December 9, 2016

take away

in the US they say to-go but everywhere else they say take away so i had to search my mind [which yes, is turning to mush from lack of using any real brain power] for the word to-go.

anyways, cooking here is so much nicer at my new house but i still get take away sometimes from some restaurants.  take away here is different than to go elsewhere and it's environmentally better than what we do in the west because of the packaging waste but it creates a process.

here, they don't have containers to put your food if you are not eating at the restaurant.  you have to bring your own.  so if you want food delivered this is what happens:
  1. you call the restaurant and place and order and get the cost
  2. you call your motorcycle guy who runs these kinds of errands for you.  these guys, even though they are also your boda driver are called picki pickis because they are picking something up for you.
  3. your picki picki then comes by your house and collects the cash and the containers and takes them to the restaurant
  4. the restaurant then fills your order and the picki picki brings back to your house.
usually the order will be wrong but it's food and you didn't have to cook right?  

think about that next time you spoiled westerners order a food delivery.


December 6, 2016

thank you god for uber

challenging weekend in Dar el Salaam.  i know its not profitable and will probably collapse after a few years but its been fantastic for me when i am traveling. i know there are people who have philosophical differences with the model but i give in to uber wherever it's available.

i do not need to know where i am.  i only need to know where i want to go.

i do not have to speak a foreign language.

i do not have to have small currencies of foreign money in wallet.

it is usually 25% -50% less than what i'd be able to negotiate with a taxi.

so thank you god for the people who thought this up, continue to fund and push it out to countries i visit.  it's not available where i live but in the capital Dar and in Nairobi i can use.

November 29, 2016

beer truck meets curve

first half of truck

brakes are optional ... or only really maintained for tourist vehicles.  someone will be short a few beers this weekend.
second half of truck

November 23, 2016

no escaping the holiday season


the last five weeks have been brutal. the general manager is gone and in his place is the managing director (he is also one of the cofounders and the one who recruited me). the difference is significant. the new director is bringing some discipline and accountability to the company and i am confident that under his leadership the company will thrive.

in addition to the organizational structure changes i had christmas fairs to arrange and i can now say i will be happy if i never have to run a trade show event again. it's the beginning of the hot season here and in the afternoons the offices are like an oven. i guess most of the nationals are used to it but my house is so much cooler that i try to work from there when i can.

November 9, 2016

i blame it on the arab spring

last night i could barely get to sleep i was so excited and i set my alarm for 5am to get up and watch the election results come in.  for me it would be like christmas - opening a present with the first american woman president.  but that was not to be, instead, i woke up, checked the results and was so disgusted i went back to sleep.

i wanted to just keep sleeping but i had a new staff member joining today so i couldn't crawl under the blankets and cry like i wanted to.  instead i dragged myself into the office, walking slowly in the heat and crying a little bit.  i picked some flowers along the way and kilimanjaro was showing through the clouds but even that couldn't cheer me. when i got to the office no one would even look at me.  fortunately there is so much chaos at the office that it was a good distraction all day.  only one person was brave enough to ask about it.

for people who have empathy or believe using positive energy will change the world this is a sad day.  the american people have spoken and as in every presidential election only half of the people get their way.

i blame this election on the arab spring.  we watched as 'everyman' rose up to take back the power that belonged to them.  then we watched the consequence of lack of leadership and the vacuum created by the transition which hasn't helped 'everyman'.

i can't bring myself to watch the talking heads dissect this election.  i'll just wait to see what the next four years bring.

