Nothing like kickstarting the day with a little bit of moonshine.
Dear Beatrice here runs a local pub, and brought along some of her home brews for us curious microfinance volunteers to sample at our 10.30am meeting. Bookkeeping training isn't my favourite way to seize the day either Beatrice, so why not get stuck into your selection of indigenous fire water. According to the World Health Organisaion, around 90% of all booze sold in Tanzania is homemade, or what they call 'informal-sector'. So, better get to know the product right?
The first beverage offered looked like a runny porridge, and was served from a (communal) green bucket. Apparently it was maize-based, and had health properties (no specifics). Beatrice took the first sip, and then passed the bucket to the next person along, me. Jesus. Sharing drinks is never a great idea, let alone in a third world country, but I had six Tanzanian ladies staring at me expectantly. I fake-graciously accepted the liquid with two hands and felt that it was warm. Eww. Trying to be brave and block thoughts of explosive diarrhoea, I summoned my inner Louis Theroux and took a sip. It was absolutely repulsive and my reaction was not kind. The ladies thought that was hysterical. The bucket was then passed around, communion style, to five volunteers and six local ladies, and I was rather thankful to have been second in line to the camel urine thickshake.
Next up was a bottle of Konyagi, 'the spirit of the nation' in Tanzania, a commercially distilled product, widely available at bars and hotels across East Africa. 'No sweat' I thought, and took a swig from the bottle as soon as Beatrice handed it over, like a total boss. My eyes welled up and I had to concentrate really hard not to gag. Spew town. It was absolutely rancid. More hysteria from the ladies, and I realised that despite the Konyagi branded vessel, the substance within was something entirely different. Turns out I had not just inhaled the spirit of the nation, but a cocktail of Masai medicine. Not even Beatrice knew the ingredients, though I could swear it was goat bile cut with dung beetle saliva.
After that there was banana beer and some other wine product that belies description, but I was out. My stomach was flipflopping and I nibbled on peanuts (the only chaser available) with the other volunteers to distract myself from the aftertaste. The ladies polished off the remains of all brews though, and half an hour later were really quite drunk. When it was time for us to leave, the women surrounded us and we all had to get up and dance. Like, clap and krump.