Note From Robyn!

8.31.2010 | Uncategorized

Hey y’all,

I have a present for you!!! Sent to me just a few minutes ago. Enjoy!


please excuse the lack of proper punctuation – this keyboard at
schipol isn’t the best. so here i am, a canadian returning from
tanzania wasting my time in the netherlands. isn’t life grand? not
much new to report really. nothing exciting happening in my life at
the moment… oh wait! that’s not true at all! there is something
exciting going on… there’s a spa right across the hallway from me at
the internet cafe! awesome, huh?!

ok, ok… i’ll stop it. yes, there are stories to tell, and yes there
will be some shocks. but… before i divulge my secrets to you, i feel
that it’s very important for me to share them in person first, with
those who have missed me as desperately as i have missed them. i’m
sure you understand. you’re all pretty smart people.

however, to appease the masses, i shall tell you a story. it’s one of
the highlights of my trip, and something i’m still giggling about 5
days later.

our guide on the mountain was a 40-ish year old chagga man named
reggie. he says he has climbed the mountain ‘about more than 150
times’, and judging by his calves, i’m inclined to believe him. one
afternoon, when the rest of the team decided to nap, i chose to stay
up and chat with reggie. with his limited english, and my non-existant
chagga and/or swahili, i knew this was going to be an adventure in
itself. we started off as most do, exchaning information about wives,
kids, and my supremely awesome boyfriend (hi chris!)… then, out of
nowhere, reggie lobs this one my way:

“what crops do you grow in your village?”
“uhhh… well, let’s see…. corn, potatoes, berries…uhhh…”
“do you grow banana?” (banana is a staple of the chagga diet – toasted
banana and cheese, anyone?)
“nope. no bananas. too cold”
“do you grow coffee?”
“nope, too cold for that, too”
“oh. do you grow pumpkin?”
“yes! we do grow pumpkin! well… for a short time anyway. we grow it
for halloween”
“hellawin. hellawin. how do you make hellawin?”
“halloween. it’s not a food, it’s a holiday”

here reggie crooks his head. i continue…

“yah, um… on halloween children dress up in costumes…”

head crook

“…and they go door-to-door in the village…”
“for pumpkin?”
“ummm… no. for candy”

head crook

“what do you do with the pumpkins?”
“y’see… we sort of, ummm… cut their tops off, scoop out their
guts, then, uhhh… cut smiley faces into them, stuff a candle in them
and put them by our door”

dead silence

“…and then you eat the pumpkin?”
“actually, nooooo… we uh, throw it away. in the garbage”

“but what about the pumpkin? you don’t eat it?”
“some people do, but most don’t. we do eat the seeds, though!”
“you eat the seeds?!?!”

here, reggie bursts into laughter and i turn a fabulous shade of red

“yeah, we scoop them out, put them in the oven and toast them. they’re
very good! you should tell your wife and daughter to do that next time
you have pumpkin!”
“no. i don’t think i will do that”
“fair enough”

it certainly made me think about how i consume food, especially my
villages crops. things are going to change for me, i think. just wait
until i get to the story about having to explain to reggie how grocery
stores work! awkwaaaaaaard!

anyway, that night we actually had pumpkin soup for dinner, and of
course it was very good. i ate pretty well this trip, but i didn’t eat
enough. my jeans are falling off and i actually had to root through
the garbage for a piece of rope to ghetto-up myself a belt.  classy. i

alright all… i need to go through photos, videos, memories and
vocabularies, but i’ll be back as soon as i can.

– Robyn Thomson




YEAH………greetings from the netherlands!! LOVE the story Robyn, on a few levels! So glad to hear you’ve climbed to the rooftop of dat der mountain and look forward to updates when they arrive. Safe travels back to the homeland and congratulations you intrepid travelista you!


AAAHHHHH!!!! Robyn, you are such a tease!!! I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting to find out how it all went!! Hurry home and then let me take you for lunch IMMEDIATELY!