day the last

[written 1pm Saturday March 15]

the people at the mission only work a half day on fridays, so we were pushing to get everything done before noon. of course that didn’t happen. i had some lingering reports to complete and unexpected bugs to tame. and for the first time, i actually did some one-on-one training with people on how to use the system. just after 2pm i finished everything on my list to do, and by 3pm we left “fortress america”.

bought suntan lotion at the hotel, found out tanzanite goes for $200/carat, and sat by the pool, shirtless, snacking a bit before an evening of “nyama choma” (local tanzanian cuisine), which (you guessed it) essentially comprises meat on a stick (my favorite!).

we had beer, we got to hob nob with vicky chuwa (our contact at usaid) and her sister (who works for a UN organization in Tanzania), as well as a string of various siblings, acquaintances, and colleagues, all locals in some sense, but locals a little better off than your average tanzanian. it was wonderful. catherine left early to catch her plane, and soon the discussion turned to iraq.

i got a mouthful of accusative questions about why america (here i represented “america”) is so headstrong and brain dead. of course my pleading that i am so “on their side” (whatever that means), did not in anyway assuage their grave concern about how this particular war (and our present government in general) might destabilize societies all over the world, making it unsafe for americans to go anywhere.

i don’t watch the news anymore (helps not having a tv), at most i read the headlines of the top news items on Google News. in any case, i think this makes me less brainwashed by the present television news media than most (which, i must say, has created an almost orwellian environment, convincing a great number of americans that we are already at war, that iraq is reponsible for sept 11, that war is an inevitability). but i have some sort of faith or feeling or rational belief that we will not go to war.

but enough of this!

tomorrow i head to the airport around 10pm to catch my flight at midnight, so I’ll have a whole day to get out of the hotel and go into the city to explore and take pictures. i heard that the reason for the heightened security and the advice that americans not go out at night is credible information that americans may be the targets of terrorist attacks in east africa. should make for an interesting day.

looking forward to seeing everyone back in chapel hill.

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