Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter eggs, Ethiopian food and random animals

Yep, still here. Mr B to meet with lawyers tomorrow morning. Research permit now dutifully returned. We wait and see what happens next.

So what INTERESTING has been happening over the last few days?

Chocolate Fairy cakes
Easter egg hunts at the most amazing folly of a house in beautiful forest with a fantastic view
(grownups had Pimms, hot cross buns and posh chocolate eggs - terribly nice and colonial don't you know)

We had a bulbul in the house (here being released back to the wild)
Also close encounters with a rabbit (we were flagged down by local young boys who then popped a rabbit through the car window... much to the Mancub's delight!), a hen and her chicks (Kitty got to hold a chick while the Mancub was traumatised by a very very defensive mother hen), some local calves and goats, our tortoise, who has reappeared, lots of slugs and the odd siafu (biting army ants).

Mr B and I finally made it out for a valentine's meal last night...better late than never,eh. Although I had failed to check whether the restaurant of choice was we ended up having a rather late meal at the Ethiopian. Definitely a new food experience. As the Silly Uncle might say, it was very...nutritious...

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS, and far more important than the immigration stuff, is that both the kids have great new achievements. Kitty read me two "Read It Yourself" books, almost word perfect, today, and then read the Mancub a bedtime story. And the Mancub...well suffice it to say that we've started along the road towards nappylessness.

Monday, 29 March 2010

No news, no change

Well, we are still here, nothing has changed. Mr B was supposed to meet the lawyers to discuss the next step today but lawyer no. 1 didn't make it back from Dar today after all. No word from him either so we don't know if a meeting tomorrow is likely...or what.

Yesterday was very pleasant. A lie in - with heavy rain in the small hours putting the birds off their dawn chorus and providing a soporifically dull roar of background noise that kept the wee ones asleep for longer than usual. (same again this morning - the rainy season definitely has its advantanages) Then an entertaining palm Sunday service including a German "Hosiana" chorus in 8 parts (nice to sing, not sure we were good enough for it to be particularly inspiring to listen to...) and a bizarre puppet show involving the donkey chosen to carry Jesus into Jerusalem, which, unfortunately, listened to "Mr Mean" the fox and was convinced of his own unworthiness such that he ran away and ended up getting into all sorts of scrapes with other animals everywhere from the Serengeti to Zanzibar, eventually being swallowed by a Killer whale in Lake Victoria and then coughed up on the shore 3 days later... (these kids are going to end up with an interesting grasp of biblical narratives...) before finally returning to complete his mission.

Having made it though the service (complete with Kitty refusing point blank to process with a palm branch, the Mancub escaping up to the front to find one to wave on her a totally different point in the service, and the Mancub escaping again during the puppet show to investigate the goings on behind the stage), we then made it home to set the house to rights before 3 friends (a Dad with two of his three grown up sons) turned up for lunch and discussions of climate change, rugby, evolution and safari guide training (with interrruptions to order and then consume our takeaways from the new Mouseland restaurant - sardines and baked beans a particular speciality)

Today we said goodbye to (and carted off various spare possessions and groceries of) some good friends who are moving to Germany after many years of mission service here. We will miss them and our kids will miss their kids.

And so life continues....

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Impromptu overnights...

Yesterday's 3-year old birthday party ended up being an all night session with us finally arriving home about 2 this afternoon. Wild parties these little people throw... It had almost been planned for a while, but never actually got arranged, so we turned up expecting to head home in time for the children's bed time, but since the drinks were flowing and the spare bed had been made up in the guest house we stayed. And unfortunately didn't sleep too well, but did have fun and it was nice to wake up in the lovely forest this morning - lots of nice birds (and monkeys) to see and lovely to be able to walk from their house through the forest tracks to other friends living in the same area. It is ery nice just be be able to walk around country paths - something that is really difficult around here without either attracting a huge crowd of fascinated children or being eaten by the wildlife... And something we miss rather a lot really.

Anyway, it's really just to let you know that we're still here (but trying to confuse anyone following our movements...) and still well. Need an early night tonight though...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Still here...

