New Blog!

If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Immigration Laws and Good Manners

I've been hearing the rumor for a few years now that Canada's immigration laws are easier than the US's, and that sometimes when an American marries a foreigner, they end up both immigrating to Canada because of the easy immigration policy. Turns out it's not true! Over the past week, we had a wedding at Kundayo Apartments of a Canadian woman to a Tanzanian man. She worked here for a year back in 2006 and fell in love with a local. They've been engaged for two years, and finally got married last Thursday. Since then, they've been scurrying around among various government offices assembling documents they will need to submit as part of a visa application for the Tanzanian husband to move to Canada. On Monday, after being married for a week and a half, the wife is returning alone to Canada to begin the visa application process, which they expect to take a year or longer! Oh well, there's always New Zealand, I guess...

The bride's parents were my next door neighbors for a week, and I quite enjoyed their company. They smoked a lot out on the porch, but I just closed all the windows and doors as soon as I saw them approaching. They really like their new son-in-law and spent two days with his 8-year-old daughter, who bonded with them very quickly. On their attempted return to Canada, they made it to Amsterdam just ahead of the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland that has shut down air traffic in northern Europe. They've been stranded in the airport for over 48 hours, and airport officials are saying it could be a few days more! By email to their daughter, they report that the airport has provided army cots for people to sleep, free sandwiches, and free internet. They sounded pretty upbeat, especially considering they didn't put any clean clothes in their carry-on, since they were just on the way home.

As for my own immigration trials and tribulations, I am seriously considering staying here for a year and putting our visa application on hold for the time being. It seems likely that I can get a volunteer permit, which is a visa that would let me stay for a year. We're going to start looking for a house for me to rent, and I'm looking for ways to tie in with the expatriate community here. Nothing definite yet, but I'll have to decide one way or the other by June. During my entire 25-year Forest Service career, I always chafed under the requirement of getting back to the office on Monday and always wished I could stay away longer. Well, now I can! So I'm thinking maybe I will!

I have ATM ($) access again! My neighbor, Zelma mailed my replacement ATM card to me 27 days ago, and it finally arrived! The instructions for activating it specified that I call from my home phone. So I went into my Wells Fargo internet account page and changed my home phone to my American cell phone number. Then I waited 24 hours, on the theory that the change would have to be in place for a bit. Then I called from my American cell phone and held my breath. I was really expecting I'd have to call the international help number and plead my case and answer a million questions about my account, but no! It was just an automated line and they activated the card. This morning I went to the ATM where I lost the last card, but the card slot was blocked...maybe my old card is still in there from when I lost it during the blackout a month ago! But at the second ATM I tried, the money slid right out into my hand! Yeah!

A random sample of interesting first names here that sound odd to me as a native speaker of English:
Exorbitant-the doctor I saw for my ear infection (and whom I need to see again, because my ears hurt again).
Magnificent- safari guide who took the Canadians to Arusha National Park.
Happiness - a friend of K2's who loaned us her truck.
Modest - a (male) lawyer at a reputable Arusha law firm.

Good manners in Tanzania seem very complicated to me. I am working on not being so left-handed. Because it turns out this is one of those countries where the left hand is more for bathroom-type chores and it's just not to be used for some things. It's not great to eat left-handed when we're eating with our fingers, but it's barely OK, because I'm a foreigner. It's really insulting to give or receive something with the left hand. I keep extending my left hand halfway with money, then remembering, switching the money to my right hand, and passing it on.

Also, I occasionally, unintentionally say rude things to people because I'm trying to use Swahili, but I don't' know enough words.  When K2 and I were eating dinner at a little neighborhood pub, the waitress took a liking to me and they weren't  very busy so we invited her to sit down with us for awhile. K2 ordered grilled cow small intestine as an appetizer. This falls into my category of, "I'm not a Peace Corps Volunteer anymore. I don't have to eat that." The waitress (who doesn't speak English) of course urged me to have some. I said in Swahili that I didn't want to eat it because I'm from America. By which I meant that it's a food I'm not accustomed to. But which came across as Americans are too good to eat something like that. K2 immediately turned to me and hissed, "Don't say that!" I was mortified when he explained. He then explained to the waitress what I'd REALLY meant to say, and that smoothed it over. She came back later and had chicken with us, so it was OK. Oh, and she and K2 didn't like the intestine either. It wasn't cleaned well enough, so they made a few jokes about "poop" and gave the rest to a stray dog.


  1. Oh my. I would not want to eat poopy cow intestine either! Ugh. On the other hand, download a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. She writes about her sweetheart being thrown out of the US and waiting for approval from Homeland Security to marry. It's also an interesting foray into the ins and outs of marriage in general.

  2. Dear Barbara,
    I just enjoyed an hour catching up on your blog. I had fallen behind at "washing my panties in a bucket" and had to ask Carol not to tell me what's happening in your life last week at lunch. You did not disappoint!!! And, you have permission to miss Blue Grass this year, but I'm still saving the date in case you and Kean will be joining me for the festival and hikes in the Tetons. --Megan

  3. Loran, I just finished reading "Committed," and I was bored to tears. Well, I didn't actually cry, but I skimmed through a lot of the book. I guess I wanted more of a travel memoir/romance like her first book, but it was a sociological survey of marriage through the ages.

  4. Hey if you want to sell me your Subaru . . . since you wont be driving it for a few years.

    joanie dodie aponte

  5. I enjoy reading your blog sis...'just want to say add the name "Promise" to your list(smile). Miss ya!