Saturday, 31 October 2009

More oversized wildlife

Took a trip out to Lake Duluti today, about 20 minutes east of Arusha. The Mountain Village Lodge nearby provided an extremely tasty (and very reasonably priced) lunch with a view over the gardens down to the lake and complete with battalions of staff all of whom seemed to take delight in our children. Needless to say the children were on their best behaviour... rolling around on the floor, clambering up and down the steps, driving toys buses through the 'tunnels' (no smoking notices), racing out of the french windows, round the balconies and back in the main door repeatly and shouting "MORE CHIP!" The Mancub was a hit for a) being small and male; b) eating voraciously (he particularly liked the carrot balls and green beans - I didn't even get a taste) ; c) being small and male; d) chatting away loudly and e) being small and male. Kitty, despite her greater size and the indubitable disadvantage of being female, won approval for joining in a chorus of "Jambo Bwana" being sung to a birthday guest.

Having eaten our fill we ventured out to find a way down to the lake. Then we ventured some more having received instructions, then on our return from the vegetable patch we attempted to venture out again but were warned seriously that the path round the lake was extremely hazardous and totally impossible for children and that we would also have to pay $12 each and take a guide, but that we could drive down and take a look. So we drove down and discovered that, being (almost) resident, we could pay only 3000 shillings each (about £1.40) and that the path was delightful and entirely manageable with a bit of hand-holding over the steepest parts.

It was the first time we've really been out walking and seeing wildlife in beautiful wild place (you have to stay in a vehicle in Tarangire) and we spotted, amongst other things,  Malachite (below), Pied and Giant Kingfisher, several species of herons and egrets, several Nile Monitor Lizards (below) up to 1.5 metres long and an enormous millipede.

So, apart from the big news that it is saturday night and WE HAVE POWER! (i.e. the power rationing seems to have stopped now we've had lots of rain), let me leave you with some pictures.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Readership vote

Yes, we are failing to make a decision about housing so Mr B has decided that it's time for a readership vote. Will YOU help us decide where to live for the next 2 years?

The house we really really like is unlikely to be available till the end of December, with no actual guarantee of a moving in date. We saw another house this morning with definite potential but we still like the other one better in terms of location, garden, view, price, furnished... The one we saw this morning we could probably move into next week (though we'd have to find some furniture) and, although currently overpriced, we might be able to bargain down to the same price or slightly lower than the other. It's probably our second choice out of the 20 or so houses we've seen. We do have a house-sitting option for the next 4 weeks and then a different house-sitting option for the following 5 weeks, but is it really worth not having our own home until Christmas (or beyond)? Your opinion is sought!

On a totally un-house-related note, Kitty and I discovered Aladin's cave this afternoon. We went out to buy school uniform, except that they are actually going to run up some skirts for her in the next few days as they didn't have her size. On the way back to the car we spotted a stationary shop, only on entering it turned out to be a stationary cum book cum art cum toy shop. I could have spent a fortune very happily and stayed all afternoon but we did tear ourselves away in the end bearing a lovely assortment of purchases: a book full of wonderful patterns to colour, a lunchbox, a pair of armbands, 3 paintbrushes, 8 postcards and, perhaps best of all, a hardback book called "My first THINGS THAT MOVE" for the Mancub - pages upon pages of TRACTORS, diggers, buses, ambulances, fire-engines, cars, aeroplanes..... an instant success!

We rounded off the day by posting our first letters at the post office, a quick (and very cold) swim (Kitty suddenly 'swimming' confidently across the pool and back repeatedly with the aid of armbands) and another installement of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

This n That

There's a shop/cafe here called This n That. You can guess what it sells. It has a trampoline in the garden so very popular with the kids. We also got a booster car seat for Emma from there.

