Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snakes, travels and waiting

We had a good trip back to Kibidula from Dar es Salaam.  I say that because our bus did not have working speakers or TV so we had a nice quiet trip without being bombarded for 9 hours with loud music or strangeness of various degrees. 

After our return Doug and Joshua were headed down the road doing some work and Doug called to Joshua to stop, as he saw a very large puff adder crossing the road.  Doug had a shovel with him, so he conveniently disarmed the snake.  Here it is pictured.  It was a full three feet long.  It is the largest one I have seen yet.  They are poisonous but not aggressive.  We have been told that they are slow, and pose a treat because they can not leave the area quickly enough, often getting stepped on by animals or people.  Their only defense is a bite to the offending item that steps on them.  They eat rats, though, which scores a point in my book.   

3 Foot Puff Adder

 After our return , we were home for about two weeks doing various tasks (Tamara teaching English to the second year agricultural school students, Doug installing solar lights in some of the workers homes, working on the solar water system - a few bugs have popped up in that process, getting firewood, working in the garden, etc.)  

Then the call came that we needed to go to Iringa to make a deposit at a specific bank to pay the clearing charges for the container.  It is about 220 km to Iringa and back.  Now I had to (begrudgingly) use my drivers license.  Driving is a different world here!  The mission station needed cash from another bank, so it worked out for us to borrow a vehicle (the users are on furlough right now) and drive there and back.  Doug wanted to get his drivers license process started since we would be in Iringa, so we did that also.  We ended up spending the night in the same place I stayed when I went to get my license.  It is mostly clean and a good price for three people (equivalent to $10 US.)  We could have saved money and got one that didn't have a bathroom, but the receptionist didn't offer, and I didn't ask.  I like being able to get up and go to the bathroom without going down the hall and having to share it will everyone else on that floor.  We have done that, but it is not my preference.  And I am pretty sure that this place doesn't not have specific bathrooms separate for women and men.  YIKES.

God blessed and we were able to do our tasks safely (with much prayer.)  We picked up various items for several others here on campus while we were there also.

The container cleared for much more than we had hoped.  We are waiting to find out how much transport will be, which sounds like it will also be more expensive than expected, but God always provides.

Since Doug had his provisional license before we left Iringa, I was able to be the passenger and tried to take a few pictures to share the "flavor" of our trip.  Iringa is the regional seat, so it is the largest nearby city.  Here are some pictures.  We were on the move and I was trying to be discrete while taking them.  They could have been a lot better and clearer under better circumstance.
Downtown Iringa at the Market (sokoni)  I found grapefruit!
 I was told that there was grapefruit in Iringa a couple of weeks ago.  We saw some in Dar es Salaam while we were there, but they wanted like 2,000 TSH or more for them.  I was able to buy 4 in Iringa for only 500 TSH each and he then gave me one free!
Downtown Iringa building in progress.
 The scaffolding is always scary looking.
A congested side street in downtown Iringa.
 Trying to figure out which streets are one way, avoiding bicycles, motorcycles, carts, piles of gravel and dirt, holes, LOTS of pedestrians, sellers with merchandise all the way out in the street, not to mention cars is challenging, especially if you have another impatient vehicle behind you.
Heavy loads being transported by bikes (on our way home.)
 We see all kinds of BIG LOADS being transported in various ways, but usually I can't get a picture.  We see large loads of wood being carried on bikes, large loads of everything on people's heads, etc. 
Young children carrying heavy loads of water.
 Many of the children in Africa work very hard.  Children go to fetch water for long distances, and they start at ages much younger than Joshua.
This is a NEW daladala, loaded with people, and stuff!
This is the newest daladala I have seen!  We have seen them pack up to 40 people inside (including us) and load the back cargo "area" full.  This one is so full that they can't get the door shut, and then there are jugs tied to the outside in the back.  I saw one this trip that I would be hard-pressed to ride on.  It looked like it was falling apart - literally.

Pine forest just before getting to Kibidula

We are almost home.  This area runs through some pine forest that is cultivated for timber.  There are varying stages of trees here.  It is a very pretty site (especially after being gone for a few days!)  It means we are almost home! 