For a few days more at least. Thought I'd post now as there's some news now and no more coming for a few days, but we've also got power and internet connection. So, the lawyers eventually managed to track down our good friend Kingdom - the head of investigations at Immigration here in Arusha - last night. As we suspected, although he as been notionally in charge of the investigation and had threatened to do so himself, he was unaware that a letter had actually been sent by immigration in Dar and he was pretty annoyed (a) that people are taking action without informing him and (b) that whoever did this has not followed up on the deportation plan. However, it seems he is unwilling or unable to immediately cancel this action and therefore that we need to find another way to undo what has already been done. We rather suspect the investigation was taken out of his hands and either no-one told him or he's just been delaying things for weeks now. Either way we move on from him now - so those who have been praying from this particular Kingdom to come to an end might have been successful there!

We have confirmed that the cited reason for my intended deportation - the 'national interest' - implies that I am suspected of being either a spy, or a terrorist (must grow the beard...). Either way, the British Government is behind things (possibly with the collusion of the EU, as they actually fund me here). However, Immigration in Arusha will do nothing towards deporting me in the next few days (unless something unexpected happens in Dar) whilst we try and find out what the way forward is.

On Monday I have a meeting planned with the lawyers where we will discuss what to do next - advice from immigration here in Arusha and the lawyers suggests that the issue can still be resolved very simply, but that because the letters have been written it must now be dealt with at the highest levels. Consequently, it seems the most likely action will be for the lawyers to try and meet the Minister in Dar (perhaps arranged with the assistance of the British High Commission) and explain what has happened, but there are other options we need to consider. In the mean time, at least we're not expecting a delegation from immigration to turn up at my gate at any minute...

In my other career (you know, the science one) things progress quite happily actually - this new paper is now available to the world demonstrating how complex it is to think and see like a koala, and the first results from the Tanzanian work are in review with Science at the moment, so let's hope for a happy result there too! And we're all off to a second birthday party later, for some light relief... Hope we can have some fun over the weekend too.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

another day of waiting

No progress today I'm afraid. The Lawyers were in court this morning and our troublesome immigration official was failing to answer calls or texts all afternoon, so hopes for a decisive meeting today faded yet again. We're getting used to the waiting game, but it is rather boring.

Meanwhile, Mr B seems to have developed a mild fever and headache, reminiscent of what I had almost two weeks ago. I have recovered from the fever but can't yet shake the chesty cough that followed it, and Kitty seems to have got through the cough quickly and without the fever, so that's good!

I had a busy morning touring the 3 big international schools, fact-finding to enable us to make an informed choice about where Kitty attends after the 'summer' break. My favourite is, predictably, by far the most expensive and out of our reach (although a friend, who is on the board, mentioned this afternoon that they do have a pot for helping some with fees, so that's a vague possibility). The other main contender runs from 8.15 till 3.30 each day and is a 30-40 minute (depending on traffic) journey from our house. That adds up to a lot of driving each day or a school bus, but school bussing means leaving the house at 7.15 and getting back about 5..... for a 5 year old?! Sounds horrible.

However, we now know two people connected with a small and interesting little school called "The Learning Space", which I'm now trying to find out more about. I believe that it runs only up to age 7 and is much more holistic than the traditional schools around here, with more emphasis on creativity and less on attaining particular reading and writing standards. And I think it runs in the mornings only. Definitely worth a look.

So, that was my morning. And this afternoon I attended a choir rehearsal - we're practicing songs for the Easter service. Wonderful! We will be singing variously in English, German, Spanish, Swahili and Finnish with some great local stuff involving a leader and responding chorus. Cough wasn't such a helpful asset but I LOVE being part of it. Finding people to sing, reasonably well, with here has been one of the surprising and most joyful things for me.

Tomorrow holds some childminding for me in the morning for friends departing for Germany on monday and needing to do some final packing/organisation, an end of term school party for kitty, and then a 3 year old's birthday party for all of us at the end of the afternoon, given by friends whom we have all really hit it off with...and who are also now leaving in a month or so. Maybe it will also involve productive meetings for Mr B. It's always possible....

P.S. We ate the pizza yesterday....and today... It was very good!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

British Agent 700 Confidential report


Arusha, Tanzania. 24th March 2010.


Immigration officially suspect I am either a spy or terroriest. Meetings today with immigration to discover why and whether they are serious didn't happen and are rescheuled for tomorrow, unknown time.

British Consulate (Dar) informed of immigration's accusations and planning appropriate response: papers from immigration currently lodged with consul, to be forwarded to London for immediate action if served with deportation order. Advised on reciept in London, FCO will pass papers to Foreign Secretary D. Milliband, whereupon Tanzanian High Commisioner will be summoned to explain nature of acusation.

