Friday, August 25, 2006

My love for you has turned to hate.

Yesterday, I had an outpouring of love for Dar es Salaam. It's warmer than Nairobi, the people are a little nicer, everything is a little sleepier and a little less westernized. I went out for beer and nyama choma in an outdoor bar with live music (an ecclectic mix of American and African music) with my local contact in Tanzania and had a lovely time. Sure, I hadn't been able to get my permits that morning because the one man in a 12 story building who can authroize my permits was in a meeting all day, but I let that go. Hakuna Matata! Seize the day! Everything was fine!

This morning I woke up early, breakfasted and got a taxi back to the permit place. It took a mere hour for me to pay for my permits and have them issued. Sure, I had to haggle like crazy for my taxi out there, but the same man who took me back to the city center the previous day was there so I didn't have to haggle at all for my return trip. I still liked Dar es Salaam. There was even a convenient cybercafe to check my email in while I was waiting for my permits to be typed and signed.

My good feelings have evaporated courtesy one (1) trip to the immigration office. It was my understanding that all people who want to do research in Tanzania need to have a residency permit. So I went to immigration. Imagine, if you will, a cage full of monkeys screaming, hooting and hollering whilst jumping around throwing feces at one another. If you have imagined that, you have a good idea of what the immigration office was like. I waited for my turn very patiently briefly, but realized quickly that no one was following the signs that said, "Respect the queue." Therefore, I got out my best Times-Square-In-The-Springtime elbows and pushed myself to the front of the window. I proudly showed the man my passport and research permits and asked for a residency permit.

It was sadly not to be.

Instead, he sent me to the UN House. Now, I've known people who have worked in Tanzanina and none of them had to go to the UN House that I knew of. But I figured; hey! This is the first time I've ever had to get my own permits. On the way to the UN house, everyone and their brother tried to sell me something. "Sister - Jambo! Habari?" they all say. Because I am polite, I give them a quick, "Mzuri" and try not to make eye contact. If this weren't enough, two men asked for my phone number and the second time paced me for several blocks. This all helped to erode the good feelings I had for Tanzania. However, the good feelings evaporated completely when I got to the UN House and realized they all had no idea what I was doing there. Despite their evident cluelessness, I waited thirty minutes for someone who might know something. He eventually showed up and was extraordinarily unhelpful.

At this point, I went back to talk to my local contact and he pronounced that I do not need my residence permit for one day of work. I actually think that this is not true, but I am not going to gainsay him. Instead, I will complete my work in the four hours I have left today (after all, most of the Tanzanian stuff I needed to study and research is actually in Nairobi) and will be sitting in Zanzibar tomorrow.


EDIT: .... aaaaaaand the man who has the key that I need in order to commence with my research has left for the weekend. So, I'm going to Zanzibar and I'll come back and try research again on Wednesday. Screw this.

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