Today has been a this n that sort of day. On the one hand, we heard that the house we've been hoping to take is now not available till late December at the earliest, so we've pretty much laid that idea to rest. On the other hand a lady I met for the first time today offered us the use of her house for 4 weeks while she is travelling with work. And we can go there from 9th November, the day we have to leave here. Hurrah! Thank you Lord! (and thank you N too!)

We've arranged to see yet another house tomorrow morning, in the same lush green area that I was in this morning, attending a Women's Bible Study group. Beautiful area. Good robust discussion, excellent cake, and prayers offered for everything and everyone from victims of drought to marketing opportunities for jewellery made by streetchildren in Nairobi, from sick children and family reunions to newcomers looking for a house....

Also today, I enrolled Kitty in an early years school in town. She starts on Monday and I've suddenly realised that, as well as uniform, I will have to locate a fabric pen or name labels for labelling all clothes, possessions, limbs etc, something that will do as a lunchbox and snackbox, things to put in said boxes... looks like we need to discover some more of Arusha's shops....

The Mancub's excitements for the day included strawberries at the Bible Study (available here but expensive, so the first he's had since we moved...), a little boy there only 4 days his senior to play with and share his bus with (with a certain amount of persuasion and reassurance) and, less pleasantly, a sting from a bee he trod on in the garden. Fortunately not too bad, but a very sad little boy for a while. Both children seem to have gone feral as far as footwear is concerned and the Mancub has become very adept at removing shoes or sandals (and indeed trousers and nappy...hmmm) The misery didn't last very long though and by bedtime both of them had metamorphosed into yappy dogs, crawling around on the floor and yipping. It's nice that they're playing together sometimes now...I think.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Rain. Yes - it rains here. In fact, yesterday was a thoroughly grey, soggy day. (cue much rejoicing for those of you jealous of our warmth and sunshine!) At least it does it properly though - coming down in bucketloads after just five seconds of warning drizzle. And, it really isn't very cold.

Kitty was delighted. She has been waiting for a good downpour. Before coming here we had a hard job to convince her that it would be a fun place to live. One of the draws we came up with (apart from an increase in frequency of ice-creams) was warm rain to dance in. Not something we got a lot of in NE Scotland.

Meanwhile I was out, first to check out a potential school and then on to a supermarket to get milk... and then on to another supermarket to get milk...and the third one had some! There appears to be a general East African milk shortage - not very surprising really having seen plenty of dead cows last weekend. The drought has taken a severe toll on livestock.

I drove to the (third) supermarket on a dry main road. I drove back (having managed to unstick the windscreen wipers but getting drenched in the process) up a raging torrent.

When the rain finally stopped, the children and I headed out puddle-jumping in the garden. Unfortunately I have not yet braved the clothes market and obtained wellies for any of us, so the children's shoes are still in the process of drying 24 hours later... But it was worth it. They had a fantastic and thoroughly filthy time of it followed by a long soak in the bath.

That was yesterday. The scheduled power rationing in the evening prevented blogging so we washed up, read and chatted by candlelight instead.

Today involved a trip to see a potential house (amazing garden, big but rather gloomy and very run-down house...hmmm), a trip to find a new car battery after having to jump start the car this morning, and a trip to try to find some Rufous-tailed Weavers - nests there but no birds - curious? We also made a new friend - Max - a giant land snail, tempted out into the open by the rain no doubt.

The Mancub's response? "Cuggle 'Nail!!"

Monday, 26 October 2009

And what about a house?...

