New Blog!

If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Really Settling In!

Sorry, everybody, for the month-long silence. I know from my email that I caused many of my friends back home to worry a bit! But wait until you hear how busy I've been and you'll understand...

I'm settling into a really nice house that I've rented for 6 months. Why 6 months? Because in Tanzania, it's customary to demand 6 months' rent in advance when you sign a lease with a renter. Never mind all the credit checks and security checks and cleaning deposits--just get all the money upfront and no worries for the landlord. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer (waaaay back when), I would have killed for this nice a house. I have a combination sitting room/dining area, a kitchen, bathroom, three bedrooms including a master with second bath, an outdoor sink behind the kitchen, and a fabulous front porch with a view of Mt. Meru. All for about $225 per month. I have electricity with a pay-in-advance system in which you preload the meter. We already ran out once--still getting the hang of it! The electricity does go out a lot, sometimes for a few hours. It doesn't matter all that much. I have a good fluorescent lantern with rechargeable battery that lights up the place pretty well. The climate is such that it's comfortable without either air conditioning or heat. And I bought a stove that has three gas burners (from a 17 kg tank that you take to the petrol station and refill) and one electric burner. So I'm covered if the power's out, or if I forget to prepay for the electricity, or if I let the gas run out! The house has running water, which also goes out frequently in parts of Arusha. But we're covered for that, too, with a tank system that holds a large lower tank of reserve water that we can pump to an upper tank by the flip of an electric switch. Hmmmm....what if the upper tank goes dry when the power's out? Didn't think of that before!

The house is in a group of 6 quite new houses, all the same. There's a block wall around the whole development. You come in through the main gate, attended by a Maasai security guard, and enter an alley with 3 houses on each side. Each house has its own compound with its own gate. It's built in an open area with some farms still around, but just up the road is a whole neighborhood of huge houses in walled compounds.

My front porch

The view of Mt. Meru from the alley that runs between the houses. 
The neighbors call us Nyumba Sita which means "Six Houses."

This part of town is called Njiro. Lots of rich Tanzanians and expatriates live in the area. There are also sections with more typical, more modest houses and we have a nice array of small roadside shops. The dala dalas (public mini-buses) run through the neighborhood, so I can take a 5 or 10-minute walk, get on the dala dala, and take a 20-minute ride to the town center. Or a 5-minute ride to a fancy shopping center with four good restaurants, a movie theater, and a beauty salon and a wonderful (but spendy) grocery store. However, I've made it harder to get to Jordan Institute, where I'm teaching English and taking Swahili lessons. I have to add a 20-minute walk from the end of the dala dala line, but, hey, I need the exercise.  My specific part of Njiro is called Njiro Container, because there's a shop inside an old shipping container that was left out here at some time for some reason.

I want to tell you all a bunch of stories about house hunting in Tanzania and shopping for furniture and household goods and giving directions, which is different here than in the US--and more entertaining. And also, how I have moved my status from tourist to one-year-resident. But I'll catch up with all of that in a few more posts over the next few days, as well as more description of my new neighborhood. But for now, here are a few pictures taken right outside the gates of Nyumba Sita.

Mt. Meru and cornfields

When it's clear in the afternoon, I can even see Mt. Kilimanjaro off in the distance!


Two neighborhood boys who saw me with my camera and asked me to take their picture (picha in Swahili), and now are asking me when I'll bring them a print. But before I bring the print, I think I'd better get a picture of the bigger guy's little sister, who has been following me around, so I can bring her a print at the same time!


  1. Wow, Barb - WONDERFUL!! Can't wait to hear more! Betsy

  2. Its great to hear from you Barb. Sounds like you are having a good time and doing well. Keep posting. I love to read your stories. Rochelle

  3. Heya!

    I just told Shahab we should come for a visit... no answer... but looks like you've got the digs ready?!? We are at the lake house and finally have a minute to catch up on peoples sites... WOW is right... so do you have skype yet? we should if your there for SIX months!!!! hugs, Jan

  4. Oh, so now you all it "the Lake House!" Nice! I'd be hanging out up there with you if I was at home! We're not quite set up for guests yet, but we could be in a few more weeks. If Shahab doesn't want to come, get somebody more fun to come with you, like Lahdan or Rahz!

  5. Pretty nice place you got there Barb.