Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012 - Settling in Update

We have all been here in Dar together for 2 1/2 months now and Kristoffer was here for a month before we joined him.  I think we've done a pretty good job on getting settled and each week we make more progress. Some updates:
  • We got our Tanzanian driving licenses on Friday.  That was a really good experience, actually.  The place was like a modern DMV in America.  Maybe even better, because as "diplomats" we were sort of fast-tracked because our paperwork had already been approved by the World Bank. They did regular biometrics and everything.  And the license is an actual plastic card.  This is compared to our Kenyan driving licenses which were little cardboard books, hand written and stamped.  Tanzania is definitely ahead of Kenya in that regard. 
  • We got our diplomatic license plates.  The day after our encounter with the police, of course.  And, I should note, that Kristoffer read my blog and couldn't believe it.  He said he was never worried the way I was and thought the police were nice.  We have different perceptions, for sure!  But maybe now that we have blue plates we won't have to deal with the cops again (assuming, we don't break the law again I guess).
  • We finally picked out curtains for our house (we're still using sheets to cover our windows).  The bad news is that we can't figure out how to buy them because the place doesn't take credit card or wire transfer.  CASH ONLY.  And we don't have access to large amounts of cash here because...
  • Banking in East Africa is decades behind the rest of the world (or at least feels that way).  We've been trying to get a Tanzanian bank account established for months.  We still don't have ATM cards, a check book or information on how to directly deposit some of Kristoffer's pay check.  Argh.  We are using our Danish bank account to withdraw cash from ATMs here every week.  To pay for everything.  It is really annoying.
And the really big news...
  • Our boat is here!  We can actually see the ship that is carrying our stuff from America.  All of our wedding gifts from almost 5 years ago! One year of diapers and wipes and laundry detergent and  shampoo and toothpaste and toilet bowl cleaner and sunblock etc!  Grace's bike and helmet!  Toys from Christmas and birthdays!  Books!  Of course, our ship is currently the last in a very long queue of ships waiting to get into port.  That will take another 2-4 weeks :(  And then it has to unload.  And then it has to clear customs.  And then it has to get delivered to us.  But THEN all of our stuff will be here.  In our house.  With us.  It will be Christmas in July!  (well, hopefully June...but that might be stretching it).  I actually dream about it.  The unpacking will know...unpacking...but we are so excited for our stuff to get here.  
I am hoping that by the end of July, we really feel done with "moving in".  Another sign of progress is that yesterday for the first time Grace told me, "Mama, I don't miss my old house anymore.  It is nice to be at our new house."  Even though I still miss our old house a little bit, it made me really happy to hear that she is feeling so good about being here.


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