Tag Archives: Mwanza

Lakeside Living – Part 2

Lake Victoria is an amazing place. Even though you’d never want to swim in it, nonetheless it provides some stunning scenery.

We are lucky that within ten minutes by car we can be on the lakeside for an afternoon stroll or a sundowner.

Over the past few months we have been fortunate to see some hidden places on the lake in the company of a colleague we have hiked the back roads of Mwanza and seen some hitherto unvisisited beaches. We have also had a couple of recent boat trips and a follow up visit to a little area of parkland.

So here is part 2 of  a summary are some of the experiences of the past few months in Mwanza.

Part 1 is here.

Riding the Waves

A couple of times this holiday we have ventured out onto the waters of Lake Victoria. The first time was a boat trip organised by some friends. We took a speed boat out from Mwanza, passing by the many islands which dot the lake, including Senane Island – home to a small safari park, then returning for a glorious sunset. It got a bit wet too as the waves crashed over the speeding boat.

 

Ferry Cross the Strait

Our second boat trip took us across the Mwanza Strait to Kamanga, followed by a walk up a hill to watch the sunset. At 1000TzS (37p) each way, a bargain!

Lakeside Living – Part 1

Lake Victoria is an amazing place. Even though you’d never want to swim in it, nonetheless it provides some stunning scenery.

We are lucky that within ten minutes by car we can be on the lakeside for an afternoon stroll or a sundowner.

Over the past few months we have been fortunate to see some hidden places on the lake in the company of a colleague we have hiked the back roads of Mwanza and seen some hitherto unvisisited beaches. We have also had a couple of recent boat trips and a follow up visit to a little area of parkland.

So here is part 1 of  a summary are some of the experiences of the past few months in Mwanza. Part 2 to follow soon.

Hiking the Back Roads

We have been on a number of walks this Autumn – these have taken along lakeside tracks difficult to access by car and provided some stunning views.

Taken from three separate walks in September (Jembe Beach area), October (Mwanza Brewery area) and November (Fish Market and peninsular walk).

Lakeland

When many people think of Tanzania, they probably think of the Serengeti with it’s arid plains teaming with Wildebeest and Zebra.

… or possibly Kilimanjaro’s snow capped peak.

… or maybe Zanzibar and it’s white sands and azure waters.IMG_9951

All these are amazing places and we’ve been to all three  (though we’ve yet to see Kilimanjaro’s peak personally), but Tanzania is as much defined by it’s lakes as anything else – more so in that much of it’s Western Border is Lake and a portion of it’s Northern Border too.

There are three Great Lakes here : Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyassa (more commonly known as Lake Malawi in the outside world – but not in Tanzania or Mozambeque which share it).

We have been lucky enough to visit all three in the past 15 months – in fact we live next to the largest (Lake Victoria) so we visit that one all the time.

Lake Victoria

Shared Between: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

Area:68,800 square kilometers (26,600 sq miles)

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area; only Lake Superior in North America is larger.

Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and is also the largest tropical lake in the world.

The lake is an average of 40m deep and its deepest point is 83m deep. It is therefore quite a shallow lake.

Named after Queen Victoria by it’s European discoverer John Speke it is known as Lake Nyaza in Bantu languages.

Sadly the lake’s ecosystem has been decimated by the introduction of Nile Perch and eutrophication. Thus hundreds of native cichlids have been driven to extinction in the past 50 years. The perch have no natural predator and have destroyed the natural food chains which existed. Increased algae have further choked the lake and the drop in fish population has severely damaged the fishing industry here.

The lake looks lovely but you wouldn’t swim in it’s toxic waters. Raw sewage is dumped into the lake by factories and settlements and increases the eutrophication further.

Bilharzia snails are present in high quantities and as a carrier of Shistosomiasis a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. Sadly locals do swim and wash in it, having no choice but to do so.

It’s sad that this massive body of water on our doorstep is so polluted.

Lake Tanganyika

Shared Between: Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia

Area:32,900 square kilometers (12,700 sq miles)

We visited this beautiful lake over half term, staying near Kigoma at Jacobsen’s Beach.

