Limp Carrots and a Pineapple

Swahili class ADHD adult students…

We’ve been studying Swahili now for about eight weeks and slowly making progress. Swahili is a complex language for this Spanish and French oriented brain of mine. And Steve is battling Southern American English brain, so he has tremendous hurdles in front of him, too, bless his heart.

After taking these lessons twice a week, our skill levels are hovering somewhere between sub-par and disastrous.  Of course, that is entirely due to not practicing in-between lessons. But it’s a start! Now we can rightfully say we are not good at Swahili, as opposed to saying we don’t know the language at all. We do know it – just poorly!

Our vision of Swahili class…

And the thing is, we have a great teacher. She, unfortunately, has two irresponsible older adult students who try and get her to drink a beer during class so she will forget about the lesson. We’d rather just chit chat about everything else, and are very adept at changing the subject and hijacking any plans she had to teach us something new.


We have the best of intentions to practice in-between classes. But come to find out, we are far busier during the day than one would think, and practice gets shoved off to the side. Often it takes a good bit of the morning to decide which market to go to for the pineapple we’ve suddenly decided we need. That creates a lot of pressure that can only be alleviated with a gin and tonic at sunset. Where the rest of the day goes between deciding on the market and sunset remains a great mystery.

“Before” picture of firm carrots…

Our limited Swahili is coming in handy now for little things though, like a trip to said market. In addition to buying a pineapple I am also comfortable negotiating for a handful of dirt covered carrots, piles of green beans and okra, tomatoes, onions and eggplant, all laid out nicely on a scruffy cloth, on top of a stretch of dirt alongside a main road.

The carrots are interesting here – large, firm and beautiful when you buy them; totally soft and limp by the next day. Like what I imagine giving a hand-job to a 90-year-old man in assisted living might feel like. Why I ever imagined that in the first place is also a mystery. I think my brain is in need of more substantial activity.

I no longer pay 5000 shillings for green beans that are selling for 500 due to my lack of comprehension of numbers in Swahili. And I know how to execute a pregnant pause, creating tension as to whether the sale of the okra will go through or not. I wait just long enough to instill some apprehension as to the outcome if the price is not lowered, or an extra handful is not thrown into the bag like it was the thirteenth doughnut. The seller always comes through, and then I buy more of the other produce they are selling. Everyone comes away happy, and every transaction is filled with smiles, kindness, and asante sana, mama.

Everything Always Works Out…

Pole pole we are making progress, and the best part is we’re smiling all the while, even if we ended up paying ten times the amount for those beans. Our motto for life is ‘Everything always works out’, and sure enough that is proving true in Tanzania, just as it did in the U.S. When you embrace that kind of thinking you carry it in your heart wherever you go, and everything does, in fact, always work out.





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