For those who are interested, some info on how things have panned out here thus far:
For the first week we lived in a hotel in the centre of Dar es Salaam – not much fun, as we did not venture much outside. We waited for our dogs to arrive, their flight was still to Zanzibar where we were supposed to go and live originally. So on the Saturday, we set off on the ferry to Zanzibar, a one and a half hour ride across the ocean – we travel as VIP‘s. The people in Zanzibar and Tanzania don’t really have dogs as pets – you only see the odd one around, and then some cats. Dogs are generally kept in cages during the day, and only let out to guard properties at night. The property we occupy has some 10 small dog pens – dark and dingy, and not a sight for animal lovers like ourselves. So collecting the animals on the Zanzibar airport was a commotion of note. But the elation both ways of seeing them and them seeing us was worth the wait and the “money” (the obligatory “tip” you need to pay all and sundry to do anything for you, even if it is their job). We then could not get all the wooden kennels they travelled in (courtesy Keringa Kennels and Pet travel agency – the best!) into the kombi, so arranged for our “guide” to keep it until we could board the ferry back on the Monday. Our house was still being painted and cleaned, as the “askari”, or guard, and his family moved in after the last tenants left, and the house was in quite a state. Thanks to my super duper clients Eddie and Cathy, I managed to find some some helpful South African man, Neil Steunenberg, who works in the dive school at the top end of Zanzibar ( 100 km long and 32 km wide), to accommodate us (Kobus, Sakkie, myself, three dogs and one cat) for the weekend – No charge. And it was in a beautiful area of the island, so we had wonderful swims and sunsets.
Monday loomed all too soon and we set off for the ferry port, animals in car, and our previous said “guide” to meet us with said kennels for transportation to mainland – well, it was an even bigger circus than the arrival in Zanzibar by plane! We had to sit on the kennels, at the back of the ferry, to protect all and sundry from poking and jostling to get a closer look, and the animals getting more and more confused. Our arrival in Dar es Salaam proved even more trying! We almost got to use force to get past about 15 porters all fighting to push the trolley with kennels on. By the time we left the port, I was finished. Kobus went straight to the house, whilst Sakkie and I went and packed up at the hotel, got food and also tried to get to the house.
Well then the sports started with having to cross a river mouth to get to our house in Kigamboni – the wait during rush hour being about 4 hours. We finally arrived in the dark, and dog-tired – excuse the pun. Thankfully, I did not see much in the dark,or else I would never have slept at all that night. But we were exhausted, so sleep was a welcome reprieve – animals seemed settled and happy and fed.
The next morning brought the realisation that in the haste of getting the house fixed for us, the painters literally slapped paint on, and everyhting got painted – the floors, the window frames, the lights, the plants the lot! We started unpacking, and cleaning – and that was the first week – working our fingers to the bone to get the house in a habitable condition. At some stage we even used acid to wash dirt off walls and tiles. I was ready to come home, and cried a lot. Kobus was at his wits’ end! And poor Sakkie had no-one to cry to. By the Thursday we established where the S A embassy is, and by Friday we went and enrolled as newcomers from S A. That night we had a braai at the Diplomat’s house with some more South Africans – some 30 000 in Dar. Some were very negative, some not – seems if you can last 3 months, you should be able to last 1 yr and 3 months, and if you can do that apparently you’ll last as long as need be.
(Kobus has just left for “work” – he must show face at the office every day – it is now 12 noon.) He is chuffed, saying he has never had such an easy job where he gets paid to work from 12 to 5 every day.
But, after all this doom and gloom, I have to say it seems better this week, we are settling, believe it or not. The house and property is actually quite beautiful, and we have both said we are blessed, as we have never lived on such a large property, with such a lovely garden. Our askaris – we have two – double up as gardeners and I also got a young local girl to work in the house on two days per week. The garden is starting to look picture-book pretty and everything flourishes here. From my bedroom, where I am sitting now, the sea is about 100m away and the difference between low and high tide is vast – with spring tide two days ago, the sea was so rough, a derelict boat that washed up ashore and promptly got some inhabitants, was washed out again, much to their dismay and they spent most of the last two days trying to secure it to the land so they can keep their home.
