So much red dust and so many ants…

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Above are pics of the road from our house to the school and one of town.  Our corner shop which is mainly closed but sells fresh cow milk, really fresh!  And the river which is a few yards from our gate.

After a long plane journey we finally arrived in Moshi looking frazzled and dazed but happy to be greeted by warm sunshine and beautifully coloured birds.  We eventually got dropped at our house where we met our friendly gardener Daniel who looks after what I now call “the park”.  The “park” is lovely with red earth and various trees including a HUGE jacaranda, can’t wait for it to flower – one of my favourite trees.  The house is very spacious and as you gathered the garden is massive.  We have three bedrooms one with ensuite and a walk-in wardrobe and another bathroom with a shower which is where our front door is, so if you were to come in via our front door you may encounter one of us either in the shower or on the toilet!  The back door fortunately opens onto a veranda which I have named the “chicken coop” as it is surrounded by something akin to chicken wire.  We will remove that in due course.  Nothing works properly, the hot water is mainly cold and the taps are falling off, the toilets and the drains smell on and off but we like it here.  The space is great and the rent is $50 per month so what is there to be unhappy about?

We are in Shanti Town which is the posh part of town.  All the roads are colourful red dirt roads and there are various large houses with gardens and guards around.  I have not seen other parts of town yet but am told that this part has the best roads!  Not much wildlife here apart from many butterflies, lizards of various shapes, sizes and colours and birds.  The birds are stunning with vivid colours, blues, yellows, long tails and pigeons.  Apparently there used to be a lot more birds but they get killed for food.  There are also a lot of ants which I am waging a war against and am loosing miserably.  Trails and trails of ants come into the house from all orifices unknown to us.  They are tiny ants, slightly red and they get everywhere.  Here goes one on the laptop screen as I type…  One in my tea this morning, one on the bed as I was reading but the majority seem to prefer the kitchen.  Leave a crumb on the worktop and you are doomed!  There are a few little jumping spiders in the house too.  The gardener told me that the previous tenant found a black snake in a kitchen drawer which has now make me slightly nervous every time I open a drawer.

I brought lots of seeds with me and gave them to the gardener, he was happy and promptly planted them all in together so now I have no idea what is what!  They are already sprouting and I wonder what they all are… Glad I kept some back to plant later.  Daniel is a sweet man who tries hard to teach me Swahili, something which I am struggling with, as soon as I learn a word it slips from my mind almost immediately!

We also have a night security guard and two weekend gardeners!  Plenty of padlocks and window bars and cannot walk about after dark, common fare in Africa but it will take some getting used to, I am never alone in the house!  I am also regularly asked if I want a Dada (maid), I think having someone else about would be too much and how would I entertain myself if I had no housework to do?!  I was mildly tempted after I found out that any washing hung out to dry can get mango fly.  Mango fly has nothing to do with mangos, it is not a worm either.  It is a maggot of a fly that hatches its eggs in damp clothes and places with strong smells.  You wear the clothes, the eggs hatch into larvae which burrows into your skin.  You then squeeze the larvae out of your skin!  One way to prevent this is by ironing EVERYTHING!!!  I have found that if I dry clothes inside the veranda I do not have to iron. There are plenty of other ailments but maybe I will reveal one at the time.

Town is non eventful, dusty and about 4 kms away from the house.  It is like India but a little less manic.  The local market is great for fresh locally grown fruit and veg, it helps to know the numbers which I am struggling to master, does not bode well….  Meat and fish are hard to come by so we have turned a little vegetarian eating rice and beans which are plentiful and varied.  There are western type shops which are expensive but good for Nutella and granola.   The school is lovely and Geoff and the kids are happy; they are all at school now and seem to be settling in well.  The school have been welcoming and friendly and have arranged social events which have been really good.  I have somehow been drafted to run a primary cookery club at the school and am being chased to help with Brownies which I am resisting.  Cookery club I am happy with except they have no equipment and I have an oven which looks like it has come out of a dolls house!  I have offered to be a mentor to children who are struggling and need to arrange to meet someone in town for possible work in an NGO to work in a micro financing project with women.  Fingers crossed.  I could stay at home but being a housewife does not agree with me!

We have just bought an old Land Cruiser, affectionally christened by me as “the tank”.  It is like a tank, very old and slightly falling apart and it is huge!  We are waiting for it to be delivered and I am too scared to drive it as I fear I may maim half the population.  Something to get used to, I guess.  Once I get the tank I will be able to drive about scaring the locals (and myself) instead of being housebound.  Transport is erratic and taxis are abundant but cannot really afford to keep getting taxis and it makes me feel more of a colonialist!

Still trying to get connected but everything here takes time (a long time!) and people generally do not turn up when they are supposed to turn up, so who knows…  I tap into the internet at school when I wander in and hang around corners looking shifty on my phone but apart from that, I am cut off from the world, no phone number, no internet, no TV.  It feels rather liberating!