Meeting tomorrow at immigration to explain likely international diplomatic consequences of continuing with suspicions. Strong possibility officer in question will back down as police and army have no suspicion and he is extremely isolated. If not, injunction will be sought in High Court against further action until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted. In unlikely event of deportation, request debriefing before media scum descend.

Further report expected 25/03/2010, power permitting...

To remain or not to remain, that is the question...

Well, here we are with power again at least. It was going on and off like a car indicator last night and we gave up on the pizza eventually and Mr B made a fabulous nut pilaf instead which was much enjoyed. Of course, as soon as we had decided definitively to go for the alternative, the power came on again for long enough to have cooked the pizza... oh well. Dinner for tonight sorted at least.

But, on a rather more important note, Mr B is currently ensconced at Immigration with three lawyers at his side (there's nothing like a bit of intimidation eh) trying to put a stop to (or at get a temporary injuction against) the orders to evict us all from the country following his research permit being revoked. Apparently it was actually revoked several weeks ago but for some unfathomable reason neither the letter or the email informing us of this actually reached us, which is very odd, almost as odd as the fact that, having actually created the right to kick us out, no one actually did so.... it all came to light rather by accident on Monday.

So, Kitty is at school, the Mancub havig a nap after a lively morning jumping around as hopping bunnies, zooming to the moon and dancing rings around rosies with some Belgian friends who turned up for our "Music Makers" session, and I'm sitting here, having texted a few friends to ask for prayer and having prayed myself, wondering if I should be planning what we would take in the event of a sudden exit and debating whether we have enough money in the house to pay off our staff... but thinking like that would demonstrate a sad lack of faith surely? added to which I just can't get my head around the fact that it is a real possibility and not some strange game.

Tune in to find out what happens in the next exciting installment.... (cue credits and catchy music)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Parcels, Power, Permits and Progress reports

So, will I be able to blog this before the power goes off AGAIN?! And will the pizza in the oven get cooked before the power cuts again, with people on their way to visit?! Hmmm... I'll be brief... The first P is the big surprise of the day - one of the parcels of books we posted in Aberdeen seven months ago arrived today! Where it's friend is I don't know, and where it has been all this time in a mystery, but nice to get some books at least - even if the Mancub has really outgrown some of them in the intervening months...

Progress reports, well, we enjoyed Kitty's parent's evening today.

And permits - well, there's a story. I'm to be deported as a spy within 24 hrs. Possibly. Or possibly not. (I'm voting for probably not...) But it's a long story and I'm sure I'll still be here tomorrow to fill in all the details (or you'll see me in the press I suspect!) as our visitors have just arrived and the power is still on... Oh. No. Just gone off again...

But back on again now as I'm putting away wine glasses etc. The answer is, no pizza, no power, but very nice evening all the same!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Butterfly dancers, foxy larks and other stories...

Lots of powercuts recently, and lots of exhausted people mean rather few posts. Sorry. A number of things have happened though - Mama B now appears well and truly over the bug (bar a residual cough) and has had enough energy to stay out of bed all day today! We did take it fairly easy today though (if you ignore the furniture removals and house rearrangements of the morning) - lots of spirograph geneneration (realy ones, not my fancy plots) and even Kitty had a fairly long nap after much exhaustion. Yesterday was more interesting though. I went on an expedition to this nice plain just north of Arusha find Tanzania's rarest bird with a couple of local birders, and failed (boo), but did see Foxy Larks.

Somewhere in this is picture is Tanzania's rarest bird - probably all 50 of them infact - Beesley's Lark. (And Kili, but you can't see that either...). Must try harder...

Not that they were new (though the red-fronted warblers were - very cute), but they do provide a nice link to the main event of the day, Kitty's school production of Chicken Licken. Starring both as butterfly dancer and ace narrator there was a certain nervousness as to whether we'd be on for a repeat of the Christmas extravaganza debacle, but no - perfect performances in both roles.

A star is born...

And Mama B recovered the Mancub (after he had stolen a Chicken Licken hat from some unsuspecting performer) before he upstaged them all...
Tomorrow involves more parties andprobably powercuts too, so that's all for now...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Grumeti safari at last...

