Bit of a lifelog slash linkdump entry this one; long overdue as usual but hey, real quality has no time frame.

First off, what’s keeping me too busy to write emails or update this blog more than once a century? Work. That’s what. Even here in Africa things can heat up and lots has happened / is still happening. We are now no longer a pilot into the setting up of a service center, we are Viafrica Tanzania Limited. There’s pictures of the president and Mwalimu on the wall, there’s financial administration and health insurance, almost feels like a proper job from time to time. From now on, I will be addressed as ‘director’. Just kidding. A very big thank you from us here in Moshi, to all the people that helped us get here! Read the rest of this entry »

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Long overdue update from the aptly named ‘dark continent’. I normally strongly object to this term but it seems, as far as Tanzania is concerned, the future is literally dark. Time for yet another update on the power situation over here…

We’re on our second, or is it third, day of power. Probably cause of Eid El-fitr, the end of Ramadan, but worrying none the less. As you can read in the papers, or nicely collected on Powernell’s Tanzanian Power log, we’re very near doom. The Mtara dam, one of the bigger suppliers of electricity, has shut down already and apart from a day or two of rain, the water is not coming in… Moshi and Arusha apparently run on a different grid, powered by the Pangani dam, but that one might shut down any moment (running at a measly 2MW). There’s conflicting information all day, warnings of complete blackouts being kind of invalidated by whole days of power, rumors of light at the end of the tunnel being followed by days of powercuts. The wisdom of having power days in a row instead of spreading out the remaining watts over some more nights is beyond me, but hey, I don’t make the rules.

Why would a complete blackout be so bad? Security, for one. It’s reassuring every day when around 7 the lights come back on. We’ve got about half an hour of darkness but then the candles can be put away. The outside lights and lights at the gate start working, giving a feeling of security in the dark hours. Then, there’s the no-break we just bought. Twenty dry cell batteries are now giving us eight hours of uninterrupted office power, providing(!) we can charge them at night. Think of the amount of mobile phones that run out of power if they cannot be charged for 48 hours. The internet going down because the ISP’s no-break also runs out of juice. The petrol stations that’ll be out of stock because the demand for generator juice doubles overnight. Water stops flowing because the pumps needed to create pressure stop working. Food rots, fridges are out, the economy? Ah, yes, and what have our schools been doing with their computers? We know ICT can help people forward but you have to be able to switch the things on…

More uplifting updates coming, nice stories and pictures of the first car to get stuck in the mud this season (Jimny!) and an update on some more bush experiences but for now, let’s use the available electricity for some proper work…

Last week I was in town buying some office stuff and after many visits to even more shops, found a new desk to use in our office. On of them nice do-it-yourselves, with a manual translated from Chinese into English by a Taiwanese fourth grader. Put screw A into hole C, somewhere, on the back of shell H. Anyway, had to put it on the roof of Sue, being only a short chassis Land Rover and found my trusty shoulder bag in the way. Never leave that out of sight, thinking ‘you should have known better’ every time I hear a tourist tell of stolen phones or wallets. But then, all I had to do was put one box on the roof, so I put the bag in the car, on the drivers seat, lifted the box up and looked back at my bag exactly 5 seconds later. Except it wasn’t there. Keys, schedule, papers and ofcourse my wallet, with my passport (which I normally NEVER take with me but just needed that day), driving license, ATM cards, lots of money which had just come out of the ATM, you name it, it was gone. Stupid Niels.

Spent a nice morning at the local police office, a nice afternoon calling the world canceling my plastic and surfing the embassy site figuring out how to replace Dutch papers from abroad. A friend told me I should check the post office cause the stuff the thief doesn’t need sometimes ends up there and I thought… Yeah, right!

So what do you know? Few days later I get a message in my postbox telling me to pick up my passport?! And, once there, I find that just about everything with my name on it, passport, driving license, ATM cards, even the address some pretty girl gave me not too long ago, was put in a small envelope and dropped into the post office’s inbox?!

Sure, the money is gone, and so is my favorite bag. But then, stuff gets stolen everywhere in the world. Did you ever hear of thieves with a conscience? Must be a Tanzanian Honour Thing or something. Amazing how life keeps on surprising me…

Ah, and it’s been a while since my last update so more stuff happened, ofcourse. Work is busy, we’ll be running a week long training for our new schools. Football has finished which well pleases my liver. Been on safari when a Dutch friend dropped by about a month ago and got my first close up sighting of rhino’s. Had a brilliant weekend at Tona Lodge, in the Pare mountains, with my old friend The Captain, So much to write and I’ll do it, one day.

For now, just know if you live here long enough the Tanzanian winter (15 degrees!) feels so cold we’re living inside as much as possible, and life is still good…