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.


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


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

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] 

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.