Tag Archives: shopping

Rock City Mall

Mwanza has it’s first shopping mall.

IMG_0685b.jpgPre-Christmas (9)

It was being built before we came, but was virtually finished not long after we arrived. In the early part of 2015 it was rendered and painted, the insides were constructed and the outsides landscaped.

 Meanwhile we waited for it to open …. and waited and waited.

Rock City Mall finally opened just before the elections back in October. I say opened – the building was opened but few shops opened at the same time.

Today we paid a visit.

 The building is enormous. Four atriums surround a fifth each of these are floors high with an extra balcony in the middle atrium and a basement area.

The mall will cater for all your needs provided those needs are phones, banking, clothing and jewelry. Indeed banks and phone shops seem to dominate the allocated floor space though most remain as yet unopened.

The phrases ‘Opening Soon’ or ”Coming Soon’ are  very prevalent. In fact very little is currently open.

The pictures below were taken of the only stores that could be said to be open though even two of these were locked up!

A supermarket will apparently open soon and the shop has been partially fitted out but as yet there is no stock on the shelves.   

The mall echoes and we wondered as we wandered why it had been opened before it was ready.

There is some activity as workers fit out some of the shops, and in the two phone shops there were customers, which could not be said of the three clothes stores or the jewelry store. The banks are as yet not open, save the odd ATM. Most plots remain unallocated and unfurnished, rubble strewn concrete floors and bare electrics behind the polished glass windows.

 As yet the escalators do not function and I assume neither the lifts. The place certainly feel incomplete, though the orange and cream paintwork, chrome railings and marble floors are spotless.

 It is sad that the mall is so devoid of  shops and you have to ponder whether it ever will be truly full. We saw no sign of a place for a cinema which personally would be a great bonus. Maybe the opening of the supermarket will draw more custom, we will come back ourselves then, but for now it’s a place where tumble weed wouldn’t feel out of place.


Kigoma town is smaller than Mwanza and it’s commercial centre comprises a road leading up from the Railway Station. Kigoma is the end of the line for the train which runs from Dar Es Salaam via Tabora.

Near the station in the trees are hundreds of fruit bats hanging like black fruit from the trees. Easily scared they swarm in great flocks above the town. 

Kigoma has no large supermarket unlike Mwanza but does have small dukas selling a variety of goods. Even so it has a lot less to offer the ex-pat than Mwanza which suddenly seems a lot more westernised.   

The town has a bustling market area with fruit and veg sellers “cheek by jowl” with vitenge (cloth) sellers. 

The material here is more varied than in Mwanza incorporating Burundian and Congolese styles as well as Tanzanian. 

 There are Bijaji everywhere here and no piki piki that we have seen – Mwanza seems out of step with other towns as Bijaji are common in places like Moshi too.  

There are some nice hotels here such as the Hilltop Hotel where we ate last night (a little pricey but some good food). The hotel has an amazing view of the lake,  a fabulous pool (we didn’t swim) and its  very own herd of zebra. 


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.


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!


Bra Alley and Beyond!

Bra Alley is the colloquial name used by expats to describe the alleyway leading to and from the market. On Sunday’s this whole area becomes the fruit and veg market but on Saturdays the area is transformed into the clothes market and the alleyway festooned with bras for sale – hence the name.










Christmas Shopping in Mwanza

Now we have returned home to Mwanza it’s time to get prepared for Christmas in terms of food and drink that is – and also in terms of a few last minute gifts.

This year we are having a Compound Christmas Dinner between a number of the ex-pats who are here for Christmas and some of their visiting relatives. We are providing Veg and Puddings!

Today was a veg shop. Fruit and vegetables are plentiful in Mwanza and we are able to source most of what we need, carrots, peas (fresh), okra, potatoes, onions, green peppers, tomatoes are all plentiful here.

“Here in Mwanza you can get virtually anything you want if you know where to look” or so they say.I think we may be pushing our luck with Cranberries – though I have been told you can get beetroot and even red cabbage – so my usual “Mulled Red Cabbage” is on the menu. I have an alternative modification to replace the cranberries so we will see, hopefully a red cabbage is on route from the UK  we speak as a back up  just in case.

