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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet Safi Water

Ah, how I miss that sweet whisper I used to hear in the dark....of water filling the toilet tank. The rolling water outages continue in Arusha. We had no water for five days (read about that by clicking here), then it came back for five days. I was thrilled. I thought it went out again at day three, but when I flipped the switch to pump water from the lower to upper tank, I got another two days. Then it went out again. It's been out for about five days again now.

I was just finishing the last of the water we'd stockpiled in buckets and oil cans, when K2 called with good news. Hosannah, the young woman who lives diagonally across from us, had called to offer us the chance to fill the big outside tank! She'd arranged for a tank truck of clean water to come to our compound and for only 50,000 Tshillings (about $35 U.S.), we could buy 5,000 liters and have it running through the taps and toilets and showers again. We quickly met at the lingerie shop where she works, and handed over the 50,000.

That was my first time to go inside the shop, but I'd often noticed it because they have a mannequin sitting outside in a provocative pose. The mannequin is pasty white and wears fancy panties and a push-up bra. She's chipped in a few places and kind of dusty. I said to K2, "She's a volunteer from TVE," and he laughed. That's the program I volunteered with a year ago, and I was always complaining that some of the young women volunteers from the US and Europe really needed to cover up a bit more. They had a nice selection of pretty things inside. I was looking at some flowered panties with no sizes marked, and the other clerk said, "Oh, they're one size fits all." I said they looked a little small. She looked at my matako (behind), then showed me to a display of granny panties. So I lost interest and joined the conversation with K2 and Hosannah about the water delivery.

When we reached home that evening, a big tanker truck labeled Maji Safi (clean water) was parked in our central alleyway with a pump running. I exchanged a few Swahili greetings with the workers, then ran inside and turned on the faucet. Yes! Water again! It should be enough for about two weeks. Apparently Hosanna only called us. But the other four neighbors saw what was going on, and were still without water the next day. So last night the Maji Safi crew were back and filled the other four tanks.

I thought about adding Hosanna to my list of Tanzanian names that sound odd to English speakers (read the list here). But upon reflection, I decided not to because it means "thanks" and I felt so thankful to her for hooking us up with the water delivery.

Just after they left, our askari came by to tell us that people were harvesting honey in the countryside east of us, so be sure to close all our windows because the disturbed bees might show up. I asked K2, "African killer bees?" He said yes, although I'm not sure it was a clear communication. The askari did say that last year, the bees killed two dogs near here. One bee showed up on a window screen while I was still pondering whether a bee on the screen could get inside through the gap between window frames. The answer was yes, but we nuked him with insecticide. I know, I know! But maybe it was an African killer bee! This morning I saw two bees outside while it was still too cold for them to move. I stepped on them. But if our grand total is only three, that's not enough of a swarm to take out any more neighborhood dogs.

There's just always something here! Electricity? Water? Election results? Killer bees? What an interesting place! Many recent events have really highlighted for me the need to keep working on my Swahili. When the water first went out, our askari told me what was going on. I misunderstood him and thought he said the water had come back on. During the elections, it would have been handy to understand the local TV coverage better and to understand what people around town were saying. And when the askari tried to warn me about the bees earlier in the day, I thought he said the farmers to the east of us were selling milk. He knew that I didn't understand and waited until K2 was here to repeat the warning.

With Swahili on my mind, I've added two features to the right sidebar of the blog. One, a list of Swahili words I use in posts and their English translations. Usually, I include the English translation in the text, but not always for some of the words I use often. So now you can look it up in my list. Second, I've added Google translate. It's at the top of the right sidebar. You can select a language and it translates the whole blog for you. So if you prefer to read this in Swahili or German, now you can! How amazing is that? If you receive posts by email, you won't see the sidebar, and will need to go to the actual blog to use these features. Oh, and also, this month I passed 1,000 page views. Thanks for visiting!


  1. Hi Barbara - thanks so much for the comment on my blog, and for reading me and following me ! It was lovely to 'meet' you in Pick & Pay & I am now going to follow your blog, too. Sorry to hear about your water (& other !) problems - I know so much how that feels. Had a good laugh at your description of the 'underwear model' - only in Africa, 'eh ?! Keep well :)

  2. Thanks, Lynda! Nice to add a follower....and I am still enjoying your blog and looking forward to each new post!