MySkills4Afrika–Journal 02

Well, it is the end of the week and it’s been busy.  If you read my Journal 01 post, a last left you with my trip heading to Tanzania Tuesday night.  I traveled with Mary, a local Devices Solutions Specialist for Education, to meet with a customer and discuss Microsoft’s alignment with their vision on technology for universities and the government.  It was a good meeting and one that I hope will accelerate Tanzania on their technology initiatives.

Tanzania Shopping Experience

As I have told you in the past, I’m a pretty simple person.  I work and play hard but I don’t need or want anything extravagant.  I remind you of this as I tell you about my shopping experience in Tanzania.  I generally stink about getting or buying souvenir gifts for my family when I travel to a new place (generally, I never have enough time when I’m on a business trip).  But since I’m in a special place (Kenya AFRICA for crying out loud), getting a gift for my wife and my kids is always on my mind.

Mary and I had about 2 hours after our customer meeting before we had to head to the airport.  So, I took the opportunity to ask Mary if there was something specific in Tanzania that I could get for my wife.  Mary thought about it for a bit and mentioned that there is a stone that is specific to Tanzania.  Since we were close to the beach in the largest city in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, I was thinking we were going to cruise by the beach and I could pick a pebble out of the Indian Ocean and I would be “good to go.”  Instead, we traveled downtown and visited a few shops and I quickly learned that the stone she was referring to was a Tanzanite.  And, I quickly found out!  If the price tag on one of those “stones” reads 45,000 they aren’t referring to Tanzanian Shillings (which is about 1,650 shillings to one U.S. dollar)… they list prices in US Dollars — HOW CONVENIENT.  The stone is actually a gemstone and it is absolutely beautiful.  Deep blue and gorgeous.  I investigated a little and found a Tanzanite gemstone I was willing to purchase for my wife (and if you know my wife, she would have killed me if I went overboard).  Here is the pic I put together for her (which also includes the magazine article from the airline magazine on my way home on Kenya Airways).


The verdict is still out if I’m cheap or if I’m wonderful.  One thing I do know… my wife now will have a rare gemstone (one that may no longer be here too much longer).

When we were finished, we headed towards the airport.  I have to tell you that I have never seen such craziness.  It only took us about 20-30 minutes to get to our hotel when we arrived around 8:30p the night before… but, during rush hour it took us about 2.5 hours.  And, the traffic was insane.

We were driving off road, in the wrong lane, jumping curves, and stopping traffic (we were in the wrong lane going through a neighborhood when all of a sudden several large buses were coming our way).  It was so bad, that we couldn’t get back over and the police showed up banging on the drivers door… forcing us to back up about 30 car spots before we decided to go a different route.


We arrived safely at the airport and made it back to Kenya.


On Thursday, I presented to Kenya’s Enterprise Sales team showcasing the new Windows-based tablets and phones and discussing use case scenarios for tablets in the enterprise.  The team is very talented and I hope my time with them was beneficial.  Later that day, I headed to Hillcrest Private School with a number of Microsoft folks.  The school is beautiful and educates many of the more affluent children from foreign business and political leaders.



On Friday, I had two sessions where I presented to a variety of Microsoft employees… it was only supposed to be one session but there were too many to hold in the conference room. 


Then, skipping lunch (with the exception of my trusty Snickers bar) we rushed to meet with a partner at the University of Nairobi.  The partner is responsible for the connectivity (primarily wireless) for all of the universities in Kenya so students and faculty can gain access to the internet.  Our meeting was to highlight Windows-based tablets as the optimal learning experience for the universities.



I ended the day with a farewell to a new friend, Javier.  Javier is from the Washington D.C. area and was also here in Kenya for Microsoft’s MySkills4Afrika program.  We enjoyed some refreshments, laughs, and shared some stories together.  It still amazes me that I had to travel 8,000 miles to meet him.  I’m so glad I did.


I’m finding that I am down right exhausted every day… but, I am so wired with excitement that I can’t sleep.

I apologize for the non-elegance of my posts, but I want to get something out to my family, friends, and colleagues that are interested in what I’m doing here.  If you are a Microsoft employee, I highly encourage you to look into the #MySkills4Afrika program.  Everyone is eager to learn from your skills and expertise… I hate to admit it, but I think I’m learning more than they are. 

Until next time, download my first Windows Store game – Simple Simon Said.  I have a personal goal of 500 downloads.  At the time of this writing, I’m near 100.  Thank you.

The next post will be a result of my weekend… Lake Nakuru, Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Center, and much more.  I’m having the time of my life!!!

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