I got back to the e-mails this morning to find both good news and bad news - the good being that I'd come to an arrangement to buy the landrover for my work that I'd looked at with a fundi on Saturday morning. So once I've sorted the money transfer for that, hopefully we'll be out of the car hunting market for a while. And whilst I'm sure there'll be ongoing maintenance issues for both cars, the hardest part will be over there. But the bad news was that we've been given notice to leave our very comfortable (but only ever temporary) accommodation that we've been staying in so far. We've got until the first week of November to leave. Which reminded me that the house situation has not been updated here for a while. Yes, we've both been on a few more rather fruitless trips to see various properties (it wasn't only the 6" of dust that put me off this one, but that didn't help!), but no real update. And the reason is really that things have been somewhat in abeyance: a couple of weeks ago we saw a house we really rather liked: right size house (room for visitors!), very nice garden (plus tortoise and chickens - perhaps I did mention this one at the time?), most furniture we'd need, a reasonable price and not too bad a location. But the lady showing us around was not the landlord, but the current tenant. And she hadn't told the landlord she was planning on leaving yet, because she's in the latter stages of adopting a (second) Tanzanian baby. So we've been waiting on her to get everything through the family court and let us know what's going on - but because she gets so much hassle from corrupt officials phoning to ask for a bribe to help smooth things through, she's not been responding to phone calls or texts and we've been sitting around waiting too. Meanwhile, rather half-heartedly looking at other places... So, the situation that seems to be emerging is that she will, if we like, recommend us to her landlord when she tells him she's leaving (which is a good start at least), that the final paperwork for the adoption should be sorted in a day or two and that the US Immigration department will give her information about getting back to the US with children tomorrow. But whatever happens, she's not going to have gone before we have to leave here. So we either duck out and go for a second (or third) best option - assuming they've not gone already - or we have to find somewhere to sit it out for another month or so. Which I don't mind doing, if it's a reasonable place and we know we're definitely going to the other house before too long. But finding somewhere temporary fairly sharpish that fits the bill could be a challenge. So, if anyone has any spare property in Arusha sitting idle for the next few weeks, do let us know... I'm sure we're not going to end up on the street, but it would be nice to have a home before long!

Sunday, 25 October 2009


The car works! Tarangire shook and rattled it, but our little black car took everything in it's stride and here we are back again after 24 hours of fun and adventure in the bush. Less than 2 hours down a much improved road, Tarangire was packed with wildlife from the moment we passed the entrance gate until we drove out with moments to spare before our permit expired this afternoon. Zebra,Wildebeest and Impala were probably the most abundant mammals, but there was a pretty good range on offer (we saw 20 species of mammal, just less than one an hour...) and there was barely a moment without Elephants: They even seemed to fancy joining us in the lodge swimming pool - first the baby, then it's mother! Mama was slightly unsettled by the fact they came back again, pushing past our tent as we were settling the littlies to sleep in the tent, whilst we went off for a lovely civilised meal in the restaurant... The Mancub thought everything was great and loved the view from the main lodge building. All very luxurious - we'll have to get ourselves a tent and things if we want to make a regular habit of visiting parks (which, needless to say, we do!), but a wonderful place to celebrate a new car and, really, a new home. And it was really nice to have some friends from Arusha staying in their camp nearby too, so we enjoyed Sunday lunch with them.

Highlights? Well, as well as the perhaps over friendly elephant and warthogs (one for Grannie here!), the lioness with 5 little cubs on our first drive around was pretty special – especially when she got up and walked them all over closer to us for a better look, before flopping down in a heap and rolling about! And there were plenty of birds too (though not as many as last time I was there, probably because we didn't get to the swamp this time, and there aren't so many migrants arrived for the Northern winter yet) – our Tanzanian list now stands at 154 species, which is nothing really. But still great to see Saddle-billed Storks and lots of old favourites again, and 22 species of raptor is pretty impressive too!

So, just a taster for us all and we'll learn a few things for next time (like make sure we've got plenty of activities for the children when they're bored of driving through herds of zebra and wildebeest...), but hopefully enough evidence that we're in a wonderful area to convince you all to come and visit (rather than make you all sick with envy and stop reading at all!). Hopefully we'll soon have a rather large landrover for my work, that will also have the advantage of seating 7 on safari duty, so loads of room for all! And although we left at 3pm, I'll leave you with the traditional sunset shot, this time behind a baobab with resident vultures (Ruppell's and white-backed, if you're interested...) roosting in the top... Can't wait for our next adventure now!

