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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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Anniversary! A Year in Tanzania

This morning I realized it has been one year since I came to Tanzania, planning to stay for three months. Actually, today is one year since I left Utah. It's such a long trip that tomorrow is one year since I arrived in Arusha. Here's a look back, month-by-month, at what I've been doing for the past year.

MARCH, 2010

Arusha welcomed me back with cloudy views of Mt. Meru and Obama souvenirs from the last U.S. election. They like him better in Arusha than in Utah!

I caught up with some of my friends and students from my previous visit in 2009. At Rahma's house, her sister painted a henna design on my arm to welcome me back. Click here to read about the friends I caught up with.

APRIL, 2010

In April, K2 and I went on safari to nearby Tarangire National Park. Here's a Pied Kingfisher (I bought a good field guide this week, so now I know the species).

Here's a young elephant flapping his ears and doing battle with the tsetse flies. We spent one day in Tarangire, overnighted at a luxurious tented camp, then spent one day in Lake Manyara National Park. Click here to read about that trip and see more pictures. Or you can click on the pictures in the right sidebar for Tarangire and Lake Manyara to link to Snapfish photo albums.

I re-awoke my addiction to travel souvenirs at this Maasai shop on the road between the two parks.

Later in April, we made a day trip to Arusha National Park. The highlight of that safari was this pair of Colobus monkeys with their baby. Click here to read about that trip and see more pictures. Or you can click on the picture in the right side bar for Arusha National Park to link to a Snapfish photo album.

Gosh, I had a lot of fun in April! This day, K2 and I were wandering around over by the base of Kilimanjaro, when his Chagga friend, Happy, called and invited us to come visit her family up in the foothills. I tried mbege, the Chagga's traditional, much beloved banana beer with Happy and her aunt. Click here to read about our wanderings around the Chagga villages on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

MAY, 2010

By the time May rolled around, I realized I wasn't going home as soon as I had planned. So I rented this great house. Which I'm now thinking I want to move out of, because a bar has opened within a couple hundred feet of our bedroom window and it's music and happy drunks until past midnight. Even during blackouts! They must have invested in a generator. You can click here  and here  and here to read about my house hunting and home decorating exploits.

On a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro from a high point just down the road from my house.

Within a week of moving in, I met my favorite neighbors, Fatuma and Shabani.

JUNE, 2010

 In June, I went to the Tourism Expo in Arusha. Lots of commercial displays from expensive lodges and safari companies. Also, Maasai performing traditional dances and not objecting to having their picture taken.

It was around this time that I found two really entertaining friends who helped me feel more at home, Anna and Joyce. Joyce went off to Dar es Salaam only a few weeks later--something about more education. Whatever. I think she should have stayed here to do stuff with me. But Anna's still here! 

And I bought a car!  Although I was getting around town well enough on the dala dalas, it's certainly easier with my own car. And it opened up many more opportunities for fun. Click here for more about this and other cars.

JULY, 2010

Opportunities for fun like this  Fourth of July excursion with the Twende Hiking Club. Clicking on this one will take you to the same post I embedded above, about the new car, so don't go back if you already clicked!

Later in July, my mother passed away and I returned to Utah to attend her funeral and spend time with my family. The journey was bittersweet. I grieved the loss of my mother at the same time that I felt relieved that her long slide away from herself was finally finished. I loved seeing friends and family whom I'd been missing while I was in Africa. But I felt disconnected and discontent back in my old house and life. No doubt one of those points in life that offers something I need to learn. When I eventually decipher the lesson, I'll be sure to let you know.

AUGUST, 2010

I love road trips in America, and I did two while I was there. First, to Seattle to visit cousins. Here I am (I'm the short one) with my cousin Chris and her daughter Sheila all decked out in souvenir khangas from Tanzania.

Chris introduced me to Mike and Sandi Wright. This was a treat for me, because Mike has been one of my most faithful readers. You can click here and here to read about my highly entertaining cousins.

Next, it was off to Wyoming and the Tetons...

 attend the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Music Festival with a group of friends from my halcyon days as an employee of the U.S. Forest Service. This was one annual tradition back home that I didn't have to miss. Right now I'm wondering how to handle the annual tradition back home of filing income taxes, which are due mid-April in America. You can click here to read more about the Bluegrass Festival (the same post as the second one linked just above).


One last bit of fun while home: I attended the Eastern Idaho State Fair with my brother, Bob. Click here to read more about that (still the same post as linked above).

I returned to Tanzania in late September to be welcomed by the incredible jacaranda trees blooming all over Arusha. While I was in Utah, K2 emailed me a sweet note comparing my beauty to that of the jacaranda in bloom. But he used the scientific name, so I didn't get it. Also, I hadn't yet seen these trees in bloom. But my first day back, I saw the flowers and he said the scientific name and I realized what a sweet compliment he had paid me by email. It was at this point in my year that I began to experience confusion as to whether I was leaving "home" or coming "home."


Anna and I made a weekend trip to Marangu, on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro. We toured a tunnel in which the Chagga people used to hide the women and cattle from marauding Maasai.

Then we took a lovely hike around the hillside, past native impatiens... this pretty waterfall. You can see a lot more pictures of this excursion by clicking here. Also included in that post: the Machame Girls' Secondary School founded by Anna's great aunt, the first woman to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

October's big event, though, had to be the national elections on Halloween. President Kikwete was re-elected to his second term. The election and aftermath were generally peaceful. There was a bit of excitement in Arusha which freaked me out, but I'm okay now. And Arusha's OK now, too.


