Friday, January 29, 2010

T... is for terrifying.

Much has happened in the last few weeks and one of the most exciting things must be my new car. It’s a little Suzuki Vitara, a pimping ride who is affectionately known as ‘Khanye’ (as in West) and more recently as Matilda (‘Tilly’ for short). And so, Tilly has given me my independence back!

No more taxi’s or bajaj’s that can cost an arm and a leg, or feeling guilty about having one more cigarette at coffee when the driver is waiting. I can come and go as I please. And, as I’ve always thought Dar traffic is FUN…right? Never a dull moment, someone is always jumping the red robot or a daladala manages to inch its way between you and the car a meter in front. And hey…with aircon and Tilly being an automatic this would be COOL…right? Something like a high speed car chase out of the latest James Bond movie…

No. No. As my friends know I am the queen of self-diagnosis and this week my symptoms have been as follows:



Edginess…very edgy…

Symptoms have persisted for 5 days. Yesterday, patient was traveling northwards across Solander Bridge when one male taxi driver bullied patient off the road. Patient responded by vocalizing profanities, hand waving and an immediate feeling of nausea. Tears followed.  Diagnosis: DRIVING IN DAR!

Now this is all very dramatic BUT I realized how stressful it is driving here as you have to be aware of the 30 other vehicles in a 2-meter radius of your car. Desert Rose warned us and I did not heed her advice, but I have now experienced the traffic for myself.

The prescribed treatment: Relax. Leave for your destination early so that you are not pressed for time. And, let the daladala through.  Alternatively, warn friends to watch out for the little silver bullet who has enough attitude to match the rest of them and wont be a push over. T…is for TILLY!




Seize the day...and all that jazz!


I have no job, I have no money but I am going to the SERENGETI BABY!!! I am still not quite believing it, but it is happening and the fact that I had to close my empty investment account should be confirmation enough!

I don’t think my friends and family understand the significance of this trip for me. They recon I live in the same country as this natural phenomenon and why would I not happily meander up to the north to check out the migration. People, it’s called capitalism! The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are two of the most desirable places in Africa to visit – supply and demand. High demand + low supply (there is after all only one Ngorongoro crater and one Serengeti Park) = ridiculously expensive safaris! That is why you would often find locals (and here I group Tanzanians and ex-pats together) who has never been and will probably never go. And arguable, the south of Tanzania is also amazing! Mikumi, the infamous Selous and Ruaha game park are all teeming with wildlife and much less so with tourists. But there is just something about going to see two of the 7 natural wonders of the world that has literally got me squealing with excitement every time I think of it!

So how has a church mouse like me managed to make this possible you might rightly ask? It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know I say! And I happen to know a very connected individual within the safari industry and she happens to be my friend! Yeah for crazy, connected Hibiscus!

Sadly my lovely friend is leaving us to conquer the culinary world in Cape Town, but she decided to do one last curtain call in the North. She has managed to put together an amazing trip at a fraction of the normal price and carefully approached me. You see, not only is she very well connected, but sly and crafty too – a deadly combination. She knows that I have no money, no income and no inheritance waiting to be spent! But she also knew very well that I would not be able to let this opportunity pass me by! It really is one of those “once in a lifetime” scenarios!

So I have emptied out my last meager savings, I have begged and borrowed from my wonderful parents and I sold my beautiful, comfy couches back in South Africa. I really did love them, but what use is a couch when you are sitting on top of a Cruiser, sipping on a Kili, surrounded by silence and sunburned savannah?!

PS. Mom and Dad, I love you SO much and your continued support for my crazy adventures mean the world to me!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Facing you fears

I’ve never really considered myself to be a fearful person. But there is one fear that for some reason seems to get worse and worse as time passes. Being an expat comes with pros and cons;

- Experiencing a different culture not as a tourist but a resident
- Meeting interesting people
- Being far from family and friends
- Not having access to luxuries like Woolies food
…and flying A LOT.

