Now that we have a car we have begun to explore Mwanza on four wheels. It was particularly useful last week when my wife was admitted to hospital with Malaria. Whilst we don’t always drive to and from work preferring to walk, there are occasions when we do. Here is the route to and from work which is bumpy to say the least. Much of the ‘road’ gives an off-road experience and it is vital to have a four-wheel drive.
Finally we have made the leap. For those who followed our previous blog posts, this has been budgeted for and paid out of allocated UK funds. 🙂 We finally have a car – welcome to ANA (A part of the Reg plate and Kiswahili for car is…) Gari. ANA is a Toyota RAV 4. The majority of expats drive one of these and one of my colleagues has sold it to us. Actually ‘a na gari’ would literally means he/she has a car in Kiswahili. The great thing about card here is that they hold their value. Therefore we will get back the price we paid for it when we sell. In the end this will give us the freedom to travel locally and allow the children to more easily socialize. We’re not ceasing walking about town, it’s the best way of being part of the community, but it will add flexibility.
So 2015 has started and tomorrow we return to work/school and normality resumes.
The year ahead will be a strange one – we have no plans to return to the UK during 2015 and so this will be the first year ever that I have not lived, even a single day in the country of my birth.
Exactly what the year holds is to be determined and as yet plans are vague, but we would like to visit Uganda at Easter if possible and in the summer we plan to take a trip south to include Zambia and Malawi which will give us a chance to visit the place Anita called home for two years.
A lot depends on Anita’s situation – she arrived here on a dependents visa and is currently unable to work or volunteer without an upgrade to her visa which will depend on any potential employer making a financial outlay. Working without a suitable visa could lead to deportation or a very large fine so it is not something we are going to risk without proper documentation. Should something come up then we will consider biting the bullet and buying a car – something we have held back on thus far. It’s not so much the purchase price but the running costs which is the off-putting factor as cars generally sell for the same price as you purchased them for.
Bex has two school trips abroad to look forward to with a journey to Nairobi (Kenya) for a Model United Nations gathering later in the month, followed by a Year 9 trip to Rwanda later in the Spring. She will definitely be the most travelled by the end of the year.
We are getting used to living without. Our house is great but Tanzanian life is laid back and even though water filters have been requested and chased up there are still none. Other things are missing; no broom or dust pan, no plug for the bath or sink; no waste bin; no bath mat; no laundry basket.
This afternoon we have been into Mwanza and raided the shop for some of these essentials. We carried back (we have no car) a number of items but need to return tomorrow for more Having said this, we have now got two extra desks for the kids to word at and the electric hot plate on the otherwise gas cooker is now wired in.
In spite of all of this we are surprisingly getting used to living without a number of things; no TV (for the moment); no car; a more limited diet (much less meat).
Many of these are quite healthy. Part of me wonders if we will need a TV package at all – we have a host of DVD’s and access to the internet ( I knew about MK Dons v Man U as it was happening courtesy of Facebook). As for a car, we are debating whether we need one – there is a lot to be said for the health benefits of walking and local transport seems good. We are going to see, certainly in the short term there is no reason and it’s helping us to explore the city.
Compared to the vast majority of our neighbours we are immensely well off and it is churlish to complain. We do really need those water filters though!
Today I have been in possession of three cars.
The first was our own trusty Citroen which departed these shores at 5pm 😦
At 11am we picked up a hire car – a Vauxhall Zafira from a local AVIS. Fortunately I took out a policy which covered all damage and repairs. Within 3 hours I needed it as I left the house to find that one of the tyres was flat as the proverbial pancake. A phone call lead to a conversation with the AA where they were convinced there was no spare and I who had checked said there was. Eventually a nice man from the AA came to fix (I had far more pressing things to do and having paid £30 per day for the cover I was going to get my money’s worth). Unfortunately the tyre was one of those temporary jobs which only let you go a certain speed and shouldn’t be used for long journeys. Do we needed a new car. Because the Oxford branch don’t take phone calls, a lengthy phone call with AVIS ensued, in which I spoke with Barcelona? (unhelpful) and Swindon (helpful). This resulted in a replacement vehicle, an Audi Estate. The local office were very helpful face to face, so it was a good ending to a stressful day!
So we return to MK tomorrow for our day trip to collect injections and GCSE results (but not necessarily in that order), visit Guinea Pigs and friends( possibly in that order!), do last minute shopping. Thankfully in a car which can go more than 50mph.
It’s been a much tougher day than expected. So much so we have had to modify plans. The in-laws are back tomorrow, the kids are staying here tonight. There is still so much to do and we need to attack it head on.
Today we have cleared the kitchen and identified that which we’re giving / dumping taking. We did similar in the bathrooms. The kids are virtually packed but we haven’t really started on our own. One problem we knew we’d encounter was the sheer volume of stuff we want to take compared to what we can take. We might need an extra case!
A long day ahead but we’re worrying as to whether we’ll do it.
Another problem is the car. We own it but need to sell it. The only problem is that our dealer, Perrys want to give us a ridiculously low figure, so we’ll need to try and sell privately, but have lite time to do it. Another hurdle to clear.
