Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tepid Tanzania Training in Tanga

Alright alright, I have been in Tanzania for almost a month and haven’t posted a blog entry. Fine, I know. I have been remiss in my duties. But, other than the noteworthy yet not particularly interesting event of my hard drive crashing, not too much going on here. (My battle weary computer had soldiered on despite receiving a near fatal blow in an overhead luggage rack on the Guate City – DC direct in March 2007, but alas, the heat, humidity and Confliker onslaught of tropical Tanzania did her in. Her hard drive finally gave out in the small town of Tanga, where she was lovingly attended to by an Iraqi émigré with radical clerical wallpaper on this cell phone – my national origin notwithstanding – but, in the end she just faded away… RIP). So you can’t blame my technologically hobbled self too much for being a little slow with the posts.

And I don’t have much in the way of good stories. I was ensconced in one of the nicest hotels in Tanzania for two weeks while I worked in the National Bureau of Statistics. Except for the occasional avalanche of unfiled telephone book sized questionnaires that stretches to the ceiling in most offices, it’s a statistics bureau. Not a whole lot super exciting going on there. Then I went up to Tanga for a training. And while Tanga got plenty of CNN play for being close enough to Mombasa, Kenya to appear on the inset map during all those Somali pirate shenanigans, not much going on *in* Tanga. The most exciting part (for lots of different players in fact) was me learning to drive on the other side and not kill the large numbers of pedestrians, donkey carts, children, bicycles, chickens, etc that share the narrow roads. This was only permitted by my colleague during moments of dire necessity.

I did spend a week doing field visits, while is always interesting. (And alls I have to say to Peace Corps Tanzania is buck up – you have palm trees!) As I spent most of the day during this time listening to people conduct interviews in Swahili (and having the general utility of a lawn gnome), I passed the time making faces at the children. And oh boy am I funny looking. I have included a few pictures of some of the better reactions…

Things are looking up for me now though. I am doing field visits in Zanzibar this week. And anywhere that involves white sand beaches, fresh fish, and the ubiquitous culinary use of coconut milk, is going to be a-okay in my book.

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