Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First day of school... me... and Oliver & Andrew

Today was our first day.
Wow! I have forgotten how tiring it is to teach small children.
They are active, and there are so many lesson changes in a session.
However, despite my feeling of weariness now, the day went really well.

I really enjoyed Magdalena's music and Swahili lessons. The students made their own percussion instruments to use with the songs.

And an update on the girls...
They are OK. They were exhausted after arriving home yesterday, and had an early night.
Today they have arrived home and are straight into their homework.
Both have made some friends (although Maddie can't remember how to pronounce the names of some of hers).

Thanks for all the lovely messages over the past few days.

Monday, August 27, 2012


The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is conducting a census throughout the United Republic of Tanzania this month.
This year's census is the fifth since the independence of Tanganyika in 1961, the Zanzibar Revolution on January 12, 1964 with the birth of the United Republic of Tanzania on April 26, 1964. Other censuses were conducted in 1967, 1978, 1988 and 2002. (

The ticket on our gate about shows that we have been counted.
Apparently Arusha was able to complete its counting in five days.
Of course, with any large scale collection of statistics there are issues, and some unusual requests.

First day of school... the girls

We had a very early start this morning with two nervous/excited girls getting up at 5am - it is their first day of school in Tanzania.
School begins for them at 8.10am, and we drove them there today.
In the future a school bus will collect them from our place around 7am each morning, and drop them home around 4.30pm. A long day!
Below are some scenes from the car window as we drove.
It is a 30 minute drive out to the school from our place.

Arriving at school.
We didn't take any photos of them in the school yard as that would be embarrassing.

And driving back toward Arusha.
Mt Meru as always a magnificent back drop and past the airport (not the international one, just the small Arusha airport that caters for internal flights).

Sunday, August 26, 2012


After church we ate lunch at the Empire Sports Bar in Arusha, and did some last minute shopping for the girls, who begin their new school tomorrow.
Unfortunately you can't quite make out some of the precious spelling on the blackboard menu behind me - beef with green papper, chicken with mashroom souce, and mangoe juice.

William had an early birthday party this afternoon with a few friends. He was given a fantastic new bike which Oliver is now coveting.

We walked up to the school house to show it to the Taylors (another Australian family living & working in Arusha).
Whilst walking home we were greeted by one of the herd of goats that is daily walked along our road.
Last Sunday evening Andrew went for a walk to investigate where some loud singing was coming from and he discovered a church very nearby. He was invited in to give a greeting. During the week the pastor rang him and asked him to speak today, and so this afternoon he returned to do so.

A very busy Sunday.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


After the Wallabies abysmal results against the All Blacks today, we went to TGT to see the Aruhsa Rhinos vs the Kenyan Harlequins. Unfortunately Arusha (who we would barrack for by default) did not do so well either.
However, it was a great evening being able to sit and relax, listen to the South African accents surrounding us (I really like their accents!), and eat some food I didn't have to cook myself.
And mum, you would be pleased with Oliver's choice of pizza - bacon and banana.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Moon gazing

Last night AB brought his telescope out to look at the moon.
It was pretty amazing. I don't think I have ever looked at the moon through a telescope before.
I held my iPhone to the lens to take these photos but it doesn't do the view justice.

Later in the evening I saw Saturn and one of its moons. The rings were really clear.

The great thing about having no street lights is the stars (and planets) are so clear and bright.

The Station

After reading a comment left by a reader of my blog (from Texas no less!) Andrew & I went to find his sister and mum who have a business in Arusha, behind the Kibo Palace Hotel.
We found The Station - a bookshop, cafe, gift shop, and pet grooming & boarding business - and introduced ourselves to Serena and Joyce, and gave Joyce a big hug.

Sorry about the quality of the photo. It was taken quickly with my iPhone.
We enjoyed a cappuccino and muffin, and then some green chutney and curried chicken sandwiches, and bought some books for the school from their bookshop (they have a fantastic selection of books). And then went home with a delicious Goan beef and bean curry for dinner.
I know where we will be going to buy take away now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This afternoon AB worked on getting the trampoline in at the school house.