I hope my next post shows a picture of our shipping container being unloaded.  We just got word that it is now out of port, on the truck, but they need to weld it onto the trailer.  That is being held up because of POURING RAIN!  This isn't the right time of year for that.  Just another delay to help us be thankful and patient.  We had hoped it would be here tomorrow morning, but now we will have to see.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Eleven dogs, 500% markup, and natural remedies

The place we have stayed the last 4 nights has ELEVEN (yes I finally counted them while they were eating last night) guard dogs during the night hours that patrol the grounds inside the fenced area around our complex that has our room.  There are at least 3 buildings in here.  Since there is only one tiny piece of glass in all the windows, we hear everything like we are living and sleeping outside.  That can make sleeping VERY challenging, even with earplugs.  Last night it sounded like something was getting killed by some of the dogs.  Then I heard two different people trying to get "whatever" to stop.  This was all through my earplugs as the sounds and yelling continued.  But that said, I slept better last night than I think I have in the last 6 nights. 

The doctor that we are learning from has a book/notebook that we got photocopied today.  The first several places that we tried were closed.  The next place we tried wanted 500 TSH per sheet.  That is 10 times more than what we paid for copies in Musoma last year, and 5 times more than the price that we have paid in Dar es Salaam, Iringa and Mafinga!  We decided to look elsewhere.  The next shop we tried wanted 300 TSH per page. Then finally we found a nice place that also did binding.  We were happy with our final purchase which we even got bound.  It was air conditioned in there, too. :)  The humidity has been a bit high while we have been in Dar, so that was nice.   When we returned the doctor's original, he said they were asking so much more money because they saw that we are white and were hoping to make extra money on us.  The other day when we were getting on a city bus, the conductor said he would have to charge us extra because we had luggage.  We asked how much.  He said 4,000 TSH. the bus fare is only 300 TSH per person.  We said "NO WAY!"  He said "ah, come on.  Help me out."  We didn't.  This was the same day that we got pick-pocketed, too.  We didn't even take his bus.  He was so interested in getting our money, that he wasn't even listening to where we told him that we needed to go.  His bus didn't go to our destination.   

Crushing herbs with the doctor

The natural remedies training with the local doctor has been good (but also exhausting.) 
Hands on learning

We start in the afternoon after a hot day.  Then we walk all over, up and down hills, river banks and such places in the heat and humidity. 
Gathering Mango Tree leaves for another natural remedy.

After it started getting dark tonight, I told Doug I wanted him to send Joshua and I home early.  He did.  That was two and one half hours ago, and Doug still hasn't come back to the room.  We have had two good days of training.  There are so many plants here that we didn't have in the US where we lived.  It has been very interesting to learn what works here locally and how to prepare them.  It is a really good that he decided to show us and have us make some of these remedies.  Our idea of a "handful" and his are two VERY different sizes!  When he says handful - you hand is FULL!

Our container could arrive in the final port as early as tomorrow!  Now is the time for extra prayers regarding the following:  no damage, no theft, that the inspection goes well, it gets to Kibidula quickly, that transport goes safely and all of it comes within our shipping budget funds.  I hope it clears customs quickly and can be transported the final distance to its (and our) new home soon!   

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tanga trip and back in Dar es Salaam.

Our trip to Tanga was very blessed.  If I hadn’t gotten a terrible headache, it might have been perfect!  To our delight the bus that took us to Tanga and the one returning did not play loud music or disturbing videos.  It was a nice quiet ride both coming and going.  That was a nice change.  We were promptly picked up by our receiving agent and ushered through many steps and offices.  Copies of paperwork and passports were made, then to their office, then to the tax office there in Tanga.  The main person was out for lunch, so then to lunch for us also.  Then back to the tax office where we made a new friend.  More details on that situation will come after the container arrives to see how that all works out.   Then back to the receiving agent’s office, then to the shipping lines office where the receiving agent got ‘tough” with them and the container was rescheduled to a faster ship.  Then back to the receiving agent’s office to finish the changes on some paperwork that the tax agent requested.  Our agent then found us a nice clean, cheap room that had A/C!  With the humidity of Tanga, it was a treat!

The next morning we returned to Dar es Salaam.  Since we are already in this area, we have made arrangements to do some training with a local doctor/teacher starting tomorrow.   
The doctor helped us find a room close to his clinic at a reasonable price (about ½ of what we were paying in downtown Dar.  So we have many, many praises.

Now, if all goes as expected, the container is suppose to get to port between Tuesday and Thursday of this week.  If things go REALLY well, it could make it to Kibidula within two weeks of that time.  I am trying not to fantasize too much about getting all my stuff that will make living in Africa easier. 