Friday, 23 October 2009


Today's main event has been finally sorting out a car - we are mobile! Hurray! It took a while and I ended up sitting in the insurance office for longer than was desirable, but we now own the car, have paid the tax and registration and are even insured. Happily, fully comprehensive cover here also includes road-side pick-up if we're involved in an accident, which is closest you can get to the AA here I think. We'll just have to make sure we don't break down anywhere. Still, having paid the insurance, my first trip was to head straight to the bank where you purchase and charge your National Park access card (or at least, one of them - rather bizarrely different parks require different cards from different banks...). And from there it was to the safari lodge office (via the cafe where the Mancub had lost his cap yesterday...) to pay for a night's accommodation and, amazingly, tomorrow we'll be off with everything sorted for 24hrs at Tarangire. Not the best known of parks in Tanzania, but only about 2 hrs down the road (so not our nearest either), but a place I visited last time I was here and it's brilliant. So our next post should have all sorts of real wildlife interest to report. Kitty wasn't all that keen on going - no, she didn't want to see Elephants or Giraffes - until we said we'd be able to stay in a tent and all of a sudden it's very exciting indeed! I have no doubt that 24 hours won't be long enough, but the advantage of being here long term is that we really ought to be able to make lots of trips to loads of fantastic places (and I charged the park card with more than enough for one visit, since I had to change some money into US$ anyway...). Let's hope we can take some of you with us in the future!

Otherwise Mama and the littlies spent the afternoon getting to know an extremely friendly family who had contacted us by e-mail and when I went to pick them up in our shiny new car ("Our Car", "Big Car" says the Mancub, most happily) they arrived laden with baskets of toys and even a carseat for the Mancub - something of a rariety in these parts. So he's both tall enough to see out of the window now, and shouldn't fall out if we hit an elephant tomorrow. So, all in all a very good day (also measured by the fact the "Tractor Book" didn't come out of the Mancub's cupboard all day - wow!).

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Wet wildlife

Tropical drizzle has two significant advantages over British grey and dampness that (a) it doesn't go on for ever, and (b) when the sun comes out afterwards, the termites rise giving the local wildlife an opportunity to feast. This morning we woke to cool drizzle but by lunch time the sun was bursting through and this fine Lizard Buzzard had arrived in the garden to mop up the termites as they flew from the hole by his feet. I don't think he stopped to look for Lilly (see yesterday's post) who would, no doubt, be much more normal food. But if he did we didn't spot it.

This afternoon we split directions as I first became an electricity refugee, heading to the nearby Conservation Resource Centre to do some work after my laptop battery died from a morning without power (remember the power rationing?) then came back to relieve Mama of the Mancub so she could take Kitty to the Mama Afrika circus. Apparently, this was incredible and maybe I'll have to go before it moves on, but I'll leave others to tell that tale. Meanwhile the Mancub and I had a mission - to hunt down Kitty's small magnetic cat, sadly left to fend for itself at a cafe the other day. This accomplished we then sat down to a healthy juice drink at a nearby cafe and enjoyed (very much, it has to be said!) watching the monkeys playing on the roof, then on a car roof, and then just a metre or two away from the Mancub. We did eventually tear ourselves away, however, and are very excited to report that we really should have a car all sorted tomorrow, so we can head off some time over the weekend and I'm sure we'll be able to see more monkeys and loads of other things too. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Tunatafuta wanyama na wadudu

which translates as "we are looking for animals and insects". And we were, and I could actually tell the lady working the garden on the other side of the fence.

Two weeks in today and it's nice that some of the swahili is starting to stick. And nice to be able to say more than "hello" and "how are you" (and it would have been rude to ask her name for the third time, even if I haven't caught it yet...)

And we found plenty of excitement on our garden safari. The Mancub was entranced by a bee, especially when it lifted off, repositioned and dropped back onto its yellow flower. "More bee!" And everyone came running to see "Lily" the lizard, which obligingly climbed onto my hand and then Kitty's. And we chased numerous grasshoppers, butterflies, enormous wasps and the stunning beetles that come blundering through the air like overloaded bombers.

