Saturday, September 14, 2013

FAQ part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I asked some Facebook friends to make a list of questions they had for me.  I made a list of those questions, along with others I have been asked since I've made it to Tanzania.  Here are the first few questions from the list.  Stay tuned for the other question to appear sometime in the future.

·         How far to the nearest McDonalds?

There aren’t any fast food places in Dodoma, at least not like we’re used to in the US.  There are also no McDonald’s restaurants in all of Tanzania.  I would have to travel to South Africa for that.

·         Can you buy hamburgers?  Ketchup?

There are a few places where you can get hamburgers.  One little café that we often visit after church on Sunday sells hamburgers, and most places have ketchup.  I can also buy prepackaged frozen patties at one of the supermarkets we visit every week.

·         What is shopping like?

Once a week, I catch a ride with a group of teachers who head to the market.  We get to use a school vehicle, which is really nice because a week’s worth of food is heavy to carry!  We start in the veggie market where I often buy bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, peas, garlic, and citrus fruits.  You can also get other things here, like pumpkins, eggplant, hot peppers, rice, flour, eggs, spices, papaya, cucumbers, etc.  There are also a few butcher shops where you can get fresh meat.

Once we are all finished at the market, we head to two “supermarkets” that are near each other.  They are not much like the supermarkets at home.  For the most part, stores here bring the term “small business” to a whole new meaning.  Both of the supermarkets we visit are smaller than my house in Cody and are each run by a family.  Here, we can get things that are pre-packaged such as cereal, cleaning supplies, peanut butter, margarine, etc.  This is also where I get my eggs and occasional cheese.

 We also visit our friends at the fruit stall here.  There is a group of men who speak pretty good English and aren’t afraid to tell us when our Swahili isn’t good.  They are also willing to barter with the group of wazungu that visit them and we know we are getting a fairer price here than we may get at other places.

·         Who else lives where you do?
I live on a compound with other teachers from the school.  There are 10 people on my compound, all associated with the school.  8 of us are teachers, one is a student, and one volunteers to help support reading. 

·         Is it really winter there?  How hot will it get?

Yes, it is winter here.  It’s been in the 80’s during the day here since I arrived.  From what I’ve heard and read myself, it will stay pretty much this warm all year.  It will get a little warmer (low 90’s at most) by December and will get rainy in the next couple of months.  I can’t wait to see things green up.  There is amazing color here already!

·         What has been the best thing so far?

Honestly, the best thing so far has been reading the messages from people on my blog and on Facebook.  It’s great to know that the things that I’m doing mean something to people all over the world.  Without you guys, I wouldn’t be here.

I also really enjoyed the visit we made a couple of weeks ago to the Children’s home.  The amount of love and energy those kids had!  I was glad that I got to be a part of it, even if it was only for that one night.

·         What has been the worst thing so far?

This is a hard question because nothing really stands out as being worthy of this title.  I guess it could possibly be the power outages that happen at random.  With the sun going down so early (we’re lucky if we have light at 7:15) it makes it REALLY dark in my house when the power goes.  It’s on those nights that I go to bed early!

·         What do you notice that are differences between Tanzania and home?

There are SO many!  I don’t even know where I would begin, and I could fill a page with all of them.  Everything from the money to the language to the season is different.

·         Are you feeling more settled into the rhythm of life?

It didn’t take me long to settle into the rhythm.  I started school a week after I arrived in Dodoma, so the rhythm stated almost right away. 

·         Will you have the chance to see some sights while you are there?

Yes!  As a matter of fact, one of the other teachers and I have begun planning to go on a safari during our first break in October.  There are a couple of options we like and are looking into what we can get for the best price.  I’m excited to get to see some animals!

I am also planning on traveling to South Africa over Christmas.  The plan is to meet with Keri, Emily, Maurice, and Paul, who are all serving YASC in the country.  Hopefully everything works out for all of us and we can reconnect in person for the holidays!

·         How many students do you have?

I am currently working with two classes, Standard 4 and Standard 6.  There are a total of 41 kids in the combined classes.  There may be changes in the future, so keep checking in over the next couple of months.  I don’t want to let on too much until I know for sure.

·         Where are you?

I am in Dodoma, Tanzania.  I work at Canon Andrea Mwaka School.  All of this is on the continent of Africa, in the Southern Hemisphere, on planet Earth. (I think)

·         What do I eat?

For breakfast today, I had a mixture of fried potatoes, eggs, and peppers.  It was yummy!  I actually had a PB$J for lunch (I know… exciting) and am having hamburgers with a few friends tonight.  Sounds a bit like home, huh?

Since I make some of my own food, I eat things that are similar to what I would eat at home.  I have made spaghetti, fajitas (complete with homemade tortillas,) and baked a chicken.  Once a week, I have a wonderful lady who comes to help with household things, and she cooks me a meal that I can eat on all week.  She has made me shepherd’s pie, chicken, and beef pastries.  She comes on Tuesdays, which quickly became my favorite day of the week!

I eat my breakfast (which usually consists of a scone) and lunch (soup and/or a main dish) at school.  There is a lady who sells us lunch for a small price.  She makes fantastic mince pies, Cornish pastries, chicken pies, pizza and quiche. 

When we’ve eaten out, I’ve had beef roasted over a bbq pit, chicken grilled whole, samosas, chips (what we would call French fries,) egg chop (basically a hard-boiled egg covered in meat and fried,) and real Italian pizza cooked in a wood-fire oven.  Now I’m getting hungry!

·         Do I feel welcomed?

Absolutely!  The community here has been amazing.  Even those who are not a part of the CAMS community have been welcoming.  One older lady at church has made a point to come up to shake my hand every Sunday, even though we go to a different service.  Strangers on the road often offer a “hujambo” or a “habari” as we pass.  Both are ways of saying “hello.”  Shop keepers often offer a “karibu” as we pass, thought that is more likely “please come shop here.”
·         How bad are the mosquitoes?

I have several bites on my legs, but it’s winter now so they aren’t as bad as they could be.  I sleep at night under a mosquito net and everyone carries around bug spray.  Right now, there are probably only about 5 mosquitoes in my house (that aren’t hiding) but more will show up as the sun goes down.  I can’t be out at night without protecting myself or I will be eaten alive!
Here are some picture.  Not all are new, but they should be ones that you haven't seen here!

Dinner I made one night.  YUMMY!!


The cats wanted to join me for dinner on Fajita night!

NOTHING is wasted here.  One of the teachers showed me how to make a coin purse out of an old Milk box.  This may be my new favorite thing to make!



Some staff members during our outings. 

Principal WJ..  I had to get a picture of him in this shirt!

Part of the compound I live on.  The top one is between a couple of the buildings and the bottom one is on the other side, on the way to the chickens and the clothes line.



  1. You are so good in giving information. It is easy for me to imagine your world there. Thanks. You are a great teacher!

  2. Occasional Cheese, but that is one of your favorite things! I love reading you blogs! As Halloween is getting closer I am reminded of you more and more. Miss you tons friend!

  3. Yeah, only occasional cheese. It costs too much to get it all the time. A small brick of cheese that's about 2"x3"x3" costs over 10,000 tsh. By comparison, a small package of ground beef (maybe 3/4lb) costs 450. Cheese is a luxury I get when I REALLY need it!