It has been brought to my attention that the people who know me best don’t know anything about my daily life with Art in Tanzania. I can’t really say that’s an accident because trying to describe the amazing experiences as they happen is particularly hard. But what’s especially difficult is trying to sum up all the fantastic people that you meet or how incredibly hot the weather is or just how insanely, wonderful life is like in Africa.
However, today I’m going to try. I’m going try, in the best way I can, what a typical day is like in the place that I now call home – A typical day in Madale Village.
If you are not woken by our onsite (not so scary) guard dogs Marski or Big Mama doing the twilight bark, then the neighbour’s cows might just do the job and if not that, a morning cockerel will definitely do the trick. At about 7.30am most of the house is awake. You will hear the morning buckets of water being filled, the pitta patter of feet and the bamboo doors creaking open. As we awake from our hot sweaty night’s sleep – and my gosh are they hot.
By the time we make it down the rickety stairs…(did I tell you that our Bamboo huts are up on the roof? Well they are, and we have the most spectacular view over Dar and it’s particularly special at sunrise and sunset!)…our surrogate Mother – Mama Neema and her fellow Dadas (sisters) have prepared breakfast. With a hot flask of water waiting, a cup of coffee is always the first thing on my mind! It’s safe to say that I have got a love for coffee whilst being here – my English tea days are officially over! Omelette, fruit and toast are next on my plate and into my tummy. As a group we all slowly awake from our zombie states with the help from one the ‘three musketeers’ (our resident kittens) and begin planning our day ahead.
By about 8.30am John or George one of our lovely bar men, will open up shop and be ready to feed us cold water or my personal favourite mango juice. But more often than not – we all quickly approach them to pay off our beer tabs from the night before!!
9.00am. Well realistically it’s about 9.30am because we now all run on the laid back African time; we all disperse to our different projects. Whether that’s heading to the
nursery or secondary schools to teach, going to help in the hospital or orphanage or working here in the office we all begin our days’ work! We must remember to say good morning to our tiniest of neighbours who can be heard shouting in the distance with their little voices ‘HELLO, MZUNGU HELLO!!
9.30am-1.00pm(ish) From here I usually begin work out on the balcony. Note to self: ALWAYS wear sun cream…remember what happen on day one – the words red and tomato spring to mind.
I count myself very lucky when I sit up here. The 40-degree heat is somewhat diminished due to the small sea breeze and I have the most extraordinary of views. Between the rainbow of different coloured roofs and the surprisingly green vegetation we can see the Twiga cement factory on the horizon. This might sound ugly…and don’t get me wrong it is; until you learn Madale’s exciting fact! This factory is where Willy Wonka lives!! Okay I know he is not real, but the factory was the inspiration behind that ‘little unknown author’ (cough cough 200 million copies sold worldwide) Roald Dahl’s novel ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Once you know that it’s hard not to be creative here, and screenwriting becomes somewhat easier.
1.00pm The thought of lunch quickly creeps into my mind especially with the heat. I wonder down to the bar and grab myself a soda with the rest of the office crew. It’s safe to say that I think I might have to go to ‘soda anonymous’ when I return home…in fact I think we might all have too, as we have developed a slight soda addiction whilst being here!
We then have a few options for lunch we can stay at the house where Mama Neema can prepare lunch for you for 3,000 TSH. Or we can make the long trek into town and act like youths hanging around the local shopping mall and have lunch there. But more often than not, we venture across the road and for 1,000 TSH, which is equivalent to about 40p, we can have a giant local lunch of Ugali and beans. This is basically a corn flower mix that you roll into a ball and dip! It’s so good! But be sure to wash your hand after, as you will have half of it stuck to every crevice and under every nail by the time you’re done.
2.00pm. High Ho, High ho back to work we go! Fingers crossed the power hasn’t died or heavy rain hasn’t engulfed our room. ‘Bless the rains down in Africa’ – is now on repeat since we have now entered the rainy season.
In the afternoon we normally continue on something different than in the morning. Here I spend some time organising the two projects I have set up. The first is the Brian Project which you have probably already herd about but if not check out this short video:
Get Brian to School Short Film
The second, we have just started working towards, which is to help our friend Johnny (a gardener at AIT) begin his education towards university. As I write this I can hear the faint whooshing of his blade as his cuts away at the grass below! (Ah that reminds me, we could do with some more grass for our dry toilet….yes our bamboo rooms are eco lodges so no flushing toilets here!)
Around this time, I can also being do some editing, taking photographs or filming, so all in all a pretty perfect way to spend an afternoon!
