How To Mail a Package in Tanzania

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.

Liz dubbed this the "Bob Marley Bird" because of the colors.  Shot in our backyard.  It's a humming bird.

Liz dubbed this the “Bob Marley Bird” because of the colors. Shot in our backyard. It’s a humming bird.

How To Mail a Package in Tanzania

  1. Pack for two nights. This is gonna take a while.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Get real snug with the other 17 people on the Noah. I was lucky, this one wasn’t crowded. No chickens.

    Chickens just roam free here, just like everything else.

    Chickens just roam free here, just like everything else – including the kids.  We just toss organic garbage out the back door and between the chickens, dogs, pigs, goats and cows it’s gone by morning.

  6. 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.
  7. Pull over to side of road while the driver gets out, pees, and takes multiple pics of the van (really ???).
  8. Break down and get transferred to a daladala (small bus). Wait.

    Checkechea kids playing witch doctor.  Maybe they caused the breakdown?

    Rose (left) and Prince, two of our Checkechea (kindergarten) kids playing witch doctor on our back porch classroom. Maybe they caused the breakdown?

  9. 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.
  10. Arrive in Morogoro 5 hours after you left Berega for a 2 hour trip.  TIA.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Yea…..right. Silly mzungu.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. FINE!

    That bundle of firewood weighs about 60 lbs - and they women do this every day so they can cook.

    That bundle of firewood weighs about 60 lbs – and the women do this every day so they can cook.

  1. Walk to stationary store where Okanda makes sure I don’t get charged the wazungu price. Thanks Okanda!
  2. 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!
  3. Hustle to the Posta before it closes. BTW, all this walking and running around is being done in 92o heat and humidity. Grrrrrr!
  4. Get the damn thing weighed, the TRA form affixed and postage paid. Home free!
  5. WRONG

    Some of our boarding girls stopping by for an after school visit.  Left to right:

    Some of our boarding girls stopping by for an after school visit. They’re eating unripe mangos with salt.  Yuck!  Left to right: Elizabeth, Joyce, Suzan, Neema and Winner.

  6. Write “fragile” on the box because I’ve seen how packages are handled in Africa.
  7. Spend the next 15 minutes recalculating the postage because now it’s in a whole other category and one must pay more.
  8. Cross out the “fragile” designation, paste on a fake smile and carry on.

    Yes…her name really is Winner.  We also have a kid named Goodluck.

    Yes…her name really is Winner and she really is this pretty.  She’s got a nice little sassy attitude to go along with it.  She’s going to be a handful, but I like her. (BTW, We also have a kid named Goodluck.)

  9. Figure out what phone numbers to add to both the “To” and “From” address. WTH???
  10. Postal lady asks for Tsh 200 more shillings for no good reason other than I’m mzungu. I gave her Tsh100.

    Told you we had pigs.  Also shot from the back porch.

    Told you we had pigs. Also shot from the back porch.

  11. PACKAGE MAILED! 
    Emma is our little genius - plus she's so dang cute!

    Emma is our little Checkechea genius – plus she’s so dang cute!  Again, this is our back porch classroom.

    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.

The doves are pretty here.  I get a lot of great shots just sitting on my butt on the back porch!

I’ll call this our Peace Dove.  The doves are pretty here. I get a lot of great shots just sitting on my butt on the back porch!

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14 thoughts on “How To Mail a Package in Tanzania

  1. SarahAnnSmith

    I kept nodding yep, yep, yep. One of the greatest “bennies” in the Foreign Service was getting mail via Diplomatic Pouch. Took about 4-5 months round trip (this was before the internet, so EVERYTHING was done snail mail) from sending a letter to receiving a reply, but at least stuff GOT there and back. And we didn’t have limits on how many magazine subscriptions (like diplomats from other countries did in some cases) or packages. Gotta love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. mytthumbs Post author

      Ahhh…..you know the life! I look back on our SD days and marvel at what each of us is doing or have already done. You in the Foreign Service, Lisa with her coaching business…and look at Hoonae! I really think we are where we are because of that school. Well, at least it was greatly influential to me.

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      Reply
  2. The princess stone

    Golden Coincidence. I like that A LOT! I may have to use it.
    Hmmmm…who could this box be going to??
    I’ve heard that Africans name their children successful names so they will literally live up to them.
    Love the pictures. They are amazing!!
    Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Ellen Hahn

    Marianne, you are unbelievably amazing…am following your blogs with great excitement and impatience to hear what is next. You are an inspiration. I miss you lots and wish you continued wellness and courage with your beautiful children.
    Ellie Hahn

    Like

    Reply
    1. mytthumbs Post author

      Thank you, Ellie. It’s nice to know someone is enjoying my blog! Tanzania is a place that just gets inside you. There’s so much need here, but, it it’s way, it also gives back. I’m loving it!

      Like

      Reply

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