The Safest Form of Birth Control?

I’m traveling to Ivory Coast soon which requires a visa which you have to fill out on-line. I chuckled when faced with this drop down to describe my “Situation.”

Remember - you can only pick one.

Remember – you can only pick one.

(And no, I did not select celibate.)

I also had to chuckle at a typical circular logic moment in the process. To apply for the visa, you need to upload a copy of your flight itinerary. But to book your flight, South African Airways require you to show proof that you have a visa.

It is solved the same way so many things are here — pretending not to notice. The airline gives you a confirmation (not truly a booking) which you upload. Then after you get the visa, you can go back to the airline and actually complete the ticket purchase. It makes no logical sense but as long as it works I guess people just keep doing it.

When I first moved here, this kind of thing would have really incensed me. Almost four years later, you just kind of smile and move past it.

Still Zany After All These Years

Yesterday marked three years in Tanzany.

Worried that I’m beginning to lose my eye for the craziness around me. Routinely make pedestrians jump out of the way when I drive on the side of the road on the way to school in the morning. Dinner table conversation doesn’t even stop when the power goes out and the house is pitch black. Handling large quantities of cash no longer disturbs me. In fact, just by eyeballing it I can usually pull exactly TZS 100,000 (about $60) out of stack of bills.

In the past week, I actually had a serious debate with a friend about whether a three-day sailing trip up the coast, over to Zanzibar and back really constituted a sufficiently exotic experience to justify using holiday time for it.

I no longer find the Indian Ocean freakishly warm. Rather, the Pacific Ocean seems intolerably cold. How do people surf in that? I mean even with a wet suit…

As we pass three years, we’re not sure how much longer we will be here. The COPOTUS is about to leave the party in June. We would like to stay for another year, but will need to find some different work arrangements to make that possible because this place is expensive!

So, not sure how much longer this blog will go on, either because we leave or because the zaniness begins to seem normal. But as long as I keep noticing stuff like this, I’ll keep posting it.

Christmas Tree, The Fairway Hotel, Kampla Uganda

Christmas Tree, The Fairway Hotel, Kampla Uganda

The L World

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

So something I’ve been expecting for nearly three years finally happened to me for the first time last week. I was ordering take out food for delivery from a restaurant, and the waiter asked for my name.

Me:  My name is “Brent.”

Waiter: “Blent?”

Me: No. “BRRRent”

Waiter: “BLLLent?”

Me: No. “B. R. E. N. T.”

Waiter: Oh. “Brrenti”

Me: Sure.

Like the stereotype of some Asian countries, people in Tanzany often confuse L with R. Apparently this is the case elsewhere in the region as well, as you can see from the photo of a “Daily” in Rwanda. That’s right, a Daily. You know: a place where they milk cows.

I don’t entirely understand why this is the case as people do use both sounds and have no problems using L in other contexts. It’s not that they can’t pronounce “R”, the way that, say, I can’t roll my “r”s in Spanish. It’s just that in some words they just want to use an L instead.

Anyway, it adds to a lot of confusion when it comes to names. One woman filled out application form that I reviewed, with the name “Laula.” She wrote that several different places on the form. The name on her drivers license? “Laura”

And another good friend of mine here gets called “GunnaL” so often that I’ve take to calling him that too.

When I lived in Mexico, people didn’t really get my name their either so I learned not to get too worked up about it. My favorite experience in Tanzany, has been the security guards at the gate to the Gymkhana Golf Course. (Which all by itself is a rich topic for a future post.) For these guys, “Brent” is a real mind-bender of a name. So one day, I decided to give them something easier.

Gaurd: Name please?

Me: Brrr.. er … Mark

Guard: Mork?

Me: No, Mark


Me: Sure.

To this day, I am still Mr. Mork to them. And that’s ok. Cause sometime soon I’m planning to drive our Toyota Plado down to Gymkhana to play a round of golf with my significant other.

You know. Mindy.

Mork & Mindy

Nanu nanu!

Bordering on Zany

I started a new job in 2013 and have taken a few business trips around East Africa as a result.

One thing that I have discovered, is that while Tanzany is truly unique in some things, others appear more widespread. So I am starting a new “Bordering on Zany” series for things around the region that share in the spirit of Tanzany.

I thought I would kick this off with this firm from Kampala, Uganda which for some reason seems to be having some trouble penetrating the New York City market.

Shumuk Group of Companies, Kampala, Uganda

Shumuk Group of Companies, Kampala, Uganda

Link: Watch Out for the Zimbabwean Sperm Hunters


Link: Watch Out for the Zimbabwean Sperm Hunters