Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Believe it or not, there are a number of differences between Tanzania and the UK. But one of the things that you have to get used to here is the way things get done. A fundi, literally, an engineer or expert - but usually a guy (never met a female one) who thinks he might know something - is what you you need when something goes wrong. And they'll fix you up. More or less. Some are actually incredibly talented - working out of a shack by the side of the road with a few basic tools they can create extremely attractive and functional pieces of furniture, for example - if they were provided with some proper wood/iron working tools rather than home made chisel and hammer I think they'd do something amazing. But mostly, you're looking at a more or less type job. So here's what our drive looks like today:

No, it's not some major archaeological dig - it's the plumber arrived to assess the feasibility of connecting the cold tap in the kitchen to the water tank. (Our rent is due for the next 6 months and the landlord has finally agreed we might need cold water in the kitchen...) There's about 3 metres of trench here, and can they find a pipe? Not yet it seems...

Actually, plumbers seem to be the real stars here, when it comes to botched jobs... When we looked over this house before moving in, we said we really wanted a house with a bath for the kids. No problem, we were told, a bath can be installed. And here it is:
The observant among you will be wondering whether we have tile chewing mice in Tanzania? Well, no - that's because when the fitted the bath they didn't both fixing the plug to the drain, just hoped the pipes were close together. So, when the bath drains the water runs all over the floor, seeking the drain, and much of it has to flow nicely out of these two holes. Very convenient. And until today nothing more than a minor inconvenience - but what happens when your funny-tummied little boy doesn't make it out of the bath in time? Not nice, huh - and can I reach any of the unpleasantness that must be under the bath? Hmmm...

On the other hand, people are so used to this sort of solution, that nothing fazes people. Here's my landrover's engine as it was on return from safari with Grannie and Grandad:
When I opened up to check the basics before our drive on the first morning, I immediately spotted that something had (somehow) dropped off on the bumby drive in. After a bit of consulatation with the guys at the lodge, we found some old bits and pieces of wood, a nice bit of sizal (previously used to tie the tent together in the evening after putting kids to bed - don't want the Mancub escaping and being eaten by beasties...), an old bit of rubber and a few acres of tinfoil and off we went. A couple of hour game drive, then a four-hour round trip to the airport, another couple of game drives and a three hour trip home, all rigged up nicely - about 400kms I think. And what had come off? There's a prize (well, a beer at least - you have to come and claim it though) for anyone who can work it out from the picture... The clues are there... I just love the fact that people here don't worry about rigging things like this up to keep the show on the road - I can't imagine what would happen in a similar situation at a country hotel in the UK...

And whilst we're on mystery photos, here's the latest Tanzania-special piece of kitchen equipment we've acquired: It might look the the top of an old preserving jar, but has a different purpose entirely. One for the oldest generation to ID I suspect...

But again, you'll have to come out to claim your prize - we need more visitors! Until this morning we were without booked visitors at all, but now we've got one set of friends coming at the end of September / early Oct - hurrah! But there's lots of other opportunities to visit before then (and after then too), so if you're hesitating, don't! We like visitors! And we also heard today that a friend from Aberdeen days is about to move out to Arusha, so why not joing them and consider the longer option too!


  1. Is it a petrie dish? Harriet.

  2. 'fraid not. But congratulations on being the first to attempt!

  3. It's one of Mr.C's spectacle lenses. Haha.

    The landrover thingymabob is a home made air filter. Or a flan case. Or a hot sandwich maker. Or maybe a temporary beehive. Or something.