MEDA Blog - Stories from the Field

Diwali

Yesterday, Marie (my colleague, housemate, and honorary little sister) and I traveled to the city centre, home of Dar’s skyscrapers.Diwali, the festival of lights, has enticed us downtown with the promise of fireworks.We were on an adventure to find “the courtyard beside the Indian temple”.And although we have become quite talented at using creative landmarks to find our way through Dar’s unlabeled streets, there are still other challenges which can confront us on our journey.

For instance, this evening one of the streets we need to travel is unlit…pitch black unlit.But seeing that the darkness only lasts 100 feet, we decide to brave the abyss.A mistake.About 50 feet into the blackness, my left foot disappears into the pavement.Of course it has to be the unlit street which is missing a storm sewer cover. My entire left leg was swallowed by the sewer.My right leg and both hands hit pavement."Pole!" Marie hands me a sock and wetnap to help clean the dirty water off…then we continue on our way.

But…not even a minute later, my right knee connects with a metal post sticking out of the sidewalk. If my knee wasn’t bleeding before, it definitely was now.What are the chances?!The whole situation was actually quite comical.But at the time I required a moment to regain composure. However, it takes more than a death trap street to defeat me…so we make our way to the light and find a restaurant washroom where I can clean up more properly.

Shortly after, we hear the explosions starting and my excitement instantly comes back.I see flashes of colour in the distance. And as we get closer I notice something strange about these fireworks.Not all of them are going vertical.Some are going horizontal! Others are hitting trees and ricocheting. Nope, there is no governing body running this event.Chaos rules here.Anybody and everybody is lighting off explosives.

Luckily there is a cement wall which protects a street of spectators from the launch area.The wall is topped with kids trying to get the best view.I see some youth struggling to pull their friends up, and we all become instant friends when I lift them to the top of the wall.They motion for me to join them in their front row seats, and I oblige.They speak to me in broken English, and I speak to them in broken Swahili.I’m sitting next to a boy named Michael, and I tell him I have a brother with the same name.He seems quite pleased with this and says something very quickly that I don’t understand.Luckily I’m saved by a huge explosion above that rains light down over us.Both our eyes widen as we make sounds of amazement.Then we laugh, both grinning ear to ear.Even though we can’t fully communicate with words, both of us understand the other’s excitement and we share the experience in awe together.

RIVAS & RAMA - Al Campo Take 2
I am in DAR

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