Friday, May 30, 2014

Scenes from the school house over the past 2 weeks

Making mats from recycled materials with Magdalena.

 Playing their own version of Scrabble.

More garden creations.

Cooking with Stephanie.

Giant jigsaw puzzles.

Learning how to play chess.

Friday afternoon fun with some home schooling visitors.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lauren's back

Lauren arrived home from climbing Mt Meru tired but in good spirits.
She took some good photos too.

the hike began in Arusha National Park

Lauren and Kisha

above the cloud line, Kili in the background

heading towards the peak

 Kara and Lauren


 looking back down on the descent

the shadow of Meru on the descent

 Saddle Hut

 Kilimanjaro in the distance

early morning 'I made it' jump

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Oliver has developed an interest in gemstones since living in Tanzania (and who wouldn't!!). Particularly Tanzanite.
Yesterday we visited the offices/shop of the Tanzanite Experience in Arusha.

Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite (a calcium aluminium hydroxyl Sorosilicate) belonging to the epidote group. It was discovered in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite is used as a gemstone, and naturally-formed tanzanite is extremely rare, still found only in the Mererani Hills.
Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism, appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystalorientation. Tanzanite can also appear differently when viewed under alternate lighting conditions. The blues appear more evident when subjected to fluorescent light and the violet hues can be seen readily when viewed under incandescent illumination. Tanzanite is usually a reddish brown in its rough state, requiring artificial heat treatment to bring out the blue violet of the stone.
The mineral was named by Tiffany & Co. after Tanzania, the country in which it was discovered. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose Tanzanite as a December birthstone, the first change to their birthstone list since 1912. (Wikipedia)

I learnt yesterday that the mining of Tanzanite may only last another 20 years, then the source (and there is only one place it is found) will be depleted.  Oliver will have to buy up now!!

Monday, May 26, 2014


Andrew left today to travel to Shirati.
He has gone with Egon Falk and his team on a crusade.

Shirati is a town in North MaraTanzania on the shore above Lake Victoria, near the border with Kenya. It has a population of c. 50,000. (WIKIPEDIA)

 photo credit: Don Bryant

If you are looking for him bad luck. He is there until next week with no Internet, just his very cheap Nokia phone :)

Hopefully there will be some good photos to follow...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Climbing Kilimanjaro... or altitude sickness

 not my own photo - something I found on Google images

Maddie was to be climbing Kilimanjaro this week, but we got a call this morning to say that she was unwell and was making her way back down to the Marangu Gate.
We are so disappointed for her - she was so excited to be doing the climb.

Apparently altitude sickness can come from 2438m. She woke up this morning at the Mandara camp (2700m) not feeling at all well and having trouble breathing. Such a shame as she made it up Mt Meru last year without any issues.

From WebMD
Altitude sickness occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as a headache, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. It happens most often when people who are not used to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to 8000 ft (2438 m) or higher. For example, you may get a headache when you drive over a high mountain pass, hike to a high altitude, or arrive at a mountain resort.
Mild altitude sickness is common. Experts do not know who will get it and who will not. Neither your fitness level nor being male or female plays a role in whether you get altitude sickness.
Air is "thinner" at high altitudes. When you go too high too fast, your body cannot get as much oxygen as it needs. So you need to breathe faster. This causes the headache and other symptoms of altitude sickness. As your body gets used to the altitude, the symptoms go away
The symptoms of altitude sickness include:
  • A headache, which is usually throbbing. It gets worse during the night and when you wake up.
  • Not feeling like eating.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach. You may vomit.
  • Feeling weak and tired. In severe cases, you do not have the energy to eat, dress yourself, or do anything.
  • Waking up during the night and not sleeping well.
  • Feeling dizzy.
Your symptoms may be mild to severe. They may not start until a day after you have been at a high altitude. Many people say altitude sickness feels like having a hangover.
Altitude sickness can affect your lungs and brain. When this happens, symptoms include being confused, not being able to walk straight (ataxia), feeling faint, and having blue or gray lips or fingernails. When you breathe, you may hear a sound like a paper bag being crumpled. These symptoms mean the condition is severe. It may be deadly.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Driving in Arusha

Tanzanians are very patient people.
They will wait for hours for someone to turn up to a meeting. For a shop to open. For a church service to end. For the bride to arrive at a wedding. Very patient.