We bought a number of spices back from Zanzibar and we will make good use of these too,

Fruit here includes Mango, Pineapple, Lemons and Limes, Apples ( a luxury here), Grapes (also a luxury), Bananas, Oranges, Jack Fruit, Watermelon and Plums. No sign of a Tangerine yet – but we will keep looking. On the menu will be Compote of Oranges another Christmas staple (with Konyagi – the local brew in place of Cointreau) and and if we can get double cream we will make the Citrus Ice Cream. I’ll also make a fruit salad.

Others are providing the meat – Chicken in place of Turkey (very very expensive here and very rare too!) and pork which is available.

A family tradition for Christmas morning has always been kidneys and bacon which we have adapted to include mushrooms. Beef Kidney is available from Victoria Meat a western-style Butcher in town and bacon can be bought at a price from U-Turn our very expensive Supermarket – I have resisted buying up until now but I will for Christmas. I have seen little in the way of mushrooms since we have been here but today I found in Sita Supermarket (a small and much cheaper shop) a pack of Oyster Mushrooms. So our traditional breakfast will continue in Tanzania.

Prices here are different than in the UK. We also pay Mzungu prices which will be higher than for Tanzanian Nationals at the local markets.

1000 TZS is approx 38pence

For 1000 TZs you can get each of the following (in some cases you can better deals than this but it depends on where and on the quality of the produce!)

  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 pile of Tomatoes (8 -10)
  • 1 pile of Carrots (6 or so)
  • 1 kg of Potatoes
  • 5 large bananas
  • 1 pile of oranges (4-5)
  • A pile of Okra (8 -10)
  • A pile of Green Peppers (4-5)
  • 2 piles of small Onions (20+)

For 2000 TZS you can get a good sized Pineapple or a medium sized Watermelon.

Street sellers are selling nuts and you can get a medium sized pack of Cashews or Peanuts for 1000 – 2000 TZS.

Wine is  more expensive here relative to wages, though you can get some reasonable bargains. A bottle of Red costs about 11000 at the low end (just over £4), a Box of Red is between 40000 and 50000 (approx £16 – £20).

All this must be considered in terms of wages here which for me is about 1/3 of UK.

One thing to be said is that Christmas arrives much later here in terms of commerce. Only this week have we started to see Christmas Trees and decorations in the shops and hotels, both here in Mwanza and in Stone Town. It makes a change from the over commercialism of the UK.


No Black Friday here – Thank Goodness!

Don’t Go into Town : Riots and Tear Gas

The following is a message which appeared on the Notice board at lunchtime today,

Don’t Go into Town : Riots and Tear Gas!

Certainly nothing I would ever have expected to see on in the Staff Room in Thame or in Milton Keynes.

We had heard the shots go off in the lesson before lunch, unaware what it was at the time.

This sounds quite alarming – and it was at the time. In a sense it’s all part  and parcel of living in a developing country. To put your minds at rest the disturbance was miles from the school which is sighted in Isamilo (a suburb of Mwanza). Furthermore it turned out to be quite localised. A colleague returning from town had been unaware of any issues taking place at all.

My main concern was Anita who had been due to be in town today – it turns out she saw nothing and only heard about it on her return to the compound from Gold Crest (thankfully in a Taxi).


The events in question occurred on streets near some of the shops close to the Traffic Lights, where police were evicting the unlicensed street traders from their ‘pitches’. This was due to complaints by the shops over lost trade and an enforcement order by the council.  The eviction prompted protests by those affected and this was dispersed by tear gas. I am sure for those affected this was not a pleasant experience and we were right to be warned but it was not on the scale of the London Riots of a few years back.

Personally I have some sympathy with the traders – poor people trying to earn a crust by some means. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

In spite of this I am not worried about going into town. We are well warned when these things happen, the grapevine tends to do its job well. Mwanza and Tanzania remain relatively safe places to be with suitable precautions.

Saturday Shop

It’s become a routine. A leisurely walk into town and a wander around the shops. Sometimes with a purpose (like last week’s Hospital Visit), sometimes less so.

Mwanza has a busy if compact shopping area based around the central Traffic Light, the three roundabouts and the stretch leading up to the market area.


Centre of Town

Broadly speaking this area stretches from the Imalaseco Roundabout along Kenyatta Road past the Gold Crest Hotel and on to the Fish Roundabout stretches back past the Mwananichi Hospital and across through the Street Market to the Clothes Market and along Nyerere Road past the Traffic Light.

The route in from U-Turn takes us past a number of Artists from whom we have purchased some works.

