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September, 2009:

Plans and drought

Hein is gone. He’s spending 3 weeks working in Wageningen. Seems as if ever since I’ve started work I’ve single mummed approximately 50% of the time. In any case, so much that I feel I’m becoming quite an expert. Or does the expertise stem from the fact that we now have 2 ladies working here? I’m almost ashamed to admit it so I’ll note down a few excuses:
My schedule changes every day, some days start at 7:15, others not until 12:30.
Working part time as a teacher is, as many teachers know, fiction. Especially if you’re expected to be in the school every day.
I want to try to do the job well.
I want Tarek to be cared for.
I like the house to be clean when I get home.
I hate rushing. Considering the traffic in this city rushing home is also fiction.

Maybe the above will help me convince myself of the fact that it’s ok to have both Cecilia and Leonarda working here every day.
There has been no rain recently. The house is dusty and the garden looks like a desert. Even the palm trees are in trouble, they are so dry it just takes a nasty crow to break their leaves. And boy do the crows like to break palm leaves. Many parts in East Africa, including Tanzania, are suffering from a bad drought. But as this year is an El Nino year, there may be flooding ahead. Everyone is bracing themselves. My neighbor told me her family in Nairobi is already stocking up on rain gear, remembering that during previous El Nino year it rained and rained and rained for days on end. Rainy season quadrupled. If that happens in Dar making it to work on time might become a challenge. But that being the biggest of my worries I know I’m lucky. Oxfam has just requested for $15 million for food aid in East Africa.

Both Cecilia and Leonarda have gone home. It’s time I focus my attention on Tarek. Soon it’ll be his dinner and bath time. He normally goes to sleep around 18:30 and sleeps until 6 in the morning, so the evenings are easy. I prepare work and watch an episode of … Ooo. He just managed to topple the fire extinguisher. Phew. It didn’t fall on top of him. It’s obviously baby tending time.


Just returned from a long weekend in Pangani, about 6 hours drive north of Dar. Just another very nice piece of coastline in East Africa. Dont have a lot of time to write, put some photos online.

Consequences of rain on plants

Clouds occasionaly form but unfortunatly no drops reach the ground. The plants suffer from the extensive drought, especially the grass and other fast growing plants. But even the normally so strong palms and the bamboo look very sad. I do not remember it to be so dry last year. Probably global warming event, or el nino or something similar.
Garden dry season Garden wet season

The upper picture is taken today in the dry season, the lower picture in the (small) rainy season in december 2007, when we just arrived here.

Waning religion

On the religious front there have been very positive developments indeed. For quite some time now it is Ramadan. This directly influences us as there are at least two mosques within hearing distance. I am not sure why, but muslims are told to pray at hours where other people sleep. The priests prefer to tell their followers through 500 Watt sound-systems that are strategically placed as to reach as many sleeping people as possible. The good thing is that it is almost Eid el Fitr which means that the volume will significantly decrease soon. At the time of the strictly non-alcoholic jubilations we will be far away at some resort, hopefully void of amplifiers and religious freaks. The other positive development is that my dear colleague is moving. He is a very nice man so that is not the good news. But he lives across the road from us and rents his top floor out to Pentecostals. These people also like to amplify quite strongly whatever they say or shout. The Pentecostals disturb our peace for prolonged periods at least 4 times a week. But the landlord has canceled the rent because he wants to build something commercial.

Busy kid

It has been quiet lately on our logbook. But this does not mean nothing noteworthy has happened. Actually quite a lot has happened but Tarek is on the move and Maya started work.

Tarek is developing rapidly. He crawls like mad and pulls himself up whenever possible. Yesterday he moved standing from one chair to another chair. Got complaints that he always looks so serious on the photos. He is quite serious though and only sometimes laughs, mostly when tickled. He wakes on average at 6:15 and goes to sleep at 18:45. During the day he sleeps an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. His main food is still breast milk although he gets a considerable amount of formula-milk and solid food. Yogurt, bread, pasta, cheese, vegetables and fruit. He plays daily with neighbor Trudy.

This weekend was Mayas birthday. I gave her a cutting board, not much but beautiful as such. My colleague had brought her a 300gr Lindt dark chocolate bar. In the mail there was a card from Mayas father and from my parents, as well as a nice fat envelope with newspaper clippings. The additional calls, facebook and hyves messages and sms-ses did the trick. We celebrated at Dar Alive with some friends. More presents, books and massages. In evening we had some pizza and watched ‘On the Waterfront’. I fell asleep but awoke again to see the crucial part when Marlon Brando is cool.

Beach Malaika

Our neighborhood, Mikocheni A, is booming the last few years. More and more tarmac roads are appearing everywhere around us. It is hard to say but I think our street has three times as much traffic, as before we moved in. Luckily the huge shopping mall in our street (Dar Village) that was supposed to open this May has been considerably delayed. Across the street the bar Fiesta has turned into a restaurant where all Premier League Games of the bg 4 (or 5) are shown on a big screen. We always hear when a team has scored.

Today there was a ‘Groene Amsterdammer’ in the mail. This was a surprise as neither of us subscribed to it. Geert Wilders prominent on the front page. Was he not on the front page when we left two years ago