It’s been seven weeks since I arrived in the UK and almost nine weeks since I left Mwanza. This town in north western Tanzania was my home for the past two and a half years and my departure from the town was both unplanned and unexpected.
My family are still there and will not be returning for a couple of months. It is strange to be apart from them as they carry on the process of living and working there, selling up and packing up.
I thought I’d reflect on those things I’ll miss about my life in Tanzania as well as some of those things I will not.
I will miss
I love the heat of the equator. The temperature rarely falls below 20°C and much of the time is higher, even in the rainy season it remains warm. The fact that you can wear short sleeved tops even late at night and not feel cold. Even the rain itself, refreshing downpours followed by bright sunshine. The bright blue skies and amazing sunsets.
There is an amazing array of colourful birds in Mwanza, many of which would visit our garden. Across the spectrum from red-billed firefinches to purple grenadiers. All sizes from red-cheeked cordonbleu to hadada ibis and yellow-billed black kites. It was a joy to watch them at the bird bath, in the trees and by the lake.
From the tiny insects to the largest elephants, the wildlife abounding both in the town and further afield in the national parks. We had the chance to see the most amazing animals in their natural habitats.
Lake Victoria may be polluted and unfit to swim in, but the lake itself offers some amazing views within a few short miles of where we lived. To be able to sit in one of the many lakeside bars and restaurants and watch the lake, especially at sunset was amazing. Tunza, Malaika, Jembe Beach, Talapia and Papa’s were some of the favorite places to visit.
The more relaxed outdoor lifestyle of Tanzania. The work-life balance, such that the evenings were generally free of work and allowed for a more sociable way of living. Colleagues socialise more easily than back in the UK. The prices of food and drink and cinema mean that going out is much more affordable than in the UK. Newer and more westernised restaurants were beginning to open up across town and the dining experience is becoming more varied.
The Students & Teaching Colleagues
Working at my school had its stresses and strains but unlike the UK, these stresses were not a result of the students. Pupils are generally hardworking and always respectful. Keen to do well and willing to put in the extra effort. Even the naughtiest students were nothing in comparison to the UK. Teaching was a pleasure. My colleagues were dedicated professionals keen to do of their best often against adversity. Teaching in Africa is not easy, resources are often limited and the environment often requires you to be flexible and creative.
The Chance to travel
The location of Mwanza in the North West of Tanzania gave access to Kenya and Rwanda and Uganda. Whilst there we visited all three of these countries as well as Malawi, Botswana and Zambia to the South. The Serengeti is only a few hours from Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar are also within travelling distance by air. It was possible to cheaply travel across the continent and experience a range of different cultures.
I will not miss
Sadly there is low level corruption within the society. The police stopping vehicles to find something to fine you for. Immigration officials insisting that visas are bought when they are not required. There are other examples too which I will not mention here, but it exists and it is frustrating.
The regular loss of power is a frustration. At one time it would be every Sunday week in week out.
The presence of biting insects and the need to apply lotions and potions to deter insect bites.