I’ve gone from several posts a week to once a month and almost gave up altogether, but am now trying to recover lost ground and pick myself back up again to keep writing and recording my thoughts. It’s now March 2013 and continuing on as my life always has, I’m living in the third house in as many years out here in Tanzania. As before, and as always, I have no plans to go back, or really to “stay”, I’m merely living out this portion of my life as full as possible. Recent events have helped me to see a future here, but work permits and the ever present desire to move on will keep me honest on all this until a real decision has to be made. There is one thing however that although hasn’t committed me completely just yet, is about to do just that.
We moved into our new house a week ago. Zawadi had given birth to some gorgeous puppies, and other events notwithstanding it was time we moved out and into somewhere new. I am going to endeavour to get the real sequence of events down here for all to see, but unfortunately, this requires a bit of background, and also a bit of non-chronological information.
Carry on up the hill from Mshiri, and you will reach the secondary school, Sakayo. Not a brilliant school, far from it, but not the worst either; this is where our good friend (by that I mean sworn enemy) Bob Philips teaches and has done for the last two years. He originally came out here as a volunteer working for Katy Allen in primary and secondary schools here in Mshiri. It’s a long story why he and Katy fell out, but it happened, and ever since I arrived, Katy has been very worried about his presence and what that means for us and this village. He has been working with the village chairman and management against the good will of the people and the school to turn many of them against us, and has also been involved in many dodgy activities here that I’m better off leaving out of this blog. Cutting a long story short he is leaving, and this marks a new beginning for us, and a better opportunity for the students of Sakayo to finally get a good education and move on in life. The results from their form four exams (equivalent to GCSE) for this year are appalling: 74 sat, no first grade, no second grade, 3 third grade, 22 fourth grade and 51 failed. It is time we sorted this out. Bob is leaving soon, and this gives us a great opportunity to try and right some of these wrongs.
A little way down from Sakayo lies my old house. When I moved in there in September last year I was very excited, and finally pleased to have my own place to invite friends and enjoy Mshiri on my own. It didn’t quite work out as planned. At Christmas we were greeted by my landlord’s wife for what we were told would be a few days, but turned out to be three weeks, and not just his wife, but him and his three children also, all living in one small room in our house. Its not inappropriate to continue our lives while they were there, but where I come from, it felt that way, and certainly didn’t allow me to enjoy my Christmas holidays as much as I’d have liked, because there was a couple with three children going to bed at 8pm every night while we were enjoying not having to get up in the mornings and staying up late playing games and watching movies.
This in itself was also not really that bad, as he was polite, they always apologised, and generally we were out for most of those three weeks down in Marangu anyway, so I let it go without argument. Moving on into the New Year however, things took a turn for the worse, as we were contacted by an ex volunteer from the UK who had received a dodgy email from Tanzania asking for money for children’s school fees. We looked into it, as although it said it was from Dilly Mtui, it clearly wasn’t him, and we set a trap. We got the cyber crime division of Tanzania and Western Union involved, and when the culprit, who was pretending to be us in order to gain trust to take this money arrived at the office to collect his money, he was greeted by police who arrested him and took him away.
I was shocked to find out after all we’d been through, that the guy using pictures from my camera, who copied our Facebook page and used our good name to steal money was in actual fact my landlord. So we started looking for alternative accommodation.
This lead to an exciting time looking at houses, old, new, big and small, and eventually lead to what is probably my favourite house I’ve ever lived in. We now live a little way further up the hill than before, above Sakayo and just below the forest and the Kilimanjaro National Park. We have four rooms, all en-suite, a large garden and garage/office space, plenty of space for camping including outdoor plumbing, toilets and electricity, and so far, a really good relationship with our neighbours and friends around us. It’s a good start.
I also have found a good part time person to take over some of the responsibilities of the computer centre while I’m away or doing other things. This is leaving me with more time to concentrate on fixing the house and getting some marketing and advertisement done to bring in guests and volunteers to come and enjoy the place. I think we’re offering something that nobody in Mshiri has done before, and that is a mzungu-ran volunteer/backpacker hostel way up on the mountain that will be a haven for anybody wishing to get a good night’s sleep and enjoy some amazing views and walks around this beautiful part of the world. So far we’ve had four guests who have all enjoyed being here, and more coming in the next couple of weeks before I head off to Zambia and Zimbabwe.
When I return, it will mark the beginning of chapter four in my Tanzanian adventure, and also a full unbroken year of living in Africa. I hope to come back a better man, with more information about where I came from and where my family roots are. I hope to come back to a burgeoning business and lovely home; as well as better working relationships with more schools and colleges; a fuller itinerary of clients’ systems that I look after and administrate, and hopefully a regular income meaning my next trip back to the UK should be funded by my hard work here in Africa, and not to go there just to make money. We can only hope!