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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corrections and Updates

Looking back through my previous posts, I of course have found some mistakes and loose ends and just things that I have something more to say about. So, like the "Denver Post" and "Ogden Standard-Examiner," I'm running a corrections post. My first post, just before leaving Utah, was on February 24! It's hard to believe I've been here that long!

And starting with that post, "Off Again to Tanzania", I stated that the theme of my trip would be "adventures in immigration law." K2 and I planned to finish the second part of a fiance visa application for him and return together to the US in early June. We have since dropped the visa application, for a few reasons. I'm now planning to stay until at least early October, at which time we might apply for a visitor visa for K2. If he gets that visa, he'd have a chance to see America before deciding to move there. In the meantime, I don't miss the stress of visa applications and the US Embassy and I'm really enjoying staying here longer and learning about life in Tanzania. It's kind of like when I was a Peace Corps volunteer, but this time I have enough money for a comfortable house and I get to live in a bigger town with stores and restaurants.

In March, "Out and About", I wrote that when groping for Swahili words, I often called up Spanish words. That's still happening after more than 3 months of Swahili lessons, although much less than at first. However, a group of my English students at Jordan Institute are studying Spanish. They found out I can speak un poco de Espanol, and they love to engage me in Spanish conversation, usually just before or after I go for my Swahili lesson. My brain just locks up and I can barely even pull up English words!

In "Getting It Together", I wrote about the long rains or masika, and the weather at that time. I'd say we've moved on to one of two annual dry seasons, kiangazi. Everybody told me all through May how cold it would be in June. I thought, "Well, sure, cold for Tanzanians. At least it won't be too hot." But it has been really cold! Or maybe I've just been away from Utah too long. Every night and early morning I've been freezing. I dug out a travel alarm with a built-in thermometer and set it out on my porch early on a cold morning--but it said 62 F! And inside the house, where I also have been feeling chilly, it's 72 F! I think I'm becoming Tanzanian! But that is much cooler than I expected for equatorial Africa. I didn't bring enough warm clothes with me! It's been cloudy almost every day, with a chilly breeze. The last few days have finally been sunny with blue sky and a bit warmer, but not hot. Maybe only up to 80 F.

In the provocatively titled  "Washing My Panties in a Bucket", I posted a picture of a neighborhood internet cafe. I now have a wireless modem and am sitting at home typing this post. You load the modem with pre-paid vouchers in megabytes (25,000 T shillings, about $15, for 250 mb).  I still use the wireless connection at a restaurant downtown sometimes, because if I want to open a lot of pages, it works out to be cheaper.

Also, I advised readers to never go into a bank in a developing country and wove a long tale of woe about losing my ATM card at a bank here. I have since successfully gone to that same bank, taken money from the ATM, gone inside the bank and made a deposit, without waiting in line or having any problems. There are big crowds of customers lined up outside the banks' front doors in the morning, waiting for the banks to open so they can transact business before they go to work. But I did have one easy late morning transaction.

In "What Are My Tonsils Doing Back There?", I bragged about all my electronic gadgets and contrasted the easy communications to home with my Peace Corps days. I have since found that my Kindle's wireless reception works all over Arusha and I can directly download the "Denver Post" and books without even loading first to my laptop through the internet. A sad note about my Kindle: I dropped and broke it, which brought me to the verge of tears. replaced it, though, for free because it was considered normal wear and tear under the warranty. I had to pay a steep import tax to Tanzania and expensive shipping charges. But thank God I have my Kindle again! But I did lose the stylish leopard-print skin. The company that makes those ( ) won't ship to Tanzania.

I wrote about the bootleg tapes I'd bought in the Peace Corps, and how I've replaced all that with my i-Pod. Here in Tanzania, it turns out, you can get bootleg i-Pod downloads. K2's bought some Tanzanian music at little shops around town where they plug the i-Pod into a computer and charge by the song. Some of the tracks have the same errors and bad quality as those old bootleg cassettes.