We also discovered treasures hitherto overlooked - bananas growing by the back wall. Tiny plots of herbs and salad hiding between bushes behind the kitchen. Seed pods bursting with miniscule black cannon balls. And the first pink blossoms appearing on the almond trees. We had long since found the papayas, and "Here we go round the Mango tree" has become a favourite game, with much brushing of teeth.

As well as bees, the Mancub's newest pleasures are his "sandals!" which boast a lorry on each foot and reveal his toes, to his great delight. And he has learnt to joke. "Leopard, wheels?" he asks. And then, with a knowing smile, "noooo!"

Kitty is enjoying a host of new books leant by friends over the weekend. The Mancub is disdainful. "Tractor?" he asks, leafing rapidly through the pages. And when it turns out that the book is completely and utterly without tractors, it is discarded incredulously. After all, what is a book without tractors?

Or for that matter, a leopard without wheels?

Enjoying the benefits of the tropics...

Grocery shopping this morning – out the back of a house where a neighbour with a farm on Kilimanjaro sells her wares each Tuesday and Friday. This is definitely one of the advantages of Tanzania, mangos (although not yet in season in Arusha when all the gardens have so many they can't give them away) from the coast are about 35p each, an aubergine and a courgette were too little to price up alone, so with a large handful of spinach thrown in too they all came to 25p. 50p for a big bunch of the small sugar bananas. And the passionfruit, again not yet in season up here, were 8p each. You could end up doing something rather nasty to your insides if you take enjoying the local fruits too much to heart... Kitty and the Mancub were appreciating them at lunch time too, so she really can be persuaded to try something different every now and again (I even got her to admit to enjoying the pizza the other evening – wow!).

So although we've not yet made the most of the wildlife and countryside yet, we are enjoying some of the genuine benefits of the tropics. And the car really looks like it might be ours soon too – I spent the afternoon sending a fundi (mechanic/engineer/handy person who fixes things) to get shiny new tyres and a new radiator fitted. I also confirmed with the bank that the money is on the way out of our account. So with luck and if the bank is efficient at this end the car could be ours by the weekend – and we might be able to whizz off somewhere to enjoy some of the wildlife too. Should it be a day trip up to Arusha NP, or will it still be worth a bigger trip down to Tarangiri now we've had rain for a couple of nights in a row (the animals there disperse into the countryside very quickly once the rains come properly but the concentrations at the end of this drought have apparently been absolutely phenomenal)? Probably we shouldn't start any serious planning until we know if we've actually properly bought the car, but we're just itching to get out and see some beasties!

Now, however, it's an evening in the dark again – the regular Tuesday evening power cut in this area. The drought means there's not been enough water to provide continuous power (Tanzania runs mainly on hydro-electric – very green), so we're officially scheduled in this region for no power between 6pm and 11pm on Tuesday and Saturday evenings, and between 8am and 6pm on Thursday. Let's hope it keeps raining! In addition to the erratic power cuts that is... Which of course means I can't post this until tomorrow. I suspect the cheap fruit and veg don't quite make up for the erratic power situation and other hassles yet, but hopefully once we are mobile things will more than compensate!

Monday, 19 October 2009


Today, perhaps, we actually have some success to report - there's a car sitting on the drive that wasn't there yesterday. It's a black (to keep nice and cool...) Suzuki Escudo for anyone who knows about these things. And the keys are in my pocket - but it's not ours yet... We did (finally) agree on a sale price (we got him down c. $800 which is probably worth while) but the next challenge is getting the bank in the UK to tranfer the money to a Tanzanian bank account in Tanzanian Shillings. And until the money arrives in his account, the seller is keeping the documents, so we can't drive it yet. But at least I know we'll get the car and he knows he'll get the money. Just a shame you can't make a credit card payment here.

