembled-in-Tanzania design, and each had the words FLYING PIGEON emblazoned across the frame.

I remember Mwenyekiti being concerned that I might not know how to ride a bicycle, and his being delighted when I told him I could, but I'm not sure whether this was at this moment, or the previous day.

Having rushed to be ready, it was no surprise that I had plenty of time in hand before we actually set off. There was discussion to be had first, the subject of which I forget, and then, when enough of us grew impatient at the same moment, we cycled together onto the road.

Fifty metres on, my chain came off.

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