On March 27,, I wrote about visiting a tailor. He was using a black Singer sewing machine with its own table and a foot treadle. I called it "old" because it looks like the really old ones, pre-dating my mom's sewing days. But since, I've seen these black machines for sale here and they're new. There are hundreds of tailors and seamstresses set up around town and almost all have the same black sewing machine.

In "Visits to Doctors and Friends", I described the motorcycle taxis that wait in packs all over Arusha. The other day, I got off the dala-dala near a pack of them. A young driver approached me, saying, "Let's go!" I told him, "Hapana, ni hatari!" ("No, it's dangerous!"). Another example of how men are the same all over the world: he was really delighted that a woman told him he's dangerous and didn't mind at all that he didn't get a fare.

In "Safari Njema", I described horrible biting flies in Tarangire National Park. It turns out those are the famous tsetse flies! But I didn't get sleeping sickness...or does that only affect cattle and horses? I remember reading that tsetse flies made it infeasible to keep horses in parts of East Africa. I haven't seen any horses since I've been here, although there are a few tour companies that offer horseback riding.

I promised to fill in the species names of a kingfisher and a few other birds and lizards in my blog and linked Snapfish photo albums. I was waiting for K2's field guide, which is still at his place, and for which I have now given up waiting! So it's just a kingfisher...

In "A Sunday Morning Walk, I speculated that waiters and store clerks always ask if you want your drinks cold or room temperature because many Tanzanians have unfilled cavities and their teeth are temperature sensitive. Another reason may be the cold weather. People here often feel cold and they don't like to add to it with a cold drink. But on the subject of dental problems--many people who grew up here in Arusha have big brown spots on the front surfaces of their teeth. It doesn't look like cavities, but more like the enamel's worn away. From what people say, it's specific to Arusha and most people think it has something to do with the water. I'm hoping it can't happen to me because of my childhood regimen of fluoride drops in milk (thanks, Mom!).

I posted "Immigration Laws and Good Manners" while my Canadian friend, Tera's parents were stranded in the Amsterdam airport on their way home from her Tanzanian wedding by Icelandic volcanic ash. They eventually made it home--after 5 days in the Amsterdam airport!

And a couple of additions to the list of names that sound funny to English speakers: I keep seeing "Godlove," even in my phone contacts, although I can't remember at all who he is. I rode with a very nice taxi driver one day named "Goodlove."

The haircut I wailed about in "Hannah, My Sister, I Feel Your Pain" actually turned out fine. My hair looks cute! It took 3 days to recover from the styling/straightening regime, though. I've been back to that saloon twice now for pedicures. It's the third place I tried. Each of the first two left me with an ingrown toenail, on different toes each time. The young guy doing pedicures at this saloon seems to do a better job. I'll know more in a week. I miss Jumi in North Ogden!! But as we used to say at law school after a particularly confusing class, "At least my hair looks good."

In "Really Settling In", I promised to discuss how I went from "tourist" to "resident" here in Tanzania. It's certainly easier here than in America! There are thousands of volunteers working with orphanages and NGO's here. The government has a category of visas for volunteers, which can run for up to two years and cost $120. My tourist visa expired on June 1, after a term of 90 days. I asked Mr. Solomon, the English teacher with whom I work and Mr. Shayo, the director of Jordan Institue, if I could volunteer with them for a whole year and if they would help me get a volunteer resident permit for a year. Mr. Shayo was wonderful! He wrote a letter sponsoring me and provided paperwork about Jordan Institute. He visited the immigration office several times and spoke with acquaintances of his there, and then accompanied me on a final visit where he got the employees to rush my application (which was good, because I had only three days left on my visa by that point). Jordan Institute even paid the fee (plus a bit extra for the "rush"). So now I am a resident until June 1, 2011. Before you ask, I don't have a definite plan to stay that long. Actually, I don't have any definite plan....

In "What a Shitty Day", I complained about "flycatchers," the shills in downtown Arusha who dog your heels (if you are a tourist) and try to sell you stuff. They are not bothering me as much anymore. Maybe they recognize me and know I'm living here. That would be nice because they are really annoying.

