TIA, Baby - This Is Africa

The morning our group departed for the Serengeti, I went for a short run through the town of Arusha. Some stares by the locals, some cheerful outbursts of "Jambo!" (the typical Swahili greeting), but nothing compared to the incessant gawking and rock-throwing by Bedouin farmers and boys when I was living in Jordan.
20 minutes into my run, and only a few seconds after I passed a grinning, toothless man walking in a navy suit and sporting a red baseball cap, a fat insect dove straight into the inner corner of my right eye.

I braked mid-stride, desperately speed-blinking to bat the violating insect out of my eye. I could feel it struggling in my tear duct, cursing itself for the stupidity of flying into an oncoming retina.
Bent over at a 90* angle, stabbing my pinky into my eye in a frantic attempt to flick the insect out, I stood up and realized that Mr. Red Baseball Cap's face was inches from my own.
His curiosity about the m'gunzu (Swahili for "white person" but used on anyone any shade lighter than 70% cocoa) must have peaked when he saw me swatting at my own eyeball in an unsuccessful attempt to get the bug out.
I looked at him, still blinking my right eye at 100 BPM, pointed to my eye, and asked him if he could see anything.
The Tanzanian's reaction came straight out of a comedian's textbook. He pulled my upper and lower lids vertically apart, drew his mouth within 2 inches of my eye, puckered his lips, then sharply exhaled a strong puff of wind directly into my eyeball.
I jerked my head back in response, but he didn't loosen his grip on my lids. He lowered his eyes to my eye level, peered at my right eye, and proclaimed, "Po'a" (Swahili for 'It's cool'). I blinked several times to verify that no bug (or bug appendages) remained lodged in my eye, and thanked him with "Asante sana." We mutually turned our backs on each other, and he continued on his stroll to the morning market while I resumed my morning jog. There are some moments that can only fit a certain time and place, and only in Africa will you encounter a toothless man who voluntarily blows bugs out of m'gunzus' eyes.

For those of you who would rather click through photos rather than read words, click here to view my Tanzania album.

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