The question remains though, should we really be trusting a second-hand car dealer who's name is (yes, really) Sham? At least I know his middle name isn't Con...

Meanwhile I've also been struggling with some proper work - for much of the last week between hunting cars and houses I've been trying to revise a paper following the most detailed set of referees comments I've ever seen - 8 pages all told (some people have more time than sense!). And I finally finished it - hurrah. The problem is that the documents involved are now so large that I can't upload them in an e-mail to send to my co-authors - 2.7kbs is a pretty slow internet connection and it keep breaking mid way through. Humm. Still, I did get an very useful introduction to the director of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (the organisation who provide my research permit and, thereby, our residency papers, etc.) from my host at the University of British Colombia (where I now have an honary position, hurrah! More admin finally coming together...).

No birds to report today, but I'm just about surviving on the additional ones seen at the weekend whilst visiting people. Green-winged pytilias, red-cheeked cordon bleu and purple grenadiers are not only fantastic names, but also fantastic birds (even if they are very common around here).

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Two by two

One weekend.
Two days.
Two cars test driven.
Two afternoons spent with two families, each with two children.
Two beautiful houses on two different hills on two opposite sides of town with two fantastic views.
Two large G&Ts (one each that is)
Three large glasses of red wine (hmmm - just me that time - probably should have stuck to the two theme but it was a warm, social red wine kind of afternoon.....)
Two pizzas shared between four in the very pleasant garden of a coffee estate and hotel (with a playground - always a bonus)
Two children sleeping in the back of a taxi.
Two tired, grubby but happy grownups ready for a cup of tea, shower and an early night.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Australia for a change

Okay, one duff house seen this morning and two houses we were supposed to see this afternoon but didn't happen. So, instead, for those who have been wondering about our Australian Odyssey this summer, here are some visual highlights...


Kitty's been having a go at googling this morning, having asked to see a picture of some elephants. Here's her favourite find so far. Once we have our own vehicle we'll take off to see some for real! She's also been playing about with arranging Otees (African equivalent of Cheerios) and discovering square numbers. So much learning and it's only 8.20am. Who needs school?

Photo courtesy of


I suspect this doesn't class as HEAVY rain here, but a steady persistent downpour from a sky blanketed in cloud. Perhaps  the short rains are starting in earnest? Many people will certainly be praying that they are.

Up at 5.55 this morning. This room sharing for Kitty and the Mancub isn't a complete success.


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Grumpy day

Definitely grumpy this evening. WARNING - this blog is a bit of a whinge. Feel free to go offline now. Lots of little niggles and the general tiredness from coping with so many aspects of everyday life being new and, if not actually challenging, at least different enough to need thinking about.

No car and having to haggle over price every time I jump in a taxi.
Not knowing what I can get at the shop and finding they don't have something on my 'crucial' list, such as a brand of bottled water without several times the recommended amount of flouride (damages the kids teeth and bones).
And something that is not even a product of being in Tanzania but just unneccessarily annoying - fitted sheets that probably fit a bed somewhere but definitely not ours, and which persist in pinging off the mattress corners with monotonous regularity.

I know, I know, really really minor things. I think it's just that the novelty and initial adrenaline have worn off and we still have no house, car or anything else we need and people keep telling me that I need to learn swahilli. I KNOW! I'm trying! But I'm also trying to get to grips with finding food and safe water and cooking over one gas ring by candlelight when the power goes off and taking care of the kids when they only have a couple of books and toys each.

But today I met a lady who has had no water in the taps for the last fortnight, and I know that not too far away people are not eating because they have no food, and I know that my own trials are absolutely insignificant in the face of those of so many others.

And, a lady I have never met emailed today (in response to my message on the local email list saying that we needed a house, car, toys etc) to welcome me here, invite me and the kids to her house to play with her kids, offer me a car seat and give me valuable information on house hunting etc.