We fly home(South Africa) about 3times a year, we fly overseas on trips, we fly to Zanzibar for holidays and recently I flew to Tanga, IN A SIX SEATER.

Every book you read about conquering fears say FACE THEM, and you would think by now I would have conquered it! But it seems to get worse, palms sweating, heart racing I always wonder (in absolute terror) as the plane takes off that if we were made to fly would we not have wings? (ok and if we were made to breath under water we would have gills, and I like diving but that’s besides the point!) 

Luckily I have discovered most people are a little bit apprehensive about flying ,but my fear just seems to get worse and more irrational! Frangipani’s dating The Pilot who assured her these small planes are the safest but where is the truth in that after all light planes crashes in South Africa recently? 

She had one good travelling tip, apparently Megan Fox is also terrified of flying and her trick is to listen to Britney Spears because she can’t die listening to ‘Hit me baby one more time’!

When we fly to Zanzibar we usually fly 16 seater  and as we walked onto the runway and a 6seater taxied past I joked to my colleague that I would have a heart attack in one of those, just to find out that is what had been booked…so out came the rescues…

...cue clammy hands, shortness of breath and racing heart. 

But I was determined to stay professional, although my first instinct was to run screaming for the nearest taxi!Inside the plane was small and dingy with windows that open like house windows and the pilot stuck his elbow out the GP people do Decembers in Natal!I almost fainted when the engine(ONE) started up because the whole plane rattle and it sounded like a lawnmover!

45minutes in this??

As we took off(imagine a flying bus) I kept repeating; “you are professional, enjoy it, when will you ever fly in a 6seater again(hopefully never!) and you can’t die listening to Britney Spears…I packed the ipod Frangipani, but never switched it on, was scared it messed up the instruments. I could just see the news headlines “Birtney Spears causes plane to dramatically plunge into the ocean of the east African coast, never to be seen again!” 

So please, if anyone has ANY ideas on how to conquer a fear because facing it isn’t helping this one!

~maisha (in the sky)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Great Safari

(image from Edward Monkton)

So. The time has come, a lot quicker than I thought it would be, but here it is!

I leave Dar es Salaam in a few weeks, and am having somewhat an interesting time with it all.

  • Nokia Bereft

So – one great thing about Tanzania is the lack of crime (when compared relatively to other African countries – not somewhere like New Zealand, apparently the safest place to live on this planet. Must be exciting!!)

But, they love nicking phones. 3 down, 0 to go.

  • Quotes from Movers

Extraordinary. I mean really bloody surprising!

Shipping: (3-4mths, mission basically) = $2000 minimum

Air freight (on the same bloody day of travel) = $400

Go figure?

  • Planning the last safari

Being in the safari industry, I thought this would be the easiest thing I have done, not so…. One forgets the vast distances in Tanzania, and the fact there is pretty much bugger all in between. One of the reasons we love it I guess?

  • Resigning – double your popularity in 1 day!!

Do it, seriously, give it a try – never (and I mean never) have colleagues been so charming. I even got an email from God thanking me for sending him some info I passed on – I did literally fall off my work chair, but because I am so popular now no one laughed - they all rushed to help. I love this.

  • The feelin’ of leavin’

It’s been nothing but rose tinted glasses and champagne, but every now and again, you do get a little pang…. Leaving people will not be easy, and that’s another thing we love about this place – the people.

Where to now? Heading up north for a short safari, gathering some momentum up Kili and then rolling south… back to my tribe.

Honestly, though, I can’t see myself away for too long. She says with a knowing grin.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Flame Trees of Dar

How beautiful is this!!! I wish we could have it all year round!
It literally lights up the whole town.

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion (Ethiopian quote)

We have not had a proper girls night since we all arrived back from South-Africa and Wednesday night was it. The chosen location was the enchanting Addis in Dar, an Ethiopian restaurant in town. When I arrived in Tanzania it was one of the 1st places Desert Rose and Impi introduced me to and I am still a little in love with everything about it!

