the embassy

[written 9pm Monday March 10th]

the US embassy in tanzania was bombed in 1998 by friends of osama bin laden. catherine, my database partner, was in dar at usaid when it happened. as a result, a new embassy, also housing usaid, was completed in january 2003.

we arrived in the morning by taxi to a forbidding and massive complex, with many layers of military installation-like security: high chainlink fences, a surrounding parking lot, a very thick and high cement barrier wall, a wide grassy margin, and a very large and severe-looking modern embassy building.

(that afternoon someone was bringing some tanzanians through the usaid offices, showing off the security and technology and said that this is “the most sophisticated building in tanzania!”–we chuckled–she then proceeded to show off the motion-sensitive lights in one of the conference rooms.)

in any case, we made it through security: bags scanned, pockets emptied, metals detectored, names written in log book, cameras taken away, “escort-required” vistor badges given out, and health office called for an escort.

that’s it. if you make it that far, you’re practically home free. then work happens.

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