So I promised that I'd let you know what I'd been up to in Grumeti back in Feb and have finally got around to doing it before I forget. There's nothing very exciting been happening the last few days - Mama B is still recovering slowly from her 'weather related thing' (ahem) and we looked after some friends children yesterday as they pack up to go back to Germany in a week or two. The paper reported as being submitted last week was also rejected last week, so went back off on Monday and hasn't been rejected yet. It actually provides the scientific justification for my trip to Grumeti, so is vaguly relevant, but I'll not post the amazing map it includes showing quite why I should spend time in that area as I'm told it might upset the journal if they do accept it. You'll just have to wait... Still, sufice to say the western bit of Serengeti is absolutely the number one hotspot for changing patterns of bird distribution in Tanzania, so getting some guys who live there looking for the things that are on the way and surveying some weaver nests for me was the main excuse for a week of great fun.

To make things more interesting, I was accompanied by Dr P. who's actually affiliated to Oxford Brookes Uni but lives in Dar and is a the bushbaby and hyrax expert. He also had a nice big camera with him, so I've borrowed some of his pictures to supplement mine in places (I've also borrowed some of the official publicity shots from the reserves, since they have amazing ones of the lodges themselves). We started with the full day drive from Arusha to Grumeti, traversing the Ngorongoro conservation area and the whole of the Serengeti en route.

As usual, amazing sights on the way through - long dusty and bumpy roads though.
And a wonderful sunset-lit thunderstorm just as we arrived. There are three places people can stay in the reserve, and I was on the floor in the staff accommodation behind the main lodge:
Bit over the top really, but a fantastic view from your bath! (And a snip at $1400 per night...).

The plan, however, was to take the guides out and give them some training and do some fieldwork. Although I didn't get to stay in the lodge, we did get the fancy car to drive in. (You can almost see the lodge on the ridge behind us there.)

And the birds were excellent! (This is a silverbird, fairly common in the dry areas but very attractive.) We also saw some wonderful wildlife of course - a cheetah setting off on an evening hunt (with a rather half-hearted chase of a gazelle) and the odd ele which always deserve a picture, without talking about the mixed antelope herds that are resident in that western area.

And I much preferred visiting the 'campsite' on the plains - certainly the most sophisticated tents I've ever seen! (Air-conditioned too!!!) With your own private chunk of Serengeti, this is one of the most amazing campsites I can imagine.
Maybe next time we'll stay here... Wasn't impressed with the library though - no proper field guides and not even any Hemmingway. How can you imagine this sort of African camping without Hemmingway in the library?! The ornithological highlight, however, was sitting outside the senior staff canteen (where they train up the staff for serving at the lodge - we did get looked after very well!) one afternoon and there are just a handful of Tanzanian records (but have been three now this year, so maybe something funny going on).
Not the best picture in the world, but definitely a European Redstart. (Coming to a wood near you soon, perhaps?!) Anyway, all in all a fantastic trip and one that I have to repeat - there's lots to learn over there (as well as the redstart we added seven new species to the list, including a couple that are definitely changing their ranges fast) and some very keen people trying to get some research happening. Must keep the contacts fresh... And must get out again soon, as the migration is in full swing here - days must be shortening. (Also have to hit this region when the wildebeest pass through in August time...) So much to see, so much to do!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Hot and Bothered

At the end of last week I developed a rather unpleasant sore throat.

On Saturday night I woke up freezing and finally braved the icy cold room to find paracetamol and an extra quilt.

On Sunday the climate swung repeatedly from arctic to sweltering

On Sunday night there was again little sleep.

And so today I decided that I really ought to head down to the best medical centre in town, get tested for malaria and see a doctor.

I imagine that there was is some sort of system that prevails there but I have now spent 2 hours in the place and have yet to figure it out.

Firstly I am ably directed to the right window to check in - so far so good. I wait, politely, in true British style, about a metre away from the window while I wait for the person in front, who is in deep conversation with the receptionist. I wait for about 10 minutes. Finally I get fed up of the many people who in that time have elbowed past me and checked themselves in, so I edge forward to the window and stare meaningfully at another staff member who is lurking about, seemingly unoccupied.

So, a few details given (year of birth but not a specific date, general neighbourhood but no specific address) and I am issued with a small square of card with my patient details on it and a green cardboard folder, on which is stated in bold black writing that this folder should remain with the medical staff at all times and never be entrusted to the patients care. 

What do I do know? I ask. Go to the cashier and pay. Fine. I sidle along to the cashier window, which is split into two sides: one for those paying cash and the other for those with medical insurance or paying on credit. There is only one person behind the window. Dilemma? Do I join the queue which is at the insurance side or go directly to the window at the empty cash side, which is what I will be paying with. A certain amount of dithering and I eventually pay and now have another small white square -  my receipt -  to add to my collection.

