Sunday, 8 April 2012

On the stretching and contracting of time

I remember arriving in Tanzania in November and that smell of Africa assaulting my nostrils and seeping through my being.  It had been so long since I had last been to this continent, 1995 I think but it didn’t seem that long ago.  The first 6 weeks we were here went so very slowly and they were hard.  It is always difficult adjusting to a new place but our house was decrepit and depressing and I found it hard to find my place at work due to the African communication, or lack of it.  We had no transport and it seemed no way out of our contracted world of the hospital compound, the RDTC and ISM – all within walking distance with brief forays out to town for shopping at the market and the occasional decent coffee at the Union Coffee shop.

I just have to take a break in this dialogue to tell you that Josh has somehow managed to fall fully clothed in trousers and freshly laundered T-shirt into the foot bath leading into the swimming pool.  To make matters worse he came back whinging that he had also wet himself and I just don’t understand how a clean and tidy Josh turned into a soaking wet and smelly Josh in the space of less than 5 minutes in a footbath less than 0.5m squared!  He is now wandering around naked partly clothed in a towel and hitting me in a very grumpy fashion.  This is because I keep commenting on his nakedness and I have managed to take a photo of him in his towel on the bridge back to our gorgeous cottage at Fish Eagle Point.  I am feeling slightly guilty as my child knows me so well and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want a photo as he didn’t want me to put it on the blog.  He was trying to extract a pinky promise from me (I am not entirely sure what this means but it is something to do with your little finger) but I managed to distract him as he thought I had lost his toy car over the bridge so forgot about his promise so I am hopeful about posting said non-compromising picture on the blog!

So where was I?  I think I was telling you how slowly and somewhat painfully the first couple of months here in Tanzania went.  Painfully as it had been my dream and my rose tinted future for over a year so to admit to myself that I wasn’t really enjoying myself was an impossibility!  But as with anything new it does take 3 months to settle in and find your feet no matter how you don’t believe it when you hear people say these words.  After 3 months we had moved into the dermatology houses in the Doctors’ compound as our toilet in B22 decided to seep sewage and KCMC in their usual efficient manner didn’t fix anything.  This and the fact that 2 out of 3 of the Dermatology houses were empty meant that Professor Grossman relented and allowed us to move in with strict instructions not to let the children dig up the garden!  It is amazing how different I felt in a more aesthetic living space.  The Dermatology houses are only 15 years old and are beautifully maintained and whilst smaller than our old house are worlds apart.  We have breakfast and dinner on our gorgeous veranda and from the garden is the most magnificent view of Kilimanjaro.  Such that communing with the mountain is a breakfast ritual with me now, and the kids look back to check the weather on the mountain on their way to school each day….

So what I am trying to say in my long winded fashion is that after the initial  months dragging by in a slow and painful fashion now they are flying by and I am terrified of the thought of returning to the UK in 6 weeks.  Six weeks!!!  Where has the time gone????  How am I going to manage without this full and active community of people and this amazing social life.  Mondays is horse-riding/ jumping lesson, Tues morning is netball at 7.30am and I have discovered a demon talent for goal shooting and obviously missed my vocation in life,  Tuesday evening is Flamenco class with Mafalda who last taught Flamenco when she was living and working in Iceland, Wednesday is full body workout at the Moshi gym complete with water bottles filled with sand instead of weights – an amazing workout in an old squash court with a mirror, where the sweat actually drips into your eyes, Wednesday evening is film club, like a book club but better as you watch a film and eat lots of chocolate chip cookies, Thursday morning is netball again and often riding again and Friday is tennis lesson, Saturday is swimming and Sunday Pilates… I will need to go home for a rest as everyday I cycle to and from work and the ISM school. 

We have met an amazingly interesting and kind close-knit community of people since being in Tanzania and everyone does far more activities together.  I was thinking about this and not only is it that the Mazungus stick together and arrange things together but also how no-one spends their free time in Tanzania on house improvements!  In the UK the weekend is often taken up with boring jobs such as gardening, clearing the gutters, going to Homebase or worse still Ikea, clearing out the loft, painting things not to mention washing, ironing, sorting, boring paperwork, stuff on the computer…..
 Josh has just reminded me how much he liked pulling up weeds in the garden at home but only when we played the Viking weed game.  For those of you who are not familiar with this method of getting your children to weed Josh will tell you the basics:

“We find their home and destroy it so they will all leave forever”
I don’t think this violent wanton destruction will work for those of you with lovely colouring in girls…….

Anyway where was I this time?  Oh yes marvelling at how much we have done in our 5 months in Tanzania partly as we spend little time at home, I have only been shopping once at the Memorial second hand market which was fantastic actually.  It was Martina’s birthday so us girls got a free pass to spend all morning there while Tobias and Aaron looked after the boys.  You did have to rummage a lot but hey I have been starved of shopping and I came up with some amazing finds although one of my lovely green flowery tops turned out to be a dress for a girl aged 8!  I can never find trousers to fit me in England but here at the market I pulled on trousers to try under my summer dress and Martina was my very effective mirror telling me whether my bum looked big!  I came back with 4 gorgeous dresses, 4 pairs of trousers which actually fit me which is an impossibility in England and 1 of these was my demon find a pair of Seven jeans which is apparently a very expensive posh make in which my bum apparently looks very svelte!  

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