October 21, 2016

my new commute to the office


my new accommodations are just a ten minute walk to the office on some dirt roads.  this is what my commute looks like .....   usually there is a goat or two snacking along the way.  someone taking their herd out for the day.

there's a new litter of puppies that stick their head out the hedge when i walk by and that's another five minute delay while i count and make sure they are all still alive.  must be show and tell day because this one is getting a trip to school in someone's backpack.

there are so many colors of flowers with each month bringing a new tree or bush to flower.  i don't carry technology because it wouldn't be safe, except my phone which i rarely pull out.  i use my walk to the office to make as many friends as possible and let them know i 'stay' with mamma mary.  in the west we might say, 'where are you living?' but that's not the case here.  living arrangements can change very quickly and so the appropriate question is 'where do you stay?'.  

momma mary is well respected within the community because of her status at the local hospital.  people often come to her when they are sick or hurt and she sends them either on to the hospital or back home depending on the case.  so, no one is really going to screw with momma mary because there's going to come a day when they need her help.  


slowing i'm coming to know the neighborhood and they are coming to know me.  one of the guys i hired for the shipping department [yeah, somehow shipping became a sales task] lives quite close to me and walks me home a lot of days.  my office, like everything here in tanzania, is behind a locked gate.







October 17, 2016

day of protest - cancelled

when i was being recruited for this position the subject of security was discussed in detail - after all the only thing separating Tanzania from Somalia is a country called Kenya.  

there was a bit of laughter from one of the directors who said Tanzania was a really stable country because the people were too lazy to protest or start some conflict.

President Magafuli
fast forward, to October, i've been in country six months and there's a huge countrywide protest planned.  something Magafuli [president] has done has set people awry. the us embassy sends out a caution to avoid streets where there could be parades or protests organized.  avoid traveling.  be extra vigilant. everyone in the city is planning to stay home.  we anticipate we will just close the offices for the day even though no one knows what the protest is about.

then... you guessed it.  they 'postponed' the day of protest and said it would be rescheduled.  who does that?  you can't cancel or postpone a protest.  it just isn't effective.

don't just take my word for it.  here's the story reported by Voice of America.

http://www.voanews.com/a/tanzania-opposition-calls-off-day-of-defiance-protest/3489314.html

afterwards, i was like, yes, everything here is passive aggressive and no one is going to show their face at a protest.  they might stab you in the back as you walk away from them but they won't say a bad word to your face.

October 13, 2016

gardener

this is my gardener.  i love him.  when he trims the bougainvillea fence surrounding the property he always leaves me a bouquet of flowers.

he's only paid about $50 a month for part time work here but he's a happy guy and shows up and does a good job.  

every day i battle staff members who can't do the basic things that they have been taught over and over [things like putting labels onto a bottle].  guess that's why it makes me so glad to see him.

one of my staff happened to be at my house at the same time as the cleaning girl came.  she didn't do a very good job of cleaning and had no english so i asked my staff girl to translate some basic instructions for her.  afterwards, i commented to my staff girl that the cleaning girl always seemed so unhappy.  she was also terrified of the cats so freaked out everytime they came into the house.  i found a much better cleaning girl who has english.

it seems like a luxury and a bit colonialist to have all these house servants but there are real reasons i didn't understand before.  like if you dry your clothes on the clothes line [which i do] they need to be ironed because otherwise bugs will get into them.  since it's so hot here, the windows are always open, but since it's always dusty everything is covered in a layer of red dust if there isn't a regular cleaning. 

i am tired of people in my house and going through my things so i do as much of the cleaning and ironing as i can but i'm working 60 hour weeks and would prefer to spend my evenings relaxing with a glass of wine in the garden or meeting friends for dinner.

October 10, 2016

real sign at hotel

there are always little things to remind you are in africa.  i don't see monkeys in my garden but i did see one crossing the road close to my office so they are always around.