So, wander back to the main seating area...hmm, do I just take a seat or is there something else required? Not wanting to wait for hours in case of the latter, I head sheepishly back to the reception window again. Ummmm, what do I do now? Give back the confidential green folder it seems, and then wait. I end up in a seat next to the television, on which an American is busy debating which country will be holding the 2018 winter olympics. Sitting here clammy with sweat and surrounded by a sea of black faces, this seems truly bizarre and I listen fixated for 10 minutes or so until my name is called. Wow, so quick.... or so I naively thought.

So, ushered through the swinging doors by a white coated somebody, who starts to take me to a small open cubicle on the side of a corridor, but then bids me wait in the corridor as there is someone already residing there. Another 5 minutes wait and it is my turn to sit in the small white broom cupboard where I am weighed and my blood pressure taken. Neither of these seem to present any problems so I am then ushered further along to some seats outside consulting room 5. Another 5 minutes or so and I get called in to see the doctor. I couldn't tell you his name even if I wanted to as he didn't introduce himself and his name tag was too difficult to glimpse. Rather surprisingly, on hearing of my symptoms, he decided to listen to my chest but not take my temperature. No chest promblem it seems, which didn't surprise me. So, what next? Find a nurse to take you to the laboratory for tests. And where do I find a nurse? Oh, just wandering the the corridor.....

Fine, but so far I haven't identified a clear uniform structure. Some people appear to be wearing some sort of uniforms - variations on the themes of green scrubs (green suits?) and white coats but I haven't spotted two the same yet and some of the ones I have spotted turn out to be patients with a taste for green suits... so I decide to wander about till I find the Laboratory myself.

Here I am very quickly deprived of a large blob of blood and am sent to the toilets to provide a urine specimen, and then told to wait...

So I wait, and while I wait I wonder why I feel more like I'm in an alien, uncomprehensible and slightly threatening environment here than any situation I have yet been in. Is it the fever making me paranoid? For the first time I feel that growing sense of  "I want to go home" where home represents the nice, predictable, dependable, rational UK (except that if you speak to my sister-in-law who has experience many a frustrating time in British hospitals, that is probably only a fond illusion)

Finally, about 45 minutes later when I'm just plucking up courage to ask if I'm supposed to be somewhere else or when I get some results back, I am called and told to go and see the doctor.

Which doctor? The doctor. Umm, which room do I go to. Number 8.

Okay, I find room mumber 8. There are no seats for waiting here, should I go straight in? I knock hesitantly. The door opens and a rather stern faces looks out - I have a patient in here! Ooops, sorry. Humbled I retreat to the nearest set of seats further along the corridor and wait to be called. Only while I wait I notice that a little crowd has formed outside the door of number 8 and that whenever the door opens, the person who barges in first gets seen to. After analysing this phenomenon for 10 minutes or so I decide to join the crowd, feeling rather wobbly propped against the wall, until I feel that I have precedence over the rest of the crowd and barge my own way in. This does not seem to be a problem. But the doctor does not have my medical record card, so I am sent out again with a nurse to try to locate it. It is found and I return to the crowd but don't have to wait long before the doctor spots me and my card and ushers me in again. But, you need to go back to the doctor you saw at first! Oh.... so not room number 8 at all then...

So, I head off round the corner to room number 5 and join the group of waiting people... 10 minutes later, after watching the same rule of "the pushiest get in first" but lacking the enthusiasm to join in this time,  I am spotted by the doctor and called in... to receive a ticking off. But you are supposed to wait 30 minutes after your tests and then come straight back here. You've been more than an hour!!

I find myself apologising and but my explanations of not having actually been told this seem to fall on deaf ears. But, at least now, the final verdict. No malaria found. Great! No other nasties found. Fantastic! So, I await some pearl of diagnostic wisdom while he looks at this foolish troublesome white person.

The Weather.

Apparently the weather has got to me and I should drink plenty of fluids.

The Weather????

I have lived here for over 5 months. I have not had sunburn, sunstroke, dehydration...I spent most of the 12 hours before the fever came on sitting lazily on our shady verandah, enjoying a variety of drinks an chatting with our lunch guests.

I can cope fine with being told that i's probably a virus and to let it run it's course and report back if it's still not better in 3-5 days, but to be told that it is the weather, after being sent hither and thither round the hospital for 2 hours without even a temperature being taken.

