Following on from our look back at our break in the UK over Christmas, it is good to be back in our new home, Tanzania. So thought I would come up with our Top 10 things about living here.
10. Dealing in 1000’s: If I were a betting man I would be able to say I risked 10,000 on the turn of 1 card, and I can truthfully say to you that I know someone who won 13.5 million in 1 hand in poker! Yes it does mean that when things go up they go up a lot (e.g. was 500 now 1000) but I like the Tanzanian shilling (TSH) because I can deal in 1000’s! The fact that the highest note is TSH10,000 (£4) combined with the fact that no shops accept cards means you can often being one of those people who carries a big wad of cash around.
9. Amusing Brand Names: I think I will do a proper post on this at some point in the future but at the moment I haven’t been round the town and supermarkets with my camera to give you a good selection. I think that living somewhere where English is an official language yet very much a second language means people try to come up with something without really knowing what it may mean! To give you an idea, our first choice when we got here was to choose washing powders – between Toss and Puff. The pic is one of the hotels I passed on my trip to Rwanda. Means you are always kept amused on shopping trips!
8. Market Shopping: Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea and sometimes risky but a fun experience full of variety, colour, great deals and a way to get right into local culture. Probably something that was popular about 30 years ago in the UK but very much a part of shopping here, we do our fruit and veg shopping at the Sunday market not far from our home. It is a great opportunity to see the variety on offer, find out the names of some weird looking fruits and look for the best deal on your tomatoes (1kg=50p), fish (£1 for a good size Tilapia), Pineapple (20p) or treat yourself to passion fruit (pricey at 1kg =£1.40). It is the 1 place I had an attempted mugging when someone distracted me by fiddling with my bag while another guy whipped my phone out of my pocket. Thankfully, I was alert and made the guy aware I knew he had taken it so if I shouted he would have been badly beaten so gave it back to me. Doesn’t put me off going but did have to risk a bit of stick to take these photos.
7. Food: Yes it made it onto our UK list but there are many delicious things we would miss not being here. Obviously the sweetness, combined with the size of the fruit is an obvious one (we had to laugh when seeing a 8cm Papaya in the UK when they are at least 30 here)! It has even helped me to eat more fruit and be healthier! At the unhealthy end of the scale, the street food of Chips mayai, mishkaki, Sekela chicken and chapati is great for a cheap, tasty snack. Without doubt something to taste when you come. I’ve never tasted such soft, tasty meat as bbq mishkaki and such well marinated chicken as Sekela chicken!
6. Clothes: The colours worn by local women (and men in their satin shirts) are such a delight and always put a smile on my face. Thanks to the availability of tailoring here, we wanted to join the fun and make colourful clothes from local materials – just check out our washing line!
Will definitely look to add to our collection while we are here, and I’m sure orders can be taken for the right price and measurements!
5. Weather: The climate in Mwanza itself is superb and makes a perfect opportunity for an outdoor lifestyle. Being just 2.3 degrees south of the equator yet at an altitude of 1100m means we are treated to European summer conditions of around 25-30 degrees most of the time, so no chance to complain about the weather! But then on the other side of things we are fascinated by the long powerful thunderstorms that roll in at a moments notice lighting up the sky and waking you up with the clap of thunder! And not to forget the dramatic colours the sunset produces behind the rock formations…
4. Proximity to Paradise: So we have been to the endless plains of the Serengeti and the idyllic white beaches of Zanzibar which are things we could only dream of affording being in the UK, but Tanzania and East Africa still has so many natural wonders we are yet to explore. High on our priority list still to visit is the Chimpanzees at Gombe Stream NP and the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, the flamingoes at Lake Nakuru, the mountain Gorillas (if we can afford it…), Victoria falls – the list is too long! So much to explore and living here a perfect base to explore it!
3. Wildlife on our doorstep: It is not just the big wildlife in the National Parks but for us it is the fauna and especially the bird life that we can experience simply by stepping out the door. It’s no surprise that the identification book for this region is 576 pages long! The birds that frequent our garden are so colourful and have cheery calls, and the Agama lizards always remind us we are living in an exotic place. Living here has also led us to suggest that David Attenborough may have made a mistake in his Africa Series, part 2 (Savannah). When he was describing the Agama eating flies from around the sleeping lions he described it as a ‘he‘ when the dull colouration would suggest it was a female – thoughts welcome if I’m wrong?
2. Our Work: Sometimes this may be hard and present new challenges but it is so rewarding. For me (Rob) it is great to work knowing I really care about the outcomes because I know they will make a difference to the young people I work with. We really want to support the young people to learn about subjects that can change their lives, and I hope our participation in the Street Child World Cup gives us the ability to campaign for better integration and support of street children into society in Tanzania.
Naomi has the opportunity to teach students that actually want to learn and see change in the world, they really are inspirational! Her first major culture shock when she arrived was the attitudes of the children – behaviour management is (generally) a thing of the past! Although resources are limited compared to the UK (and even Wales!) the challenge is always fun and with the natural history around here, a biology lesson is always easy to plan! She’s even managed to teach A Level Psychology!
1. People: The nature of a place like Mwanza means that it leads to a transient community, people (expats) are always coming and going; however we have a great core group of friends from many different backgrounds and countries with inspirational stories of their own. Everyone is so willing to get involved in activities, try something new out or help you out with something you are doing so events are never dull! We are so happy to be part of a home group of people from around the world where we meet to study the Bible and share fellowship over lunch and now a swimming pool! It is also great to have a community of people to play sport with – frisbee, football, touch rugby, tennis, badminton, sailing – everything is possible. Finally we also have great work colleagues that share and support us in our successes and our frustrations; whatever life here may throw up next!