October 7, 2016

eating and exercise

avacados
the fruits and vegetables are easily available here making eating more varied than in burma,  every month some new tree is blooming and a new fruit will appear.  the soil here is amazing.  it leaves you wondering how there could be starving people on this continent when anything you put into the ground will grow.  


i was eating watermelon in the garden one day and had about 15 seeds left at the bottom of the bowl.  for fun, i just scraped a hole in the dirt and threw the seeds in.  two weeks later i had a dozen watermelon seedlings.

there is quiet talk of the chinese and monsanto and all the gmo that is introduced here but the nationals generally don't understand the difference.  so i was pleased to see that the seeds were regenerating.

bananas are by far the most common with a woman on every corner selling them and as the avocados and mangoes come into season the price is obscenely low with most expats giving them away for free because the trees produce more than they can use and everyone has a tree or two in their garden.

so the fresh food is readily available.  there are some local dishes that take some getting used to but there is also a large concentration of indians in Tanzania and so the indian food here is both vegetarian and good.  a kitchen here is usually a small counter, tiny sink and maybe a fridge [not in the kitchen - for some reason they put the fridges in the dining area] 

mangos
because of the lockdown after dark security protocols the exercise is a bit more of a challenge.  with no sidewalks the running/walking can be a bit hazardous on roads that barely fit two cars.  i have a back road i can take to the office so i usually walk to and from the office.  i was underweight when i arrived because of the stress of the transition, jet lag and getting sick from one of my nephews the week before i left.  



i've regained the weight i was down and starting to feel i need to get some more exercise in.  there's a woman who runs a yoga class a few days a month but getting there is such a hassle that i rarely go.

there are western restaurants that cater to the visitors so there is always someplace to eat where there is a higher standard of service and food.  but it's not an everyday thing because the prices are much higher.


October 2, 2016

guerillas vs. gorrilas

i called my mom to check in.  i told her i spent my birthday money [yes, she's awesome and still sends me money even though i haven't produced any grandchildren] in Rwanda visiting the gorillas.

she asked in a not very surprised voice how they were doing.  i was excited and was going on about the growing population and how amazing it was to be able to spend time with them.  how it was hard to find them because they move so quickly through the forests.  they have their own language but the trackers were able to interpret.  at this point my mom interrupts and asks are you talking about animals or terrorists?

HAHA.  yes, it would be funny if my mom didn't acutually think that for a birthday trip i'd go tracking down terrorists.  now when anyone asks what i've been doing i am careful to stress the mountain before the gorrillas.







September 28, 2016

leaving rwanda


i leave Rwanda with an excitement to sleep in my own bed.  inside my fortress where i feel safe.  i have mixed feelings about Kigali and Rwanda.  they are positioning themselves [much to the laughter of other east africans] as THE HUB of east africa.  like many african countries i feel like it's a powder key just waiting for someone to toss in a match.  a few weeks after this trip i'm in a mixed social situation, some expats some visitors, when a 'well traveled american' visitor starts talking Rwanda, genocides, politics, etc.  it's obvious to me she has no clue about what is really going in the country but i can't be bothered to even comment.  plus, the constant stream of words coming out of her mouth without a pause between sentences doesn't allow anyone to really comment.  there's a south african in the group who has been in east africa for a long time and he catches my eye.  in a split second i can see thinks the same thing.  i just smile but a minute later he interrupts her and provides a more realistic view of the sociopolitical climate there.

i've been invited to return and there are certainly jobs for expats there but i can't really imagine living there.  another highlight of the trip is spending time with a polish expat i met when she was on a Tanzanian project.  that in combination with the fact that it was the french that orignially colonized Rwanda means that good wines are easily available.


the Australians i met in Kigali are also traveling onward to Jaro on the same flight for a climb on Kili and i meet up with them at the gate, exchange some data points on where they've been [climbing volcanos and other badass stuff] and in minutes they have me laughing again about the silly things that happened along the way.

it was a trip filled with new friends, old friends and unforgettable adventures!



September 27, 2016

things i did not expect to see in rwanda

the west sends billions of dollars in aid to africa and so when you see something like this and the people outside the parking area don't even have shoes to wear it makes you wonder where the money is going.




