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Friday, June 27, 2014

Roll it back

In the blink of an eye a month has already passed by since I first step foot in Zambia. Time certainly waits for no one. It's been an adventure since day one, and I have no doubt the next month and a half will be equally exciting.

Last Thursday our team camped out at Zamchick, a Zambian based chicken fast food chain. With music blasting from a borrowed speaker, we set out to attract sellers to us. Up until then, our sales captains had primarily gone from seller to seller to give their pitches; but we wanted to do something on a larger scale. We even had our own (unsolicited) dancer in front of the store, swaying his hips every which way. Slowly, the sellers trickled into the restaurant. By the end of our seven-hour camp out, the team managed to acquire a number of sellers equal to how many we had acquired in the first two weeks of June!

Less than 12 hours later, I was on a flight to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, with a connecting flight to Zanzibar. I've never gone through a visa process as chaotic as that at the Dar airport. Rather than relive the experience in words, I'll just say if you go, be prepared to wait around for forty minutes. My flight wasn't scheduled to land early enough for me to catch the ferry to Zanzibar, so I booked a connecting flight over the 23 miles of ocean that separate Zanzibar from the eastern coast of Tanzania (little did I know, we would end up landing 40 minutes early).

Once touched down in Zanzibar, I found my pre-arranged taxi driver (as the public daladalas had stopped running by that time). It was an adrenaline-filled hour ride to the east coast of Zanzibar. The driver put the pedal to the metal as we swerved around the dark roads. With no streetlights, the roads were only visible as far as the headlights shone. Wondering how fast we were going, I glanced over at the speedometer and saw the needle frozen at zero.

With a dramatic history of spices and slaves, Zanzibar has become a destination for anyone looking for white sand beaches lapped by a turquoise ocean. My trip to Zanzibar was primarily for a little R&R at one of Pweza's bungalows, with lunch at the The Rock, a viewing at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), and an excursion to one of the government-owned spice plantations on the outskirts of Stone Town.

The Rock, formerly a fisherman post, sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean about 50 meters from the Michanvi Pingwe beach. With a simple and unassuming interior, The Rock is a nice place to stop by for an afternoon coffee. But that's as much as I would recommend. The Rock's three menus are encased in what felt like five pound picture frames - perhaps this was an attempt to exude sophistication, but it came out more as obnoxious. The food was overpriced, came in small portions, and probably didn't taste any better than what I could have concocted myself. Hence, just go for the coffee - just remember to go during high tide. The high tide does what freshly precipitated snow does for the northeast US, it makes it look a lot prettier than it would otherwise appear.

After a two-hour ride in the daladala on Sunday morning, I ended up in the winding alleyways of Stone Town, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. There, I managed to catch a documentary on the late Burundi prime minister, Prince Louis Rwagasore, at the ZIFF. With not much time to spare before my ferry back to Dar, I found a guide to take me to one of the spice plantations a few minutes' drive from the edges of Stone Town. As the guide took me through the spice farm, he plucked at the many plants, giving me a smell and taste of cloves, ginger, nutmeg, chilies, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and a mixture of other spices. Afterwards, the only thing that stood between me and the ferry was a quick cup of coffee from Msumbi Coffee, a quaint little cafe with a knack for brewing single-origin Arabica coffee.

Then, it was back to hustling in Lusaka to meet with the national postal service, move to a new office, and get a long overdue haircut. We are also partnering with a local fashion blog tomorrow on organizing a Swap Shop, an event where folks can bring 5-10 items and, umm..., swap them for those of others.

What's in store for next week? Who knows - all I know is that the country manager is on vacation for two weeks, leaving me "in charge." That means Kaymu Zambia may not exist in two weeks' time!

Cross-posted: LinkedIn
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Until next time!


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