It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest.  It is 570m deep on average and at it’s deepest it is 1470m deep. Only Lake Baikal in Siberia is deeper and has greater volume.

It is also the world’s longest freshwater lake.

The name “Tanganyika” means “Great Lake spreading out like a plain”

Located in the Rift Valley the lake is relatively unpolluted. Over 250 species of cichlids live in the lake and 75 other species too.

Fishing is a major industry here and has impacted upon the fish.

No lake in Africa is free of Shistosomiasis but it seems to be low level/ risk  in Tanganyika unlike Victoria. We will take praziquantel to be certain but you have to wait a couple of months.

Lake Nyassa (Lake Malawi)

Shared Between: Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique

Area:29,600 square kilometers (11,400 sq miles)

We visited this lake in the summer travelling from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania to Likoma Islands on to Monkey Bay in Malawi.

It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa.

It has a depth of 292m on average with a maximum of 706m.

It’s over 1000 species of cichlids makes it very bio diverse. It has in fact the most variety of species of any lake.

The lake is subject to a border dispute with slaw I claiming the entire lake up to the shore of Tanzania whilst Tanzania claims the border is in the middle of the lake.

It is probable that the lake contains Shistosomiasis and slthough we were assured otherwise and although we did swim in it’s clear waters at both Likoma and Monkey Bay we have taken medication to be safe.

Three Great Lakes – all different in their own way and all part of Tanzania.

Sizing Things Up

Maps of the world give a distorted view of things. The countries nearer the poles are enlarged relative to those nearer the equator and so if you look at a map of the earth Tanzania looks much smaller than it is in reality and the UK and USA look much larger than they really are.

UK SizeThere is an interesting website that attempts to rectify this error and I have used it in this blog to show how big Africa and in particular Tanzania are. The website called

http://thetruesize.com/

superimposes a scale sized map of one country onto another.

The maps below were created using this site.

Here is a map of the UK  for reference


UK (Mwanza Kigoma)Having spent 14 hours on the road yesterday traveling from Kigoma to Mwanza it is worth looking at how far it would mean in Britain – the map has been rotated to fit the journey.

On this scale a journey from Mwanza to Kigoma is like traveling from Lincoln to St Austell (in Cornwall) via Brighton.


UK (Mwanza Dar)A trip from Mwanza to Dar Es Salam is equivalent to a journey from from John O’ Groats in the North of Scotland to Thanet in Kent.

Luckily we can fly to Dar  at a reasonable cost.


US (Mwanza Mbale)

Our travels from Mwanza to Mbale and Jinja via Bukoba and Kampala at Easter (including  Murchison Falls in the North) were all taken by bus.

This would be the equivalent of a journey from London to Middlesborough via Bristol, Liverpoool and Manchester with a hop across to Northern Ireland.

Notice that Lake Victoria fills most of Southern and Central England.


UK (Mwanza Moshi)A trip to Moshi where we will meet the Mums at Christmas is like a journey from Edinburgh to Southend via Ayr and Blackpool.

We will fly this December but we went the opposite way by bus in the summer.


For our epic journey of Eastern and Southern Africa – a map of Britain won’t do so instead a map of the USA

USA

We traveled from Mwanza to Zomba then to Livingstone (Victoria Falls) and back again.US East Africa

This was the equivalent of a journey from the North of Ohio via Washingston DC to Southern Alabama and on into Texas.


This shows how vast Africa really is and perhaps how much smaller the USA and UK are really.US Africa

If you want to see how big your country is compared to any other part of the world check out the site for yourself

http://thetruesize.com/

The Road To Kigoma

Saturday 23rd October

We’re ‘upping sticks’ and heading out of Mwanza- for the week that is. It’s half term (mid-term) break and co-inciding with the election as it does makes it an excellent time to escape Mwanza (an opposition (Chedema) stronghold where some folk may not take kindly to losing). It was a good day to get up and leave town early as in the last day of the campaign the President, an ex-President and the man who would be president were coming to town to campaign for the governing party (CCM).

