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Posted by angela On March - 2 - 2012 0 Comment


Too tired to notice much on arrival, we slept for a few hours after checking into the Procurement House of the Fathers of the Consolata, in Tanzania. So my first impression was the squawking parrot outside our room as the sun was rising a few hours later. Yes, the parrot was wild, just perched outside the window welcoming the new day, and no, I didn’t get to see him. But it was obvious that we were no longer in Kansas, Toto; I love to listen to the dawn birdsong outside my bedroom at home, but this was the first time I was ever woken up by a parrot.

The second impression struck me when I looked out the window, too late to see my shy cuckoo parrot: everyone walks here. Men, women, young and old, many of the women beautifully dressed in colorful dresses, all were walking along the dirt road, on their way to work I imagine. Sure, there are bicycles, but most of the Africans are on foot.

Since our driver James was extremely tired, we gave him the day off and decided to explore the capital, putting off our overland trip to Iringa by one day. Emanuele and I took a taxi downtown, and walked along the waterfront, where everyone tried to sell us something, anything, until we walked into a Vodacom store to buy a Tanzanian phone card. “Store” is a generous word: it was a two meter wide tin corrugated lean-to with a tiny glass case in front, filled with dozens of cell phones, and a small desk in back, with a young man who immediately took us under his protection, and told us he didn’t have any SIM cards, but that he could get us one, and then led us back into the street, to a vendor from whom he grabbed a SIM card, and just as quickly turned around a settled back under the awning of his “store.” In the meantime, another local had adopted us, since he could show us how to activate and register the SIM card.

We spent the next 20 minutes listening to these two argue back and forth in Swahili, replace our Italian SIM with the Tanzanian SIM, and then call the registration number, with my passport in hand, starting my contract with Zantel. Initially, we presented ourselves as Italians, but when I pulled out my passport, the first guy said, “Obama! Great president, very strong man!” When the comedy was finally finished, the two fellows asked us for 20,000 Tanzanian Schillings (TZS), 10 for card, and 10 of credit for calls. “Whatever you think is good payment for our service, also,” they added with a smile. I gave them another 10 to split between themselves. Oh, and if you are wondering if they ripped me off, just think of the old Italian lira, and you know exactly what the TZS is worth. I’ll let you do the math.



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