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More market adventures

Posted by on June 2, 2011

When we were riding to work on Tuesday morning the ground was a bit wet from the rain during the night. At one point a car ahead of us stopped very suddenly and the motorcycle behind it, carrying two young guys with no helmets, couldn’t stop in time and they laid down the bike. It was very scary to watch since the car behind the bike also had to screech to a halt and I was sure those guys would be run over. But all was alright: the guys jumped up incredibly quickly, picked up the bike and wheeled it to the median and the cars behind started honking because traffic slowed down for 30 seconds. No one asked those guys if they were alright.

Work was not very exciting so I’ll leave out most of the boring details. We got to the office at 7 am for a conference call with San Francisco and spent an hour talking to our advisors. We spent the morning planning our next mapping activities and printing more labels for district supervisors. The number of malaria cases is ramping up. One area had 0 cases in the first two weeks of May, then 29 cases in the second half! It is going to get busier keeping up with all of the data.
After work we went into town to the main market to get some things for dinner. This shopping experience was much better than the first. We didn’t have to spend an hour getting bike locks, which helped a lot and we knew exactly what we wanted. We got some more spices and found green beans, peas, cauliflower, dates, coconut milk powder (yes, a powder), and some dried beans. A very successful shopping trip all around.

However, we ran into some troubles on the way home when I got a flat tire on my bike. We hadn’t gotten very far so we walked our bikes back to the market and asked someone where to go. The guy took us to a bike and car place and we waited while the fundi (repairman) found the hole in the tube and fixed it. It cost $7.50 to fix, which was probably way too much, but beggars can’t be choosers and we wanted to get home before dark.

I should mention a few things about riding around here. First, it’s sort of scary. Cars and especially the dalla dallas (the minibuses that the locals take) don’t signal in the same way as in the US and can pull over at any moment. They also get *very* close to you. I wonder how many walkers and bikers get hit by them. No one yields and everyone drives quickly.
There are two traffic lights on the entire island. Both are in Stone Town.

There’s a law that you must wear a seatbelt while in the front seat of a car. There’s no law about the back seat passengers. You also have to wear a helmet if riding a motorbike (a piki piki here). Many people do, but not everyone.
Tanya and I get a lot of people saying Hi to us when we are riding our bikes. This is for several reasons: there are not many white people here at this time of year so we stick out a lot; very few women ride bikes in general; and we are the only two people in Zanzibar who wear bike helmets. Most people just say hi, but I know some of them are making fun of us. I would much rather be safer and look like a fool than to risk an accident.

When we got home we made the most delicious Indian curry for dinner, with all of our fresh vegetables from the market. It was the best meal we’ve made so far and we were both very full and satisfied afterward.

I was really exhausted last night because the pillow I have been using is not good and I wake up in the middle of the night with a neck ache. I switched pillows with one in another room and will try this new one tonight.

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