In November, the flamboyant trees started blooming. I considered this consolation for the end of the jacaranda bloom.

K2 and I bought a second car, this Nissan Rasheen. I told you that we bought it because it was so cute that it made us laugh. Well, we stopped laughing about two weeks later. The cute little thing stops running randomly while you're driving it in crazy Arusha traffic. We took it for repairs several times to the one garage in town that has computers for electronic diagnostics. The problem seems to be the result of dirty petrol. That's hard to avoid here. The mechanic showed us his collection, in 1.5 liter plastic water bottles, of different colors of petrol with different types of sediment drained from various cars in Arusha. After numerous attempts at cleaning various parts of the fuel system, the problem kept getting worse. The owner of the small car lot where  we bought it actually let us bring it back. He's trying to sell it for us. If he succeeds, we'll get some money back.

Anna, K2, and I traveled to Monduli Juu, about 90 minutes from Arusha, and hiked through little Maasai villages and the beautiful countryside.

 Click here to read more about my Monduli weekend. But let me warn you that the post opens with several close up photos of snakes at Meserani Snake Park. I'm just saying, because a few readers complained to me about these snakes and said they had to immediately back out of my blog when confronted with their worst fear.


I felt isolated spending the holidays alone in Arusha. K2 was on the mountain for 10 days around Christmas, and again at New Year's. But really, I've felt isolated during the holidays at home in America for the last several years, too. But if I'd been home, my long distance call to my little brother in New Hampshire would have been a lot cheaper. 

But something fun in December--I started a series of English conversation practices for employees at Karama Lodge. We've finished now, after about two months of weekly lessons. The lodge is too busy now, and it's a problem for the employees to break away from their duties. I loved doing this because the students were the nicest people ever. And we had a couple of comedians who regularly participated (for example, the guy in blue at front, right). You can click here to read more about the class and to see some pictures of Karama Lodge.


January was when all the other bloggers did their "year in review" posts, but I was still moping about the holidays, so I wasn't in the mood. Later in the month, though, I did have some fun.

I made a trek to Mkadini Beach and Fish Eagle Point Lodge with new friends Shanette and Cynthia. Click here to read an African road trip story and see many fabulous beach photos.


Just a few days after returning from Mkadini Beach, this jigger bump appeared on my toe. Yikes! Never fear--Shanette performed surgery and everything's fine now. Except that I badly need a pedicure. If you really want to get grossed out, click here to read more about jiggers: what they are, what they do, and just how like alien parasites from a sci-fi movie an insect can be.

And just so I don't end the "year in review" on a disgusting note--here's a scenic shot of Lake Duluti, which Shanette and I hiked around a couple of hours after the jigger surgery.

I was startled when I saw the date and realized I'd been here an entire year. It's gone by fast. And I'm still so confused about so many things in Tanzania that it really feels as if I've just recently arrived. But sorting through these photos did remind me that I've done a lot of interesting, fun things here. It seems as if I've spent a lot of time being bored alone in my house or frustrated sitting in my car in traffic. But apparently I don't document those moments with photos, so five years from now, I'll only remember what a fabulous adventure it was living in Tanzania!


  1. Good morning Barbara,
    Nice reading as usual. I didnt see an update about visas or any thing. Is that still in the works or. . .
    Now you will have dual citizenship? Do you have to pay taxes in Arusha?

    joanie dodie

  2. My volunteer resident permit is good until June. I was here for 3 months on a tourist visa before I got the one-year resident permit. Tanzania doesn't allow dual citizenship. Taxes? Hope not!

  3. Barbara, you are living my dream. The photos and your descriptions take my breathe away. I really envy your bravery and your sense of joy! I think you should write a book and I'm pretty sure it would be widely read. This is the most wonderful life I've ever heard described outside of fiction.

  4. Linda, thank you for such a wonderful compliment. I noticed in your blog awhile back you mentioned going to the Navajo Reservation. I've always loved it there, and during law school I really wanted to sign up for hte volunteer legal services program, but didn't because I was married and my ex wasn't up for moving to Mexican Hat! Anyway, maybe you should do that. I think it would be the same type of adventure, and your husband would provide all the local expertise. But it would be hard to walk in stilettos in all the sandstone down there. I want to write a book, and have gotten a lot of encouragement from various friends, but haven't done any work yet. I feel like I don't know the ending! I did just sign up for a Stanford University Continuing Education Class online for writing travel memoirs. It starts in April, so I'm excited for that!

  5. Barbara: You left Utah for that? ;) Loved reading this and seeing the photos. Makes me homesick for Africa again. I started out in Kenya, marrying an American Peace Corps volunteer there (I'm Dutch). We made a trip to the Tanzanian coast on a bus (our honeymoon, oh gosh) and stayed in a little borrowed cottage in Tanga. I remember the bus trip well.

    It's so nice to read a blog like yours, to see how you appreciate your experience and make friends with the people. The world is a fascinating place and once you have the travel bug you don't get over it.

    About going home: You will never again really fit in because your experiences change you and it will make you "diffeent" enough to see everything and everybody at home with new eyes. This is not bad, just something to know and accept.