I didn't have the energy to argue the point, and headed out dispiritedly to the carpark, intercepting a call from Mr B on the way "Are you okay??" I'm not sure why, but I was very almost in tears as I climbed into the car, which is only the second time since we arrived here (and the first time probably merited it rather more) and only settled down again after getting home, making a nice cup of coffee and having a good rant about it all to a very sympathetic Mr B.

I think and hope I am on the mend. The fever abated this afternoon but feels like it is creeping back again now, as these things have a tendency to do in the evenings. Lets hope it's cooler weather tomorrow  eh?

Friday, 12 March 2010

socialising in the dark

Yesterday afternoon I had choir practice. One of the nicest surprises here has been finding a great church that, as well as everything else, throws together a choir every time there is a good excuse. So far I've been part of a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors and Christmas Carols by Candlelight service. Now we're preparing for Easter and singing a range of songs, for 4 or 8 parts and in a variety of languages including some traditional Tanzanian ones in Swahili.

I thought it would be a great idea to have a few of the other singers up to our place for dinner afterwards but things did not go entirely as planned.... firstly only 2 of the 5 invited managed to come. Secondly we had a power cut so not only was my lovingly pre-prepared meal unable to be cooked (someone explain to me why I bought an electric instead of gas oven please....) and we resorted to breadcrumbed fish fillets and samosas out of the freezer (we have gas hobs) but we also enjoyed a rather dark, although very romantic, candlelit evening. However, it was really nice to get to know L and M better.

Having no international visitors booked in this month, we thought we'd invite people over occasionally and get to know people better. We seem to have gone rather overboard this weekend though and somehow we now have a family coming for morning coffee and lunch tomorrow, then a friend of a friend who we have only met over the ether so far coming late afternoon and staying overnight, to be joined for Sunday lunch by another family... Lots of fun!

And next, and completely unrelated, here are a few recent pics....

Kitty in Scottish National Dress...ahem....for Diversity Fun Day last weekend. Sadly only 2 others made the effort and the National Dress Parade was abandoned after they all got a bit shy.

Our resident Oscar nominee...

One of the many alternative uses for the Music Makers floor cushions
And a garden visitor - yes it really does have transparent 'windows' in it's wings.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

busyness, books and power cuts

Sorry - short and boring blog to say that due to power cuts and general busyness there has been no blogging for a few days. All is well!

Successful Music Makers session this morning. Mr B's busy submitting papers. I managed to get to the pool on my own for the first time this afternoon, with the Mancub napping and prior to picking up Kitty and friend from school. Nice to actually swim for a change instead of simply fielding leaping children.

Just finished extremely good though somewhat depressing book called "The Shadow of th Sun - my african life" by Ryszard Kapuscinski. I'm reading quite a few works on Africa at the moment. For light relief we're also watching series one of "Lark Rise to Candleford". On the one hand it is wonderful escapism to follow the mysteries and intrigues of olde English countryfolk. On the other hand the issues - grinding poverty, family break ups, abandoned children, rich-poor divide, injustices, arbitrary and often cruel laws - all seem very similar to life here at times.

Anyway, must make the most of having power, and hence internet, this evening to do various fact-finding missions and internet shopping! Poor Grannie and Grandad may be receiving a few packages to courier out to us at Easter...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

He's OK

Yes, definitely better now. Last called us in to his cot to tuck the woof back in. When asked why the woof was no longer tucked in after having been tucked up with him just a few minutes earlier the reply was, predicatbly enough: "woof climbed out cot". Of course. We should have realised. And he was also running around like normal this evening with a bucket on his head saying (when not bumping into things) "'Elllo Mr Bucket Head". But stopping and acting as though there was nothing odd going on as soon as I got the camera ready. I will get some video of his "MR Bucket-head" routine one of these days... So that's all well. Back to normal for everyone tomorrow I hope - we've got 4 weeks before my parents arrive and no long trips planned before then, so definitely a chance for normality. Though we hope we can get away over night at least once or twice with friends before then - there's still a lot of this country to explore!

On the mend

I think it's safe to say that the Mancub is on the mend. He perked up yesterday afternoon and did a bit of playing and ate a few morsels of toast (and demanded a lot more, which he didn't get). He slept well and demanded toast again this morning. So far he has kept this down (and we're now 24 hours without being sick) despite taking his pyjama top off and running round the living room shouting "round and round in circles!" Welcome back little one! Thank you God! And thank you those who have been praying for him.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Mobile phones and Ribena

Praise the Lord for mobile phones and Ribena!

