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

May 2014 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

21/05/2014 - African Food.

Adia and I have been having a discussion with my daughter Rachel about what food my granddaughter Eleanor might cook for a school project 'African meal'. This prompted me to write a commentary on the food served at my 'local'.

The pub I go to in the evening sells food, and is quite busy and well known in that respect. It's most popular dish is a meat broth, made mostly from bones with the little meat that remains on them, and possibly a few onions and carrots. This is most commonly served with a few of the bones, from which customers chew the remaining softened gristle, and suck out any remaining bone marrow.

It is customary to add half a raw bell pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice to the broth before consuming it. Customers who are having more of a meal rather than a snack will also add one or two boiled ndisi (green bananas). That's about the limit of the concession to vegetables.

Second in popularity, is a plate of roasted beef pieces served with a dish of pilipili. Don't get visions of nice pink slices of tender beef cut from a roasted sirloin joint, and Yorkshire pudding with gravy. The roast beef comprises not-very-good cuts of dead cow (Cows are units of currency fed on any available vegetation to be found on ground owned by anyone that the cowherd is able to access - many of them have highly visible ribs, and are probably of venerable age) chopped down to lumps an inch or two in size, and then partially burned over a charcoal grill. The beef is often somewhat tough. Pilipili is a mixture of chopped/pounded chillis and tomatoes and salt, watered down to make it go a long way. This might be accompanied for the adventurous by a roast ndisi.

Third, I'd say, is a plate of chopped intestines, once again maybe with a boiled ndisi, and a squeeze of lemon juice. I think the intestines are boiled in the meat broth, and then removed and cut up for sale as a separate dish.

Fourth would be chicken and chips. This is the dish most recognizable to your average mzungu (white person), and is usually quite edible, though the chicken is often a trifle overdone - erring on the side of safety. That's also served with pilipili.

The food is washed down with sugary soda or a bottle of beer.

If you want vegetarian food you're SOL, and will have to go to an Indian restaurant.

Alicia at 10 months - got her first cold yesterday.


20/05/2014 - Alicia at 10 months.

Alicia started her first cold yesterday evening. Poor little lamb, she didn't know what to do about the blocked up nose, and got quite panicked at times. Halfway through the night she finally tumbled that it was OK to breathe through her mouth. Then she got some sleep, and finally, so did we.

Today she's been remarkably perky.

17/05/2014 - Is It a Surprise.

Quote: "Tanzania faces a shortage of 2000 game rangers in the reserves, a problem which is a threat to the achievement of the war against poaching."

This is contrary to wildlife international laws which indicate the ratio of game rangers should be one game ranger per 25sq km, but in Tanzania it is one game ranger per 370sq km."

And you can bet your life they don't have satellite phones and backup from helicopters with armed anti-poaching teams. Bye, bye elephants and rhinos, it was good to have you around for a while ;=(

20/05/2014 - Government Action.

It has been raining here regularly, and often very heavily since January. Most of the roads that people depend on to reach their homes are in an appalling state. Yesterday, the prime minister took decisive action, saying "I take this opportunity to call on all local government authorities to allocate funds for the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in their localities." he pledged unwavering support from the central government.

No mention of financing, so 'unwavering support' probably consists of "we support you, we support you, we support you."

Craters: Three interesting geographic features.

Crater Locations.

13/05/2014 - Craters and Mud.

I found three interesting looking geographical features on the Google satellite pictures of the Arusha area this morning, at the top and bottom left and the bottom right of the picture. The one at the bottom right has a name - Shimo la Mungu - (-3.524729,36.60377 - the pit of god). It is said to be an impact crater, but I have not yet found any technical references to it. The one at the top left could be volcanic, since it appears to have concentric circles of different colour around it that could be due to different detritus having been thrown out at intervals. The one at the bottom left may or may not be a crater.

I would have gone and looked at them immediately had it not been for the state of the roads at present, and the requirement to drive down 20km of cart track to get to them.

Instead we opted for a shorter drive closer to home to try to reach a hill that we had noticed when out walking yesterday. That turned out to be exciting enough. It was 2.5km of roller coaster road, with great water channel gouges on the slopes, and mud wallows in the bottoms. Scary!

Potter did very well, but I did not dare attempt the last 100m before we got back to an all-weather road - the mud was just too deep. Going back was not an attractive option. Finally some local people showed us a 'side road' that we could go back to and get round the sea of mud. I walked it first to see if it seemed possible, which it did, and we passed over it, albeit with further excitement.

It's good to know that my reactions are still pretty quick, and my mud judgement sound ;=)

12/05/2014 - Bad Bread?

Excerpt from Tanzania IPP newspaper report:

"At least 96 percent of bread bakeries operating in the country have not been certified, meaning that whatever they produce is against the law and therefore likely to pose a big health threat to consumers."

What a load of alarmist shit. I haven't heard a single report of anyone being harmed by eating bread, and you'd think with such a staple commodity that most people would be able to tell good bread from bad! It's not even likely that people would eat bad bread largely on the basis of price, since the competition is stiff, and prices pretty standardized by that.

Just a classic example of unnecessary government departments spending taxpayers money, and newspaper reporters with no brains or imagination. IPP, shame on you, TBS (Tanzania Bureau of Standards), concentrate on the bad guys, and leave the majority of honest bakers to get on with their work!

What's certification anyway? Most likely it consists only of paying the appropriate bribe.

This page is an archive of the items posted to the BEV Newsfeed in May 2014.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Mt Meru

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