So here we are again at the MK Bowl up bright and early at the Car Boot Sale. Our second visit following our success in March. This time with a little more kitchenware and some of those things we couldn’t fit in last time and those we didn’t sell before. We have sold already An item for £12 do we’re in profit. Let’s hope it stays dry and we can sell more.
In the end a moderately successful morning – still a lot left though – which will now be dumped or sent to charity.
I have keys to the car, keys to our house and my office keys. As a Head of Faculty I possess keys to every computer room, my office and numerous cupboards. At home we have front door, back door, shed, garage and gate. Each are so very important and to lose them would be a disaster.
Yet, it seems strange to think that soon these pieces of carved metal will no longer be in our possession.
These keys open many different doors and yet a much bigger door is opening before us which will make each of these obsolete as we hand them over one by one.
Today’s post is more reflective. Looking back on yesterday’s Car Boot Sale it was an interesting view of society and the cultural mix.
In my descriptions I refer to people’s nationality – some of this is guesswork based on voices or looks and in no way is meant to be disrespectful, but to reflect the cultural mix at the MK Bowl. In fact having got myself up before 5am on this occasion I admire the fortitude and perseverance of all those people seeking to better themselves through sacrifice on a regular basis, especially on a cold inhospitable morning as yesterday.
In the ’90s Blur released a single Parklife which was apparently about the people they saw in London parks on there way to recording studios.
Here I share my take on “Bootlife”
The car boot sale is held every Sunday at the MK bowl, a large circular arena with a long path surrounding it’s upon which stall holders are setting up.
We arrive at 4:45am and within seconds we are approached from out of the gloom by people who begin rooting through our goods as we unpack, many are silent and don’t really acknowledge us as we insist we’re not ready. One lady engages Anita in conversation and we discover she works night shift at Sainsbury and likes to come along to the car boot sale on her way home.
Just after 5:30am fellow traders begin to arrive – experienced booters who are looking for bargains from the amateurs like us. One guy buys our entire collection of Doctor Who characters – these are tough bargainers who won’t take no for an answer.
6:40am As the dawn comes and the torches are put away we start to see the early risers more clearly.
They come. Circling the bowl, tracking back and forth, doubling back at times.
It’s a multinational group. A Chinese lady approaches several times looking at many items and looking for a real bargain, rejects our offers. There are several folk with Eastern European accents, some look more middle eastern, possibly Iraqi or Kurdish, others more Romany looking. Some more Asians, some looking for DVDs (we don’t yet have any), others wanting phones and electrical goods (we have none for sale).
We greet all with cheery “hellos”, most smile back and reply in broken English. Is there a sense that we are seeing the bottom rung of society here? People are seeking to find things at low cost either to have or sell on. Very few Brits at this hour – is this a sign that these folk are more willing to get up and get out or simply people in need? Most are very cold as are we!!
7:00am we begin to see more African Nationals – mainly Ghanaian – Anita practicing her limited Ghanaian as she greets them with “ete-sen” (more than I knew). One lady shivering in the cold has open toe shoes and no socks – poor lady must be freezing (we see her later having bought some – she seems a lot happier)
By 8:00am there are more people about and we start to see more Brits. Many a bargain is struck but people are picky and it’s still cold – some taken aback by Anita’s cheery “Good Morning” , but it does help with sales.
One guy in a skirt desperately wanted the 60’s version of the Italian Job with Michael Caine (we have no DVD’s to sell at this point) , he eventually moves on.
The sun has risen higher and by 9:00am is peering round the trees. It’s still cold as someone walks by in Sari like material – beautiful but impractical in the ice.
By now my Stephen, Fiona, mum and the kids arrive with extra supplies including DVD’s and more kitchenware.
As if from nowhere we are descended upon by a hoard and a Polish lady snaps up 4 Disney DVDs much to the annoyance of our neighbouring trader who also wanted them and eventually buys the rest for a good price (for him!)
10:00am and the Brits arrive in force – a mix of middle class bargain hunters and the people with much less. Strange things sell whilst expected things don’t. The sun warms the place and then a brief rain shower – thankfully not for too long. Anita got talking to a lady from Tanzania (Arusha), excited about our move and keen to say much about her mother country. She bought our juicer!
Heather and Geoff arrive too and spend some time. We sell an iron
Pestle and Mortar and an Iron Fondue Set – the guy doesn’t want a Fondue cook book – I reckon he wanted the iron!
11:30am Lots gone, lots remain. Some people we see over and over, some have been here since six – still searching. The lady from Sainsbury returns thinking we’d be sold out by now. Heather and Geoff leave with Matthew, they to help with the house, he to cook Lasagna for 9!
Anita sells most of her Creative Memories to two customer. One lady in a wheelchair advises against selling her a Christmas Tigger – suggesting it would sell well on eBay.
12:15pm: Fellow traders are packing up even though this goes on ’till 2:00pm. We still have one or two customers, but then start packing – a lot has gone but plastic boxes don’t shrink so the car is still jammed to the gunnels. Time for one last sale as a guy looking for a cricket set sees, our croquet set. He doesn’t want it but is persuaded to give 25p for a beach golf set instead.
