Begin the Begin


“Fresh starts: thanks to the calendar they happen every year —just set your watch to January, our reward for surviving the holiday season is a new year. Bringing on the great tradition of new years resolutions, put your past behind you and start over. It’s hard to resist the chance of a new beginning, a chance to put the problems of last year to bed.”

Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy [2.13]

It’s nearly the end of the year, very soon I will be by a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean and so many things have changed.  The Mayans thought the world would end today.  They were wrong but for me, this year, a good many things have ended.

The first, in January, was a three year relationship, I thought that we would get married (mainly because he said we would), I thought that we would have children and that I would live in a cottage somewhere in the North East (he said all that too…).  Last December I sat at my sister’s and then at my brother’s playing with their children and decided that enough was enough.  Enough making do with someone who couldn’t look after himself, enough hoping that if I was supportive and patient that things would pay off and we would be happy.  Enough of being afraid that I couldn’t cope on my own without him, despite him dragging me down gradually with him. So I told him that this was it and he agreed.

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A day out with TaT Africa


I clambered into the 4 by 4 and apologised for my bacon sandwich dripping all over the seat.  Edward the Dog ran alongside us as we drove down towards the gates, the askari on duty waving me off as if I was leaving for the holiday as nearly everyone else had.

But I wasn’t being driven down Airport Road to catch a flight out of Mwanza, instead we turned left off onto a dirt track that would take us out into the villages and some local rural school.  Sheila Murray, a teacher at our school, has set up a charity that promotes links between rural schools in Tanzania and schools in the UK.  We were going to see how some of the donations from the UK had been spent.

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I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky


Yesterday was spent by the beach, eating steak, then at a house overlooking the lake eating Christmas dinner.  It was the first time I’ve been out of Mwanza that hasn’t involved getting on a plane to head back to England.  A 60th birthday, most of which I spent playing with a one year old – she likes playing with my necklaces particularly.

I watched the rain clouds build and eventually burst over the far away Serengeti, drove through villages with elegant looking women working in fields in full length dresses with children in their arms or on their backs, children driving cattle, a piki piki rider with 3 passengers, a sea eagle perching on a stone in the middle of the lake, brightly coloured kingfishers darting into the water, an otter playing in the waves.

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Sometimes it just turns out that way


Today has been the first time I’ve truly not liked a Monday.

Normally, they are fine, no hassle. I’ve never really been one of those people that looks forward to the weekend, because I’ve worked shifts since I was 15, so my ‘weekends’ have been all over the shop. But… now that I am teaching on week days with a routine, and feel a bit guilty about going out on ‘school nights’ my weekends have become pretty important.

This weekend involved (as I mentioned on Saturday):

Battling with the bank on Friday, swimming in the school pool, a mammoth curry club – 30 naan breads, two bowls of rice and I think 12 curries between 13 of us:

8 curries on one plate.

8 curries on one plate.

Members of curry club post meal.

Members of curry club post meal

And all that for the bargain price of about £6 each… Can’t complain about that now can you?

I was so full I couldn’t manage to go to Tilapia (a different bar) afterwards so just went home to bed. Which was for the best really, as Saturday morning was dedicated to working as prompt and back up singer for the secondary production of ‘West Side Story’, followed by a brief nap and a trip to Tunza beach for a hog roast for a 1st birthday party. Not wishing to go along empty handed I made a vanilla and ginger cake with a lemon drizzle, which actually tastes a lot better than it sounds.

The sunset was pretty good, as always:

Tunza Beach on Lake Victoria

Tunza Beach on Lake Victoria

England beat New Zealand pretty spectacularly in the rugby and I found some evidence that the Tanzanians thought of Iron Man long before Marvel did:

DSCN3793

Iron Man Tanzanian style

Sunday morning began with a leisurely breakfast at Ryan’s Bay (another hotel/bar).  I started off well with avocado, banana and pineapple with orange juice – although I made the mistake of brushing my teeth just before I left for breakfast, so got that unfortunate taste that only comes from the unholy combination of orange and mint toothpaste…

The healthy portion of breakfast

The healthy portion of breakfast

But soon succumbed to the egg, bacon, sausage and pancake option.  Let’s not forget the coffee, the coffee is important, as I’ve only had about 4 cups since I arrive here in August, and for someone who does very much enjoy a sneaky mocha frappuccino, that’s quite impressive.