The Mancub slept really well last night, woke up this morning, had a small amount of water and promptly threw up again. Drat! Amazing what you can do without dragging him to the doctors though (where friends of mine have waited for 5 hours with their sick kids before being seen...). A few text messages exchanged with the best paediatrician in town and the advice to get ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) and try to get fluid into him, but no need to visit the doctor just yet as still no fever.

So, a quick run down the hill to the nearest decent Duka la Dawa (shop of medicine aka pharmacy) and back with some ORS. Except that the made up mixture tastes absolutely foul and the Mancub refuses point blank to drink it.


My friend H texts to see how he is getting on, so I phone her back for advice - surely there is something you can add to make this stuff palatable?

Ribena - apparently the only thing that will make her kids accept it (or her too I believe)

H lives an hour from us, so I phone N down the road (who has plied me with Ribena at her house before) and ask where you can get the stuff near us. N, wonderfully, is just heading out in the car, so she throws a bottle of Ribena in and delivers it to our house 5 minutes later. Thank you N!

And it works! He loves the stuff and my problem now is to resist his constant demand for more and try to give a little and often. He's had a cup and a half over the course of an hour and is now asleep again (2nd nap so far this morning since waking at 7)

Kitty and Mr B have headed out to the BIG school at Kisongo to take part in Diversiy Fun Day. There is a parade of national costumes - always a problem when you're English! So we decided that Kitty is really Scottish (she was born in Edinburgh and lived all her life in Scotland until we moved here) and dressed her in her red tartan skirt, a white top with lots of buttons (thank you Grannie!) and her new navy blue shoes (thank you Mog!) Unfortunately she insisted on having bunches, which, with the increasingly short red skirt and white top gave her rather the look of an American PomPom girl, or whatever you call them, so we quickly created a sticky label with the St Andrew's Flag on it, to brandish on her chest. I would post a photo but they took the camera. I think Mr B is looking forward most to the international food stalls....

Anyway, I had better go and deal with the washing up and launder a few more cushion covers, sheets, clothes etc before the little man comes to again.

p.s. cousin Mog is out of the HDU and hoping to go home soon - thank you all who prayed!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sicky song

I was all ready at 5.00pm for Mr B to finish work so I could blog about how the Mancub seems to be on the mend. He had only been up, briefly, twice in the night, no more V since 7.00 last night, wanted food today and kept down the few bits of cereal and water he was allowed, was only a bit hot rather than actually feverish and although spending most of the day napping, seemed generally better. I had the option of him being fitted in at the doctors this afternoon and declined.

And then he threw up again and the nappy changing frequency started going up again and he turned into a very sad little boy again. We still don't have any reason to think that it is very serious. He is not really feverish and has kept some fluid down today, but we'll certainly be keeping a close eye on him.

Here he is on wednesday, happy as larry with a chocolate milkshake and reading stories with Grandma.

And here he is now, wandering about, then lying down somewhere and falling asleep.

He did perk up at several points during the day, and gave Grandma a nice goodbye cuddle
and then I left him with Mr B while Kitty and I took her to the airport. 
We delivered her safely through security in plenty of time for her flight. Bye bye Grandma. You are already greatly missed!
Now the Mancub is wandering about, refusing his cot and indecisive about whether he wants cuddles or just to lie on the floor, and occasionally, and enigmatically, asking for the "sicky song". I did come up with a hastily composed and pretty poor effort to the tune of "Money money money". I'm sure one of you could do better.....

And meanwhile Kitty is in bed having collapsed tearfully in the middle of dinner announcing that she was really really tired and could she please go to bed now. I really hope it's just the result of a busy few weeks.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sick little boy

The poor Mancub has had a bad day today. Ongoing D & V, general floppiness and exhaustion. No fever at the moment though, so we are just keeping an eye on him. Of course it had to be on the one day when 16 women and 3 extra children plus Ayah descended on our house for 3 hours for Bible Study and lunch. It's a good thing Grandma is still here. I ended up delegating Mr B to wish them all farewell as Grandma and I showered the Mancub down for the second time. I have a doctors appointment for him tomorrow, to keep or to cancel depending on how the next 12 hours go. Prayers for him much appreciated, and also for his cousin Mog (no, not her real name) who is currently in the High Dependency Unit at hospital with a chest infection complicating serious medical issues she already has.

