Tuesday, 1 November 2016

On moving to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Letters Home - Nr 1 _ 24 April 2005

This is the first of a series of letters that I wrote home on moving to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania more than 10 years ago. - Mostly I am posting them for my own and family records and reminiscing ,but they are also here to illustrate one person's process on moving to Dar es Salaam - for anyone contemplating the same......  

24 April 2005

Dear Friends and Family

Well here we are ... finally in Dar es Salaam! 

As always the first thing to almost literally hit one when stepping out onto the dusty tarmac of Julius Nyerere International Airport is the heat. Sticky, cloying, exotic and, well,.... HOT, there is no doubt that we are flirting with the equatorial regions of Africa – a mix of paradise and hell and with a promise to be as exciting and challenging as both these spots must surely be.

Our boys were strangely quiet and rather gloomy as we drove through the streets of their new home town. They are apparently not at all impressed, I gather, by the general state of everything, and further annoyed because there were no bows and arrows for sale on the street corners. 
           Cheerful vendors dangled anything from maps of Tanzania, car-chargers for any variety of phones, dodgy looking crisp and sweetie packets eerily indistinguishable from the cigarette and tobacco products, and also thankfully some locally produced merchandise in the form of cashew nuts in small twists of paper. ...But definitely no bows and arrows. I guess this gives us something to look forward to finding!

The traffic was, as always, utter chaos.

Once finally ensconced in a suite at the New Africa Hotel (VERY NICE!) our boys were still rather subdued. I think it finally hit home that we were indeed not in Cape Town anymore and weren’t going to be for quite some time!  -Johann has said several times rather lugubriously that it “does not look like on the photo’s” … oh-oh!           –Apparently the photos looked substantially better.

The hotel on the other hand is an oasis of calm and luxury on the verge of the city harbour. Thankfully we are enormously privileged to be able to stay here whilst hunting for the perfect home.

The View from our bedroom at the New Africa Hotel. 

We, in fact, went house hunting yesterday and Reyno and the boys perked up immeasurably. We saw three possible options. The first house we saw is situated on the beach-front, but with a large garden between house and beach. It is very weird, having three disjointed levels and only two bathrooms.  The swimming pool is currently a murky black abyss and the perfect breeding ground for particularly vicious mosquitoes. A unanimous NO thank you…

The second favourite is highly seductive, with glass chandeliers inside and out and a tall 4 stories with a terrace all the way round each floor. It is about 300 meters from the sea with a good view of the ocean from the top balcony. Each room is en-suite and the kitchen is quite simply amazing, even by South African standards. The house is a stone’s throw away from ex president Nyerere’s home. There is also a swimming pool, but very little garden and no climbing trees. –Very flashy and an entertainers dream, but not really a home.

So far the best option (fortunately –after some discussion, unanimously) is the first home we saw yesterday. It is right on the beach in a place called Kawe! There is a self-contained guest area with an outside entrance and an en-suite and a SECOND KITCHEN!!  This means that all friends and family are welcome and their space is private.  There is a wing that contains 3 separate bedrooms with one en-suite and the other two sharing a bathroom. Leading out from this wing is a huge lounge and the first kitchen which is open plan to the dining area.
These living areas are in a semi-circle all facing the ocean. There are lots of coconut trees and climbing trees in the VAST garden!

Although it all sounds very impressive, the home in fact looks quite “normal” and homely rather than flashy. The tiles and walls are all light coloured in cool blues and whites which I suspect will be very welcome in the cloying heat – even with the delightfully cooling breeze that dances across the garden from the beachfront.


We have been house hunting again, and have definitely decided on the house as above. –They just have to finish renovating (according the estate agent next week – but more likely next month!)

The boys have realised (this morning when presented with the actual daily volume of home schooling) that normal school might just be a preferable option!!

Shoprite is so South African it is almost a disappointment. Plenty of Rooibos tea, Castle Lager and Mrs Balls chutney! (At a price naturally – mostly about 30 to 40% more than it all costs back ‘home’.) **

The kids have discovered the hotel swimming pool. This means that they now want to go and swim for the umpteenth time today. At least the pool is clean and sparkly and rather lovely – and swimming definitely counts as “PE” for the homeschooling gambit... I wonder if counting laps ‘counts’ as Math?

New Africa Hotel Swimming Pool

The lady at reception seems pretty confident that we will be here for at least a month. --My blood runs cold. This lovely hotel suite seems to be shrinking by the minute as our two critters excitement levels escalate. 

It is once again a public holiday in Tanzania and so the traffic seems to have calmed down to merely manic. Generally the traffic here is truly terrifying and I hope that we will continue to be graced with a driver for a long time to come! Johann in particular seems taken with the whole ‘driver’ concept – seems we need to try and avoid our delightful offspring developing into tiny snobs at an early age…
Oooo boy,

I need to go and murder my offspring – seems to be the only solution! They are very moody at the moment, with almost manic- depressive tendencies. – Everything is exciting and new, and terrifying and unfamiliar all at the same time.

Ah wonderful,  Reyno has seen disaster looming and has removed the offenders from my presence. –Shows great presence of mind if you ask me!

We also went to have a look at the Agah Kahn clinic with a view to doing the whole baby-having thing there. ……Think local South African Government hospital with less people. They do apparently have ultra-sound and epidural anaesthesia.  I will explore the anti-natal unit next week and see what the staff and the unit have to offer. --Reyno looks uneasy.  (hehehe)

Not much news further, but then we have been here but 21 hours. Will keep you posted as things develop.

It seems that there is an existing phone connection at the new house which will certainly make the whole email thing easier. –We are trying to organise a generator, as it is extremely hot –even at the sea and at the end of “Autumn” / beginning of “Winter” and I do not relish being without air-conditioning! No lights,  no geyser, --- no problem, but we need the air-con and fridge!!!

Will write again soon (I hope)

Lots of Love

FamilyScheepers from Dar es Salaam.


**Shopright is no longer a chain that is found in Dar es Salaam. - Shrijees however also stocks South African produce although supply is often erratic...