africa week 2
monday was our first day of work. I’m doing the same stuff as last year, so we pretty much just jumped right in. I hadn’t touched a computer in more than a week. it’s really nice working with Matthew again. we haven’t decided what our project(s) will be yet, but we will have plenty. I’m already learning a lot.
the first few days, Matthew gave me a ride to the school like he did last year. but they moved and my hostel is in a different place than last year too, so I had to make arrangements for a more regular commute. but it turned out that amani has their own little bus that picks up staff very near our place. so we lucked out. but we still have to find our way home at the end of the day. today we took a dalla dalla (the crazy mini bus that crams about 30 people into a 10 passenger vehicle) for most of the way, and walked the rest. but the dalla dalla ride felt so short that we decided to try walking today. it’s about an hour walk. we’ve only done it a couple times, but stephanie and I are noticing it in our belt sizes.
tonight we watched when Harry met Sally. miho, our roommate, has only 2 working DVDs that she watches on her laptop. and she loves watching films. I brought my entire digital library of about 150 movies. so almost every night we watch a movie, sometimes 2. no complaints here.
it costs $120 to work here for any amount of time more than about 1 week. unfortunately, this $120 must be paid to the immigration office in US dollars. i don’t even think it matters where you come from. they want US dollars. stephanie and i ran out of US dollars a long time ago. we were planning to use our ATM cards for safety. but since we had to get US dollars, the only way to do that was to go to the ATM, get a bundle of cash, go to the bureau de change, and buy back US dollars. in other words, we paid a commission to our banks for the convenience, plus we went through the currency exchange rate both ways. so really, it probably cost us closer to $150 each to volunteer. we lost half a day of work too. it’s not a huge deal, but a hassel.
just like any town with lots of travellers, in moshi you get a lot of harrassers that follow you to try to get you to use their safari tour or their kilimanjaro climbing company or buy their art. last year I was followed by a young artist. I have a soft spot for artists, and it was my last day in moshi, and I wanted to buy some more stuff to take home. so I let him show me his pieces. of course his asking price was about 5 times more than I was willing to pay, but I got one at a reasonably reduced price. at the hostel a friend told me I paid 3 times what she would’ve paid. but looking back and seeing other art, the one I got was good quality, and the guy I bought it from seemed legit compared to the rest. however you slice it, harrassers here harrass because they’re just trying to make a living the best way they can. and for an artist, your customers are less likely the locals who are trying to pay for food, and more likely travellers who can afford it and are trained to ignore these approaches. sounds like a tough job.
another way people here harrass you is to get you to take their taxi. there’s a central roundabout (they call it a “keepy lefty”) where a bunch of taxis wait for customers. we took this as an opportunity to get them to compete with each other for a cheaper price, and they did. when asked how much it would cost to go to our destination, the first to catch us said, “just come with me” so he could lock in our business first. another driver jumped into the mix. he was an elderly man — the oldest driver I had seen, in fact. he said he would do it for 6,000, a surprisingly low amount even for us. he didn’t look like he spoke a lot of english, so we were skeptical. we turned to the first driver to see what his price was. he was just as surprised as us at the cheap price the older man offerred. he began to talk to the old man trying to figure out how he could operate for such a cheap price. “6,000? are you sure? that place is way out there.” the older driver realized how far it really was and started to regret his offer. the younger driver said, “how about 8,000?” we looked at the old man who I think still had seller’s remorse. and then the younger driver said, “you go with him for 8,000.” he explained the situation to the old man who then opened the door for us. it was a really nice gesture. obviously harrassers continue to use this approach because it works for them. and here, every fish you catch is a valuable one. this man donated his business to an elderly man as if be were taking care of his own father. as we got in the taxi, he put on his business face again and offerred us his tour company’s card. after taking it, it looked familiar. it was the same man who harassed us and gave us his card earlier in the day and we brushed him off. a nice reminder for us that these people, however annoying, are just trying to make a living here.
tonights film: forgetting sarah marshall
we watched USA play today. we watched the match with a friend from Amani, and his friend and her friend. we started talking to one of the girls who was sitting next to us. she was from Alabama. she lived in the united Arab emirates for several months twice and had been travelling Africa. somehow we got on the topic of political parties. we told her we were from Oklahoma in the bible belt. I noticed that all the people I had met were not very religious. none were on missionary projects. and I also noticed that none of them were conservatives. the girl said she was conservative, but that travelling had made her less so. not sure what to make of it just yet, but it was an interesting pattern, if valid at all.
today Stephanie and I went to Matthews house to play catan. it was fantastic. we played twice, once with a variation I had not played yet. we also took the opportunity to play with Matthew’s Internet, and Matthew took took this opportunity to play with my iPhone and ipad. a techie himself, he has been living in tz for over 3 years. just enough time to miss he iPhone revolution. he was like a kid in a candy store.
at night, we went to a place called kool bar. it was a loud, cramped party place. we saw a girl from the place we work who happens to be staying at the hostel hoff for the past 6 months where i stayed last year. after a while, a random guy stopped in front of me and stared at me for a few seconds. i thought he was looking at something behind me or something. but then he stepped closer to me and stared some more. he extended a handshake. I looked down at his hand wondering why this random person was trying to shake my hand. I just assumed it was someone who was just being friendly or something. but I shook his hand anyway and looked closer at him. it was Senedi, my friend who was the guard at the hostel hoff. he kept saying over and over again, “I don’t believe you are here, why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” he even left for a moment, came back, and said, “now I beleive you are here”. it was a really nice surprise to see him.
film: catch me if you can