Various Internet and electricity issues have made it difficult to post. TIA (This Is Africa). I have a couple of other posts I need to edit a bit before I publish them, but here’s some helpful hints if you ever find yourself in Tanzania and want to mail something back home. Plus I threw in a few random, unrelated pics – just because I can and they’re cool.
How To Mail a Package in Tanzania
- Pack for two nights. This is gonna take a while.
- Offer a pikipiki taxi (motorcycle taxi) driver Tsh 2000 (about $0.95) to get to Kiyegea so you can catch a Noah (minivan) to Morogoro. Tsh stands for Tanzania shillings. All drivers refuse because they want the wazungu price and think I have no choice but to pay.
- Huh – I got feet. I have no problem with an hour and a half walk. My standard 4 students all gasp in astonishment. Except Emmanuel. He knows I can now walk however far I need or want to because we walked all the way to Ifunde a few weeks ago – but that’s another post.
- Having called their bluff, I get picked up 10 minutes later by a pikipiki driver that isn’t about to give up an easy Tsh2000. Twenty minutes later I’m on a Noah.
- Get real snug with the other 17 people on the Noah. I was lucky, this one wasn’t crowded. No chickens.
- Spend the next hour getting jabbed in the leg by the club and machete-size knife strapped to the waist of the giant Maasai sitting next to you.
- Pull over to side of road while the driver gets out, pees, and takes multiple pics of the van (really ???).
- Break down and get transferred to a daladala (small bus). Wait.
- Spend the next 3 hours having an amazing conversation with Okanda, the young man next to me on the daladala. He told me about his work to improve conditions for children in remote Tanzanian villages. He was educated in Kenya, so his English was near flawless.
- Arrive in Morogoro 5 hours after you left Berega for a 2 hour trip. TIA.
- Meet up with Okanda’s friend John. The two helped me find my way to Ricky’s Café where we enjoy the best iced-coffee with Ol’ English Toffee ice cream.
- Okanda and John agree to help me get this package mailed. It’s 2 pm. Posta closes at 4 and is only a block away. Hamna shida.
- Yea…..right. Silly mzungu.
- Walk to the Posta. The lady behind the desk informs you that you have to first go to the Tanzania Revenue Authority to fill out forms. Assures us they have packaging materials.
- Walk to the the TRA. Wait 10 -15 minutes while th girl finishes her call to her friend. She’s not in a hurry. Finally she tells you that you need to find a stationary store to purchase the packing material, then return to the TRA so she can watch you pack it.
- Walk to stationary store where Okanda makes sure I don’t get charged the wazungu price. Thanks Okanda!
- Walk back to the TRA where it takes about 45 minutes to box the goods, fill out the form and have the TRA girl give it the official stamp. Why does it take so long? I’m guessing it’s because the *$&^%#! battery on her damn cell phone hasn’t run down yet!
- Hustle to the Posta before it closes. BTW, all this walking and running around is being done in 92o heat and humidity. Grrrrrr!
- Get the damn thing weighed, the TRA form affixed and postage paid. Home free!
- Write “fragile” on the box because I’ve seen how packages are handled in Africa.
- Spend the next 15 minutes recalculating the postage because now it’s in a whole other category and one must pay more.
- Cross out the “fragile” designation, paste on a fake smile and carry on.
- Figure out what phone numbers to add to both the “To” and “From” address. WTH???
- Postal lady asks for Tsh 200 more shillings for no good reason other than I’m mzungu. I gave her Tsh100.
- PACKAGE MAILED!
All in all I’m thankful because, by TZ standards things ran rather smoothly. But most of all because I met Okanda and John. Okanda called it a Golden Coincidence. I like that. We are keeping in touch because our two organizations might be able to help each other out. Mostly, though, our conversation at Ricky’s was a merging of cultural exchange, ideas, wisdom and understanding. Those are the very foundations of peace.