Many of you know I started a software company in 1997 called AlterMedia, to develop and support a product I created called Studio Suite, a ‘studio management software’.
Today, we have customers in over 55 countries, and on occasion I’m asked to come ‘on site’ and do a setup / configuration / customization / training. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to many cities in the USA, as well as Australia, Holland, Kuwait, United Arab Emerates, Istanbul, and Tanzania. Not your everyday list of countries! This blog post is about my latest trip, to Tanzania.
Our industry has an annual conference every year, the NAB (National Association of Broadcaster) show, in April in Las Vegas. In 2013, someone from Azam Media came by our booth. Azam is a company in east Africa, based in Tanzania, that started by milling grains (flour, corn, etc) for eastern Africa, then expanded to water, sodas, juices, a satilite TV service, their own TV channels, and oddly, a marine company that provides ferries to Zanzibar, a nearby island-state. The owner of Azam is ‘the richest man in Africa’.
So after a couple years of back-and-forth via email, and several web-demos via GoToMeeting, we closed the deal. They would purchase 10 seats, and I would travel to Tanzania to do my thing, all expenses paid.
Getting a business visa to Tanzania is a process. You must have a letter from a local company requesting your entrance to the country. You also need to have a Yellow Fever vaccination, greater than 10 days before your entrance (I learned 15 days before my departure). I went online to Walgreens.com website (a local drug store walking distance from my house) which said that I could ‘walk-in’ any time for any kind of vaccination needed, including Yellow Fever. So I walked in Saturday at 7pm to find that the pharmacy was closed. OK, I’ll come back Sunday, which I didn’t ’cause I was having a Sunday… Monday, 11 days before my trip, I go to that Walgreens again, and learn that not only to they not have the Yellow Fever vaccination in stock, but there is a national shortage of this vaccine at the moment, but there was 1 Walgreens in Santa Monica (40 minutes away) that had it. So my office manager Molly called to confirm, and I rushed to Santa Monica, only to discover that they didn’t, actually, have it, due to, the, national shortage. Bad info…
Crap. Molly calls around to other regional drug store chains – CVS and Rite-Aid.. they’re all out for the same reason… Uh Oh… I head back to the office. Molly finds a place in Pasadena, a ‘travel pharmacy’ that has the vaccine, so I head there. Finally, I get the shot, along with a hepatitis vaccine, a Tetanus update, and some pills for Malaria and diarrhea while I’m at it. $485 you just gotta do it. Good Times….
So I head to the airport, and I’m on my way. For the sake of expediency, I’m just going to post a bunch of pics and videos here so folks can see, and I’ll add words as time allows…
Here we go!
The terminal in Istanbul Turkey
Here are some images from my first day in Tanzania, walking from my hotel (The Best Western), in no particular order.
The local beer was much appreciated after my first day of walking around in the heat…
Below is the Best Western hotel. It was also apparently the (lower-case) ‘best western’ hotel in the area as well. It had 2 restaurants, an Indian restaurant that was pretty good ( I love Indian food) and a ‘pizza’ restaurant, that also hosted a buffet breakfast. The pizza was only OK… 😉
Some pics from probably the 3 or 4th day of my Studio Suite training sessions at Azam TV. There were a mix of native Africans with very thick accents, and Indians with think accents.
Azam also makes various beverages – juices, sodas, energy drinks, waters… They kept me well stocked. Azam was just introducing their Mango Bar while I was there, so I got 2 boxes. Kind of like fruit leather cut into chewing gum sized strips. Good!
This is outside the main office of Azam Cable, where you’d go to pay your cable bill.
Next few pics are Nelson Mandela Road, which is the main road from my hotel to the station. It’s also the road where my phone was stolen out of my hands as I was taking pictures out the car window on the way home one night.
My hotel room door.
Tanzanian cash. 10,000 shillings equals about $4.50.
Here are some shots