Now if it were just quiet at night here in our new room, or we could sleep through all the noises – we would be set!  It will make going back to Kibidula that much sweeter, I guess.  There are at least seven “watch dogs” that patrol this area.  Then there are lots of people sounds and the local pub just down the street.  We don’t have glass in any of our windows, so it is almost like we are outside ourselves as far as noises go.  God is answering many, many prayers.

Now I just pray that nothing in the container is broken, damaged or stolen and that we can clear it and get it transported for a very reasonable price safely. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Travel, Dar es Salaam, Solar Pump Installed

Solar Panels in place!

There has been a lot that has happened since my last blog entry. 
Doug and Jason finished installing the solar panels for the solar water pump for the Primary School and clinic.  We are so thankful that they went up safely.  Thank you everyone for your prayers.   Fortunately I was teaching at the Primary School, so I didn't witness the placing of the panels up above Doug's head precariously.  They had to be put up this day because we had to travel to Dar es Salaam to request an extension of exemption for duty on our container since it did not arrive within 90 days of our arrival.

Our bus ride from Mafinga to Dar was interesting.  We left Kibidula at 7:45 am and arrived in our hotel between 8-9 pm.  It was a long day.  There were not seats on the bus when we climbed on, so they did a bit of rearranging and made a child share a seat with Joshua and another passenger gave her seat up for me.  Doug sat up in the front on the padded area.  I was seated by a man with a very small child.  I don't know exactly what he had been feeding her and letting her drink (soda I think.)  It was not long until her stomach decided it was not something good for her and proceeded to empty the contents back out the way it had came.  The man took the brunt of it.  Then I was wondering what would happen, and nothing did.  We just continued to ride.  Quite a while later I was moved to the very back of the bus.  Joshua was now in the middle and Doug was in the very front.  We did see over 30 elephants, over 20 giraffes, 4 zebras and a couple of impala during the ride.  That is about the opposite of the previous times we have come through Mikumi National Park.  The bus from Dar to Mafinga drives through the park area 20-30 minutes each way.  We saw all the animals during the first 10 minutes of entering that area.  Dad asked if it was a fenced in area.  No it is not.  It is just a designated area of "national park."  I think the animals are more regulated or protected there, but I don't know all the specifics.  We certainly do enjoy looking for the animals during that part of the bus ride. 
We ended up spending an entire week in Dar working to get our exemption letter from the proper government office. While we have been here, though, we have been able to make some new contacts regarding the work that we are doing and will be doing here in Tanzania.  The delays in the exemption letter turned out to be blessings.    

Dar es Salaam view over the harbor - Indian Ocean
While walking from the Revenue Authority office one day when we were told to come back later, one of the businesses that do the Zanzibar trips invited us to come into their office area and enjoy the pretty view of the ocean. They said if we ever decide to take the ferry to Zanzibar to remember them.  It is out of our budget to go, but we enjoyed the free view!  That is where I took the picture of the harbor.

Hand verses Ceiling Fan - Fan wins!

We were getting ready to head out from the hotel on Thursday and Doug was putting on his backpack.  He raised his arm over his head as he put on one of the straps and put his hand directly in the path of the big ceiling fan.  It was on a high setting and the metal blades made quick work of three fingers.  The picture here is the day after.  We were thankful that the bleeding was controllable after a few minutes.  It even cut through his fingernail.  It has been 5 days now and we praise the Lord that he has had no infection.  He neither had any pain except when they were bumped!  He did almost pass out in the pharmacy store where we went to get first aid materials after the adrenaline wore off, though. 
Fruits and Veggies for sale on the sidewalk in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam has a lot of variety available.  For the "right price" one can get things that we have not seen anywhere else in Tanzania.
We were able to buy some really nice apples, pears and even mango here.  We also found a very nice simple whole wheat bread and simple peanut butter.  We also saw some produce that I don't have a clue what I would do with them!  Some of the vendors want to be paid if I take their pictures so I don't have pictures of some of the things I would like to have shown here.  

So after making many new friends here in Dar es Salaam, getting our paperwork, making good contacts for the health work, it is time to proceed to Tanga to get the next step complete for receiving the container.  Our exemption letter that we received is only good through the end of this month, so we need to pray very much that the container will arrive in Tanga on the boat that comes on May 20th.  We were told that there is a lot of congestion in the ports and that is why our container has not arrived in Dar, yet.  So we are asking for prayers that "berth" will become available for our ship and container VERY SOON.  So after living in a hotel in Dar es Salaam for over a week, tomorrow we travel to a new place.  Hopefully we can do all the necessary paperwork and government office visits quickly and return to Kibidula, quickly.  We will see!