The hunter (a big guy!) used to say that he loves the place but can’t go there as he usually breaks something. This always makes me smile when I walk onto the patio where the small tables and chairs are arranged in tight little circles and the whole place is dotted with beautiful but flimsy candleholders. The ambiance is magical – sitting under the tropical sky, the air thick with exotic spices one cannot help but feel transported away from the Dar night traffic.

After a serious debate about instant attraction/overwhelming lust/head over heels VS. friendship/tentative 1st kisses/being in love we decided to order. The discussion about what to order nearly topped the above-mentioned conversation, but in the end we had before us a feast of spicy flavour!

The best part about Addis (in my opinion) is that you eat with your hands. There is something so good, so sensual, so real about that! We scooped up dora wat (a traditional chicken dish complete with boiled egg), spicy prawns, sega with kibe (lamb in butter sauce with more than 20 spices) and ricotta and spinach with our rolls of injera. Injera is a pancake like sourdough flat bread made from rice flour. Most of the dishes are spicy, or like Hibiscus discovered with the siga berbere (beef with a sauce of red chili and garlic) VERY fucking spicy – her words! When you have finished the different dishes the best part remains. All of this is served on a big round injera, which has by now soaked up all of the different flavours and sauces. Which is what we then proceeded to devour!

How do you end such a lovely meal? With some of the best coffee around I tell you! Coffee originated in Ethiopia and the drink comes with a certain ceremony. It is served in a beautiful pot (traditionally a clay pot) together with a coal of frankincense that lingers and fills the air with aromatic promises. You have to drink the coffee black and sweet – delicious! And of course there is popcorn! I am yet to find out if this is a traditional Ethiopian custom or just because we all love popcorn so much! A complete traditional coffee drinking ceremony has three rounds, but we stopped after one, smiling and satisfied.

And even now, at the end of a lovely dinner, the temptations are not over! As you leave the restaurant, there is glass cabinet containing the most beautiful silver jewelry. I have on two occasions, when wine dulls the financial senses, succumbed to a pair of magnificent earrings.

It was a lovely start to the year! Seeing the girls, having wine, eating great food, laughing lots and loudly! I am sure you will find the setting equally lovely and if you go with special friends like I did, equally wonderful!

Addis in Dar: Ursino 35, off Migombani Street, Dar es Salaam

+255 713266299


P.S...for those of you who will never make it to Dar there is a Addis in Cape Town, so enjoy!

A malawian's take on the traditional fruitsalad

Nothing makes my day like coming home and finding these ingredients for my weekly fruitsalad bought by Houseboy;
1 Papaya
1 Pineapple
2 Mangos
2 Avos
1 Cucumber

The only explanation I have for this is that fruit are in season again, thus cheaper and now he has more cash to spend...hence the interesting choice in fruit salad ingredients! Made amazing guacamole with the avos though!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"In vino veritas [In wine is truth]." 
Proverb quoted by PLATO

“Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly.” 
W.E.P. French

So we had a wine festival in Dar! I was ridiculously excited about the prospect of actually sampling GOOD wine in our dusty city and the evening did not disappoint.

We arrived at the
Southern Sun around 17:30 on Saturday and it was quite amusing to compare the wine shows I have been to in South Africa to the event playing out before me. The show was held in the garden (in other words outside, NO air-con) and everywhere people where trying to look glamorous, sipping on wine, while sweating profusely in the brutal January humidity! The stands where not as per Wine-Ex all uniform and boring, but in true African style we had a mismatch of salmon pink and bright yellow structures to sample from. But the wines…ah man the wines…

Before I bumble on like an idiot about the wines I tasted, let me just put this into perspective for you – in Dar Es Salaam, a good bottle of wine will cost you a small fortune. For someone like me, who really enjoys my wine, it was a harsh reality check to stand in front of the wine shelf and choose the cheapest bottle like in my student days. But we humans are amazingly adaptable and soon I learned to add lots of ice and just enjoy! So can you now understand my ecstasy at encountering beauties like
Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Reserve Chardonnay, Fleur Du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon and the delicious Chocolate Block from Boekenhoutskloof? I was in wine heaven for the full duration of three hours.