September 23, 2016

mountain gorillas, rwanda

first, i understand it is less expensive to visit the gorillas in Uganda or Congo [the gorillas are in a park that is inside all three countries] but my experience in Rwanda made me feel the money is probably being well spent on training and conservation for the parks, guides, trackers and park rangers.  the cost for one hour with the gorillas is currently $750 plus the cost of a porter [$10 + tip], tip for the guides and tip for the trackers plus accommodations and transfers.  see why i had to sell some fb stock?

the day starts at 6AM as you head off to a central point for paying fees and assignment to guides for specific gorilla families.  once the process is done [they nicely cater to the western crowd with coffee and wifi while you wait] you receive a briefing in detail about the family you will be visiting.  size, group dynamics, number of silverbacks, females, juveniles and babies.

they try to accommodate the capabilities of visitors as gorilla viewing in the wild is by no means an easy trip to the park.  there is no tram, gondola or conveyance to accommodate any incapacity.  in fact, there were multiple people in our group who where there on their second or third day and had left a partner behind because they had twisted an ankle or had some injury from the day before.

regardless of where you enter the actual park you will be met by and accompanied by a armed ranger.  it's not clear whether he is protecting you from animals or humans but he remains with the group the entire time you are in the park.

i'm in the group with two other people who are also returning to Kigali in the afternoon and a handful of older visitors.  i'm good with this because i'm thinking they've got me with a group that is going to have an easy, short hike in to the gorillas.  WRONG.  the gorilla family we are visiting had moved significantly overnight and we spent 2 hours instead of 30 minutes finding them.  that's 2 hours through the jungle, sometimes on a path but sometimes not.  regardless of whether you are on a path it's always on a slope of 45 degrees either up or down mostly in the mud.  this is where the porters earn their pay.  they are constantly grabbing you to avoid you sliding on your ass through the mud or pulling you up over some boulder.  based on the walk i'm pretty sure i earned an extra stamp or two in my passport.  the guides are in touch with the trackers who watch over the families so you always eventually get there.  at least it wasn't raining.



when you meet up with the trackers you forget about the sweat and cranky muscles and bruises from bouncing off boulders.  you have to leave the porters, walking sticks, food and backpacks behind and take only your cameras to join the gorillas.  it's excitement and nervous anticipation as the trackers take over to lead you to the family.  the first gorilla we encounter is a female sitting quietly munching on some bamboo shoots two feet off the path who remarkably ignores us completely.

we continue on the path and the gorillas are actively moving seeking the freshest bamboo shoots which is their food of choice.  in front of me i see a bamboo pole crashing to the ground and i whisper a warning to guy in front of me seconds before a 400 pound gorilla barely avoids landing on his head.

there are few words to explain what it was like to share one hour with the mountain gorillas.  it is a thrilling and humbling experience to be accepted and trusted as a member of their natural world.  you are completely dependent on them for safety and protected as if you were one of their own.

on a break during our epic jungle mud expedition to find the gorillas i asked the guides what the gorillas think of humans that come every day for an hour to visit them and the stories came quickly and with passion.  stories of gorillas protecting humans from snares laid out to trap the gorillas [yeah, that still happens] stories of mamas and babies hiding among the visitors when they were threatened by other gorilla families.  

the group we visited was 20 members with 2 silverbacks, a bunch of juveniles and one infant that was 6 weeks old.  the first time one of the gorillas brushes past you curl into a ball expecting a slash to the neck or a bone breaking blow but there is none of that.  the trackers are constant protectors of the gorillas and enjoy taking you by the and to lead you safely among the gorillas to have the best possible experience.  they speak the language of the gorillas - grunts that signify presence, welcome, peace and even danger.

in this way we sit in the forest with the family as they settle in for their mid morning nap and relax around us.  it is a joy beyond words to watch these amazing animals in the wild.  the hour goes much too quickly and we leave the family to enjoy the rest of the day on their own.  

i'm going to get a little preachy and judgmental here so indulge me or just skip to the next post.

after having stood among these wild gorillas and seeing how they protect their own i can not believe the gorilla shot in the ohio zoo a few months ago had the natural instinct to do anything but protect the child that entered it's cage.  please don't support the zoos - there are so many animal sanctuaries that need support and don't exploit animals.  it breaks my heart that we continue to breed animals into captivity when there are so many already that don't belong in cages and are abandoned by both illegal owners and zoos ending up [if they are fortunate] in a sanctuary.


