After the peppermint soap buzz wears off..
December 25, 2009 2:28 AM   Subscribe

My roommate is going to be in Tanzania for 6 months to work with a local NGO. I would like to give him something small he can take with him before he leaves in January. What useful item will he be without access to then that I can give to him now?

More details:

Male, mid twenties, item would probably be along the lines of something outdoorsy/practical (the way he is) or some comfort that he will likely miss.

He already owns chocos, nalgenes, filter, stove, master chemist Dr. Bronner's magical soap (DILUTE DILUTE, OK!) and is pretty well covered regarding typical overseas purchases.

Thanks in advance!
posted by bradly to Travel & Transportation around Tanzania (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mosquito net or repellant? I think Tanzania is in a malaria zone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:09 AM on December 25, 2009

I like the mosquito net idea, but if he's already got one or will be issued with one, how about one of those hand-powered flashlights? Nowadays you can get ones with built-in compasses/cell-phone charges/etc. etc, too.
posted by bettafish at 6:20 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Depending on how much you want to spend I would recommend a solar power charger with a bunch of connections for phones/battery charging/etc. Even if the place he is staying has power it may not be continuous enough to charge everything (especially if you have a lot of people in a small area).

I've used the Voltaic systems in these type of scenarios, but they the packs are a bit bulky. We also have a solio charger that charges a little bit slower, but is easier to pack.

We've used both in different parts of Africa and while neither time were they essential, both times they were helpful.
posted by aetg at 7:04 AM on December 25, 2009

Mosquito nets are waaaay cheaper in East Africa than in the States, so I'd recommend letting him figure that out for himself after he travels. A headlamp is key, though, for everything from late night pit latrine runs to, oh, any time the power is out, which is pretty often. It turned out to be the most useful thing I owned when I lived in Uganda.

Other ideas:
- pocket knife/Leatherman tool
- Moleskine & a pen
- small battery-powered shortwave radio
- universal power/outlet converter (something like this)
- a collapsible tote bag (a couple of years ago, Tanzania banned the production of plastic shopping bags)
posted by rebekah at 7:13 AM on December 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Keyring screwdrivers? Never run out, easy to get through security, more uses than you'd think. (I open boxes with them)
posted by clango at 7:16 AM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Take a look at Eddie Bauer's survival kits & gadgets line.
posted by Opal at 9:57 AM on December 25, 2009

Considering he'll be in Tanzania, You could get him this Swahili time wall clock if he'll be staying in once place - I think a wristwatch like this would be really useful, but I don't know where you could obtain one.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:23 PM on December 25, 2009

He's American? A jar of peanut butter, a stash of some non-melting candy like M&Ms, or a couple of bags of Oreos or Fig Newtons.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2009

While in Tanzania I could not buy Sunscreen lotion any where. So maybe a big bottle.

solar charger is a very good idea. Power outlets can be hard to find.

I took a lid for my nalgene that had LED's in it, a fire fly. It turns your bottle into a lamp. I ordered it from a US online camping shop
posted by Burgatron at 5:12 PM on December 25, 2009

Swiss army knife with scissors, screwdrivers, tweezers, knife, bottle opener (very important), and can opener (also important).
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:09 PM on December 25, 2009

I second the headlamp. Also: Cliff Bars in a variety of flavors. They're awesome to replace a meal if it's late at night or if you're sick of the local fare. A Skype account with credit would be real nice if he knows he'll be near an internet cafe, and if he wants to call a landline or cell in the US.
posted by bergeycm at 9:16 PM on December 25, 2009

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