The evening ended at one of my favourite Dar party destinations – dancing under the stars at
Mediterano. Well, we were dancing under the stars and Hibiscus was dancing ON a chair UNDER the stars! Good friends, good wine, good 80’s music….throw in a date with a pilot and what is not to love about life?!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Year of "a"

[photo from Emily Fox]

Returning to Dar from the holidays at home has been exciting! It’s a new year that holds new things! The trouble with the New Year is the often ambitious, less often achieved, new years resolution. Stop Smoking. Start Exercising. Start Saving. In the spirit of ‘new beginnings’, I always commit myself to certain goals that at about 5pm on January 1st become obsolete. 2010 however has begun somewhat differently…

Thanks to Bubbles, my wise and cheerful housemate, I have decided to follow her syllabary, “ABC” approach to achieving and maintaining personal goals throughout the year. The concept is simple: choose a letter of the alphabet and find things beginning with that letter to start doing, give up or develop. I have decided to start at the beginning with the letter “A”, perfectly suitable for returning to Dar es Salaam!

“A” is for adventure, to exploring the city and experiencing the riches of the country more fully. “A” is for ambition, to professional growth in my new home. “A” is for assertiveness, to becoming more decisive and self-assured. The first letter of the alphabet also stands for apples, activity, art, alcohol (less of!), appreciation, airplanes (overcoming my fear) and abundance. Sitting with a dictionary in hand compiling our lists in Desert Rose’s kitchen will long be a fond memory.

So in the spirit of “A”, here’s to the Ambitious and Achievable goals for 2010!

Transient Society

{image from leovdworp}

I am an extremely sentimental person. To the point that it's nauseating.

Case in point; last day of primary school every threshold of every class I stepped over for the very last time I got tears in my eyes. This make a certain, integral part  of the expat life very hard to deal with.

September in Dar is like the opening of hunting season, we always joke that the guys should go and wait at the airport to catch the fresh new contract workers as they get of the plane. People usually come in on a two year contract, love it in Dar, want to stay and get denied so this has caused that over the last three years we have had seven very good friends leave, for a variety of reasons. 

Now you may ask how we made 7 (actually a lot more) really good friends in such a short time? It might be my sparkling personality or the Photographers XBox, but the interesting thing about expat friendships is you sort of skip the whole 'hey..., maybe...., should we,' part of normal friendships. You meet, you decide yes I want to be your friend or no I don't and then you go straight onto being the best of friends and sharing life. One of the reasons for this is definitely shared experiences(suffering) and also the sense that this is not forever so lets make the most of today.

Coming to Dar as a naive 22 year old this part of expat life really made me sad and I asked a good friend, who was born here how she handles it. She had quite an interesting outlook on it all; she finds it refreshing to have this constant ebb and flow of new and old faces. I tend to agree with her, I think we open ourselves up more to meet new and different people we would usually not have spent time with, and in doing so you discover things about yourself. 

But that doesn't make saying good bye any easier.

Last night at a girls dinner for a great friend who is leaving on the early flight tomorrow,someone mentioned that you seem to form more deep and meaningful friendship in this bubble we call Dar. It might be because everything is so close together...the random sighting of a friend buying groceries turns into a night of stirfry and wine, or as mentioned early the sense of 'suffering' together in this harsh and beautiful country.

However painful (and there was a lot of tears last night) the process of saying good bye is, another door opens for, as another friend called it, international friends meeting in exotic destinations! So to all the amazing friends who have left, and to the one leaving tomorrow, you have touched me deeply and you will be sorely missed. And to all the great friends who I am yet to meet...can't wait for a random evening watching the sunset over the ocean with a glass of wine.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Leaf's the thing...