September 20, 2016

a birthday in rwanda

happy birthday to me.  it's a big one and i feel much younger than i am but it's also hugely freeing to now say, 'well, i'm quite old now' for an excuse ABOUT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING.  seriously, i'm using it all the time, if it's raining, if the sun is out, if it's cold, if i'm late, if i'm early, if i want another glass or wine, if i want to go home early, if i want a different seat on the plane.  the only time it really doesn't seem to work is when i try it with someone older than me then they just laugh and say nice try.

i get a lovely package from home for my birthday and it's full of surprises.  my friends and family wrapped everything in beautiful packaging, so when i arrive to pick up my package, i get to stand at the counter as customes unwraps EVERY ONE of my gifts to be sure there is nothing taxable.  i think i made them feel really bad because i wiped away tears as i said pole [sorry] to everyone who was waiting in line behind me explaining it was special gifts from my family.

anyway it worked well because the custom guy remembers me and subsequent packages don't get opened.  

my girlfriend in Rwanda had a big party for me with cake and candles that shoot fireworks and friends from Kigali so it was way more than i expected.  thanks to everyone who shared some love with me.

September 19, 2016

new friends

after a less than uplifting few days in Kigali head out for another obscenely expensive wildlife experience. the mountain gorillas.  seriously, i had to see two shares of fb to fund this.

i'd arranged to visit the gorillas through an american expat in Tanzania who had tour connections in Rwanda so they were doing the best to accommodate me on the 'friend' rate so i'd expected to do some ride shares, etc.  the day before they pick me up they said i'd be a bit on my own.

so, after my visit to the memorial and reading the book, which detailed the UN extraction of expats, thoughts of that horrible time were lingering in my subconscious.  i'd already had detailed discussions with my friend living in Kigali about her exit strategies should the political situation deteriorate quickly in country [which people do believe could happen].  

then, the guide called to say he was delayed because of road blocks.  it's Africa and roadblocks [traffic delays] are common if there are dignitaries driving around so it didn't register as a problem.  it was when the guide was walking up the driveway with three white guys who looked like SEALs that mind starts to race.  roadblocks?  unexpected white guys?  what is going on?

fortunately, instead of an extraction team, i meet a very hard group of Australians who share a ride north from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.  i was happy for the company and these guys reminded me why everyone loves Australians.  we stayed at the hotel and shared a few meals, lots of laughs and some world views.

i get asked all the time if it's difficult or lonely to travel solo and i laugh at this.  i meet so many interesting people when i'm my own and have developed friendships all over the world.  it turns out the Australians are in the mountains of Rwanda training for a climb on Kilimanjaro so they will be on my return flight to Tanzania and so I'll see them again.

September 15, 2016

Rwanda

i spent the last week in Rwanda since i still have no work permit and needed to do a visa run.  also, contacts there + market analysis for the company + mountain gorillas + my birthday = win/win.  don't check my math - not sure that my calculus professor will agree with that but i'm in Africa and the math is variable.

the difference between Rwanda and Tanzania is shockingly surreal. i probably mentioned from a post about Nairobi, but when there are paved roads, curbs, sidewalks and street lights (or even just electricity) it elevates a society to a different level.  it's clean and the drivers so polite you feel like you are in an alternative universe.  i'm constantly told it is safe to walk at night in the streets (and we do with no problem) or to sleep with your windows open (which I don't) and in general to wander freely without concerns about safety.  this seems absurd to me in a country where 1 million people were slaughtered by friends and neighbors while back in Tanzania where there has not been ethnic violence everyone is in lock down by dark.

i had been warned by a friend in Tanzania to not try to put on blinders about the genocide but i thought i'd give it a try anyway.  I remain physically ill and in tears whenever I bring to mind the killing places I visited in Cambodia, another genocide that happened in my lifetime.

