As the New Year begins I continue to reflect on 2014 a year in which I (and my family) made the dramatic move to Tanzania, month by month. Part 1 is here.
As September we settled into our new house and I began so did my new teaching career. Lessons began on the 1st and it was time to get to know new students, new systems and a new environment. Teaching ICT in a land where power cuts can happen at short notice was never going to be easy but actually things weren’t too bad. A new projector was a helpful addition and within a week or two it felt like we had always been there. The kids settled in to the school too and Anita began to explore Mwanza and quickly signed up to language classes to improve her already impressive Swahili. I too got to know my new home town and having decided not to buy a car (yet!) we did a lot of walking which was no bad thing. Running was more of an issue with the heat and the hills!
We adapted to new routines and got to know the folk on the compound and flats both old an new colleagues. In all there had been six families who had moved out, along with four singles. This included two new heads of primary and secondary both settling into their new roles. Weekly events like Boy’s night and Bridge were part of the routine, possible because the smaller classes at school meant less marking and so a little more social time.
We began to look into churches and settled on two possibilities MIC and NCLC, based in different towns in the city. We also got to know some of the expat NGOs working in the community. The compound grounds were full of strange and exotic bird life and the odd familiar bird too (sparrows are common here!). The school also had it’s fair share of exotic visitors with monkeys jumping through the trees and raiding the bins.
The rains weren’t due until mid-November but we had had some heavy downpours throughout September and October was no exception with some immensely heavy downpours in the mornings turning roads into rivers and bringing down trees. The rain never lasted too long and soon it turned hot and humid.
One of the first things we did this month was to join the Borders on their Weekend Camping Trip up the coast. We had a great weekend by the lake and got to know some of our colleagues even better. The lake was stunning but sadly you could not swim in it as it was infested by Bilharzia, small snails which harbour disease.
Late in the month we also travelled a little bit further up the coast to Papa’s a restaurant on the lake recommended by many as a good place to visit. It was nice to leave the confines of Mwanza on both trips but we had seen very little of Tanzania.
The school week continued to rush on at a pace and before long it was nearly half term and our first Safari in the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater. This was an amazing three days of wildlife including all the big 5, but sadly no Cheetah. Even so our sighting of a Leopard on the last day was a definite highlight.
The month began with birthday celebrations galore. Not only Anita and Bex, but many of the staff and their children had birthdays – so much celebrating to be done.
With so many celebrations at once a number of us booked a weekend at a secluded resort complex called Wag Hill, The place was close to Mwanza but a world away from the city, secluded and quiet, a group of 15 of us booked the cottage out and had a fab weekend, wallowing in the pool, wandering the hills and seeing new creatures Hyraxes and a Gennet, along with different bird life.
As November wore on the rains really began and we realised exactly how heavy and prolonged rain can be here. The roads were turning to mush and wearing away fast.
The school ran its annual Charity Fair in aid of Saturday school and it was a great chance to work together with my tutor group to run a stall. Anita and Bex both got ill which was less pleasant – they missed the Fair!
I paid my first visit to Saturday school as part of a hectic Saturday which saw me at a number of events and parties. Social life does get busy here and it is one of the great things about ex-pat living. Even so it was great to see what the school are doing to help the poor and underprivileged in Mwanza.
My tutor group produced what I think was the best assembly – a play they had written on the plight of girls in education – I am biased but it was good!
November was full of Parents Evenings one or two per week at times, along with report writing this was taking up a lot of time but it had to be done.
The term was running out fast and before long it was the end of November.
The term here finishes earlier than in the UK so we only had a fortnight in school. Both kids had lead roles in the School Production – The Importance of Being Ernest. Rehearsals were taking their time but it was worth it in the end as they both did outstandingly.
The last week of term came and went with parties and gatherings of various sorts and then it was time for Zanzibar.
Our long-planned 8 day visit to the island was well worth it. Glorious white sand beaches, warm turquoise seas and amazing wildlife on land and in the water it was a fabulous time.
All too soon we were back in Mwanza for Christmas.
The Rains continued and brought flooding to Mwanza on Christmas Eve, our compound Christmas dinner relocated into our living room where 18 of us shared a meal and some games into the early evening.
As the year ended we again gathered for a New Year Celebration, 2014 was an amazing year I wonder what 2015 will hold?