During that first week in the house, we hardly had enough food as we had no transport, and we had to make do with whatever we packed from S A – my sister’s pickles and jams have never tasted better. Now we have a car, and yesterday we went to get local licences – hoping to get them tomorrow, which seems a much better service than what we have in S A. The process was smooth, and less painful than expected, so a nice surprise. And we have enough food and eat well! The first week in the house also took it’s toll on us with the humidity, the hard work etc, and we all had the runs. So, I’ve managed to lose a few unwanted kg’s without much effort. We have now adapted to the weather already, and we do not perspire as much as we initially did. Although it is supposed to be the long raining season until end June, we have hardly seen rain, other than one morning when Kobus and I went for a long walk on the beach with the dogs, and we got caught in a downpour of note – warm African rain – and we got soaked, but loved it.
Dar is unfortunately in my eyes a hell-hole of traffic – 10 million people in one city and traffic is a nightmare. We now use the long way around to get home over land, and not the ferry, other than between 11 and 3 every day, as you can lose your mind sitting waiting for the ferry. Air cons are on all the time, especially when you travel, and our sinuses are taking a beating. We were warned to keep windows closed, and even if the police stop us – with police blocks everywhere – not to open your windows too wide in case they plant drugs in your car and then lock you up as a result. We are not sure if we are to be so scared, as we have not experienced or seen any wrongs, but apparently all grills, bumpers, side-mirrors etc must be bolted down even more, as a favourite trick is for thugs to rip these off whilst you are stuck in traffic and cannot move. The ferry ride is all but two minutes long and well run, despite the jams. Locals sell their goods from baskets on the short ride and when you get off on Kigamboni side, the narrow street makes for skillful driving, made even worse with the hoards of people disembarking on foot, and small shops packed along the road. Motorcycles and tuk-tuks also fill the roads, so you need eyes in every part of your head. We have a driver for now, but we will start driving soon, with him just being the navigator.
Zanzibar is beautiful, less crowded, more clean (plastic bags are banned), but far more Islamic – traditional gear seen everywhere. Men are to wear long trousers, and women must cover all body parts, if not wear the full burk ha. I have been spoilt here with a Game store and Shoprites everywhere – no such luxury in Zanzibar. We are now moving there in the next month or so, and I am sure we will encounter more frustrations. But perhaps we have learned a bit more about “hakuna matata” – tomorrow is another day. We will go house hunting there as soon as all the government papers are signed an delivered, and then start planning the building of the farm and my farm-house. I will build it in such a manner that I can accommodate quite a few people in as close to traditional island living style as possible, so will keep all posted. The area where the farm will be developed is now guarded by the army until we can start. It is set amongst rows of mango, paw paw, orange and banana trees, and do not forget the palm trees that sway in the gentle breezes everywhere. The fact that i have not heard of anyone being killed yet by falling coconuts, is a miracle. They are everywhere. i even saw a mutant tree on a drive two weeks ago where one half is palm tree, and the other is something else. Trees are old and huge, and it is heart sore to see how many are cut down for charcoal which is dirt cheap here, and furniture.
I have some translation work to do for Kobus, and we are going to look into some business opportunities for the future – perhaps the charcoal, perhaps the furniture that are so beautifully handcrafted etc. I do miss everyone and my business from time to time, but guess I now need to embrace this opportunity to be part of a project that ultimately will benefit the Zanzibar people a lot and help to uplift their lives. In the pipeline are plans to get them involved in tending veggie gardens where we will provide seeds and plants, and they do upkeep and share the profits. Also thinking of bead work, getting the local women to work with me, add a Zanzibar tag, and sell to tourists – and also teach them English. For now, I am writing, cooking, looking after my animals, waiting for the much needed and anticipated rain, and learning a few words of Swahili every day.