29 January 2007

Erik Mdogo's Place, Why not mud?

This is Erik Mdogo's place. It is about 25 km south east from our house in an area called Langerini (spelling?). It is south of Lake Duluti.

I bicycled out there last weekend while the family drove out in a car. I was amazed that the time to come back was about the same time to ride there, even though it is like 200-300 meters lower. About a year ago Nashesha and I rode out, she on the third wheel thing. She did great but 1/2 way home her stomach got sore from the vibrations and we called mom and she got a ride the last 8 km, although by that time we were on paved roads. She went about 40 km that day.

Erik is a friend of the whole family. No that is not quite right, he is family. I can't decide if he is like a son or a younger brother. Everyone in the family loves him. The relatives on both sides of our family recognize him as a member of the extended family, I mean part of their family.
He was in my son's wedding.
We celebrate Christmas with him.
I got roaring drunk with him.
We talk about detachment.
He clubs with nephews and nieces.
The list goes on.

He is the only person outside of immediate family we have invited to move into our house. He stayed about a year when he first moved here.

This is a self portrait he did on my camera on an overnight bike trip . In this picture I think he is saying "Hey the sun is shining and it is good to be alive."

Erik is the most integrated foreigner in Tanzania. He has lived here 13 years or so. It goes without saying that he is fluent in kiswahili. This picture is typical of him. He stops to talk with people, as he was doing in this picture.

He built the above house, using a method called "cob", a bit like adobe houses. People ask, "How can a white man live in a mud house?" I say why not. I wonder if part of our next house should be cob. The walls are 2 feel thick and as you can see the texture and color are beautiful.

My wife Bernice bought some land near there and she wants to build a weekend getaway. Me?, I would rather get away on my bicycle.

Erik built this cob oven. We like to bring sweet potatoes to his place and we cook the potatoes, bread, and roast meat all at the same time.

Oh yeah, the mdogo part came from when he lived with us. I was farming and staff started calling him Erik Mdogo, meaning the younger Erik. I remind him often that I am Erik Mkubwa (older).

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