Mailing Provisions to Tanzania
April 8, 2004
My commentary on March 17, 2019: I have been going through some old emails lately. Here’s a note that I sent my mom in 2004 asking her to mail some essential but locally unavailable provisions - cash, batteries, a book - to my PO Box in Tanzania. Years later, much of this list seems outrageous: soap, batteries (likely for my digital camera and MP3 player), a United Nations report (now available online as a pdf), and some US dollars in cash. The dollars, sadly, still take considerable effort (or cost) to move between the US and East Africa. It remains common for people to ask me to carry cash on my trips over.
The email to my mom on August 8, 2004
Hi… I’m back from the village and exploring other areas in the highlands. It was really great to get back there for a day and see everyone. The rains last spring were very poor, so a two-year drought continues… it’s really difficult to make forward progress when the climate is working against you.
There are some supplies that I need you to send me as soon as possible:
- 2 8-oz bottles of Cetaphil (soap, the CVS brand is fine too)
- a 32-pack of batteries (you can get them for about $10 at Best Buy, Maxell brand)
- the Human Development Report 2003 – this should be in my room, somewhere near the bookshelf. it is not that important if you can’t find it. it’s a wide, soft back book.
- 400 US dollars (I’ve run out of US cash because of visas and residence permits… I plan on going to Uganda and/or Malawi where I will need dollars for visas and it would be good to have some dollars just in case. I could get them here, but then i would be exchanging shillings for dollars, losing about $15 per $100 changed. For this, it would be best if $200 are in $50 bills and the rest in 20’s. If you can find the human development report, insert the bills between pages in the margins with a little bit of tape so they won’t fall out. Then wrap the book in either shrink wrap or clear cellophane so that it will not be opened by customs at the Tanzanian post office. If you can’t find the human development report, then send me one of the new copies of National Geographic. You can take the money from my account of course.)