Returning from a great holiday to the hum of daily routine, there is always a slightly despondent mood. (That along with the fact that everyone decides to detox in January. Pull yourselves together people, detox Schmetox I say)

However, I cannot help but smile contently knowing that I will receive my Masifio vegetables every Tuesday - I am madly in love with them; every little one. Once a week I collect a box of absolute beauties: baby cucumbers, teeny little lettuce leaves, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, soft sage leaves... and the list goes on.

Being an avid meat lover, I surprise myself at times with my appetite for these vegetables. Anyone who knows me vaguely will know how I love nothing more than an aged piece of rump very gently grilled but still oh so soft and red inside.
I will never give that up, but I will most certainly have my daily greens with that rare rump.
I suggest you do the same.

{Masifio Estates, Iringa,, or 0783 207 334}


Monday, January 11, 2010

Why is it??

I've got 7 very important questions and I'd like some answers if anybody can help....

1.  Why is it that our dear Tanesco (supposed Power supplier to Dar) decides to cut Oyster Bay out of the grid on a Thursday at 13:00 in January? (2nd day after our arrival back in Dar  after a nice , long holiday with perfect weather) It is very very hot (I wanted to swear, but rather decided against it) and the humidity must be 130%......

2.  Why is it that Moo eats ALL her food when the nanny gives it to her as suppose to me?

3.  Why is it that you get complimented by your gardener after returning from 3 weeks in South Africa:  “Dada (sister), you like nice and fat (showing with his arms next to his body in an outward movement) it’s a good country you go to"

  • Well, I actually know the answer to this one: it’s because we ate skaaptjoppies (lamb chops) morning, noon and night and started to drink wine everyday as soon as the clock struck 11:00!

4.  Why is it that, as Maisha said, you never really keep to your New Year’s resolutions? (It's only day 11 and I've failed miserably)

5.  Why is it in Tanzania that you have to pay people in FULL to do something BEFORE they even started to lay a brick as suppose to AFTERWARDS like everywhere else?

6.  Why is it that we can’t catch lighting in a bottle?

7.  Why is it that we can’t trapeze over the traffic in Dar?


~desert rose~


# 3 Public Holidays
{image from Zanzibar History}

Tomorrow sees the 2nd of our 16 glorious Tanzanian Public Holidays; Zanzibar Revolution Day. 
According to Wikipedia The Zanzibar Revolution saw the 1964 overthrow of the 
Sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government by local African revolutionaries.  
In Tanzania they love to celebrate events with public holidays and who are we to complain!

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Here I am, where I ought to be" (Karen Blixen)...or not?!


Picture from the movie Out of Africa: Google Images

There has never been a lack of drama in my life. Whether this manifests itself in my extended family, my love life, the daily chaos of a life in Africa or even just in my head…I always have enough inspiration to write!

My recent holiday in SA provided me with enough stories to narrate a whole book, but I might upset the family, so let me just say I had a wonderful time! In between the visits to the dentist, doctors, hairdresser and beauty parlour I tried to see as many of my friends as possible. But it was physically impossible to get to everyone and to those that I missed on this epic South-African journey, there will be a next time…or there is always Zanzibar! Karibu Sana!

The last week was spent with the family in Kleinmond. On Christmas day we were 35 adults and 9 toddlers under the age of 5. That my dear friends was NOT even the whole family! And yes, we all stayed in one house! I am used to people unashamedly gaping at me when I mention the above statistics and facts, but by some miracle we manage to stay together in semi-peace and have a lovely time! Communal bathrooms, bread on order from Spar and an on-duty roster is the strange dynamics of my family holiday – madness but marvelous!

And now I find myself back in sandy and sweaty Dar es Salaam. While packing my things I was starting to look forward to coming back to my temporary home in East-Africa. But to be honest, it has been harder than I expected. I would suggest the intense homesickness is due to a lot of uncertainty in my life. I need to find a new job, a new house, buy a car, a computer…and all of this while I need to get used to the fact that there will be no more unexpected visits out of the bush from my hunter. That is a lot to digest at the beginning of 2010!