Not so healthy

Less healthy

And just so that you have an idea of the hotel overlooking the lake, this is the downstairs area:

Ryan's Bay

Ryan’s Bay

I succeeded in getting nearly all my Christmas presents from the Craft Fair held at the Yacht Club (oh dear, I’ve just spent three minutes trying to spell ‘Yacht’, I must be tired).  Obviously no pictures of the gifts, as that would spoil things…

So I headed over to Tilapia with some of the flats ladies, to have a drink, watch the boys go wake boarding and have a go with my newly bought mancala board.

I went home to make some lunch, with every intention of heading back for the carol singing (I’d even practised the descants) but had to settle with watching The West Wing, Dead Like Me and In the Loop on the sofa, as I had a fair bit of pain. I did, however, wake at half one in the morning to hear a cacophonous calling of Christmas songs drifting up from one of the flats below.  It did take a little while to work out who it might be, but I fell back asleep with a small smile on my face.

So to Monday, today, 3rd of December.  Teaching – no problems – lunch duty – all good apart from the bell going missing – West Side Story performance for the Junior School – could have been better – trip to the bank, again, – problems with the cash machine and then…

…And then I was RUN OVER BY A PIKI PIKI (which is a motorbike taxi, in case you were wondering).  It’s not a bad accident, I was crossing the road through stationary traffic, looked both ways, as I looked back to the right there it was, I stepped out of the way, he swerved, ran over my foot and clipped my elbow with his mirror. It aches, but is fine.

I was only run over a little bit, foot to ankle really...

I was only run over a little bit, foot to ankle really…

 

We went out for dinner at a local place, and the food and service were dreadful – roasted chicken that ended up coming out as all bones with sauce and a tiny bit of meat that was so chewy and rubbery that I couldn’t even cut it with the knife and fork.  Cue a long conversation about why I wouldn’t pay for it after the kitchen refused to send something edible in its place.  So yes, I’m currently in a pissy mood, which I’ll hopefully snap out of soon, but at least it’s not a case of the Mondays.

(If only the internet would have allowed me to post this on Monday, rather than Tuesday… Oh well!)

First things first


It’s December the first.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the school pool wearing factor 50.  It seems very wrong to be in an open air pool in November.  I watched my first live fashion show – the secondary students put it together to raise money for the school’s Saturday school which provides education for local orphans.  They put on a really good show, models, dancing and a bit of singing.

This morning I worked as promt for the dress rehearsal of the secondary production of West Side Story. This afternoon I’m heading to Tunza to celebrate a first birthday – they are roasting a pig on the beach.

A kite swooped in on me and stole some of my lunch on Thursday.  I’ve seen it happen before – circling ahead and then diving down onto the kids to grab a bit of food, all happening too fast to warn them.  It had never happened to me before, I didn’t realise it had happened until afterwards.  I felt a change in the air next to my head and spotted that some of my food had gone.  Some of the children nearby laughed, some said things like ‘sorry Miss!’ but I found it entertaining, if nothing else.  At least it didn’t scratch me, being allergic to plasters means things like that can be a pain to keep clean, especially in the dusty environment we have here.

There have been other firsts too, seeing or hearing something and reminding myself to call Dad to tell him.  Then remembering that I can’t.  In 12 days it will be my Grandmother’s 100th birthday – the first since she died and quite a significant one.  Christmas will be the first without being anywhere near home, the first without getting a scratch card from Dad, the first in Africa.  There are going to be lots of firsts, it’s almost as if my life is now divided in two – when Dad was around and after he died.  All the potential things that could happen from now – boyfriend, husband, child, job, home, tattoo…whatever. Who knows.  It’s going to be odd, some times sad, but it can’t be sad forever.  I know he’s not going to be here for the important things.  It’s the little things, the silly jokes, the random thoughts, the odd objects that I think to tell him about that keep catching me out.  And it’s not as if it’s heart wrenching or anything, there’s just a small intake of breath, a pause mid sentence or foot steps stop whilst I remember and then I carry on.  Which is how you manage to have more firsts.