He lined the hole for the trampoline with corrugated iron to keep it from caving in, and then has begun to wedge tyres that have been cut in half down onto the sharp edges. We are thinking that we may need to shovel some concrete into the spaces to keep the tyres sturdy as the kids step over them onto the trampoline mat.

The kids were thrilled!

Mt Meru

This is the view of Mt Meru driving up our street today. It has been very clear over the past couple of days as it rained all Sunday night and the dust that has been swirling around has been dampened down.
Apparently it even had a little snow on it yesterday (I unfortunately did not notice!).

Mt Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania, and the tenth highest in Africa, standing at 4,565 metres. Kilimanjaro is 5,895 metres high.

Meru is a stratovolcano, that lost most of its bulk through a blast 8,000 years ago. Its last eruption (minor) was in 1910.

Below is an image of Mt Meru from space.

Monday, August 20, 2012

School staff

Today we began meeting with Magdalena and Paskalina, discussing the timetable, lesson content etc.
Magdalena is going to be teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She will be teaching Swahili, music and traditional storytelling.
Paskalina will be a teacher's assistant working Monday to Friday, assisting with the classroom management and group work.

Both are lovely ladies who have years of experience and it will be a privilege to work with them. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lauren's nails

It is Lauren's birthday tomorrow. Today we took her for a bit of a (cultural) treat.

We took her to have her nails done in a street that has a row of beauty salons.

Lauren chose green and blue, and the nail technician painted a great design.
Upendo came as well and had the Tanzanian flag painted on her nails - it is great to shop with her as she knows the 'real' cost.

The price for Lauren's and Upendo's nails was 9000 Tsh (about $6).

Counters for Maths

Some will be excited by this, some will not... look at the basket of bottle tops we are going to use as counters at school!

Maddie has been making her own collection to bring back to Australia one day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

School house update

Oliver has been helping to paint some of the cupboards we had made for the classroom.

And I have finished the shelves for our library.

Last week I managed to hang a very large whiteboard on a wall, and we bought what is called 'soft board' to make a notice board for another. We will have to employ a fundi to make a frame for it though as it is too soft to hold just by screwing it into the wall.

The grass is beginning to take in some areas, but there will be nothing like a lawn in time for school to start. The garden is looking good. Hopefully we will get some rain in October so it will flourish.

At the moment I am going through all the boxes of equipment and books we have collected, finding places to store it.

I'll take some more photos later this week.

Looking around Simba Farm

The farm has beef cattle (I think the breed is Zebu), and a few that are milked to make yoghurt and cheese.
These calves were waiting for their mothers to come back in from a day of grazing.

The older cattle returned for the evening.

Willem drove us around the farm to look at what was being grown and harvested.

The farm produces beans that are exported to Europe, as well as being sold locally.

Wheat and barley is also grown. The barley is exported for use by brewing companies.

We walked to the top of a hill on the property to have drinks and snacks.

We had a 360 view of the countryside, and enjoyed watching the mountains (Kilimanjaro, Meru and Longido) and plains change in the sunset.

Kilimanjaro became clearer as the sun went down. The range in front of Kili is the Shira Plateau.

Willem manages the growing of the vegetables on the farm.
The vegetables are bought by different safari lodges, and Yoka has a shop front in Arusha where they are available for sale.
Below is the cool room where the vegetables and herbs are being sorted. The walls are made of charcoal and have water dripping down through them. As the breeze blows through the walls the space inside is kept cool.

Just about every vegetable imaginable is grown on the farm.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Simba Farm

Simba Farm is a working farm on 6,500 acres in West Kilimanjaro. It grows all sorts of crops and vegetables, and has a guesthouse for people to come and stay.
The guesthouse was built in 1928 and is so pretty with deep window sills and concrete floors. After 9pm, the generators are turned off, and everything is lit by candles and kerosene lanterns.
Whilst we were there Yoka (the owner) and her brother Willem (Wim) were our hosts.

The meals prepared for us were delicious, and all made from fresh farm produce.

The kids were very pleased with the go-carts that were there for use...

and the farm dogs.

Behind Simba Farm are the forests of Mt Kilimanjaro National Park and the slopes of Shira Plateau, and to the west are amazing views of Mt Meru, and plains containing other farms and Maasai bomas.