But a new year in its essence is about new beginnings. So maybe it is fitting that I put things into perspective again and ask myself – why am I here, what do I want to do here, am I still madly in love with the rhythm of Africa or am I longing for a settle way of life down south?

I am sitting under the magnificent flame tree in Desert Rose's garden and thinking about the above. I am not sure of the answers. At times I want to get a panic attack because I am not busy climbing the corporate ladder like the rest of my friends or settling down with children and a dog (never mind the absence of a husband!). And then I think of sunshine weekends on Bongoyo island, lazy Sundays at our secret beach or black nights in the African bush and maybe for now, in my 30th year that is still enough?


Thursday, January 7, 2010

My New Years(or Not) Resolutions for 2010

{image from declutterday}

First day back at the office and what a surreal feeling... I am convinced the first week of January of any given year is enough to drive the most positive person to suicide.

Paging through the January 2010 magazines they are all filled with articles like "Loose that holiday weight", "How to beat the post christmas financial crisis" and my personal favourite "My New Years Resolutions for 2010" by some has been celebrity, followed by smiley picture of said celeb surrounded by kids and ofcourse the standard labrador. I mean what is up with that?

A few years ago (ok maybe like two) I decided not to disappoint myself and make New Years Resolutions. I mean what is the point, everybody makes basically the same ones every year?

Drink less,

eat healthier,

exercise more,

be happy...and then come next year you make the same ones again, so why in 2010 would you stick to them when you didn't in 2002, 2005, 2009?

So I haven't made any New Years Afrikaans we have this saying 'Laat hy val waar hy wil' roughly translated it means 'What will happen will happen'. Thats more my feeling for 2010. But on the plane back to Dar last night I did sort of formulate one, that I probably need to adhere to for my own sanity.

Travel Lighter

Every time we return home, be it after 3 days or 3 weeks I have to weigh my suitcases at home (very strenuous exercise consisting of me AND my 19 kg suitcase on a bathroom scale) to ensure that I don't exceed the magic 30. (You can now buy a handy compact hand luggage scale on SAA's duty free if anyone is interested). I mean how much STUFF can I drag(literally I need to get more muscle) to Dar from SA?

While pondering this phenomenon I had an epiphany, if we got stranded in another country TODAY with the luggage I had on me returning to Dar I could start a new life. 7 Pairs of shoes, a whole pharmacy in toiletries (can probably start a shop as well) coffee, rice milk powder what more could you need? On the other hand when I got home and tried to unpack my 30 kg worth of (I cannot do without) STUFF into my overflowing cupboards ALSO over populated by STUFF that I had carted back to Dar over a three year period, I wondered what we really need in life? If I could happily start a new life with 30 kg worth of things why do I need all this STUFF?

So this weekend will be a spring clean of note (luckily the Houseboy was outside our door this morning like an angel sent from heaven to do the other type of spring clean). I am going to get rid of all the STUFF I don't need or use anymore and give it to people who can (watch out might get a black bag!)

So the only New Years Resolutions for 2010 I am going to make is:

Travel Lighter

Live Lighter


Friday, January 1, 2010

'Alo 2010...

Happy New Year to you all! I love the start of a year, a fresh canvas ready for some nice bold brush strokes.

Having overdone it all, and I mean all, over the silly season, I am going to post one of the simplest recipes I have. A slight twist on classic lemonade, with a dash of rum because going tee total in January would just be too much of a shock to the system.

Mix it up, add some ice, and enjoy in the sunshine!

1L water

2 teaspoons tealeaves

100g sugar

juice of 4 oranges

juice of 2 lemons

zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

100ml rum

  • Boil 250ml of the water with the tea leaves and sugar; allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Strain and pour into a large jug.
  • Mix the orange and lemon juice with the zest and stir in the rum and the remainder of the water (750ml).
  • Add to the tea mixture and stir well. Add enough ice cubes to chill – not too many as you wouldn’t want to tame the rum kick too much… ;)
  • Wearing your hat, and your red toenails dipped in the pool, sip and enjoy the start to a new year.