Below is our house, and garden and our street name.

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And photos of the school

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And pics of town and bits (chicken coop veranda) and the “tank”

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5 Responses to “So much red dust and so many ants…”

  1. Marilyn

    Wow Stephanie what an adventure you are all having ! Sounds as if you have a few volunteering opportunities !!! The tank looks great will you be able to climb into it ???? Here its the same at work !!! Not many people in as on annual leave no management available same old story !!!! Annie not coming back to work at all as is definitely retiring, not even having a retirement do but I’m sure Teresa, Annie, Di and Elaine will do something with her. Keep up with the blogs its great hearing how different it is over there and how your doing. Take care love Marilyn x


    • lisbonchick

      Lovely to hear from you! All going well here but it is hard work. Nothing works properly and people are unreliable when it comes to fixing things. A little like Portugal but worse. I go up and down, some days I feel I can stay here for a few years, other times I hate it and wonder why I am here at all. Part of the course. Geoff and the kids are happy at school and I just potter around and go for the odd drive in the tank. I can climb but not so easy to get out again!! Having a dog has made me feel better. Annie did say she was not coming back. How is work for you? I must say I am not missing it a bit and barely think of it apart from the odd client and wonder how they are doing but I guess I will never know…


  2. Gail Wilson

    Hi Steph,
    Am I replying in the right bit? Or am I replying to Marilyn, oops?
    Anyways, good to hear you’re on a crash course, learning about Tropical Medicine… So there is a point in ironing clothes after all?
    Also good to hear your mission for a Postal address is shaping up.. You established you live in Euphoria Road, POSHShanti, sponsored by Cocoa Cola…OK?
    Just got to sort all the equalities stuff now & your job is done…Ha ha
    The NGO work sounds interesting, are micro financing projects kinda like Credit Unions?
    When will the jacaranda flower? I’m very envious, I sent you a link for identifying plants, I expect you & Daniel can come up a list of species in your ‘Park’ by end of month?
    I’ll look for a good site for bird identification, or have you got one?

    The boy has been shorn…Very handsome!
    I bet the kids will end up teaching you Swahili….. How’s Marianne taking to it all? She looks very at ease with it all in pics.
    Keep up with the Brownie Resistance…. but send any amazing recipes please.
    Whats Geoff making of the School?
    Good luck with the ants.
    It all sounds fantastically different from our world here, its great to hear about it, keep Blogging x


    • lisbonchick

      Hello Gail
      So nice to hear from you and thank you for the link re the plants. I do have a book about birds but it is still finding its way to me in the Tanzanian post, let’s hope it gets here. Things are not exactly efficient here and an infinite amount of patient is required to get through the day or at times only part of the day! The jacaranda flowers in December I think, we have two massive ones, one of my favourite trees, they call then Xmas trees here. The others are a mango tree and an orange and a few yet unidentified species. I have planted the seeds and they are coming up but one of the gardeners was a little too enthusiastic with the watering and the little plants kind of drowned and uprooted themselves, I am hoping they will find their footing again.

      Our road is named after the illustrious local doctor who lives a few houses down from us. Every road has a Coca Cola sign and most roads are off road roads! It is not easy to find anywhere as most roads have no name and our house has no number or name. There is no postie either so that needs sorting.

      The NGO is indeed like a credit union type thing. The idea is for women to form a co-op and to manage their own money in their own credit union. To then expand into training around literacy, numeracy, budgeting and so on. Chickens are popular here so I am thinking about a chicken co-op where the money can be used to then expand the business and develop and good training sector. I am meeting the woman in charge in a couple of weeks so feeling rather excited and scared too!

      Recipes are not hopeful. Food is basic and so far the only remotely interesting think has been Ugali which is a kind of tasteless corn flour, a bit like a fine polenta but with less flavour and very stodgy. I kind of like it but Geoff and the kids find it inedible!!

      How is life in old Brighton? Such a world apart…


  3. patricia hamm

    Well Stephanie it is certainly a brand new life. It sounds hard work and kind of difficult to adjust but you will get there. It sounds very exciting though. Such different life to our Western world. Not sure I would be very happy to find a snake in my drawer though !! Cannot stand them. It is nice to hear that the children are settling down and like their school. You seem to have some projects on the go. I can’t see how you can get bored. i love the photo of the flower you have chosen in your photo selection. I went to Bali in August and saw the same one there. I brought one back with me but unfortunately it does not like this climate so it is dying slowly. As for us here, we are going back to school tomorrow. Rather liked to be on holiday and every year it is more and more difficult to go back, We will miss Josh at the after school club and I will miss Marianne at French Club. all the best to you all. Please keep in touch. love Patricia Hamm



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