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Freedom is a bicycle

Posted by on May 30, 2011

Friday was a rollercoaster of a day. Tanya wanted to sleep in a bit after all of her travels, so we had Masoud pick us up at 8 to go to ZMCP. We made the round of introductions then got down to business of planning the next few weeks. Since next week the company cars will be in use, we decided to work on the weekend to get some of our malaria cases mapped. We consulted with Makame, who had done some mapping with Stacy a few weeks ago. The previous few days he had insisted that we write a proposal for the mapping project even though Stacy said she had written the proposal and it had been approved. So we wrote something up and found the budget Stacy had come up with and submitted it to “Mr. Manager” for approval. Unfortunately, it was Friday afternoon by that time and all of the men had gone to the mosque for prayers. So we waited for a few hours until they came back. We picked out two shehias nearby to work in on Saturday and Sunday. The proposal was approved and we thought we were ready to leave at 4:30 when Makame told us we needed to submit the budget to the accountant. Okay.

During this time, we lost power and internet in the office. My computer had run out of battery power and I had no way to charge it. Then the accountant said that we filled out the budget incorrectly and needed to reprint it. We spent half an hour finding a place to plug in my computer, change two numbers on a form and reprint it. Then the accountant told us we needed to tell him how much fuel we would need for the fuel voucher. We had no idea how far we had to drive, so how could we determine how much fuel we would need?? Another half hour later, we got that worked out.

Then he told us we needed to write a voucher to get a cash advance to pay the people who would be helping us with the mapping. Another 20 spent trying to print another form. All this time, Tanya and I were wondering why Makame didn’t tell us all of this earlier since he had done this before. So frustrating! We were both ready to strangle him. It was 5 pm on Friday; I was already missing the yoga class I wanted to go to and we hadn’t run any of the errands we wanted to.
Finally, we got everything sorted for the weekend and got our driver to pick us up. We had been feeling trapped by needing a taxi to go anywhere, so we really wanted to buy bicycles. We had Masoud take us to a bike shop. After test riding a few of the one speed beach cruising bikes that they had available, we haggled over prices and finally spend 80,000 Tsh each on a bike (that’s about $53). By that time it was getting a bit dark, but we really didn’t want to spend any more money on taxis so we rode our bikes home for the first time.

What freedom! We can come and go as we please without calling in advance and waiting around. It’s amazing. We both brought our helmets so we are safe; we are definitely the only people on the island wearing helmets. I can’t wait to get out there and ride!

On our way home, we ran into Paulo, who told us power was out all across the island. We had planned to make spaghetti and veggies in a tomato sauce for dinner and had all the things ready, but without power we couldn’t cook. We ended up having peanut butter and crackers since that was the only thing we had that didn’t need cooking.

Around 9 pm Paulo called to say he was going out to meet up with some friends in town at a bar that had a generator. Since he lives nearby, he offered us a ride if we wanted to come. That sounded more appealing than playing cards in the dark like we had been, so we headed out.

We went to a bar called Livingstone’s, which is right on the water and near Mercury’s. Amazingly, it is even more expensive! I ordered a Savannah’s (hard cider) because the cocktails are too expensive, but ended up with mango juice when they were out. The juice is really good here! We heard the food wasn’t that good and is very expensive so we didn’t order anything, which was probably a mistake because our dinner of peanut butter wasn’t really sufficient to tide us over until breakfast. Paulo said he just wanted to stay for an hour and didn’t want to be out too late, which sounded good until we were there past 11:30, and were tired and hungry. Finally, we made it home, where the power was restored and we both immediately went to bed.

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