All in all a good weekend and a satisfactory morning we offloaded a lot of stuff and although we brought quite a bit back it’s definitely been worth it. Combining it with yesterday’s efforts we made a bit and gave a good bit to charity. Today we decided to give half to a charitable project in Tanzania being organised by the children of a local family of development workers (The Mongers)
The weather was dry apart from one shower and we had a steady stream of visitors. Anita sold most of her Creative Memories, we sold loads of Kitchenware. Most DVD’s and some CD games went. One guy bought all our Doctor Who models in one foul swoop.
We returned with some books, most board games, a few soft toys and remaining craft items.
When packing up the car we found one lonely Sontaran (pictured) which not only had fallen down but had been trampled in mud. This lonely Sontaran is our mascot for the day.
Great help throughout from mum, Stephen, Fiona, Matt, Bex …..
I’ve never thought of myself a particularly brave, but it is probably true. Others might feel I’m reckless or foolhardy – with these sentiments I can’t agree, though I appreciate the concern.
In truth I could have ‘pootled’ (is that a word?) along for years as I was – day in day out for years to come and reached retirement never having travelled beyond the two-week summer break and maybe the odd World Challenge expedition. I probably would have become increasingly frustrated with the education policy in England but endured it all with Facebook moans to keep me sane.
In an alternate universe then maybe that is what will happen.
In this universe I’m taking a different path and bringing my family along for the ride.
From an early age I wanted to travel the world. I have been lucky enough to see most of Western Europe and a bit of Eastern Europe. Lord Williams’s School has given me great opportunities to travel to The Gambia and Vietnam/Cambodia, but I want to see more, to travel further.
Since joining WordPress I have read many interesting and amazing blogs written by people travelling throughout the world from Greenland, Norway and Iceland in the North to Laos, Taiwan and East Timor in the East, as well as many from Africa including Tanzania and especially Mwanza itself.
Mwanza is located in the north-west of Tanzania close to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and it should be possible to travel there and further afield (e.g. Malawi, Zambia) during holidays a relatively little cost. It is something I definitely want to do whilst out there. Being just 2.5 hours by road from The Serengeti is a major plus. Obviously I am not just going for the holiday but it is all part of the experience and will be affordable in a way it can’t be in the UK.
In the UK most of our income goes to pay the Mortgage and Utilities, Car (inc Fuel) and Food. Whilst in Mwanza, though my wage will be low (by UK standards) we get a house provided and utilities paid. I can’t imagine food will be expensive and although we hope to get a car, fuel won’t be either. Outgoings should be a lot less and so holidays will be more affordable.
Thirteen years ago I made a much braver decision to resign from my Science teaching job and become a supply teacher giving up a secure job and holiday pay. I had had enough of teaching and a bad experience with the school head (being shouted at in a corridor in front of parents – for something I hadn’t done wrong!!!) left me disillusioned and determined to get out of education. Applying for a Web Design course I took supply work to pay the bills. Luckily for me in less than two months I had a supply contract at another local school which evolved to a permanent position after completing my web design course. Reinvigorated in my teaching I applied elsewhere and this led me to my current job and a change to teaching ICT. Ultimately this lead to being appointed Head of ICT and now (5 and a half years later) to the taking job at Isamilo.
I believe God is at the centre of this chain of events –And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Who knows where the chain will lead next?
So bravely we leave the UK in August but we do so confidently.
Today’s journey to work was interesting. The familiar journey was shrouded in thick impenetrable fog – like much of the Southern England. This was probably the thickest fog I’ve travelled through for a few years. Luckily I was prepared (a tweet from the met office at 6:15am helped) and left earlier than usual. Even so it was tight timing!
Travelling across Buckinghamshire along country roads it was often hard to see more than a few metres ahead. Amazingly some drivers didn’t have their lights on which was a surprise but I think this has something to do with having automatic lights. One of the problems with automatic lights is that they respond to light levels – which means they don’t switch on in daylight even if fog is really thick. I’ve been caught out myself before now. To use the fog lights you obviously need to have the main beams on too. In my car I do this by switching the beams from automatic to manual.
I doubt there’s much fog in Mwanza – though living by a lake you never know. However, as I travelled this morning I thought about the metaphorical foggy road ahead for us in the next few years. Continue reading →
For almost 11 years I have travelled daily from Milton Keynes to Thame.
In essence the route takes me from Milton Keynes to Whitchurch (via Stewkley or Drayton Parslow / Swanbourne), then on to Oving, Waddeston before ascending Winchendon Hill and going over the top via Upper Winchendon and Chearsley, arriving in Long Crendon before descending to Thame. The journey takes about 50 minutes and takes in some great countryside. The main thing is to avoid Aylesbury and it’s traffic jams.
The week has gone by so quickly again. It’s Friday already and we’re two weeks into term. It feels like time is rushing by and Mwanza draws ever closer. Meanwhile in MK there are mountains to move! Continue reading →
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