Manhattan seen across the Hudson river from New Jersey.New York panorama image

December 2012 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

The residue: A burned-out tyre. Lighting these, and throwing stones at passing cars are apparently popular new year pastimes.

The residue.

31/12/2012 - New Year.

So the new year came in for me in the way I have sadly grown to expect in Tanzania, not with a party, but with a yawn.

You have four choices. You can go to one of the big hotels for maybe $50 a head. That's probably OK, but to get your money's worth, you have to be there by eight to eat the included meal, and after twelve you have to hang around until maybe 3am before the roads are safe to drive on to get home.

You can go to a disco. They're open late every night, but I've somehow grown out of them. Or you can eat at home, and get drunk, then join the crowd of mad people on the streets at midnight. The latter is cheap and tempting but probably rather dangerous, since people like to bring out their firearms and shoot them in the air. I'm sure it is all very good natured, but the combination of darkness, drink, and guns does not appeal to me. Or you can stay home, go to bed early and ignore the whole thing, like we did.

What I want is to go to my local pub, where there's maybe a bit of food and a DJ, get legless, dance a bit, sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight and kiss all the girls, then go home before it gets out of hand, and sleep it off. But that option does not appear to be available here. I asked at my local - JKT - but the manager answered me as if I was an alien who'd asked if humans farted chlorine gas like them.

Anyway, let me wish a Happy New Year to all BEV readers and anyone else who might stumble upon this page, then I'll continue in 2013 as if nothing has happened, which is more or less the case.

Experimental sandwich: Peanut butter, avocado, and potato crisps.

Experimental sandwich.

27/12/2012 - Try This.

What do you do in the part of Christmas week between Boxing Day (26 Dec) and New Year? This is a rhetorical question, since I have no good suggestion. However I came up with a snack today that is pretty basic, and something of a contrast with the rich stuff you may have eaten over Christmas.

Take two slices of good brown bread, and spread each with peanut butter. Cut up an avocado, and slice the pieces. Arrange a good layer of these on one of the bread slices. On top of the avocado add a layer of potato crisps (US potato chips). Apply salt and pepper to the other slice, and close the sandwich.

Serve with a large shot of good vodka that has been chilled in the freezer. Repeat as necessary - sandwich and vodka, or just vodka - until a suitable philosophical state is achieved. I just made up this last bit, but I promise to try it when we have some decent vodka in the house. Maybe ...

If I don't get round to it before, let me wish a Happy New Year to all BEV readers.

P.S. Works quite well with even cheapo Tanzanian vodka, which I tried with the second sandwich made for the photo. Heigh ho, speed the plough, rule Britannia!

More hot water capacity: we will have 10 guests later this week.

More hot water capacity.

18/12/2012 - Plumbing.

Later this week we have two Swedish families coming for a few days, totalling 10 visitors. This definitely maxes us out, and as Adia pointed out, would totally overwhelm our hot water capabilities. It has been a problem before, so something had to be done.

Previously we had three rooms on one 50L water heater, with an in-line shower in the other room. So last Thursday we set about cutting the system in half, and installing an extra heater so that each heater served two rooms. It got finished yesterday. Now, not only is the quantity of hot water more than doubled, but also as a bonus, the pipework seems to have lower resistance and the shower flow rates are improved.

I am switching over to the use of IPF plastic piping.

There's never a dull moment.

The second foundation: For unit 2 and part of that for unit 3.

The second foundation.

13/12/2012 - December.

I am very late this month - no real excuse apart from laziness, apathy, and such.

I have spent more time sitting around watching the builders than I would have cared to, a) because it is necessary if you want the job done half right, and b) because I have been nursing the ankle/foot I was complaining about my last post.

The ankle is much improved now. I have done a couple of quite long bike rides, and numerous shorter ones. After the longer ones the ankle has been a bit stiff in the mornings for an hour or two, but then it loosens up and feels pretty good. I still taking it easy on walking over rough ground, as that poses more of a threat than cycling while the foot is getting back to full strength.

The builders finished the second foundation in our new development today. Actually what they have done includes a part of the third foundation as well, because the end of the next unit is part of a corner. To get the roof right there will have to be some walls going off at right angles.

Adia's hairdresser came to see the new compound a couple of days ago, and wants to move in to unit 1. I don't thing he has a clear picture of the work required to get it from where it is now to something that is habitable. Little things like providing drainage, water supply, an electricity supply, doors on the rooms, ceilings, floor and bathroom tiling, bathroom fittings and so on, not to mention a gate for the compound. It's not that these things can't be done quite quickly in principle. Actual progress is limited strictly by cash flow.

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Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1975.

1976 is yet to be started.

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 70 year old Englishman - Steve Teale, started in January 2003. It's currently about life in Arusha (Tanzania), and previously in Bangalore, Manhattan, and the Bronx. It deals with life in general, building a house, food and drink, computer programming, opinion on current affairs, 20th century history, and so on. It may give you some insight into what life is like in 'the third world', or encourage you to visit Tanzania.

I started playing with it in January 2003, when I was living in Manhattan. At the time I felt I was going nowhere, and exposing the details of my life could be no worse than not. Almost immediately I changed partners, and quickly recognized that while I might be prepared to live in a goldfish bowl, other's weren't.

The same year I lost my job - recession, exhausted my NY State unemployment benefits, and got a job in India. Consequently a large proportion of BEV was written in Bangalore. India was OK, but I could not see what I was going to do there when I retired.

This uncertainty was resolved when I met my current partner Adia in 2006. She was a Tanzanian, studying law in India, so I came Tanzania in 2007. Here we have built a house, and made new friends. The rest, you can read on BEV.

At about the same time I had the ridiculous idea of extending BEV backwards to cover the years 1942 to 2002. So far I have got to 1975. For the years 2003 - 2012, choose a year/month from the tool bar, or go to the archive page. For 1942 - 1975, choose a year or go to the retrospective page.

Visiting Tanzania?

Adia's Place now has On-Line Booking. Please feel free to check it out. It may not be 100% yet, but if you get a confirmation email then it's a safe bet that we got your booking.

In the short term we will re-confirm.

If you have done all the usual tourist destinations, then make a leap and discover Africa! Come and visit Arusha, Tanzania.

You might be able to stay at - a great centre for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru.

Please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc.

We now have very pleasant bed and breakfast rooms available at $20 per night. The Old Cottage and the South House are also available for longer term visitors.

Studying in Arusha?

Some of the major study centres in Arusha are at Njiro. There, you'll find the Arusha Institute of Accountancy, ESAMI, and TRAPCA.

If you are not happy with the accommodation there, you are only a 5 minute drive from - a secure haven of tranquillity with African food like your mother cooked for you. Price is competitive with the on-campus accommodation.

Just call Adia - 0762 442888 - and she'll come and get you and show you her place. You won't regret it!

This Month's Posts

If there's something particular you'd like to go back to, just click it here

Top 20 BEV Pages.

Exchange Rates.

BEV Software Blog.

There are a several new articles on the Software page:

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

The clouds give a good impression of how high it is.

Random BEV Poem.


If you are a Linux user, you might want to try this piece of graphical design software I worked on last year. You can use it to design business cards, labels, logos for your web site, and things of that sort.

You can download it from the BEV COMPO page, where you'll also find the documentation.

About You.

A bit of nonsense. If you've ever wondered what a web site can discover about you when you visit one of their pages with little or no effort, then now you know.

BEV Partners.

Please check out our partners page.

BEV extends thanks to:

If you would like to advertise on BEV, or to contribute toward its running costs, please check out the sponsorship page.

Contact BEV.

If you want to get in touch outside the built-in comment system, email Steve Teale.