November 9, 2008

EIGHT DAYS IN DAR!

This could be the title of a book, and, if I were a good author with any talent, surely Eight Days in Dar could be a best seller.   I have included a breakdown, so chose what you are interested in reading.

ELECTION FRENZY:

I was in Dar from Oct. 31st until Nov. 8th.  All the talk was about Obama, McCain and the election.  You would not believe the excitement of the Tanzanians over Obama’s victory.  I am always amazed how informed they are over here on American politics.  Wednesday morning most newspapers were sold out early carrying the election results.  Here is a quote from one of the many articles.  “At last the mega-tension that had surrounded the US election campaign 2008 has given way to euphoria and hysteria in Tanzania, which will be remembered forever.  “Yesterday, as Obama “The Phenomenon” faded into Obama the President, Tanzanians of all walks of life burst open their emotional arsenals as they savored the victory.”  “Obama epitomizes the climax of a journey to the New World where color and race are of no importance; a one-way ticket to Destination Commonland.”  The article was well written and so very long and interesting.  Sorry, I don’t have time to write it all.

COKA COLA:

Take the furthest village in the bush….no running water or electricity, but you can bet your bottom dollar there will be cases of Coke and Fanta for sale in every little shop.  I think I will write a letter to Coke and tell them they are not only ruining the teeth of Tanzanians but also their health. There is no dental care here.  All they know how to do is pull teeth in the villages.

BUYING A VEHICLE IN DAR ES SALAAM:

After an exhausting bus ride the week before only to find out the auction date had been changed from Oct. 25th to Nov. 1st. I, again, took the bus ride from Njombe to Dar on Oct.31.  The auction started at 10:00 a.m. Nov. 1st.  I had prayed long and hard that the U.S. Peace Corps Land Cruiser bidding would be within my budget of $17,000 USD.  Wrong!  It sold for 33 million Tz. shillings equivalent to nearly $29,000 USD.  I was so very disappointed.  Peace Corps keep their vehicles in tip top shape.  So after two trips to Dar, no car!  So, I made up my mind I would not leave hot, dirty Dar without a car. (Where I stay in Dar, it is very dirty.  Out by Oyster Bay where the ambassadors live and have offices, it is very lovely by the Indian Ocean.)

The next six days were something like a nightmare; many people tried to take advantage of Bibi Kay, cheaters, connivers, you name it.  They were all after my vehicle money.  More prayers—then I met   Mr. Mushi.  Again, I was leery of his honesty, too, but we finally agreed on the condition of me purchasing his 1995 Toyota Hilux pick-up with 88,000 km. in very good condition. I even wrote up a contract which wasn’t easy since I didn’t have my computer with me.   So, after 4 trips to the Internet Café to make changes to the contract, we finally closed the deal.  I could hire an attorney to draw up the contract, but whenever a Tanzanian see a “mzungu” (white person), the fees usually go way up.

Actually, I have left out many events of this car buying episode, just too long and complicated. Mr. Mushi, Ally my wonderful taxi driver and I made two trips to the bank for money——–long story. Anyway, on the second trip, the bank manager brought to me in her office 21 million shillings, a huge stack of bills.  Checks are rarely used over here except by large corporations.  (The largest bill in Tanzania is 10,000 shillings, so if my math is correct, I had 2,100 bills in front of me.)  So we wrapped up these two huge piles of bills in newspaper in the manager’s office, and, luckily I had a big purse with me. Then the manager, Mr. Mushi, Ally and I walked out of the bank to the taxi with me in the middle of the “parade” guarded by the other three….quite a picture.  We drove to where the pick-up was parked, and I gave the money to Mr. Mushi.  He immediately walked into his bank next door and made the deposit.  Slick!   But so strange.

TRIP FROM DAR TO NJOMBE IN THE PICK-UP:

My dear friend, Sadock Lwendo from Njombe, had traveled to Dar by bus to meet his daughter who attends Form 6 (like community college in U.S.) Her year was completed. So Sadock drove the pick-up since it has a manual shift, and they drive “on the wrong side of the road”.   Another friend from Njombe asked me to bring his daughter back from school, also.  This pick-up is a 4 door, so we were loaded down with supplies and people.  I had bought paint, chicken wire, mops, etc. Along the way, we stopped at roadside stands to buy pineapples and watermelons. We also bought 2 huge bags of charcoal, very long lasting as it’s made from hardwood in that particular area.  After 3 gas stops and 13 hours, we arrived in Njombe very tired.

Our highway, in some places very bad with pot-holes, takes us through Mikumi Park Preserve where we often see elephants, giraffes, zebra, antelope and others.  This time there were two big elephants who decided to cross our road in front of us…..naturally; they have the right-a-way. There are several sections of the trip were the baboons run along the highway hoping for a treat thrown from the window.

Peace and love,

Bibi Kay

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