Until they get behind the wheel of a car.

I was reminded of this today as I was waiting at some traffic lights. People behind me were getting upset that I was sitting there for so long, honking their horns and then eventually driving around me through the red light.

Driving in Arusha has had its frustrations.
However, I think that now that I have become used to it, how will I drive in Sydney traffic again???

Here are a few things about driving in Arusha (and it probably applies for a lot of Africa).

Having a car's indicators on can mean a number of things:
* I am thinking about turning sometime in the next 10 minutes,
* I recently turned onto this road,
* I am going to pass all the cars in front by making a 3rd lane (the third lane can appear in 2 forms - to the left when the car/s drive precariously on the shoulder of the road, or the the right causing oncoming traffic some bother), or
* I don't know it is on.
If the truck in front of you is indicating it could mean:
* It is safe for you to overtake me,
* It is not safe for you to overtake me,
* I am about to overtake another slow moving vehicle in front, or
* I don't know it is on.

creating the third lane using the right-hand blinker

Headlights are often flashed, not used at all (night driving hazard) or kept on high beam (another night driving hazard). The flashing of means:
* Hello (I am often greeted by the girls' school bus driver this way),
* I am about to turn in front of you (incoming) so you should slow down or stop,
* I am driving in the wrong lane in the wrong direction so you should move to the side, or
* I am being kind and going to let you turn in front of me.

Traffic Lights
Merely a suggestion of how traffic should behave. Approach cautiously even when green.

the traffic lights at Sanawari

Speed Bumps
I am not sure why there are any speed bumps on the roads. Traffic rarely exceeds 40 km/hr in town on the paved roads. However, these impediments are placed on the unsealed, pot-holed roads too where the maximum speed is about 20 km/hr... just to slow us down.

speed bump approaching in Sekai - looks harmless from the photo

Again used for a number of reasons:
* get out of the way dog/pedestrian/bicycle rider etc.,
* I am travelling towards you in the wrong lane (a kind warning if you missed the flashing headlights),
* I am drunk or high, 
* a daladala attracting passengers, or
* "Look at me!"
daladalas on the Arusha/Nairobi road

Hand Gestures
There are many hand gestures that are used by drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are some of the ones I have learnt:
* Arm outstretched, hand facing down but waving up and down - I want a lift if from a pedestrian, or I am about to turn/pull out in front of you if from a driver,
* Hand upside down with fingers pointing downwards made by a driver - my car is full so I can't take anymore passengers,
* Index finger held aloft and spun in a circular motion - I am driving all over the place so don't ask me for a lift, and
* Fingers pointing from several people along your route indicating a 'flat' tyre - don't stop as it is usually a scam to rob you.

a truck that got too close to the incredibly deep gutters at Kwa Iddi/Sakina

Other dangers things to watch out for:
* mkokteni (hand carts)
* bicycles
* bodaboda & pikipiki (motorbikes in their hundreds)
* daladalas
* pedestrians
* donkeys
* dogs
* ice-cream sellers (??)
* cattle/goats/sheep
* very deep gutters/drains
* narrow bridges
* pot holes
* presidential motorcades (scary if you have no idea what is happening)
* wedding parties, always featuring a discordant brass band standing on the back of a utility truck, weaving their was slowly through town

a very narrow bridge on a back street heading towards Njiro

In many ways the 'anything goes' mentality of drivers in Arusha has helped me relax in situations that would send me into a cold sweat in Australia.
Yes, I have backed our van out of a parking spot into oncoming traffic (slowly), not bothering to wait for a break in it. I learnt to do this after spending a while sitting waiting for my turn in town, when a kind man approached my car and gave the advice: you just have to push in... be aggressive.
Yes, I have myself made a third lane, pushing in to make a right-hand turn.
Yes, I have driven through a red light.

driving through Olasiti

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Scenes from the school house this week

We celebrated a birthday and ate a delicious cake.

And then made cakes from sand (mud).

We recycled some milk & juice cartons to make out own doctor/medical kits.

And the great excitement was that our school cat, Midnight, had 3 kittens. They are so sweet!!