We were out at 4:30am packed for a week in Kigoma on the shores of Lake Tangyanika.  It’s a long journey estimated at 10 hours but in reality more like 16 with stops and this time unlike our journey from Lake Victoria to Victoria Falls we’re taking the car.

The journey  takes us from Mwanza to Shinyanga and on to Nzega and Tabora where we turn right and head across country to Kigoma.

Our early start allows us to make a good pace out of Mwanza, though the road is not good to begin with. Once into open country we cross the plain towards  Shinyanga and the road improves, though the frequent villages mean we need to keep switching from 80kph to 50kph at regular intervals. None of this seems to deter the coaches one of which regularly passes us at 100 kph only to be overtaken by us when it stops, as it does regularly, on the route. 

 We stop for Chai and Chapatti at a local stall just south of Shinyanga – so far no police have stopped us (a regular pastime seems to be stopping car drivers and demanding money for a spurious infringement whether it can be justified or not). 

    
 Beyond Shinyanga we are surprised to find they are building a new Tarmac road – this is the first road building program we have seen in Tanzania -at first the road is slow as the surface is newly gritted but soon we are zooming along.  It is the first time we have taken our car (ANA Gari) on a long trip, but newly serviced ‘she’ is behaving herself. The road takes us all the way into Tabora and on out towards Kigoma. This is so much better than we had expected and we make excellent pace, fewer villages and 100kph limits really help eat the miles. 

    
 We get about a quarter of the way from Tabora to Kigoma before the road stops and we are on a mud road. This has been graded and although the rippled ridges give it the feel of driving on a washboard  we are able to travel well, though oncoming lorries  and coaches tend to hog the road and we share it with bicycles and pedestrians many of whom tend to meander the roadway as they seek the best route. 

   
We cross the railway line many times on our route and on one occasion this passes nearby a market where we are able to source some provisions (we are self-catering this week). We also grab some late lunch at a local cafe (beans and rice and meat followed by banana). 

 The road is dusty and the aforementioned lorries kick up plumes which gets everywhere and coats everything. We travel like this for an hour then suddenly the road diverts and we see the next phase of construction of the new road alongside for many miles. 

   
    
 Finally we are allowed on and we have the luxury of Tarmac. This road lasts a long while but suddenly reverts to mud. The road keeps swapping from mud to Tarmac to mud over the remainder of our journey in 20-30km stretches. One such piece of Tarmac is possibly the best road we’ve been in here an excellent stretch which ends quite suddenly after Kikwete Bridge (named after the current President). We imagine this was built for him so the bridge could be opened before he returned by helicopter. This excellent road both starts and finishes in the middle of nowhere.

Talking politics we encounter numerous rallies along our route representing Chedema, CCM and a third party ACT which seems stronger in this region than elsewhere. 

 The land either side of the road is jungle forest but there is evidence of mild deforestation – the people here ‘harvest’ the wood and burn it to make charcoal- there are bags of it along the roadside and these enormous sacks are loaded onto bikes and pedaled off.  

    
 Late afternoon dust turns to mud on the muddier road as the aftermath of rain take its toll – we have had little rain ourselves but there’s been a lot. Then it’s back to Tarmac and the last leg of our journey into Kigoma.

This takes much longer than it seems on the map – that last stretch of a journey always does. In the pitch black we arrive in Kigoma and sought out Jakobsen’s Beach – not the easiest place to locate in a the dark. After a couple of lost turns and a little more luck than judgement we finally stumble on the road to our accommodation. This road quickly becomes a dirt track which almost disappears into a ditch at one point – we persevere and finally find our place. We’re here for a week in a bedded tent, self-catering. Untypical of recent holidays we’re not going far but after a 16 hour journey to get here- not that I’m complaining.

Meet ANA Gari

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.

A Little Luxury!

You can get most things in Mwanza if you look hard enough – but some things come at a price.U-Turn is the overpriced supermarket here in Mwanza – the place all ex-pats have to use (to keep sane) but love to hate due to their somewhat high prices.