U-turn is the best and also the most expensive supermarket in town – but you can get most things here. Sita, Nonos and Imalaseco also have a range of goods the latter is better for hardware.

As far as eating places the Bakery is good for buying a range of baked goods, the pizzeria is reasonably cheap and does good pizzas. Gold Crest is a nice place for a drink (coffee or beer as the preference takes).

There are a number of markets in town and the cloth market is good for materials.

To be honest most Saturdays it’s nice to take in the atmosphere and observe the hustle and bustle.

Saturday in Mwanza

T + 14

Two weeks ago we arrived in Mwanza – it seems like we’ve been here forever. Last night we met with a whole bunch of expats, mostly Americans but with a few Brits and Canadians and Germans. All are Christian development workers who meet on the first Friday in the month for food and fellowship. It was a great time and a good chance to meet other folk.
After a long first week of teaching it was nice to have a bit of a lay in today.
Just after 9:30 we met with a carpenter who is going to make a bench for us, for the patio – our neighbours Stéfan and Rachel had one made and we like the design – should we with us midweek.
Then it was into town with another neighbour friend Aletta for a bit of shopping.
Mwanza is a busy town with a variety of shops but first stop was a local café to meet John and John. These Tanzanian guys met Anita and neighbour Liz yesterday. They are artists who do work to sell and provide support to a local orphanage. . Anita had been given to paintings overnight with a desire to buy one and return the other today. As skeptical as I was initially they both seemed really genuine guys. IMG_8710-0.JPG
After coffee and cake we set off around town – the main items included a toaster (I miss toast!) and surge protectors, saucepans, tea strainer (loose leaf tea here), material for making some clothes for the family (we have commissioned a tailor).



After a few hours of walking we ended up at the only ice cream parlour in town.

IMG_8700.JPGHere we met Joel one of the folk at last night’s meeting, who kindly gave us a lift home.

Every Day’s A Last! (Familiar Haunts and Steep Ascents)

T Minus 7

So with Friday here – it is now the case that every day will be the last in the UK for the time being. It is amazing to realise how time has flown in the  last 90 days – it hardly seemed that long ago I was recalling the half way point but now we are in the final week.

Today was spent doing a little sight-seeing in my home town of Lincoln, plus a little more last-minute shopping ( picking up things ordered on Wednesday.

It was great to wander through the town and to descend, then ascend Steep Hill in Lincoln, thus ticking off another bucket list item. When you live in a place, you can take it for granted and so it is with Lincoln. The Cathedral dominates the city and is an amazing piece of architecture – it was the tallest building in the world in the Middle Ages (until 1589 when the central spire collapsed). It is far too expensive to go into (unfortunately) but the views are good from the Castle (much cheaper) and the square below. Steep Hill is a fitting name – it’s a good climb up with plenty of little shops on route. At the top the Cathedral and Castle are sited on opposite sides of a square. The castle is currently undergoing refurbishment prior to the arrival of Magna Carta in Spring 2015. Even so part of the  wall is walkable with some fantastic views, when finished the wall will be navigable.

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This morning it was great to spend time with my brother and to have a walk around Swanholme Lakes a local nature reserve. The old gravel pits have become lakes and surrounded by woodland. Blackberries and Acorns adorned the bushes and trees – still ripening away. Funny to think we will not be here for Autumn this year. The reserve is a familiar haunt and a walk we do most times we come to Lincoln – it was a slice of the familiar before the unfamiliar which awaits.

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Shopping for Tanzania

T Minus 9

Today has been a shopping day in preparation for Tanzania. Traffic in Lincoln was as bad as ever so it took much longer than expected. IMG_8405.JPGIMG_8400.JPG
Even so our spree resulted in shoes for all (2 pairs each) ;school uniform for our kids; a work suit for me (linen – for the hotter climes – not sure if I’ll need a jacket but useful even so); a mini camera and an iPad Air (our iPad 1 being on it’s last legs) to add to our collection of electronics – we feel this important and necessary in our transition and will provide some semblance of normality along with the laptops for work etc.
We have also plumped for trekking towels – I found that these worked excellently in Vietnam /Cambodia last summer and are do much less bulky than the traditional material. It’s a bit like drying with a chamois leather but very effective and they dry so quickly.
I really don’t know how all this is squeezing into the luggage, but needs must.

Backpacks, Racquets & Dried Shampoo

T Minus 30!

With less than a month to go (gulp!) we have been into town today buying things for the journey and the life beyond.

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