When I arrived I was given the same advice by another expat there along with a book called 'Machete Season, the killers speak'.  So, off I trot to the Genocide Museum, watching as much as I can of the video testimony but averting my eyes from that which is most distasteful.  I avoid the room with the skeletons of those that were murdered.  I force myself to walk among the large concrete slabs that cover the bodies of over 250,000 people but i walk quickly.

people don't speak of it, other than to refer to the violence, or unstable time or 'before'.

i'm never going to be an expert on the happenings of the Rwanda genocide but there were some scary things i learned and i will share.  1) the genocide was not a surprise - the UN was briefed about it in advance  2) the catholic clergy in country were responsible for thousands of deaths and 3) the possibility of another similar event is highly likely.

much better stuff in the next post.


September 9, 2016

kili hike

we did a kili hike a couple of weekends ago.  just to the first hut which is about all you can do for a day hike.  it started as a good idea - a way for a bunch of friends to get together for the day.  the Marangu gate where we begin is about 45 minutes away so we start early 6:00am at 8:30 we are still in Moshi.  it turns out our 'guide' has been up all night drinking and can barely speak.  in the end we bail on the situation and walk away to have breakfast at one of cafes in town and call another guide to give it a go the next day.

everything goes according to plan which means a 45 minute wait at the gate for the office to process the paperwork before you can step foot onto the mountain.

we get impatient but i've been here before and i remember how slow it is.  in 10 years they haven't figured out a better way to do it?.  fortunately we are early and towards the front of the line so who knows how long it takes if you show up an hour later?  it's such a beautiful hike up through an environment much like a jungle and we stop to enjoy the flowers, moss hanging everywhere and even spot a few monkeys.

this is a popular path and being the first day for groups planning to summit the porters are weighed down to the maximum allowable weights.  still, they move quickly and we step aside we they move to pass us.

we have lunch at the huts and head back down to thicker and and warmer temperatures.  on the way out of marangu we stop at one of the hotels for cold drink and enjoy a relaxing hour in the garden there which is a throw back to colonial times.






September 5, 2016

kilimanjaro animal crew - awesome

the www.kilimanjaroanimalcrew.org is where we took momma kitty for surgery.  they do amazing work and deserve recognition for the dedication they have put into wildlife preservation in tanzania.  the clinic/sanctuary/farm has deep roots here and the german vet and his partner has been here for a very long time.

so a visit to their place [arranged in advance] is quite an education on tanzanian wildlife.  i snap a quick photo of the rescued 3 legged cerval which is hissing at me because i'm too close to the enclosure and i try to respect the other animals by viewing from a distance while i'm there.

they don't have the large game animals but there is such a farmyard collection of animals all hanging out together that it's a happy place.

even if you don't understand german, the pictures tell the stories...
https://www.facebook.com/kilimanjaroanimalcrew/





September 2, 2016

container store

container store 'western style'

African Container Store

go looking for a container store in tanzania and you'll not find a big shop that sells lots of boxes.  that idea would be ridiculous here.  a container store is a small shop built inside a shipping container.  they sell small items that the neighborhood would buy kind of like a 7-11 but no ventilation, no light and limited stock.

shipping containers are actually really valuable here has they are easy to secure.  we have two at the factory with one more expected.  one is storage but one is also work space which gets a little bit warm in the afternoon as you might expect.

the sky blue gate to the right of the container is my new house [pictures coming soon].