4.00pm (this can be anytime from about 3.30 to 4.30) some small voices can be heard making their way up stairs – ‘TEACHER, TEACHER!’ This is our afternoon alarm for the start of our English class for some of the little learners of Madale. Here Emma and I teach basic English to a small and ever changing number of children. We have been doing numbers, their ABC’s and even colours.
African proverb: knowledge is the only treasure you can give entirely without running short of it.
Trying to keep them all still and their attention focused is not easy to say the least and is very exhausting. But seeing them make just a tiny bit of progress makes it all worth it!
Also at this time there are adults English lessons and a debate classes taking place all of which are being run by our volunteers – such busy bees we are!
6.00pm If we feel particularly active, I hasten to add this rare! A group of us go for a walk, I mean run…round the village. At this point the temperature is bearable
Dying on our evening run!
and I have officially stopped sweating. It’s here that you can’t but feel part of the village. Everyone we pass says hello and I mean everyone. The local kids come and lend a helping hand to the slightly slower (struggling!!) members of what we have now coined the running club; and the smell of home cooking fills the air. The sun slowly drops and if we are lucky we might be treated with a lovely sunset!
But it isn’t a pretty sight when we return. Our bodies now have a layer of dust on top of a layer of sweat on top of dust; so because of this we all call dibs for the first shower!
However, this is not a simple activity in Madale. From here we must perform the art of having a bucket shower. The Do’s and Don’ts of a bucket shower…DON’T tip the whole bucket of water over you in one go, it will not wash all the shampoo out and
you will be left with an ice rink of water and the awkward situation of being soapy and needing more water. DO use the various inventions that have been created to wash one’s self. My particular favourite is the recycling of plastic bottle as an array of pouring devices.
Note to self: Remember to mosquito repellent up once showered…your dinner time is their dinner time too – do I need to take you back to day one again, miss mosquito-bitten-tomato?!
7.00pm – dinner! Now if it’s a Tuesday then you have to be quick of the mark as it is CHAPATTI! The house’s favourite. Once our plates are full (and covered in chilli sauce), it’s generally here that we have the biggest of laughs, as our ever growing family reminisces over our weekend of beach times, drinking far too much beer and partying later that we should have!
Our wonderful substitute mamas
Dinner is usually followed by a house meeting – discussions to help me feel like a grown up with responsibilities.
Again, if it’s a Tuesday a sound that has become so familiar and so annoying that we can’t help but love it bellows. A horn! This horn comes from a computer and behind the computer is our own personal DJ (in fact just one of our team leaders). But this can only mean one thing – Konyagi Tuesday! (Konyagi is the local sprit here – best way to describe is like a sweeter gin!) We fill up our glasses and have a little party with all the team leaders and whoever else seems to turn up!
If we are lucky we might get some moves from our little replacement brother Kimi. Oh and by the way, all Africans can dance – all of them! Our mzungu moves seem somewhat awkward (BAD!) in comparison – picture Beyoncé next to Hugh Grant!
Once 10pm arrives we might make the sneaky trip up the road to Umoja Pub for some more beers and game or two of pool. Before coming home to bed!
Not all evenings are alcohol oriented (unless it’s the weekend) other evening activities are movies night, game night oh and SLEEP!
And there you have it a typical day in Madale.
Of course there are exceptions, you might be climbing Kilimanjaro, staying in Moshi, on safari or even in Zanzibar. But for most Madale life is how we spend 90% of our time and my god do we love it. But sadly my days in Madale are becoming numbered and I am finding it hard to accept. It has been incredible, eye opening, life changing, challenging and wonderfully exhausting. I keep asking myself can I just postpone my flight…again?
The Madale crew
I never want to leave this village, I never want to leave the people here and I never want to leave Tanzania! The other morning, I felt my eyes filling with tears (those who know me, know this isn’t rare occurrence!) as I thought to myself, I don’t want my days to be anything but this! I love the heat, the community and how alive this place always feels. I have found that have rational hopes and fears here like ‘can I cross this road without dying?’ ‘Or will I survive climbing Kili? Compared to back home where I have stresses and worries about things I can’t name or point too, like have I wasted this day? How little am I seeing? Am I doing the right thing?
I want to be woken up by Big Mama, and eat chapatti and drink Konyagi on Tuesdays. I want to be teaching English and screenwriting whilst having the most awesome view! But damn it…too little money and the whole world left to see. There is just so much I am going to miss here but all good things have to come to an end and to put it simply…This is my love letter to Tanzania.