Porridge is our staple breakfast here – it’s relatively inexpensive at 5000 TzS (£1.50) a tin., which lasts us about a week. We have had porridge most days since we’ve been here – but porridge can get a little boring after a  while.

Every so often U-Turn do a BOGOF  (Buy One Get One Free) deal.

Take for example Rice Krispies.

IMG_1508

Don’t be fooled by the price label. The price in the Supermarket would be equivalent to nearer £4 normally. So only when there is a BOGOF does it become affordable, though you do have to check the sell by date!

I never would have thought of the humble Rice Krispie as a bit or luxury, but here it is in a bowl. Time for breakfast!

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Wailing Ibis

What you can hear is the sound of a pair of Hadada Ibis in the tree behind our house (along with some cockerels). They make a lot of noise. In fact they are noisier when in flight when the calls you hear  are continuous, it’s much more tricky to capture that sound as they appear from nowhere.

I have come to associate life in Mwanza with the sound of these glossy green black birds – they are everywhere here, though thankfully they don’t always make this noise.

It’s In The Trees!

We have Bats in our Mango tree – I say our, it’s just outside our garden but on the compound where  we live. I was taking photos for my previous post (Broken Branches) when I noticed them. I was able to snap some clear photos of them roosting and some fuzzier ones of them in flight. They are very fast and silent flyers so I will need to be patient and get some more focused ones in the future.

Incidentally, the phrase “It’s in the trees” comes from a Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love”.  It’s a bit of a catch-phrase in the family – it’s usually followed incorrectly by “When I was child”, The origin is over twenty years old from a time in Milton Keynes when a group of us (twenty somethings) gathered for a weekly Friday video night – it was probably coined by a guy called Richard, who knows why? Over time it was used by my brother (an occasional visitor to the video night) and I and later my kids. No rhyme or reason! I have wanted to use it in a blog post – so here it is. “It’s In The Trees!”

Mwanza Shoreline

Mwanza is situated on Lake Victoria, but not on the “main lake”. It is actually sits on the Mwanza Channel, a narrow branch of the lake which stretches miles south from the main body of water. Our journey to and from Ukerewe gave us the opportunity to see Mwanza from a different perspective.

A Fan of the Future?

Our Fan can predict the future – honestly! We keep it on each night to keep us cool and to provide white noise which blocks out the sounds of the night.

However we have notice that our fan can predict the future. Just before a power cut for about 30 seconds, our fan revs up to a much higher speed, then the power cut begins. This has happened several times now.

A predictive fan? Well most likely there is a power surge ahead of the power cut. Last night this coincided with a thunder storm. The rains albeit in there early stages have started. The power cuts continue daily, and the fan predicts every one with accuracy.  

Life on the Streets

It’s a hard life on the Mwanza streets. A physical life, a life living hand to mouth. The streets of Mwanza are populated by traders. Some sell food, everything from popcorn and peanuts to barbecued beef and bananas. Some sell Tanzanian Maps and Rat Killer. Others repair shoes, others carve and sell stamps. Still others make and sell bangles and other jewelry or pieces of Art work.

All of the above scrapping a living from their wares, day by day, week by week.  We have got to know some of these guys (they are in the main male). Musa who repairs shoes near the Traffic Light is a really nice guy who is just trying to better himself. John is a street seller who makes bracelets. Both have in the past approached us for small loans  (there is no shame in doing so here). They don’t take something for nothing indeed John sold me some bracelets for 8000TZS (about £3.20 the money from which he will use to buy small screw threads with which to connect necklaces. I had no qualms in doing so – I’d much rather give to something positive rather than to a beggar. For me 8000 was really nothing and I wouldn’t do that for anyone. Similarly Musa has asked for some money to repaIr his shoe repair stand. I paid extra for the repairs to my sandals – he charges only 20000TzS (80p) for repairs! I hope I’m not coming across as altruistic or naive, but giving examples of what happens here.

Mwanza Streets (33)

There are of course the beggars and the street children as well as those better off who beg for money – I am less likely to give to those and certainly in smaller quantity (a larger sum would probably be stolen off the weaker ones anyway. The prase “Give Me My Money” is often heard and is particularly grating. This is possibly s mistranslation on their part from Kiswahili into English, but it is not conducive to  charitable giving, especially when associated with Mzungu!