On happier notes, Kitty enjoyed going to school dressed as Snow White for World Book Day and later taking Grandma swimming and showing off her new-found confidence at putting her face underwater to other little friends who happened to be there too. She's going to miss Grandma when she goes home tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Visitor blog 2 Ndutu

A still picture cannot do justice to the great migration of wildebeest. To find oneself in the midst of thousands of them plus hangers on ( zebra and gazelle) is awe inspiring. They come over the horizon in wave after wave  each group thousand strong, graze slowly, and then each line in turn  starts to gallop ever faster , bucks first , then mothers with new calves, until they reach the next grazing area. I didn't realize how lucky we were to witness this, until, traveling back today across the vast plains, we found just one lost beest looking very lonely.
What is quite sad but fascinating to witness, are the predators with bloodstained mouths devouring their catch, mainly the newborn. Never imagined I would get close enough to photo this too, but am amazed at the results from my tiny camera.

 Three very full and content animals having devoured (in order) wildebeest, gazelle and zebra.
Quite liked my elephant and giraffe photos too, so just to bore you further, here they are.
Very gratified by the excited response to the return of this explorer of the wild. One more day - it's a shame it's such a journey to get here and back again. Not looking forward to that! Will miss the little kitten and cub  and mature? ones too of course.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Short update on permits etc.

Kitty had an exciting afternoon helping her school give a swimming display, but Mama was there and is enjoying a lazy evening with a book now, whilst I had fun at the lawers offices trying to work out what happens now. So a number of people have asked me about things and I thought an update was due. Essentially, despite everything I've been told, nothing has changed for a long time now. The 60 day period for the possible trespass charge has passed and the police, national security and army are all now finished with things - I've not got an official letter, but that is not needed because the time limit has passed. All that remains is clearing up the immigration issue, which should be a technicality. However, immigration have considerable powers (as I discovered when they locked me up on a whim) and, if they want to, they can revoke my resident's permit. There has to be reason for this - but it doesn't have to stand up in court or anything, so a suspicion is enough. So even though there are no criminal charges against me, there's still perhaps enough to go on that they could reasonably exercise their powers if they so desired. And we all know what power tends to do. In practice, up to now they've not actually done this - they tried to get my research permit revoked without leaving any paper trail, but failed. So they could formally remove my resident's permit themselves, but their only reason would be on some suspicion of spying - which it's fair to say would provoke some response from the British High Commission, which they're plainly not all that comfortable to do when they really know there's no reason. So today I went to the lawyers offices because Mr Mawalla, who has been personally handling the case up to now, is rather ill and has had to delegate. So I've been filling his associate in on the details so he can carry on fighting. He seems confident it can be resolved without lasting effects, but suspects that unlike the police there might need to be some official censure - a fine, or a temporary departure from Tanzania before it can be finalised. We will see... In summary, it looks like everything will be resolved with immigration and there's definitely no chance of me being prosecuted on criminal charges. So, good news I guess, but it would be nice if it was all over!

Birthday safari to the crater

Kitty's birthday was actually Saturday, so we started the day slowly (though somewhat early...) with some presents and cards on Mama and Daddy's bed. This was followed by a leisurly birthday breakfast of pancakes and, by special request, a vastly over-priced birthday kiwi:

After playing with lots of presents for a while we packed lunch up and headed off for Karatu, the town nearest Ngorongoro crater, for an afternoon of swimming and fun in the pool, only slightly delayed by trying to sort out the double booking of the rooms they'd made...

Much birthday splashing made for a fun afternoon, and special chairs for supper went down well too!

Then Sunday we headed into the Ngorongoro Crater for a day of safari fun, showing Grandma her first of lots of things and enjoying how even the common animals just got on with their business around us - tamer here than anywhere else we've been. BUt I guess they just get used to the huge numbers of cars...
Highlights were the baby Zebras and wildebeest, plus a pride of six lions including two fantastic maned males (I've wanted to see a good lion with mane for a long time!) that Grandma spotted for us (soon to be seen by the rest of the crater tourist population...), plus two rhino - one of which we spotted for ourselves too.

We enjoyed rather less the starter motor giving out on us - but at least we weren't next to the lions at that point, and there were some Maasai lads around to help push. And a hill at the picnic site to start again in the afternoon! The challenge was on Monday morning, after a cool night on the crater rim (with a fantastic view from our bedroom window:

Here I am bump starting the car on the cold morning to get us back down to town and to a mechanic so Grandma could take the car with driver/mechanic/guide on to Ndutu - and after only a few hours delay a new piece for the starter was found and installed, and off they went. Last heard of safely at Oldupai gorge...