In "The Road to Njiro", I was quite critical of my snooty rich neighbors here in Njiro. I'm not retracting it all, but I have met a few nice neighbors since then. One day as I was walking to catch the dala-dala, a big white Land Rover pulled over and the big white man driving it offered me a ride into town. He was Padre Hans, a German priest who's been living in Africa for about 15 years, and runs a seminary in Njiro. We had a pleasant conversation in English, which I quite enjoyed. But from the moment that he said he was a Roman Catholic priest, my brain began a loop of a really bad joke K2 tells me from time to time. You know the joke (or one like it): a priest and a nun are riding in a car when it runs out of gas. And the joke goes downhill from there. The joke's not that funny, but I had a hard time not laughing because I was riding in a car with a priest. And when I phoned K2 to tell  him I'd been riding in a car with a priest, he burst out laughing and told me the stupid joke again. Another day, the Tanzanian man who lives in the enormous house next to our compound gave me a ride in his new, fancy SUV. He was really nice, too. He and his wife used to host Peace Corps volunteers in their home. And almost all of the not-rich neighbors I see when I'm walking around are quite friendly.

Many of you expressed concern for my friend Ally after I wrote about an attack on him in "Robbered" Ally was really pleased by all the concern from America. He continues to heal and he expects a  full recovery from his injuries. The last time I saw him, he seemed tired and admitted to some pain. But he's up and around and under doctor's orders to do some walking every day. It's customary to visit your friends when they're sick, so I've been up the hill past Jordan Institute to visit him at his brother's house twice. The second time I went with K2 and two other students. We stayed for two hours and watched the Algeria/ US World Cup game. It was fun, even though I don't like sports on TV. K2 was cheering for Algeria, but the rest of us cheered on the US to victory. I guess now I'll cheer for Ghana!

I mentioned my friend Anna and that I'd talked over the attack with her because I value her perspective. But let me correct a few mistakes about Anna. She is 25 years old, not 26 (although when you're that young, who even counts?). I'm hoping that I was mistaken when I said she knows everything about Tanzania. Because she told me that you have to iron every piece of laundry after drying it outside because mango flies will lay eggs on it, which will then transform into maggots under your skin. I'm really hoping she's wrong about that! She did say she doesn't iron everything, and after three years, has had no incidents of maggots. Lastly, I've been referring to her as my English friend. Actually, she's more Scottish. So she really laughed when I admitted to her that the first time I stayed at Kundayo Apartments (where she is the manager), I wondered why they had Scottish tartans for upholstery and tablecloths. Of course all that red plaid was not Scottish, but Maasai.

I told you more than you ever wanted to know about khangas in "Khanga" But let me tell you one more thing, anyway! K2 told me I left out one important use of khangas, which is to attract your husband. Also, I bought another one already. It's orange and it's so cute!

And let me just say that I feel bad, as if I'm ripping off my friends, when I publish a post with no photos. Sometimes I delay a post for a week or more because I'm waiting for a chance to take pictures (for example, an upcoming post to tell about the car I bought a week or so ago). Sometimes, there just aren't pictures to go with the post! Pole sana! (Sorry!).


  1. hola Barbara!
    fun reading as usual. glad for ally up and watching soccer, i was wondering about him. I will send you a kindle cover if you send me a khanga. can you imagine me wearing that to work up here at the capitol? ffrom joanie
    this post is buggin

  2. Wow, what an adventure! I enjoyed all these updates even without pictures. I have to admit I'm a little disappointed you aren't coming back sooner. I was hoping you'd come visit Kathy this summer and we could meet for real. On the other hand, I'm impressed you are willing to live in Tanzania for a longer time because it's so much fun learning about life there.

  3. Great update Barbara. As always, I enjoyed reading every bit of it and keep it coming sis!!!

  4. Barb - wonderful to read the updates. Glad Ally is doing well. And I'm looking forward to seeing your "new" car :-) Summer in the Sawtooths is glorious! Carol

  5. As usual, your descriptions are fantastic and interesting. Having no plans sounds like the way to live!