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Erika's Reflections - Tanzania 2011

Reflections from Saskia's mother's 3 months in Tanzania with us.

Erika's Reflections - 27th August 2011

On to the next stage....

Well what a busy last few days.  Monday we had a lovely fish and chips dinner cooked by Rose Klein, first fish in Murgwanza (we are not exactly near the coast here), then Tuesday afternoon whilst tutoring Adjui, the Bennets came to say goodbye.  They are a lovely couple from Adelaide, my age and I am sorry to say that in the three months I only got to visit with them a couple of times.  They are very busy and involved in all sorts of things.  Andy is sourcing the solar lamps which should be in his hands today so Saskia will be able to start handing out the 22 she ordered very soon.  The students here have been very patient but looking forward to being able to study at home at night.
When they left, Ephraim and James came and asked me to stay another week as they needed more maths help.  Then various nursing students who have befriended Sas and Rob also came to wish me a safe journey.  Finally there was a lull and we got some peace.  

This morning the whole family went to snack rock with our morning chai (coffee for us wazungus).  This is my favourite place to sit and just be, looking out over the valley.  Apart from that, the boys made the most of my last morning and got me to mend various animals (toy) and make clothes for Oliver's two puppets and finish Jake's new panga pouch.  Then we had some excitement when the goat I bought for Godriva arrived. I ordered a female and was delighted to get a pregnant one.  Here goats are savings.  When you need some money for school fees or something like that, you sell a goat.  I gave George Tsh 30,000 to buy shoes and other necessities for his start at nursing school.  Sounds a lot, but actually is only A$20.

Saskia, Rob and George drove me to the border with Rwanda where we had booked a rafiki (friend of a friend) to drive me to Kigali International airport.  This is a 3 - 3.5hr drive,  we did it in 2.5 hrs and that was with one police stop and one stop to buy refreshments.  Mad, crazy!  90 kph on country roads with pedestrians and cyclists scattering at the sound of his incessant horn.  He only slowed down when the speed limit went to 30kph (he then slowed right down to 60!!!)  There were police dotted at 5 minute intervals (really, I kept an eye on my watch) with guns on either side of the road.  They didn't seem to care if we were speeding, overtaking on curves or across solid lines.  The one who did stop us just wanted to check his papers.  I made it!  I am now sitting in Bourbon Cafe at Kigali airport having a strong coffee to get my heart started again.

The countryside was so clean, on the whole trip from border to airport I only saw three bits of litter by the side of the road.  I don't think Australia can compete and certainly not Tanzania.  Here in Rwanda they have clean-up Rwanda day on the first Saturday of the month.  It is compulsory and seems to work because even though it is 24th of the month, everything was still spotless.  Other differences, you are right Saskia, the Rwandans are taller and slimmer than Tanzanians.  In contrast, the bananas on the trees are small and few.

There doesn't seem to be free wifi here, so this will have to wait until Amsterdam. I will go check in now.
PS During check-in: they are really extremely security conscious here.  

  1. Enter airport, show passport and ticket, get scrutinised, yes picture agrees with face.  You may go through the security screening.
  2. Pick up bags, belts, shoes etc and line up for document check. Passport, check photo, check ticket, please go to Check-In.
  3. At Check-in, hand over passport, check photo matches again, ticket OK so issue boarding pass. Go upstairs to Immigration.
  4. At Immigration, hand in departure card and….you guessed it! Passport.  Check again, fancy that, I still look like my passport photo if a little more frustrated.  Move on to second security screening.  At last!  I made it to the gate!
  5. Show boarding pass and move out onto tarmac towards plane.  Oh NO!  Out with the passport again.

I know I should be pleased, but five times?

PS Sorry this is a few days late.  My aunt has wifi but doesn't know the password, but I found a Coffee Company cafe where you get 1 hr free wifi with a cup of coffee!


Erika's Reflections - 17th August 2011

Well, I think the wet season has arrived!  I was hoping to experience it before I left - nothing like I had been led to believe.  I thought it meant showers each afternoon but instead today around 2.45 it started to rain.  I debated about bringing the washing in as previously we had only had a few drops and then it would stop just as I had brought all the washing in.  Fortunately I decided to err on the side of caution. It has been bucketing down since 3pm (it is now 5.15pm). 

The boys decided to put the plastic Oli got for his birthday out on the sloping grass and use it as a slip and slide.  It didn't take long for Wizz (one of the african friends who was playing here) to strip off and join them.  His little brother Upenda was a little more sensible, he just watched from inside with me.  Rob boiled the kettle to add some warm water to the bath as the power keeps going off so the hot water system hasn't really had a chance to heat up yet.  It wasn't long before we had 4 cold little boys in the bath.  Now they are all dressed again and playing with cars.  I guess at some stage we will have to send them home in the rain.  I don't know if their parents even know where they are.

So much water, I think I can even see the dry grass giving way to green shoots. Rob says it is my imagination but that it should be greener in a couple of days and the sky should be clear over the valley tomorrow.  I really hope so.  Meanwhile, we are all in long pants and long sleeves, with the adults in fleeces.  A bit different to a few days ago.

Rob's parents sent the DVD of The Rift Valley and it has been a great source of entertainment.  The boys have watched it all and keep going back to their favourite bits.  Having seen most of these animals ourselves meant we related even more to the film.  The volcanos are also a source of fascination for the boys. It is amazing how much they have learnt and retained, just from watching a video.  Better than school!  Now I know why so many departments show videos.  Unfortunately, we don't have any maths videos here and anyway, they are too shrewd - that would be considered school work while watching a video on the Rift Valley is just fun. 

Saskia is just planning today's work, then we need to corral the boys - Saskia and my favourite time of day.  NOT.  Bring on school next year!  We will go out for lunch to celebrate, my treat!

Yesterday the Tumaini boys, carpenters Enoch and Wilbrod, came to give us a rooster as a gift.  It is meant for eating and after being woken at 4.30am by its crowing 20 cm from my head, I am ready to eat it now!  We had decided to wait until Friday, however, Jake has just yelled at it to "Shut Up!" and then come in to say: "Kill it now!"  It is a beautiful animal. Large, majestic and with very colourful plumage. Seems a shame to eat it, especially as we know it won't taste like chickens we are used to in Australia.  It is hard to make it tender and juicy.  Be grateful for all those hormones!

Make school work relevant!  OK, I printed a colouring picture of a rooster and Oliver and I went outside to observe the rooster.  We noted the colours of its tail feathers, beak, legs etc, marked each with the relevant colour and then took it inside to finish colouring in.  So, can I tick off art and science?

I have been trying to download and install various updates but the internet keeps dropping out.  Last night I left it whirring away overnight but when I got up it had dropped out again! Frustrating.

Please send news of Home.  I look forward to hearing from you, even if you don't have anything interesting to tell me.  The minutae of life in Sydney will be interesting to me.  

Till next time.

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