And someone has just emailed details of a Landrover that could be fine for Mr B's fieldwork.

And they do have Cadburys here, albeit slightly different.

So things are indeed okay and will probably keep getting better.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

One week today!

So we survive a week with nothing too nasty to report, but at the same time I guess only limited success on our main missions at this early stage - finding a house, a car (or maybe even two) and lots of birds. Still, I think it's fair to say that we're already feeling much more at home here now though, for Kitty at least, familiarity seems to be breeding more than a little boredom. Hopefully we can find her some daily entertainment/education with small friends sooner rather than later - though it is half-term here so nothing to look at right now. She did enjoy a 'cold thing' (i.e. ice cream, but don't tell the Mancub...) and play at a local cafe this morning and was quite taken by watching the fundi's working on the land rover engine outside this afternoon, but something more structured or at least involving suitable friends will probably be better for all concerned!

So what progress can we report after one week? Well, a good 20 or so houses visted, two or three of which might be OK, but all have one or more drawback at the moment - our current favourite (with fantastic views of Meru and a garden with mangos, bananas, passion fruit and a great big old leopard tortoise that gave the Mancub a fright - "'Tone! 'Tone!" as an apparent large stone started ambling under the bush!) isn't available until the end of November, and we discovered another couple of people who are interested in it too today... We shall see.

On the car front I've test driven 5 or so - one land rover with gears that needed ifnding rather like a lucky-dip and very loose steering, and several Suzuki Escudos which seemed much nicer. Anyone know anything about them? It's not quite the same as trundling up to a dealership and asking what's available - lots of phone calls and rendevouz in random corners of town, plenty of friends of friends and no guarantees anywhere to be seen...

And for the bird front, still no expeditions - though I managed to see a lovely lilac-breasted roller on my way to a garage today and whilst trying to revise a paper this morning I enjoyed a constant stream of European Bee-eaters over the garden. Once we've sorted some wheels we'll have to hit the bush properly to find some study sites - and once my research permit is sorted too - the problem is actually not at this end at all, but Aberdeen are being very, very slow making the final payment and we could be returned home if I do any research without a proper permit. Though this seems unlikely as I had a productive session at TAWIRI (TAnzania WIldlife Research Institute) the other day and hope to have not only got myself invited for the mad wetland bird counts in January (ever tried counting all the birds on a soda lake with more than a million pairs of flamingos nesting there? With a heard of buffalo breathing down your neck? Lots of fun!) but also it seems like I might get invlved in some basic ornithologal training with them too. As ever, it looks like I just need to make the right contacts with the right people, but I had at least been given some useful introductions before my visit.

Anyway, must post now before the power goes again - a combination of no water in the hydro-electric stations and high winds right now mean the power is rather dodgy at the moment. Hence no post yesterday, and it's already been off 5 or 6 times whilst I type!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Arusha snapshots

The children playing "islands"as we walk up our road. The islands are the few remaining patches of road surface. They do a lot of "swimming"...

Buying fruit and veg at the "shop" up the road (the veranda of someone's house) with the children.
Pointing out that they haven't charged us for our potatos - getting this added to the bill.
Realising that the beans and tomatos we handed over to be weighed haven't made it into our bags - these being found and included for free along with an extra couple of carrots as a present.
At various points during these interchanges rescuing beans from various other boxes after the Mancub has redistributed them and rescuing more beans from the various shop helpers after he has tried to buy us some more
Getting home and realising that the cucumber we chose didn't make it into our bags...

Trying to make it from the gate, up the drive and into the house without ending up in another long discussion of British agriculture and Tanzanian politics with Cleoface, the gardener.

Calling up our favourite taxi driver, called Godlisten, to arrange to see two cars and a house he know of.

Everyone stopping to chat to, smile at and tickle the Mancub (but not Kitty) because he's a boy...

Kitty and the Mancub having a teddy bears' picnic in Bumblebee cottage on the verandah.