Moshi is a small city of about 145,000 people, located at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We are living in a house in what is known as the “Doctor’s Compound,” which is about a 15 minute walk from KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center), the hospital Steve is doing his project through. In fact, if you’re curious, I’m pretty sure you can actually look up the Doctor’s Compound on Google Maps. Just type doctor’s compound moshi tanzania into google. KCMC is then another 5 or 10 minute, very crowded, “Daladala” ride from the center of Moshi. (Daladala is the name for the public transport vans used in this area).
The house we live in is leased by Duke for their medical students and residents, so it is furnished and kept up fairly well.
The yard is beautiful, and on clear days, we can see the top of Kilimanjaro from our front porch and living room window.
When we were in Nairobi, we bought a relatively expensive camping filter for our drinking water. Much to our dismay, we discovered a hole in the filter bag only after we were in Moshi and had poured water in it to begin filtering. It was the kind of hole that the water didn’t just seep out of – it spurted out. In a steady stream. Ah…
Thankfully, we ultimately prevailed. A former resident of this house had left behind some unused self-adhesive bicycle patches. One was immediately put to good use and I can happily say that our water filter bag no longer leaks. I am thanking God for this very specific provision!
Our first week here was riddled with these kinds of small ‘adjustments’. One of the ways in which I felt most disoriented was with the currency and the cost of things. Most shops, except a few of the larger stores (which, no doubt, cater to foreigners) have no pice tags on anything, anywhere. I’m pretty sure it’s because prices are flexible, depending on who is buying. If you look wealthy (or ignorant), then the price will be higher.
So you either have to ask the store owner for the price of an item every few minutes, or just wait until you check out and watch the cashier tally up your total on a calculator, hoping you’ve brought enough money. Couple that with the fact that the exchange rate is 1500 Tanzanian Shillings (Tsh) to the Dollar, and you can see why I walked around for the first week feeling like I was being ripped off by everyone.
But this brings me to a question I’ve now been mulling over in my mind. A question that reveals a difference between African and Western economic mindsets. If I have more money to spare than the majority of local shoppers, shouldn’t I be OK with paying a little more? Why am I so intent on always getting the best deal (the American way, of course), when, really, I can afford to pay a slightly higher price?
And, as you think about that, a few more photos to enjoy.