Monday, September 9, 2013

It's My Birthday Today ... NOT

So many things I could/should be doing right now, but my fingers had a mind of their own, ended up going through my dropbox folder and found this video. I miss everyone. I miss Saigon. Thanks for the video Fi, this is now my favorite birthday song. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Music Festival, anyone?

To anyone planning to visit me next year, or, ok fine, Tanzania --- try planning your visit sometime around Valentine's Day. I'm not angling for chocolates or oh my dear Dar-ling (see what I did there? If you didn't, you don't know me at all so stop reading) flowers. I just want you to come to a music festival. Wait, what? Did I just say A music festival? Sorry, I meant Sauti za Busara, four nights of non-stop 100% live music featuring over 20 (not sure how many they'll have for 2014) artists and bands from different parts of East Africa.
I enjoyed myself immensely when I went early this year. I had no expectations whatsoever, I was missing my Vietnam friends' music and nightly gigs that I went to my first ever music festival. Anybody who knows me well, knows my almost irrational dislike of crowds and the press of strangers around me. I braved that and even set out to meet people or at least, be more sociable that I usually am. I was a bit disappointed I couldn't be there for all four nights but the ferry trip early Saturday morning and Monday morning then straight to work was well worth it.

Next year's festival will be 13-16 February. As usual, it will be in beautiful Zanzibar, an hour and a half away from the city center by ferry or a 15-minute flight from Dar. If you're not the type to spend your days nursing hangovers and just rousing yourself for the music nights, you'll have an awesome time around Stonetown and beaches around it. There's definitely lots to see and do.

Two weeks ago, our Creative Industries project manager, Jane, was practically jumping up and down when she told us that she managed to get British Council Tanzania involved by sending trainees from her project to provide service and support at the festival. I know it's months away but I'm already excited and thinking of how amazing it's going to be because I'll be with colleagues AND friends.

So to everyone reading this, karibu! --- Swahili for welcome

**Photos are taken from

Catch Up Time

Once again I've neglected my blog. Pfft. I give blog workshops for cripe's sake and I can't take my own advice of making sure it's updated. Haha. Typical. Anyway, if you haven't been in regular contact with me, it's a good idea to read this. Otherwise... wait for my next posts.

My comfy bed with moski net
So, 8 months. Alive and kicking. Africa dished out some of its finest in May. First was, my first bout of malaria. I was away for the weekend and on the way back, I started feeling sick. At first thought it was just because the sea was rough, I was seasick so I skipped work that day. Instead of feeling better that afternoon, I had a fever and bones started getting all achy. I was in and out of my favorite clinic in Dar - Doctors @ Masaki - for a week. Thank the gods for medical insurance. The thing is, I realize now that malaria is scary if you've never had it and you're in a country where it's strange. Here in Tanzania though, it's pretty common and as long as you're diagnosed early then there's nothing to worry about. Of course there's that annoying bit where it turns out I'm allergic to Coartem, the best malaria medicine they have here. The best according to my doctor anyway. I got crazy rashes from the meds so they had to inject me with a different one. I think it was Malarone, I can't quite remember because at that point I was just out of it with pain and discomfort. Second rainy season is starting soon so I want to be extra careful. Late May (or was it early June) when I had a motorcyle accident with my colleague and friend Ian. Some idjit sideswiped us and I ended up flying in the air, landed on the side of the road and rolled on the dirt. When Ian regained his balance and managed to stop, he looked around for me and I think he almost had a heart attack when he saw me lying in a heap. Some guys standing around in front of a shop, came up to us and told me to move to the side of the road. They looked like they were scared of touching me but was concerned that I might get hit while I was on the side of the road. Ian rushed over and didn't know what to do because I couldn't stand up. A guy named Goodluck (I kid you not) saw what had happened, turned his car around, and offered to bring us to the hospital/police station. A big African mama, helped me into the car and I got hugged over and over again by poor worried-shocked Ian. Idjit doctor at a hospital cleaned me up and sent me home seeing as he couldn't do anything useful for me aside from asking me how I felt. SERIOUSLY. I was just in an accident. Doh. Anyway, didn't break anything, just bruised and dirty. Darling Ayla, one of my flatmates then, helped me wash my hair that night and David, my neighbor, let me borrow his crutch.  Got babied by people and even hugged (!!!) by my non-hugger flatmate, Lena. Less than a month after, I got on a bike again.

May, June and July was also spent saying fare thee well to my friends; unique Ida, sweet Ayla and funny Julia. Strange how often I've said goodbye to people here considering I haven't been here long and avoid meeting new people.

“We never can just stop time. Or take moments back. Life doesn't work that way, does it?” 
― Christine FeehanOceans of Fire

South Beach beach house
During Obama's visit, Lena, Julia, Tiffany and I decided to escape from the hustle and bustle --- we live behind the US Embassy after all --- and rented a beautiful beach house in South Beach, just over an hour away from the city center.

South Beach

The past two months have been busy, filled with a whirlwind of activities. My social life isn't just my flatmates anymore. Not just Saturday nights at New Maisha Club with sleepy Ian. Wednesdays are pub quizzes, happy hour, dining in Dar, even karaoke at Coco Beach. Random nights where we have dinner and/or shisha, and adventures in Chinese restaurants that run out of rice AND noodles (wth???) Then there's weekends at the beach and sitting by the pool. You may ask, where's the local color and non-expat stuff in this? I'm not gonna stress about it. I have Tanzanian friends and I don't think about whether an activity is local or expat-ish. I just want to spend time with my friends and enjoy whatever we're doing wherever we are.

Last day with Martha (L) and Anna (R)

For four weeks in July, I was a private tutor to two adorable Spanish girls. I enjoyed myself immensely - playing games that I used to play regularly with my young learners classes, teaching vocabulary and grammar without it becoming academic. Chasing after them in the garden and playing with their tiny dog, Nala; it was exhausting but so much fun and I realize how much I've missed teaching children. Maybe I'll look for a center with young learners next time or stay till we start teaching kids in BC Tanzania.

Work has been keeping me occupied, too. My other role as Marcomms has slowly been eating at my prep time and keeping me at crazy hours. Most days, I work 10 hours a day. I also can't bring myself to ignore notifications on my Facebook Pages app so I answer posts/messages almost round the clock. Right now a big chunk of my time, is spent on our country website and Facebook page. In addition to that, I run around doing the 'comms' part for our various projects. It's such an interesting job and I'm glad that I managed to get this in addition to being full time teacher. I'm learning a lot about British Council and Tanzania plus reviving what I learned in university. Time will tell where all these will lead to, but for now, I'm just happy with this opportunity I've been handed.

just another sunset in Zanzibar