Karibu! Home for 1 year

It’s eight in the morning and I’m sitting under my mosquito net {which always makes me think of TB sanatoriums and blood-letting for some reason} and drinking a cup of Masala Tea as I write this.

The roads need a little repair

I’m still not used to the morning sounds – it’s definitely not an English garden out there. I can hear what sounds like a wood pigeon but it throws in an extra coo to give it a funky African beat; I can hear the Askari sweeping outside – they work on rotation as our guards, guides, snake killers and currently one, Emmanuel, is teaching me Swahili once a week. Earlier there was the most incredible honking noise and I rushed out to see a comparatively small bird with beautiful mother of pearl feathers and a long curved beak like a Kiwi. If you’re an ornithologist you’d love it here: Kites fill the sky and you’re crisscrossed by their shadows several times a day. A dearth of snakes and rats must keep their numbers up. I share my bathroom with a gecko – we discovered each other on my first night and whilst he’s quite cute he’s a constant reminder that my shower is very open air so I always have to wash my hair with my eyes open!

I could have written 100 blog posts by now, temperamental internet not withstanding. One would have been entitled “A.W.A or ‘Africa Wins Again!’” – a phrase akin to an ironic sounding “Welcome to Africa!” and used following a mishap or strange rule or regulation that could only be attributed to here. I learnt it on my trip out here, when I was refused entry to the country despite having a visa, had to pay a large amount of money to an official who then disappeared with my passport for 45 minutes, my plane was first delayed, then malfunctioned, then broken, then lost, then finally found again. I arrived in Mwanza to the mother of all storms (can you remember the last time your windows shook to the sound of thunder?), which seemed appropriately reflective of my rather turbulent state of mind. I feel the phrase is slightly derogatory though – in hindsight I’ve discovered that everything seems to work out, you just need an inordinate amount of patience.

Dukas (shops) and the market

The shack on the right does the most delcious chapatis, cooked right in front of you

Dukas sell everything, eggs, phone credit, sachets of vodka…

 Another would have been titled “My kingdom for a synonym” as I have struggled to find more appropriate and vivid adjectives to the hackneyed ‘beautiful’ and ‘raw’ and other well-worn words that come to mind when trying to describe my new home. It really is quite incredible (oh, there’s another one) and I’m just going to have to improve with the camera or make up my own language. On that note, I’ve included some pictures of Bwirru, a borough of Mwanza and where I’m living, and my walk to work at the orphanage when I’m not going to school with Leila.

It takes about 15 minutes and you pass by such a diverse number of structures and homes. A few years ago the land was cheap so people started to build grand mansion-like houses but then ran out of money and abandoned them.

Some rich Tanzanians had more success and these 6 bedroom-ed, sweeping drive, gated properties are punctuated by corrugated iron shacks and mud huts with fires burning rubbish outside and washing drying on trees. 

I’d like to take pictures of this dichotomy but it seems disrespectful as often people are sitting outside their hut, plus one photographer told me they’d been pelted with pineapples when they’d tried.

Beautiful Bwiru


2 thoughts on “Bwiru

  1. Kirsty! It’s so cool to read this post (so beautifully written by the way!). I’ve been wondering how your first few weeks in Tanzania have been and so it’s awesome to hear some of your thoughts and experiences so far, sounds like a huge adjustment of course, and sounds like you were put through the wringer just trying to get there! The description you give of the contrasting housing structures very much reminds me of what I have seen in Tonga, where grand (and sometimes unfinished) mansion type houses sit side by side iron huts… so incongruous and always leaves me reflecting on approaches to development aid…

    Anyway, I hope it is going so well and that your work is going well so far too. It’s amazing what you are doing! 🙂

    • Hey! Lovely to hear from you and glad you’re enjoying it. To be honest I’m loving it here – I could blog everyday, so many new things I see or do or hear about. Certainly, considering how many people come out here to help and the fact that Tanzania is one of the biggest recipients of foreign aid, it is hard to see how many street children there are and how high the infant mortality rate is, for example. Still there are lots of great people here and amazing projects set up, which I’ll definitely be blogging about. Thanks for following and keep in touch!

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