Give me folk like Musa and John any day!

NCLC

After six months here we have settled into church and attend NCLC which meets just up the road at Isamilo Lodge Hotel. The church is a plant of Newcastle  Christian Life Centre. This church is part of Hillsong family of churches worldwide,and the Assemblies of God locally, here in Tanzania.

The other church plants are based in the North East of England (Teeside, Newcastle and Newcastle North), so Mwanza is a a little off the beaten track!

The Pastor and his family are from the UK, and founded the plant back in 2011. This followed more informal links between NCLC and Mwanza for a number of year.

It was the first church we visited back in September and having tried another church for a few months we started going to NCLC regularly in November. We have felt very welcome there and enjoy the services week by week. Anita has joined the women’s group which meets fortnightly and my daughter has just started helping out with Kids Church. We are open to see in what ways be can be of service in the months and years ahead.

It is good to be part of a fellowship again, having left St Mary’s in the UK, our spiritual home for 0ver 20 years ( in my case 26 years to be precise).

The church consists of about 40 people with many children, there are a good mix of expatriates from UK, US, Canada, Kenya and Ethiopia as well as local Tanzanians.

The worship is lively and the sermons are always thought provoking and challenging ( in a good way). For those who know, is is similar to

Initially there was just one weekly service, jointly in English and Kiswahili, but recently the church has split it’s morning services so that one service is in English (at 9:45am) and the other in Kiswahili (at 11:15am).  For us, although it was good to worship in both languages, it is certainly easier to follow a sermon in English solely without the obvious pause for the translation.

Between the services there is Chai (Tea) and a chance to meet the other congregation. In addition once a month there is a joint Baptismal service in which the swimming pool is utilised as a Baptismal pool. Each month there has always been someone who has wanted to be baptised.

We are very happy to be part of this church and look forward to being so for our time in Mwanza.

Six Months in Tanzania

Six months have come and in our new Tanzanian home. We landed in Mwanza on 22nd August and so our first full day here was the 23rd. Half a year on I share some of the pictures which have been part of our time here. For those on Facebook I have shared something similar but some different pics here.

August

Getting our bearings and making new friends.

September – Start of term, Nature, Malaika Beach

October – Travelling beyond Mwanza (Camping and Serengeti)

November – Birthdays, Fairs, Wag Hill and The Rains

December – Zanzibar and Christmas

January – More birthdays

February- Rubondo

Year in the Life of this Humble Blog – Thankyou

1 year WordPressA year ago today I started this blog – Valentine’s Day 2014 right at the beginning of our transcontinental odyssey. To begin with we catalogued our preparations for moving out. Very soon I started  peppering the blog  with submissions to the weekly photo challenge (run by word press and a way of getting noticed as well as being creative with the theme of the week) and put in a section cataloging our earlier travels.

The blog has been my way of unfolding our story and has acted as an online diary for me.

Once here in Tanzania it began chronicling our new lives here and our experiences and travels.  We also decided to list the wildlife here. One of the driving forces behind the blog has been communication with those in our families who aren’t on Facebook and have no desire to be. A way of informing them of our lives and activities and share the people and the town we live in.

Along the way others have followed our journey and it has been amazing to see from where these people have hailed.  As of this moment this blog has been viewed by  no less than 54,936 times, received 1,603  comments with visitors from 137 countries.

1 year Map

The two newest countries are at extremes China (at long last) and Vanuatu (tiny Pacific islands). The most, of course, have come from the UK, then USA and hot on their heels (and soon to take over) is Tanzania of course. Canada and Sweden lead the chasing pack, followed by Italy, Ireland and Australia. The full list is below  and shows views not visitors (Google skews this in favour of the US on visitors – see right panel) .

