In the Neighborhood
While Matt is off at work, I am busy…well…I can’t really say I’m busy, but I am hanging out at home and learning about the neighborhood on foot [car to arrive soon]. It is generally safe to walk around during the day, so long as you do not carry a purse or anything shiny. Crime is frequent here, but it is rarely violent, so the rule of thumb is to carry nothing or to appear as if you are carrying nothing. I carry a digital camera and try to take pictures without people noticing that I have a $300 piece of equipment loosely strung around my wrist.
Let’s start at the gate of our house. During the week, we have four guards that rotate between day, night, and weekend shifts. My favorite is the polite, young weekend guard who looks like he is about 12 years old. We are also fond of Daniel, but he gets sleepy a lot. I sure hope no one is about to break in:
Our first trip outside the gates was to the produce stand just around the corner. We purchased a cucumber, 2 passion fruits (which I’m not sure what to do with) and a bag of apples. The cost was $12,000 Tanzanian Shillings which is roughly $8-9.
Seeing that we got more than a little ripped off, I decided to bring a friend who is familiar with produce shopping. She gave the attendant a proper Tanzanian greeting. She also allowed him to follow her around with a bag and pick out the most appropriate produce, depending on when she planned to eat it. And of course, she tipped the man for his service. I followed her lead and purchased 2 small cauliflower heads, a mango, 8 small potatoes, a carrot, 3 tomatoes, an onion, and a passion fruit (which I still don’t know what to do with) for the cost of $3,000 TSH ($2 USD). I think this means we’ve figured out the system.
If I am not at home or at the fruit stand, I am probably at the Slipway Club. “Club” in this case means shopping center, but before you think American strip mall, think smaller scale shops oriented around a plaza and the Bay. I often take Rutledge for a walk down the slipway because it is relatively safe and also quite beautiful.
It took me about 5 minutes outside the gates with Rutledge to learn that Tanzanians do not like dogs. A comfortable distance between dog and passerby is much larger here than in the US. It does not help that Rutledge sometimes enjoys lunging at strangers. The Swahili word for “sorry” escaped me this morning when he sent an elderly man on his bike into a tailspin (the man skillfully recovered and did not look back). And this is why I don’t mind carrying my $300 digital camera.