Friday, July 30, 2010

Sometimes I just smile and say "TIA"

Things don’t always operate in Africa as my western mind would expected. I am constantly surprised by amazing and ridiculous things. Sometimes they are great surprises, like finding that a University of Nairobi's choir practices on the bleachers next to the dirt track where I often run. Sometimes its just mind blowing, like seeing guys carrying 80+ water cans on a single motorbike. Sometimes it is just unbelievable. Often I find myself muttering the commonly used phrase “TIA," which stands for, “This is Africa.”

Wikipedia defines “TIA”  as meaning go with the flow/don't expect anything to run on schedule/enjoy life. I define TIA everyday. Here are a few recent definitions. 

Yep, my flight stopped in three countries not listed on the itinerary. Pretty sure I spent at least 2 hours in Mali. 

I left my office in Nairobi for a meeting, an hour later, I could still see it as I sat in the parking lot called a road.

From my car window in Accra, I can buy anything from baby shoes to a mounted six foot poster of Jesus.

We spent nearly an entire day looking for a staple gun in well stocked stores in Nairobi. Five stores later we found one, but they did not have staples that fit it. Back to the previous four.

Public transit does not stop, you just get out.

No, we don’t take our local currency to pay for your visa into Kenya, you need to go exchange it for US dollars and come back to stand in ocean deep line.

“Why yes, this was the chicken that was just running around.”

The potholes are so enormous and frequent in Uganda, the locals have a saying that, “You can tell a drunk driver here, because they drive straight.”

Taxi driver to me: “I have always wanted to go to the US. Are you married? “ Total number of proposals: 68. Most recent: This morning.

Me: ‘How much for these sandals??” Shop owner: “For you, I give a very nice price. My best price. (pause as he takes stalk ) $50......actual price $2.

You want to rent the City Hall Monrovia, Libera, no problem, $1500 a day. The cost includes the room. If you want power, that is an additional + $475 for 50 gallons of diesel to power the generator.

The plane ticket is only $159. It’s the +250 for taxes that makes it expensive.
Daily discussion with the security guard “You want to marry a Kenyan man or an American?”

Anything can be carried on your head or  transported by bike, who says you need trucks.

The ATM just gave me 500 Ghana Cedis in bills of 100.  No one has change.
The ATM just gave me 500 Ghana Cedis in 5 Cedi bills.  All I have is change.

Sorry Madame, we stop taking credit cards at 5 PM. Cash only now. 

I bought a crappy expensive hair dryer from in Ghana. The power plug was for South Africa which fits in exactly zero outlets in Ghana and zero international converters.

When I order take-out, the motorcycle taxi asks where to drop it. Since there are very few or no addresses, its always a fun game of reference. “I live near the city Water Works, by Palm Wine Junction…”

Quote from colleagues, “The pastors in Kenya are some of the richest people.”

 Kenya “we found out today three years after being in office, that the politician rigged the elections. They kicked her out to have a reelection. She is running again.”

A Ugandan woman on my last flight to Kampala tried to open the rear emergency exit in search for a restroom. Luckily, a flight attended returned to get some more tea, and caught her. She then spent the next 10 minutes screaming at the woman. 

Article headline in Uganda’s national paper, New Vision states, “Computer-linked illness paralyzes woman.”   The illness they are referring to is Multiple Sclerosis. Not sure this is scientific.


  1. I'm sure that Africans come here and say "TIA" too. Except they mean, "This Is America"...

  2. I am SOOOOO enjoying your blogs, Bridgette! Thanks for posting and allowing the rest of us to share in your incredible adventures. We love you and keep you in our prayers.