August 30, 2016

cats i inherit with the house

with the lovely house [photos to come] i get three cats.  the momma kitty who is black and i want to keep for protection [because of the locals superstition] and two of her first litter cats.  

my friends were determined to have momma kitty spayed before they left to decrease the cat population in Moshi and had missed the first 'window of opportunity' before she was pregnant again.  so in the weeks before they left the kittens had to be taken away [rehomed] so the momma would stop nursing.  without going into a lot of detail about cat anatomy of which i am no expert let's say this was a challenge. 

momma kitty was starting to teach them life skills [like hunting at night] and they were put into the garage so they wouldn't run away but the window was left open so the momma could come and go as she wanted [window being too high for the kittens] then momma took the kittens one by one, we assume, through the window one night and hid them somewhere in the hedges.  proving, perhaps that cats are smarter than humans.  now my friend has to coax the momma to bring her kitties back and then has the new owners swoop by to pick up the kittens.  with the kittens gone momma will stop nursing and be prepared for her surgery, proving humans are at least as smart as momma cats.

i happened to stop by for some reason a few days after the kittens were gone and momma kitty was just screaming for her kittens.  poor thing had no idea they had gone someplace safe and was a bit uncomfortable as she was still producing milk.  now, we were down to the last few days before their departure from tanzania.  my friend was determined to get momma kitty to the vet [which is a 30 - 40 minute drive] where the surgery can be done.  since they need to keep her for at least a week, i need to go with her to the vet so i know where to pick her up.  

'cat carrier' 
my friend has planned this meticulously and her husband [somewhat conveniently is working or out of town] so i take off the afternoon and head to the house.  the first plan is to put the cat into this 'cat carrier' which, yes, is a cardboard box with airholes cut in.  i'm skeptical but all those years experience with guide dog puppies makes me feel confident.  

so, in goes momma cat - for about 2 seconds during which i try unsuccessfully to hold the top shut while my friend tries to secure with tape.  holy shit, i had know idea how sharp cat claws are and let's just say my blood still stains the spot of this adventure.

alternative or 'african' cat carrier
now, cat out of box [literally], we have to coax her back but i look around for an alternative 'carrier' and find a large plastic clothes hamper with a top and plenty of vision/circulation for the cat/monster.  so again, i hold down the top while my friend gets momma kitty into the new 'carrier'.  again, the monster cat is way stronger than me and jumps out before we can get the top sealed with the crappy stuff that passes for tape in africa.  i'm not saying i let her escape exactly, but i had some really deep bleeding cuts on my hand already, so you know...

we both take a deep breath because this cat is wicked smart and knows she does not want to go into this african cat carrier, no matter how deluxe it is [we put a nice, comfy towel in the bottom].  fortunately, my friend is like a cat whisperer or something [witch probably] and for the third time she has the cat in her hands. 

monster cat goes into the african cat carrier which used to be a clothes hamper but this time i suggest my friend use her 'powers' to hold her in and i'll do the driving.  so we arrive 40 minutes later at this vet/animal sanctuary/farm place with the cat and no further bloodshed.  we are greeted by a bizarre group of handicapped animals and there is no surprise or curious look from the vet staff when we present momma monster cat to them in a clothes hamper.  they just take a down payment and somehow we suggest they drop the monster kitty back at the house after the week recovery period AND THEY AGREE.  ha ha - good luck, right?

white kitty
the vet does, as promised, return momma kitty to me after a week and removed whatever demon monster possessed her when she left.  i suspect he used tranquilizers [or witchcraft] as she was calm and relaxed when she returned.  also, he had real duck tape to seal her into her 'carrier'.  anyways, he comes in for the balance due on account and poke [vaccinate] the other cats. in true african style he stays for an hour to talk about politics and stuff and have a cup of tea before he goes.

long post i know, so thanks for hanging in there.  this is the defining moment when i start to be invested in africa instead of just being a visitor.



stripe kitty




August 26, 2016

hello and goodbye

it seems i've only just arrived and met people when i've got to say goodbye.  it's really bittersweet - the expat community here is mostly transient [there are some hardcore colonialists here with 20 year leases] so you make connections quickly and share so much but it is sad when someone is moving on.  there is a common bond among people who choose to live outside the country where they are born [unlike refugees] so as a rule they have that which bonds them quickly.

