Thursday, February 24, 2011
Day 3 - in Arusha, Tanz. EAFCA
Saturday, Feb. 19
This day ended up having both the typical frustrating and exhilarating experiences of a Western tourist in East Africa. It started out with the frustrating. My hotel, the Impala Hotel in Arusha, had no record that my 3 nights had been paid by my travel agent in Nairobi. They didn't even have a shred of evidence that the agency had placed my hotel reservation. I knew the agent had said they would pay the hotel, but I couldn't stay to argue with the guy, so I paid the hotel with my credit card and got on the shuttle going to the conference. Hours later after I was finally able to get the travel agent to call the hotel, Impala admitted they had been paid 2 days earlier and agreed to refund my credit card the charges for 3 room nights. I got the receipt to prove it.
At EAFCA, I was able to catch the sessions on coffee financing in Africa which included presentations by the Coffee Development Fund, Kenya and Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST). The FAST presenter was Noemi Perez, and I was privileged to be able to visit with her for about an hour after her presentation to learn more about what FAST is doing. They are a young, innovative player in the world of development finance and technical assistance.
I enjoyed sharing lunch (which was on the patio near the exhibit booths again) with coffee professionals from Rwanda and Cameroon. Then it was on to visit the Thika Coffee Mills booth. Thika is the miller that processed the Kenya AA Meru-Riankune that my company, Artisan Coffee Imports, is now selling (as decaffeinated green). Later, I got to hear most of the talk by David Griswold (Sustainable Harvest) on transparent trade models, which was the perfect segway as I departed for the airport to go to Kenya.
The airport taxi fee was the other frustrating Westerner experience I had. The hotel had told me the fee would be $50. I asked the driver once we were getting in the car if it could be $43. He readily agreed. I obviously paid too much! Should have started at $25.
Then came the flight from Arusha to Nairobi and the exhilarating things about being in East Africa: 1. meeting Sakina 2. seeing Kilimanjaro's peak from the plane as we flew by! Sakina and I met as we were checking in our luggage. She's a Nairobi native who had just been to a wedding in Tanzania. We talked, got on the plane together and as we did, discovered that she lives in the same neighborhood as the Methodist Guest House where I was going to stay! I invited her to ride with the driver that would be picking me up and she agreed. She canceled her driver. Attached is the best shot I could get of Kilimanjaro. I was sitting next to 2 young British women on the plane who and just climbed it and were cursing it. There had been early and heavy snows, which made the climb very cold, very tiresome (trudging through deep snow) and almost impossible. There's also a shot of the inside of the small airplane. Cozy, eh?