It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the last entry in my blog. Plenty has happened and life has been busy. At the end of October 2013 I finished my time volunteering and started a paid contract with UN Women. That has now been extended until the end of this year. After two years of living on a very limited budget, it’s great to have some money in my pocket (although it doesn’t seem to go any further).
My portfolio has expanded and I’ve got to travel quite a bit – Rwanda and Uganda last July, Nairobi in October and Moshi in northern Tanzania earlier this year. We’re in the process of finalising a programme on Women’s Economic Empowerment and hiring new Tanzanian staff, who will take over my role. It’s been challenging and rewarding in equal measures and I’m working on some new projects too.
In April I moved out of the VSO building and into a top floor flat a short distance away. I now have a spacious two bedroom, two bathroom flat with a large open plan living room. It’s bright and airy with views in all directions. The best part of the flat is the enormous roof terrace with ocean views. It’s also the perfect place for sundowners as the sunset views are spectacular.
My life is very social too with plenty of meals out; parties on the roof or at local bars/restaurants; day trips to the beach; longer trips away to other parts of Tanzania; different cultural events – live music, dancing, films, trivia quizzes and more.
In this very transient ex-pat community, people come and go, which I still find the hardest part about living here. Reflecting back on nearly three years in Tanzania (it will be at the beginning of October), it’s a chapter of my life I’m very glad to be experiencing. Life here is lived in the moment and I appreciate that. It’s simpler too with funny interactions all the time.
Tanzanians are very warm and friendly and a walk around my old neighbourhood recently really showed me that I’d become a part of that. When I greeted people, such as the guy on the corner with his fruit stand or the young woman selling a range of fruits and vegetables, or even the grandfather that I would chat to in the early evenings as he sat in a chair outside his front gate listening to the radio, all of them asked whether I’d been travelling or what had happened to me. When I said that I’d moved, they all said that they missed me. It’s great to feel I belong.
Now I’m having interactions in my new neighbourhood. The guy with the general store across the road where I buy things like milk and water; the group of Maasai who are car park attendants and security at a nearby restaurant; the guards for my block of flats; or the young guy who does odd jobs around the complex and who brought his school friend to come and meet me over a soft drink yesterday, so that she could practice her English. All of these form part of the rich tapestry of life in Tanzania.
I do miss friends and family back home, so it was wonderful when my sister, brother-in-law and nieces came to visit last year. And I still get a kick out of living down the road from my brother…