June 24, 2009

Journey to Arusha

June 15, 2009 thru June 22, 2009

The week went well, nothing major to report, work is going smoothly, misspelled a few people’s name, Oh well...

I met another Caribbean colleague from T&T, his apartment is located two (2)levels below my apartment, he works as a Security Officer at ICTR, very tall, Trinidadian handsome gentleman.

The much anticipated/awaited/talked about workshop, scheduled for the weekend of Friday, June 19th thru Sunday, June 21st, has been cancelled.

I could actually hear my self thinking, the office building was empty, calm, quiet, I must have been be the only person still working! b/c around here, Staff Members, dashed out at 2:00 pm every Friday. They usually have weekend travel plans: Safaris, Mountain Climbing adventures, or a weekend trip to Nairobi (Kenya).

I left the office arund 4:00 pm, quick stop at an ATM, "access denied", no money/no cash, and the bank was closed. Still went to Shoprite, filled up my cart with goodies, swiped my debit card, still didn’t work! Logged in (online) trying to fix the prob: Nada! Just not my day, the Haitian in me was just trying to beat the system!

Saturday, the cleaning lady was a no-show, I told her last week: "see you, Tuesday, I will attend a workshop this weekend" (the much talked about cancelled workshop) she kindly replied" “yes Madam…”, a break in communications, a malentendu/she actually thought, since I will not be home this weekend, she didn't have to come at all... Oh well! Not much to clean anyways!

Hailed a cab, negotiated the fare, I’m getting smarter, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on MOI."


Now, this is a long process, let us go thru it step by step:

Step 1.- I needed cash $$$ pronto, had to write myself a check to get some $$$, Just imagine!

Now stay with me:

Step 2.- A trip to the Money Exchange dealer, one never knows what to expect, and the rates may change daily, hourly, weekly or is it all about the trader's mood? Last week, I exchanged some American dollars at the rate of 1330 TShillings for $1 US dollar, this week, it is 1200 TShillings for $1 US dollar!
I truly need to ask around town, what person/company has the best rate!

Step 3.- Shoprite, sista had some cash! What did I tell you? around here, the rate is 1315 TShillings for $1 US dollar! filled up my cart/remember sista has some cash now :), in the background, a captivating song was playing, had to inquire about the artist, "well, it's Marlo", someone informed me! Asked the taxi driver: "Can we stop at a music store”, "Yes Madam" was the reply, I’m telling you such gentleman in Tanzania ... Ooops, sista with cash may need some extra cash!

Step 4.- Another visit to a different exchange place, the rate is of course higher, small but important detail: I've forgotten that Tanzania is mostly a Muslim country, they are not into pop music/dancing! even though Mr. taxi driver, told me: "Yes, we can go to a music store", still had to ask around for directions; finally, someone told me where I can buy the Marlo CD.
Music Store: purchased 2 CD's, a compilation of the latest Tanzanian hits, and the now famous Marlo CD, Oh dang! It’s “MARLAW".

On my way back home, I was getting impatient, couldn't wait to hear this guy Marlo oops! "Marlaw", finally home, emptied the trunk, the driver carried the bags to the kitchen, thanked, and paid him for the 4 hours ride, very cheap, I sort of like this country!

While putting the groceries away, jammed to Marlaw, no one was around in the apt. complex, they were all traveling for the weekend.... blasted Marlaw all nite long!

BTW Tanzanian music is called “Bongo Flava” and Marlaw is the latest phenomenom, actually Marlaw is the artist's stage name, his real name is Marima Lawrence. (I know you are going to google Mr. Marlaw, so I've spared you the trouble)
For your listening pleasure…..

Lunch Time: a short nap, Marlaw's CD was still playing, but it’s Church Time, sista needs to pray, you know, being alone in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my family! I need Jesus, the 12 apostles, the saints, the angels, the archangels, The Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and of course Buddha and Allah are welcome!

Compatriot #1 picked me up, destination: THE CHURCH, it was a rather boring church service, caught a few zzzz's, but the music was entertaining.

Back home about 2 hours later, couldn't cook anything, couldn't even boil water, no electricity, the generator was working, but not enough power for the electric stove, finally around 7 pm, the electricity "came back", cooked dinner, burned the meat/didn't burn down the building, devoured the meat anyway, 2 glasses of wine... bed time: 1:30 am. Tomorow, 21 June, 2009 is my birthday!.

OK one of you texted me at 2 am! to wish me Happy Birthday

21 June, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, and don't ask,"How old am I?"

Woke up late 11:00 am, scrubbed the burnt pots, showered, a few, well a lot of friends called/texted/emailed/IM'ed ect...just to wish MOI a Happy B’day!
Birthday brunch with Compadre # 1, nice and quiet place, not too crowded, sat by the pool, great sunny weather, a miracle, b/c so far after about 1 month in Tanzania, I’ve only witnessed 4 sunny days.

Back home, received more emails/texts from friends, family members ect...cried while reading the b'day wishes, well, I smiled while reading the texts/emails and I cried after...

Monday, 22 June, 2009

Back to the office, a nice bouquet of red roses on my desk, a rather sweet gesture from my colleagues, No vases! Someone improvised, and used a huge water bottle.

Monday, 22 June, 2009 10:00 am Tanzania Time

Brouhaha in the the Tribunal, they have reached a verdict. Somehow, I was thinking of the OJ verdict, my god! That was about 15 years ago! thoughts of Rodney King (Can we all get along?). Went downstairs to the court room, this is LIVE in person, En Vivo! I was about to witness a verdict! A matter of life or death, this is not Judge Judy.

Compatriot # 2 is a Staff Member in the Protocol, I had a VIP seat, still couldn't see the accused face (security reason). We all stood/sat behind a thick glass/earphones on, nervous, awaiting the verdict... quite a crowd around, colleagues/interns/guests/ "joudas" and all ect... Nervously waited!
The Prosecution requested life imprisonment, Clemency of the court, the sentence :
30 years!
Apparently, the now convicted gentleman (guilty as charge) was the only one in his village to attend University! He was a respectable member of the community! but Mr. Respectable played a huge role in the Rwanda genocide, he used his power/"respectability" to kill/murder/influence/incite violence in his village, he is in his 50's, quick math, when and if he ever gets out jail, he will be in his 80's,
Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time!

Back home, long day, verdict day, still couldn't cook, blackout, generator was working, but the electric stove was not working (lack of power)! Ive been on a chips/crackers diet, tonight I barely chewed on some green salad, still hungry, and I needed some real food! zzzzzzz time, going to zzzzzz still hungry!


  1. Girl, I am waiting on your update of the party : ) Hope you had fun tonight. I miss u!!!

  2. Do not forget to bring me a copy of "Marlaw"...I like the song + he is cute+ I always enjoy watching a video from a "3rd world country" it reminds me so much of home!!!I can see that you are really starting to get accustomed to Arusha and enjoying the experience!!!As they say "wherever you are be there".....

  3. Jala,
    You will have to wait, cant really write with MJ's passing. All I can tell you, at the party the DJ was playing all MJ oldies people were in tears

  4. Stef,
    Great, consider it done... much cheaper than what I had in mind for you..!!!

  5. lol I still want what you had in mind + Marlaw ...OOhh!!!