Thursday, November 29, 2012

Safari Pictures

I've been home sick today, which sucks. But it gave me the opportunity to finally upload some more pictures from our trip to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. Here's a quick sampling:

This is me getting up in the morning.

We saw tons of baby elephants.

Chris was pretty excited to visit Olduvai Gorge and hold this rock, which was used as one of the first human tools over 1.5 million years ago.

That's right. We saw some hot lion action.

The wildebeest migration was amazing! They were thousands of them dotting the landscape for as far as you could see.

It was so great to share this experience with my hubby and parents. It was fun to relax each night after a long, dusty day and have some cocktails. 

Click here to see all the pictures that I uploaded onto Flickr. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Typical Days in TZ

Went to language school this morning at 9:00 for our hour tutoring session. Waited 1/2 hour for the teacher to show up. She had had a crazy morning and forgot we had a session today so we just decided to reschedule. That's understandable, I guess since we've been off for 2 weeks.

Next, go to the ATM. First ATM not working. Wait in line for the second one and for whatever reason it's only giving out 1/2 of the normal maximum withdrawal allowance*. I didn't feel like going to another ATM so I take out the smaller amount, which it gives me in 5's instead of 10's. Hey, at least I'll have change when I need it.

From there I go to the Post Office. Oooh, I have a package! But I have to go to the main post office to pick it up, which is a pain but not unusual. I drive down there. It takes about 5 minutes for me to flag down a person to go to the back to get my box. After being gone a few minutes, the guy comes back out and tells me the woman who gives out the boxes isn't there right now. Can I wait 10 minutes? I tell him I'm already late for work but that I can wait 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I will leave (I wanted to be clear with him because 10 minutes can often mean 20 minutes here). Exactly 10 minutes passes and much to my astonishment, the woman actually arrives. She goes to the back, brings out my box and gets on her cell. I know this is a bad sign. Turns out I have to pay a customs fee** but the guy who collects that fee isn't here. Can I wait 20 minutes or do I want to come back tomorrow? The problem with coming back tomorrow is that I could have to wait at that point as well. So, I opt to wait today since I'm already there. I explain again that I will wait but I don't want to wait too long because I'm late for work and I work far away. The woman is very nice and understanding and while I sit and wait she incessantly calls the guy's phone, all the while making clucking sounds (I guess sympathizing with me). I wait 25 minutes, meanwhile another westerner come in and gets his package no problem. I go back up and ask why he could get his package but I can't. She explains that because there's a declared value on the customs form, I have to pay a fee. Can't I pay you, I ask her. No, she says, you have to pay the customs agent. Is he coming, I ask. Yes, he says he's on his way. We chat another minute or two about how hard it is to wait when you have to go somewhere. Finally, she calls him one more time, gets off the phone and says I can just pay her as long as I don't need a receipt.*** I say it doesn't matter to me, pay her, get my box and I'm on my way. (1 hour total in post office.)

While I'd been waiting in the PO, I texted my boss to say that I was going to be later than normal. By the time I get out, I've gotten a text from him that says he's the only one in the office today and he's leaving for a meeting, so I might as well just go home and he'll see me tomorrow.

I guess I could say I accomplished something today since I did, in fact get money and my mail. But somehow it just feels like a total waste of a day.

*This is a cash economy, so we go to the ATM a few times a month to get out the maximum amount with which we pay all of our bills.

**The lesson of this is if you declare a value on the outside of the box, we have to pay a fee of approximately 45% of the declared value!

***I would've thought she was bribing me except that she used the correct calculation and she put the money into the receipt book, which I'm assuming she'll store for later until the customs agent comes back. I may be naive on this assumption, but usually people are a little more obvious about wanting a bribe and they put it in their pocket so I'm hopefully on that one.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

At the airport. It broke my heart to say goodbye.

My parents have come and gone and now my vacation's over. I'm not sure which was harder--saying goodbye to them when I left America almost a year ago or saying goodbye to them as they left Mwanza. It sucked both times, but this time I don't have the excitement of an impending adventure. Now it's just back to the new normal, which is hard even on a good day.

So I'll probably be a little mopey for the next few days. But I keep telling myself how awesome 2013 will be. First of all, it'll be way easier than this year * because we're already here and we're settled. That in itself was just terribly hard. Also, we have a ton of exciting events planned. We'll have 2  new missioners arriving in January. In June we'll be going to France for a wedding of one of Chris's oldest friends (and his sister and bro-in-law will join us). In July my other set of parents are coming to visit. In August I'm leading a group of American tourists on a visit to Tanzania. And around this time next year we're planning a visit to the States**. Plus I'm hoping to take more excursions around Tanzania.

So hopefully this trip with my parents was just the start of the fun stuff! Here's hoping.

*It has to be, right?
**This is very tentative and nothing has been set in stone yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner

Both Clive and Chris are satisfied with dinner.

Thanksgiving Festivities

Just sat watching Dark Shadows, drinking sangria and eating popcorn. Headed in a little while to share thanksgiving with the MKLM community this evening. Pretty nice holiday, I'd say.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Clive Oven wishes everyone in the States and beyond a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Pictures

Everyone was so warn out and took naps this afternoon so I had time to upload some pictures on Flickr. Click on the picture to go to the photo gallery.

Outside Kivulini's office

Picture from Family Visit

I have a confession to make: I've been posting more on Facebook over the past 2 weeks than I have on my blog. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't do that, but I just got an Iphone (THANKS, FAMILY!) and right now it's just easier to press a few buttons and a picture can go right up onto Facebook. Just like that.

But I don't want to ignore my blog, so here are some of the shots that I've been posting.

Mom's super happy with her bead haul
Mom bought some beads in town. She was really excited at how cheap they were!

Let sleeping lions lay
One group of lions out of the many groups we saw during our Serengeti trip last week. More picts of that to come!

We do the same thing in TZ that we do in US.
Downtime here is much like downtime in America for us computer-people.

When the light go out, you play game
We've had a lot of power and water outages this week. Mom and Jim have had many opportunities to experience the real ups and down of TZ life.

jim, gem and cert
Jim bought tanzanite today. It even came with its own certificate of authenticity.

jim and gem
Can you tell he's just a little excited.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ready for Visitors!

We've cleaned the house, finished the backyard, bought beer and wine and made a bunch of food. I think we're ready for our first visitors! My parents arrive tomorrow (narrowly escaping the snow) and we couldn't be more happy. We'll have a much-needed vacation into the Serengeti for a few days and will just enjoy catching up with family.

Who will be the next to come?? Maybe this guy will come back?

An unexpected guest. A hedgehog!

Smokey would like that.

 Smokey chilling in the yard

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Scene from Our Backyard this AM

View over our backyard, Nov 2012

Today's election day in the States. Get out there and participate in your democratic privilege.