May 2008 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman|
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30/5/2008 - Relapses.
Just when I thought the cold was about better it either returned with a vengeance, or I got some other virus thing. Either way it was pretty unpleasant, and I was essentially hors de combat for four days feeling totally exhausted. This started last Saturday morning - the 27th - and only today I feel just about back to square one. I had a malaria test, but the result was negative.
Potter has been in the wars too. Adia slid off the road last week when it was really muddy, and banged him on the steel fence that stops you from falling into the stream at the bottom of the steep dip to the north of our house. The left indicator lens got broken, and the surrounding steel slightly banged in. Worse though, it has been an increasing pain starting him in the mornings, so on Monday we took him back to where he got serviced. After a lot of investigation, the guy there has concluded that he needs some fairly major surgery - new piston rings. So we will be without our primary vehicle for almost another week.
As a consequence of my illness, I had not made any further progress on the electrical conduit channels. But on Monday, a gang of plasterers descended on the house and proceeded to plough through the big room. On Wednesday they started on the master bedroom, with me frantically installing conduit and wall boxes just ahead of them. That burst of effort did not do anything to speed my recovery. Noting my distress, our plumber Juma, who is also busy here lent me one of his guys to cut the rest of the bedroom channels. I had wanted to do the plumbing as well as the electrical work, but Adia haggled Juma down to a price that was too good to refuse. I think there must be a bit of a shortage of work at the moment. Either that or Juma is another of the long list of guys who fancy Adia. Spemba and one of his men have also been here making door frames, so it's all been quite frantic.
On the brighter side, the puppies are well, and growing at an enormous rate. I have been trying to teach them not to bite your hands while you are feeding them or petting them. The main part is to get them to the stage where you can put your hand in their mouth, and they don't bite on it. This seems to be going quite well with some small regressions, and for those they get a clout on the snout. Also, this morning since I woke up, the nagging pain that I've had in my right shoulder for months, seems to have largely vanished. My fingers are crossed. The weather seems to be settling to a dryer pattern again, so we might get away with Kiki while Potter is incarcerated. On Thursday it was quite clear in the evening, and Kilimanjaro made an appearance - we have not seen him for some time. Yesterday I noticed the first 'flower' growing on the largest of the corn plants in the yard, so soon we will have fresh corn on the cob. The beans have sadly fared less well, since the puppies insist on chasing each other through them any time they are out of their pen.
One of the defects in the construction inherited from dear Adam - our first builder - was a water tower that was not high enough to provide a decent head of water for the main house. I was having visions of having to build another, but Juma the plumber, and Samuel, the guy we found to do the steelwork for the main house, agree that we should use a steel extension. Samuel will make it, then we'll drain the tank and take it down, bolt the extension to the slab where the tank stands now, haul up the tank, and reconnect it. That way we should get by with minimal interruption to our water supply.
12/5/2008 - Slow Recovery.
My cold has waxed and waned over the last four days, but on the whole it is retreating. I have done some work cutting channels for the electrics, and will do some more today when I rouse myself. At the moment I'm just digesting breakfast, and sipping the last of my coffee.
The puppies seem to be doing fine. Of course if you let them out, they are into everything, so I diverted Hosea from what he was doing to put in some extra fence posts around the area that was my workshop, and to nail up some chain-link fencing. Now when we want to get on with work or anything else during the day they have a reasonable sized pen where they can play, or at least get some exercise by trying to find a way to get out. I put a saw horse in there so there's somewhere to sit when you go and visit. When they've had enough they go to sleep under that, as they were when the picture was taken. I must get them some puppy toys though.
They had their first beef bones the day before yesterday. Those kept them occupied for some time. It turns out that of the two of them, it's Gretel that wears the trousers. She's smaller than Hansel, but he tends to defer to her, since she has a way of winning fights, and she actually eats more than he does.
Spemba and his men have been installing the joists and noggins to support the ceilings in the main house. Their standard of work appears to be very sound and professional, and they are quick. They did the whole of the big ceiling in one and a half days, and it looks really good - strong and level. The contrast with the crappy work done by Adam's lot in the small house could not be greater.
8/5/2008 - A Nightmare Evening.
As it turned out, the puppies came yesterday, though not without incident. This cold I have is foul, and I'd been lying in a darkened room most of the day, but then the vet phoned to say could we take them because there was warfare breaking out between the eight of them. So we went late afternoon, when he was still in town, but the brother in law would be there to hand them over.
