Today we leave the UK and return to Tanzania. We’ve spent a fabulous time in the UK for just about seven weeks. In that time we have travelled the length and breadth of England, visiting friends and relatives along the way, but now our time here is coming to an end. Perhaps because our stay has been fragmented between different locations (our longest stay in any one place was 13 days) time has flown quickly. We have taken a lot in and caught up with most (though sadly not all) of the people we wanted too. Being a visitor in our former homelands has been strange but friends and family have been generous and kind, we have had many meals and shared good times across the land.
One of our purposes here was to prepare our eldest for University. In just over three weeks from now he will start at his favoured University to study a degree in English Literature, History and Drama Studies. The next phase of his life is starting and so will ours.
Our family has been four for almost 16 years, since our youngest was born. It’s difficult to remember a time when we were three, but even then he was there as a toddler – a part of our family for 18+ years. Now our family must change, readjust, re-balance to reflect the changing dynamic of daily life. It’s going to be wierd, disconcerting, challenging even.
Our son does not cease to be part of the family, but the relationship will change. New experiences for him and for us will undoubtedly separate us a little. This was always going to happen, it’s inevitability established on the timeline from the moment he was born. We have brought our son up from baby to toddler to child to teenager and now to a young adult. We have done our bit and set him up for the next phase of his life.
The fact we are 4000 miles away rather than 400 miles or 40 miles (the distance I moved away from my parents) makes this departure more geographically stark, but in truth when you leave home, you never quite return the same person. The next few years are going to be exciting and life changing. We must embrace it and look on the positive side. For today there will be sadness as four become three but we look forward to our reunion in time to come and the stories we will be able to share.
Today we arrived back in MK my home for 26 years prior to moving out to Mwanza. We are staying on a campsite to the north of the city. A picturesque landscape of woodland and lakes near Olney.
It’s the first time back in MK and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends.
We’ve actually been back in the UK a week now. Surprisingly it has not been the culture shock we anticipated – for me I have slipped back into the UK environment with no real surprises, though it has felt a bit cold. Maybe the 40+ years of UK living have made the experience much more ‘normal’ than I expected after two years on the equator.
Having initially stayed with family near Abingdon it gave an opportunity to visit ex-colleagues in Thame and it was good to catch up and see them. Life has changed little, it seems, though perhaps I detect a slightly greater pressure on all as they embrace the challenges of the British Education Reforms – something I am glad to have escaped.
This week a chance for the kids to catch up with school friends and us all to meet church friends and wider MK friends as well as family. It also gives us a chance to sort out things for our son’s impending entry into University. MK’s reassuring familiarity is a real bonus.
Today is Father’s Day – my last with my two children at home. So a strange one in many ways. My son will leave Tanzania in a couple of weeks to go to University in the UK. We will leave as four and return as three.So today we are celebrating as a family at Papa’s a restaurant on the Lake to the East of Mwanza. It’s remote with some great wildlife, good food and fabulous scenery.
A nice place to spend Father’s Day.
Tonight is the last night in Mwanza for my Mum and Mum-in-Law so I asked them to write down their impressions of Africa at the end of their three week stay.
- Vibrant, the colours of the women’s clothes – beautiful and seemingly well dressed, although it might be their only set of clothes.
- Paths along the roads always throng with many people at all hours of the day- possibly because many don’t have a car or bike.
- As for transport this consists of a pikipiki (motorcycle) or a daladala (minivan) carrying many people like a tin of sardines.
- Overall we in the West think we have so much, but actually we have lost so much.
People here are:
In Tanzania it seems as if all the birds of the world have made their home here. All shapes and sizes and beautiful colours and songs.
- very polite
- respectful (especially to someone of my age)
Poverty always confronts you which is so difficult, but there are organisations trying to help the Street Children which is good.
Nonetheless Tanzania has been a great experience overall.
The heat hit me as I descended from the plane at Dar Es Salaam. Africa here I come!
The Serengeti was amazing- driving right up to wild animals which continued to graze unperturbed.
Leaving our Safari was like stepping into a totally different world, filled with people in brightly coloured clothes, walking along the road or waiting by to sell their wares; goats or cows herded by boys, driven with long sticks; men on bikes with the widest loads imagineable, pikipiki motorcycle taxis everywhere.
It’s a colourful vibrant scene yet with none of the rush and pressure of life in the UK – a very different world to mine – much simpler, less scheduled. People work hard, but fit far fewer activities into their day.
There’s real poverty – so hard not to give to every beggar! But there’s a quiet, gentleness of spirit, an acceptance of a much slower pace of life and lowered expectations.
For me, just having time to ‘be’ and warm all the time – was so restorative. I have enjoyed my first ever Christmas in the sun!.
Mwanza has changed in the last few days. The Christmas Holidays are upon us and with international schools having broken up last week the ex-pat exodus has begun.
Not all ‘Wazungu’ have gone of course, but many have jetted off to their homelands or else to explore foreign parts within and beyond Tanzania’s borders. Some local Tanzanians will travel too in the coming days as they visit family across Tanzania.
A few like us are staying put and like us are having visitors to stay. Soon we will welcome family to our Tanzanian home, two Mums Jetting Off from their homes to foreign parts (Mwanza). We’e looking forward to receiving our first house guests, though in actual fact we have secured accommodation in a vacant house next door.
Before they arrive here in Mwanza they will meet us in Moshi – we’re holding out for a view of Kilimanjaro- though this may be a vain hope beyond a glimpse from the aircraft flying in. So we too will be jetting off from a wet and rainy Mwanza, in hope of a dryer Moshi and a more leisurely return through the Serengeti in the days ahead. We are looking forward to visiting the animal park again and introducing it to our visitors, as we will Mwanza. Mostly we’re looking forward to the relaxing time and conversations you just don’t get with Skype.
On Tuesday evening we took a cruise on the Nile – we had a great evening and enjoyed the sunset. We were served food and drink throughout the evening. One course consisted of three types of Bruschetta: Tomato, Avocado and Tuna.
As I don’t eat fish, I did not consume the latter. However, the others did in variable proportion. Ever since the rest of the family have suffered with bouts of tummy upset. It’s a real shame that caused Anita to miss out on White Water Rafting, and the children a day of Safari. The only food we have eaten differently in the last few days was the Tuna Bruschetta. We think it might have been left out too long!
Golden rule when travelling a distance – avoid fish dishes – as for me it’s a rule which is very easy to keep.
This time of year seems to be a popular month for birthdays among the expat community here at Isamilo. This being the case there have been a number of social events recently. Having hosted a birthday celebration for one of the other children last week and visited Tunza Lodge for another celebration at the weekend, this week it is our time with a brace of birthdays coming up in the week ahead. There are further birthdays to come in the weeks ahead for others at Isamilo.
Today it was the turn of my daughter. We had a number of colleagues and staff over after school for a cake cutting a present giving followed by a dinner for the family at Hotel Tilapia. This is one of the best places to eat in town and although it is a little more expensive than some places it was a great place to celebrate my daughter’s 14th. Whilst there we got some night shots including a great one of an oncoming storm.
This morning there was a kitten up a tree at school. This was obviously a stray and very frightened. A work colleague expressed an interest in it (they have a cat already), but work prevailed. The day wore on and it was still up there late into the morning. So Anita took it home! Continue reading
T Minus 5
Today we were going to Bicester to visit Anita’s cousin (Owen) to celebrate his birthday; except we weren’t! Continue reading