February 28, 2017

last trip to dar - hopefully

after an exhausting 5 days in Dar for customer meetings and the farmers market to train the new sales girl i am getting on another ridiculously small plane to fly to Mafia Island for a week holiday which is supposed to be deserted with fabulous diving.  

still as i board the plane find myself wondering which seat is best if the plane crashes? will the plane break apart if if crashes in the water? do I really need to wear a safety belt? wouldn't that make it harder to escape during a water landing?

the guy sitting next to me is from Bulgaria and says he works with fastjet on the Bulgarian planes which makes no sense to me because i didn't know Bulgaria was making planes and since i find myself on fastjet a lot now i can add that to my mental checklist every time i board one of those flights.

i also meet a Canadian based in South Sudan working for MSF and she makes me feel grateful for Moshi when she talks about the hours and conditions in which she works. god bless them.

of course there is no problem and it's a beautiful flight and the pilot puts us down on the right island and the 'airport' is as small as the island.

strangely, when we land there is a sign that says the airport is funded by the americans.  not sure what's up with that.  also, same with the roads on the island which are much nicer than where i live in Moshi.

February 26, 2017

dar el salaam traffic

just another day sitting in traffic in dar

February 24, 2017

getting married in Tanzania

NO, not me.  one of the first nationals i met when i landed was Eileen who has remained a good friend.  she has a wonderful sense of humor and i enjoy every moment with her.  i was thrilled to have her ask me to be included in her wedding and it was a first hand look into the process a girl goes through here.  there are multiple ceremonies and traditions but the one i liked best was part of the bride price negotiation.  the bride's family will ask the grooms family for a price - say 20 cows - but the interesting part is that the bride's family gets to ask for stuff too.  like an aunt could ask for new cooking pans, a sister could ask for a phone, etc.... i asked if she could put me down for some tanzanite but she said i wasn't entitled to the list.

February 22, 2017

bus from Moshi to Dar el Salaam

i have until now avoided taking a bus anywhere in East Africa.  it's the most common although time consuming way to get around.  for this trip to Dar i'm traveling with a new sales rep for training and although a flight from Moshi to Dar is about the same cost the new managing director doesn't want to seem like he's giving special considerations to the marketing team and tells us to take the bus.  i'm actually okay with this since my forward travel after Dar is to one of the islands for a one week holiday and i won't be returning via bus.

i appreciate the opportunity to see via the ground a lot of what i've been flying over.  the 10 hour bus ride turns into a 14 hour trip but at least it does not break down which is not only common but is expected anywhere in Africa.  indeed, a western couple approaches me on the halfway break and says every bus trip they've been on has broken down.  i use the chance to learn some more about the sales rep that we hired to expand the business and i'm disappointed but not surprised that she's really not interested in what we are doing.  she just needed a job since the organization she was working for was defunded.  i'm not saying that's a direct reflection of her sales skills but i hired her reluctantly at the request of the managing director knowing she'd need lots of training.

turns out i'm not missing much between Moshi and Dar and i'm glad i'm not returning via bus.

she's well educated by Tanzanian standards but perhaps too much so as she aspires to become the next discovered 'african model' and work at the UN.  i'm all about empowering women to reach their goals but in this case i'm thinking it's not going to happen.  [spoiler alert: this 24 year old, who is unmarried, ends up pregnant and supporting the baby daddy in a continued cycle of poverty that could be avoided with some education about and use of birth control. yeah, i saw that one coming.  it's time to give these women some power over their own lives and control over their future.]   

getting accommodations in Dar is difficult because the company allowance is not generous and i usually stay someplace nicer but this time not willing to pick up the cost for an extra employee.  my new sales rep [a tanzanian who speaks the language] is absolutely worthless in helping with this.  let's say i slept with the lights on.

February 15, 2017

an american visit

had a short visit from an American friend and it was surprising to realize how much i miss my friends from home.  sure i skype with a lot of people but it's really not the same because there isn't a way to describe the not knowing if there will be water or electricity of some other disaster when get home.  

but when she mentioned she wasn't checking any luggage i was quick to throw together a bag of stuff that is mostly gifts and souvenirs that will lighten my load when i return.  as i kept wrapping orange duck tape around the bag she kept saying what are you doing?  

clearly, when you think it not just normal but also necessary to wrap your bags in duck tape when checking them from a third world country you've been traveling for too long.  i've long passed the point when dragging this off the baggage carousel would embarrass me.  

February 10, 2017

gay house vs. chaos

there is a dutch expat who i see a couple of times a month.  she does some contract work at the office so one evening over drinks i was asking how our company compared with some of the others she works with.  

she was saying how well run our company in comparison with other organizations so the discussion went to which companies were most disorganized and she said one is openly called gayhouse which seemed inappropriate and a little odd to me.  then i realized with the thick accent she was saying chaos and not gayhouse.  i think i'm losing all my english language skills.

the expats here who are paid western salaries are worked to death.  most of the professionals i know work 10 hours a day in contrast to most locals that start work around 9 and wrap up around 4.