1 year Top Countries 1 year Top Countries 2 1 year Top Countries 3 1 year Top Countries 4 1 year Top Countries 5 1 year Top Countries 6

 

In truth the blog has seen a downturn in views as we have become more established here (our peak was in August and early September). Even so to those who’ve stuck with it (even if not every day) – thank you for viewing, thank you for commenting and above all thank you for taking an interest, whether you hail from the UK, US, Tanzania or China, Vanuatu or Gabon or somewhere in between  Karibuni (you are welcome).

The blog will continue and in coming weeks I will add links to a year ago for my reminiscence and others close to us.


Today is the one year anniversary of this blog –
here is what I wrote a year ago today

 

 

Half Term in the Sun

It’s half term (mid-term break) here in Mwanza. The start of a week’s holiday. February half term is normally the quietest of the breaks, the coldest and dullest (weatherwise) but welcome nonetheless. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas/New Year it’s a more relaxed break.
Of course last year this same break marked the real beginning of our epic journey which brought us across the globe and to different hemispheres (Northern and Western to Southern and Eastern). It’s a year tomorrow that I wrote my first blog post and a year ago the week ahead brought the start of the clear out, as Mum arrived to start the process of clearing the garage and garden.

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One year ago this coming week!

Now a year on it’s difficult to believe I am half way through my first year here in Tanzania. Time is really flying.
This half term will be more relaxed. We have plans to visit Rubondo Island at the end of the week with friends and colleagues. More of this later on, but we’re really looking forward to it.

Rubondo
Early in the week we’re meeting up with a couple from St Mary’s our old church (Steve and Judy), they run Wabia Network  (a charity doing work) out here in Mwanza and are visiting from the UK.

The rest of the week remains unplanned which is exactly how I like it. One thing very different to the UK is the weather which is scorchingly hot. This has turned February into the hottest month of the year so far and a complete contrast to February back home.

For my former colleagues and fellow professionals in the UK and to any off work this week hope you have a nice break.

Street Food – Mwanza Style

I thought I’d post a little about the street food options in Mwanza. The photos below were taken surreptitiously and so are less composed but show some of what’s on offer here in town.

Popular foods include Chipsi Mayai (a Potato Chip Omlette), Mandazi & Vitumbua (types of donut), Popcorn, as well as barbecued foods of many kinds such as Cassava Root, Mishkaki (spiced skewers of goat or beef), corn on the cob, sausages and goat ribs.

Today we were in need of some lunch so stopped at one of the street barbecues – and ordered some goat ribs (delicious), we were shown to a table in the adjacent cafe and ate this with rice. We also had some Vitumbua later on (also delicious). In the local markets you can sit down to Chai (spiced tea) and Chapati (flat bread). I have also seen a guy selling crushed sugar cane juice (though this is much more common in Zanzibar).

What’s Changed?

Life here is certainly different as this blog has recounted over the months but I thought that I might summarise the big differences of life as an expat teacher as we approach the end of our 5th Month in Tanzania. Continue reading

Girls Day Out

For our a long time I wanted to have a girlie day out.  For various good reasons there wasn’t a free day until today….

So off we set…

Neither of us had eaten breakfast, so we stopped for chai + mandazi (african donuts + sweet black tea).

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Bex has been saying for weeks how she wanted a new hairstyle, so we walked down to Talapia, where Guddy, a ‘Toni + Guy’ trained hairdresser works on the off-chance she might have a space, and sure enough she did and so the transformation began:

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It was now lunchtime, so we stayed at Talapia for refreshment

Then we walked back home (via the supermarket that sells sweets!)

Upon arriving back at the compound, Bex + Graham spent some time together doing ‘Sporkle’ quizzes online – which takes great concentration:

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In the evening (Matt was out babysitting) and we invited Bev, a neighbour on the compound, over for games – Mahjong + Black Queen.

So a great day – definitely one to be repeated.

What A Year! 2014 (Part 2)

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.

September

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!

Purple Grenadier

Purple Grenadier

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.

October

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.

November

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.Birthdays (1)

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.

December

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.IMG_9735

IMG_9738The 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.

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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.IMG_0731

As the year ended we again gathered for a New Year Celebration, 2014 was an amazing year I wonder what 2015 will hold?