June 28, 2016


there's a sugar plantation, a very very large sugar plantation, just outside of Moshi.  it's owned by some Mauritians and it's a popular place for westerners.  it's about a 40 minute drive to get there but it's a really nice drive.  no lorries and no buses driving crazy speeds and passing everything on the road.  the drive is lined by trees and the fields of sugar cane surround you once you enter the premises.  it is amazing efficient for a plantation in Africa.  

they have a lot of heavy machinery and a rail system that automates the delivery of the raw sugar cane to the factory.  if the wind is right, when they are burning off the fields it blows right over moshi and can be seen for miles.

one day a few of us went out for a tour of the sugar processing plantation.  i got physically sick and left mid tour.  the smell was making me want to vomit.  i left thinking that i would probably never consume sugar again.  a few weeks later when i was exploring the idea of vanilla sugar as product to bring to market i found out that this factory doesn't export as their sugar doesn't meet international food safety standards.  yummy. 

it's a huge plantation and has it's own school, hospital and other administrative offices and every western convenience.  so it's a popular place for expats.

they built a lovely club house which includes a room for ping pong and billiards and the restaurant overlooks the golf course which i've only seen one person playing any time i've been out there.  the food is lovely and there is tennis and a pool so everything one needs to be comfortable.  it feels like a different world from the chaos that is the cities of Moshi and Arusha.  we did walk around the golf course after lunch and it was covered with monkeys which makes one wonder if they steal the balls.

June 14, 2016

vanilla is not boring

why vanilla?  vanilla is the second highest valued spice [after saffron] on the global market.  global demand for raw vanilla far exceeds what is produced today and it's a volatile marketplace because very few people control access to 80% of the global production.  in addition, one tropical storm can decimate the crop of Madagascar, producer of the 80% vanilla available globally.

the altitude and rich volcanic soil found in northern Tanzania and around Kilimanjaro is exceptional for the production of vanilla.  it creates higher concentrations of vanillian [the component evaluated for quality of vanilla pods].

so mom, that's why your vanilla extract is so expensive.  bad news, it's going to get more expensive.  the reports out of Madagascar are the crops will be under performing leaving a huge gap in demand vs. availability.

vanilla is used everywhere in so many things, ice cream, yogurt, baked goods, my baths [haha just kidding] the vanilla at the factory is under lock because the value is so high.

more details here...

June 7, 2016

dhl for giraffes

true story.  i spent 3 hours at the dhl office to get a shipment off to europe.  the most facinating thing about sitting there while they packed the order was this photo on the wall.  so someone, please explain to me, what exactly is dhl delivering to the giraffes?  

it's not just me, i showed my photo of the photo to another expat who said wow, i'm going to their offices just to get a photo of that.

and this explosion of clown confetti?  yeah, that's how dhl africa packs the boxes.  i can only imagine what the guy in belgium is going to think when he opens these.  but it's not possible to buy bubble wrap here so it is actually an environmentally good alternative.  every day i fight the [mostly accurate] perception that anything produced in Africa is substandard.  this does not help the fight.

yoga and puppy love

this is really about a trip to Nairobi.  it's time for a visa run so i head up to check on my distributors there and some suppliers.  remember how i said they don't manufacture anything here?  well that goes for printing as well so we get our printing of labels etc. done in Nairobi and unless i go to the office and sit with the account rep and the designer they can't be motivated to do anything.  i get to the airport and find my flight cancelled.  i have to wait an additional 4 hours which screws up my meetings in Nairobi.  i hate sitting in airports anyway but here's what i look like after 6 hours at the Jaro airport.  it's a 45 minute flight but since it's considered international you have to arrive 2 hours advance.  it takes an hour to get to the airport. that's 4 hours with no delays so any delay makes the flight just silly since you can get a 6 hour shuttle from Moshi to Nairobi for $15.  without the proper paperwork i don't want to try a land crossing of the borders here so i haven't done the shuttle.

plus, this time i'm returning friday to Dar instead of Moshi for a weekend of yoga with one of my friends.  the property on the beach where we were staying had a fresh litter or puppies so in the morning it was yoga, breakfast, then puppy time.  met some wonderful people and got in some beach time and yoga.  the ocean is wild and strong here.  nothing like the gulf where the water always seems warm and calm.

June 6, 2016

lazy sunday

not every day is a work day and with a plethora of hotels in the area i found one just a short walk away that allows guests to use the pool for 5000 TZS [$2USD] each day.  it's still kinda winter here so the water is freezing and as you can see from the photo they plant trees that cover most of the pool most of the day so the water doesn't really warm up.  still, the water is clean and it's refreshing so i wander over from time to time and lay out at the pool for a while.  the sign pointing to the hotel is like a neon light that would have been cool in south beach in the 50s.  now it's just a sad little posting that is easy to overlook when you drive down the street.
the hotel is a lower to mid market property so there always a weird mix of people there.  although the north of Tanzania is christian, there are still muslims about here and so i do see women covered from their ankles to their wrists swimming about in the pool.  i don't judge them for that and i'm comfortable in my bikini even if their men do stare but that is life in a mixed environment.  it is a good place to spend a lazy sunday afternoon and soak up some sun.  plus, i'm planning a trip to Zanzibar which is an island off the coast at the end of the month so i need to get a little bit of sun before then.  

June 3, 2016

albinos in tanzania

remember that security analyst i met in Nairobi?  well, i asked him about security in Tanzania vs. Kenya and his response was a surprise to me.  he said the big targets in Tanzania are albinos.  i looked it up and it turns out it's a real thing.  very sad.

"the albino community live in fear of being hunted down and hacked to pieces for their body parts which are treasured by witch doctors"

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3452630/The-ghost-people-Tanzania-albino-community-live-fear-hunted-hacked-pieces-body-parts-treasured-witch-doctors.html#ixzz4fnbnfVIw