Closer view of the rock (notice the guy standing on the rock, not Neck):
Neck is a cool guy. He's with JICA, the Japanese International Cooperative Agency, which can be most closely compared with America's Peace Corps. Basically, Neck gets paid the salary of a Japanese computeer engineer while he lives in Tanzania for two years, builds computer networks and trains health workers in Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint etc.
The more I learn about Neck and JICA, the more I'm impressed. To compare, America sends a lot of low-paid Peace Corps kids to wander through poor parts of the world with a hazy understanding of their tasks. Japan, on the other hand, sends well-paid professionals with several years of experience to do highly-specialized, easily measurable tasks.
The more I meet Peace Corps volunteers, the more underwhelmed I am with their abilities and the program generally (Peace Corps types who end up at Hopkins are a wholly different breed. The ones I'm referring to are usually getting drunk and whining about how they have nothing to do).
Anyway, walking around town with Neck, who has been in Iringa one year, is like hanging out with a resident celebrity. Everybody knows and loves Neck. Women ask him to hold their babies. Kids wave to him and say "China! China!" Our colleagues gush about Neck's fluent Swahili, his patience when teaching computer skills, his ability to cook fish in new and fascinating ways. Neck has set the bar very high.
Here's Neck at the top of Gangilonga (the rock shown above). When we reached the top, Neck and I had a nice chat and drank some Konyagi, alcohol which comes in a plastic bag (sounds trashy, but you take what you can get).
And we took in the view of Iringa. Our office and my house are in this photo.
The next day, Sunday, Neck and I went to Ismila to see and touch materials used during the Stone Age. Photos to come later.
Missing everyone this Thanksgiving. Looking ahead, I am going to make every effort to avoid spending holidays in new, foreign lands without the comfort of old friends.