7 July 2009
Today is Saba Saba, the seventh day of the seventh month – a national holiday. I’ve heard different stories about its origin: that It began as a market day, when all the farmers would bring their harvest to the city; or that it celebrates the founding of the TANU party (Tanganyika African National Union). But now there’s a huge national exposition at some kind of conference and exposition center on the way to the airport. So offices and shops are closed.
Nonetheless we are having a meeting at KPMG because the day worked for GS, who is coming back from a trip to Mbola with Klaus Leisinger and the CEO of Novartis. I’m glad we’re not waiting any longer – because I’m anxious to get going on this project.
Funny how fast perspective changes. When I first came to Dar, my hotel, the Palm Beach, seemed so shabby for $100 a night. Yes it has cockroaches, which creep me out completely. And yes, the restaurant is outside (except for breakfast) so at dinner you get eaten alive by sand flies and mosquitos. But the staff is wonderful – really hard working, nice people. Tomorrow I am coaching one of the supervisors here (one of the other guests more or less volunteered me), so that he can achieve his dream to own his own restaurant and hotel someday.
And the other guests are all interesting. A crew filming a feature-length documentary on a floating hospital that’s just being planned on Lake Tanganyika; a crew mostly from Stanford, working on a water engineering and sanitation project (the professor, who just got tenure this year at Stanford, is also a runner and I’m introducing her to people at EI because she is looking for partners for the project and I think she could learn a lot from the MV approach and might have something to offer as well); a woman I met this morning, Kate Ramsey, from Mailman, who is working on a maternal health project and said she would pass along the job description to help me find candidates for the project manager role; and a kind of dotty older woman from the UK who grew up here, moved back to the UK, became a senior government official in education and started a charity to get books to schools and libraries here.
So it’s really beginning to be fun. The sun is very strong so it’s hard to run unless you get up way earlier than I’ve been getting up so far. But I’ll get there eventually. Today I went at 10 am and only made half my quota before I was so hot and dehydrated I headed back to the hotel.