Saturday, January 22, 2011


There are many great things about living in Dar. And there are many not-so great things. Life is full of lessons, and living here gives you daily lessons in patience. I know everyone with small kids say they get daily lessons in patience, I know Ethan is always challenging me, but the Dar lessons are much different, and perhaps even more challenging.

Dar offers it's first lesson with banking. You go to the bank, and the system is down. So the teller asks if you have enough money in your account before letting you withdraw any money. And since the system is down, you can't get your balance. Breathe.

But really, you got your money, so where was the lesson in patience? Ah, Dar has that sorted. The next time in, the systems are down, yet again, but this time they cannot do any transactions. Yes the bank is open, but you cannot deposit or withdraw any money. If you really need to get some cash, please go to the other branch in Mikocheni. Hey, if I wanted to drive out there, I would have opened an account with the bank there, that doesn't charge insane fees. I chose this bank because it is 5 minutes from home. Deep breath. Patience.

Tanesco, the power company, has decided to join the lesson. They are now rationing power. The power goes off at all hours of the day, and lasts for hours. We have a generator, so it's not too bad. However, the generator is not automatic, so we have to wait for one of the guards to realise it's out, make his way there, and turn it on. But we do have a generator, so our lesson is minimal.

However, when the power's out, we have no water. So we do get a lovely lesson in patience, when you're in the shower, all soaped up, and the power goes. You now stand in a shower, all soapy, for about 10 minutes before the generator kicks in and the water's back. Patience.

Our generator seems to be connected through our Luku (electricity) box. This means, when Tanesco cuts off our power, we're still paying them for service they are not rendering as the generator is running through the box. Can someone explain to me why I'm paying for Luku when there's no power? No one has been able to. Patience.

There is no management company on our compound. This means, when there's a rationing of power and the generator runs out of fuel, it takes a few hours before fuel is bought and the generator is back on. So if you're baking cupcakes and the fuel runs out, there goes the cupcakes. Breathe.

The petrol station is also in on the lessons. You go to fill up your car with petrol. They tell you they are out of fuel. Pole sana (sorry). Come back again.

So you go back. This time the power's out and they don't have a generator, so the pumps don't work, so you can't get any fuel. Breathe.

The best has to be when the power's out at night, and the generator is out of fuel. It's night, and Ethan's afraid of the dark. He wakes up and is terrified. He wants to go for a drive. But you're out of fuel and the petrol station can't sell you any, so now you've got a 4.5 year old freaking out at 11pm on a school night. Deep breath!

Even the police are in on the lesson. They offer daily lessons. We have traffic lights here. And they work, usually. And yet the traffic police have decided to direct traffic instead of letting the lights do their job. Instead of waiting at at red light for a couple of minutes waiting for it to turn green, you are now waiting up to 15 minutes, at times, while the police officer lets the traffic move one way. By the time they let you go, the traffic is so backed up, you can only move a few centimetres. Deep breathe.

So yes, I am an Expat. I have a housekeeper, nanny and driver. I buy a pineapple in the morning, and in the afternoon it's cut in pieces. I buy carrots, and they get peeled and chopped for me. Some think I'm spoilt. I like to think of it as reward for passing my lesson in patience.