there's a Scottish couple i've grown close with and we have a standing dinner at the El Rancho [you think it's mexican, right? it's not it's indian] every Friday.  we always laugh and end the week with a reminder of what's important and why we are here along with any relevant gossip.

it's particularly hard to say goodbye to my Scottish friends but they had a really nice house close to my offices and i wanted it.  so it's hard to say goodbye and i cry on the day i move in and they move out but i'm happy to finally be settled into a house that is comfortable.  a real internet connection.  a clothes washing machine - you take this for granted in the west but it is a life changing technology.  a full size fridge.  a quiet garden with a view of kilimanjaro.  no roosters or dogs fighting in the middle of the night.  i did inherit the three cats.... remember the momma that had kitties?  the kittens are gone but the momma and two other cats that still hang out.



August 10, 2016

i almost killed someone today

litterally, i almost killed someone today.  it was the end of the day and i was driving the beast into town for an end of the day delivery on my way to yoga class. 

as i turned into the parking area a boda [motorcycle] driver passing me at high speed on the wrong side hit my truck veered across oncoming traffic, hit a curb and flipped head over handlebars onto the pavement hitting hard enough that his helmet popped off.  i watched the whole thing in slow motion and sat horrified as the driver didn't move.  

the next 30 minutes were just a nightmare as it was just chaos with people shouting at each other and me.  eventually, the boda driver regains consciousness and has some people helping him.  a police/traffic officer arrives and stops a passing car to take the boy to the hospital.  [that's how it's done here since they don't have ambulance service] same officer starts drawing a sketch of the accident.  

fortunately for me, the boda driver landed on the pavement in front of an ATM machine which all have armed guards here [with basically nothing to do but watch traffic] as well as the parking lady [whose job it is to watch traffic and charge for parking] and one of my staff members who happened to be walking down the street were all witnesses and blamed the boda driver.

the beast, with a flat tire
so i never even spoke with the boda driver and the police don't even ask me for a statement.  we did have to go to the police station where they asked if i wanted to request payment for damages to the beast.  i said hell no,  i took my staff girl for wine instead of going to yoga.  i was really grateful for her help because when the 'mob' of locals started talking about how the white girl should pay regardless of whose fault it was she inserted herself into the conversation and broke up the group.  it could have gotten very ugly and a lot of expats have horror stories of dealing with accidents here.

the beast is the company truck which because it is a manual transmission i'm one of the only people who can drive it.  it's so dented and scratched I wouldn't be able to even tell if the boda driver had left a dent.  also, it's really filthy because no one ever cleans it.  not long ago, i wouldn't even date a guy who drove a truck like this.  my life is so different here.  that night i sent my boss a note about what happened he asked if the truck was okay - didn't even occur to  him to ask if i was okay.


August 8, 2016

love in Tanzania

being single i get asked about the men in my life.  i was warned early on by a fellow american expat to NOT fall in love with a native as it could only lead to heartbreak.  the concept of monogamy here is not widely understood or practiced.  i heeded this advice and when someone else mentioned they were on tinder i asked what was available in our little town.   this is what she sent me.  enjoy.

one of the staff told me a story from their village.  a girl presented a boy from another village to her father and said they wanted to be married.  the father pulls the girl aside and whispers - not this one he is your brother.  so another year goes by and the daughter comes once again to her father with a different boy from a neighboring village and again the father pulls her aside and whispers, not this one, he is your brother.  heartbroken, she goes to her mother and says, how can you put up with such a husband?   the mother replies, whatever do you mean?  and the daughter says, he's been sleeping with women in other villages and now there are no boys i can marry.  the mother then says, marry whomever you want, he's not your father.  

fortunately, i make myself laugh, alot, so even when i am alone i'm never lonely.  there are enough expats here that it is easy to ring someone up for chat or with friends spread around the world i always can find someone awake.  if all else fails, i blog :)