The ride to his place is terrible, so what with the cold I was not in a good frame of mind when we got there. The brother in law was drunk, and the markers that had been placed on our chosen puppies had not been maintained, so he had absolutely no idea which ones we were supposed to get. Adia picked out a male that she thought might be the one she had chosen in the first place, and I picked out a bitch because she gave me a kiss - typical man!
The puppies were put in the back of Potter, and I was just about to get in and drive home when the children of the household arrived back from school. They said we'd made a mistake about the male, and went and got the one they thought we had chosen, which was duly substituted.
We then took the awful ride back with the two puppies alternately puking and shitting in the back of the car, stopping for a cleanup break on the way. I drove, and Adia supervised. By the time we got back, I was knackered. The puppies jumped out of the car and we had to search for mostly black slimy puppies in a mostly dark slimy compound. When we'd caught them I noticed that both of them were males. We'd lost the bitch in the switch.
I said "to hell with it, we'll go back and sort it out in the morning", but Adia wasn't having that and was dead set on going back and sorting it out there and then. She drove, and I supervised on the hell ride. Going back, the pair of them were fine. They formed a mini huddle and possibly went to sleep.
The vet was apologetic, and not very complimentary about his brother in law. He had better idea of which was the right male, and Adia agreed. I just picked up the first bitch I found, which may or may not have been the one I picked in the first place or the one I picked earlier in the day, I was past caring - and they were all cute puppies. They puked and shat less than the first pair on the way home, but were still pretty slimy when we arrived, so I gave them quick bath in warm water, and Adia and Demi toweled them dry.
Clean and dry, the puppies played happily in the living room floor while I went and bought some beer and Adia cooked chips mayai. We put them in the bathroom to sleep, since I was not sure they were big enough not to pass through the grid of the kennel gate.
I've suffered for it today, with the cold worse, but since I'm doing this now I must have perked up some. The puppies are great.
7/5/2008 - Milestones.
Well the house is finally waterproof. This gives me a much greater level of confidence that it will get finished. Time is now on our side, so even if we have to earn the money to do each room, we can plod though it at our own pace. Also much of the work beyond this point is stuff I can do myself if it comes to it. Not that I expect it to come to that; Spemba and his boys are now working on the big ceiling of the living kitchen area. I have moved my woodwork bench into the living area.
The puppy house is completed, and yesterday I made a Cyprus wood pallet like the one they are accustomed to sleeping on at the vets kennel. They should arrive tomorrow. I've been telling Cali, but I don't think it has sunk in. No doubt before the weekend both puppies will have got a scratch across the nose, and the cat's place in the pecking order will be established. Today we have to go out and stock up on puppy food, dog dishes, collars, leashes and such.
Hosea, the man who built it, is now back to his previous task of putting a concrete cap on the perimeter wall. He is a prodigious worker. The puppy house was built paying him a day rate, and I have never seen anyone work as fast in my time here. Often, if paid a day rate, building workers will slow down, to make the income last. However I think Hosea sees the amount of work there is to be done here, and is set for the long haul. If he continues to work as he has been doing I think he will be here for the duration.
I have started on the electrical installation. Cutting holes for wall boxes and the associated cable conduit channels through Maganga's heavy concrete blocks and across the concrete upper lintel with a two pound hammer and chisel is arm and leg crippling work, and mind-blowingly tedious. But I'm making progress, though I am stopped today by a cold, and will stick to gentler domestic tasks. I may also try and persuade Adia to invest in an angle grinder.
The Pentax is back to life. Adia finally found someone in town who was capable of stripping down the lens extension mechanism and removing the concrete grit that was jamming the works. The pictures here are still from my phone, as many will continue to be, since it seems to tolerate building site conditions better than the camera.
Adia has imported a new Masai from up country via Ali - Rehema's husband. So the current Masai who only comes at night, and we think has a day job, will be getting bumped. The new Masai will be here all the time, sleeping in the mornings. He should be less expensive, but we will have to feed him, so the cost should be about the same. On the plus side, we get an extra pair of hands in the afternoons.
Hosea will have more work to do to put the barbican into a better state with a coat of plaster, and I should put a mosquito net on its gate.
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