What does my living situation look like here in Tanzania? Well, I could tell you I’m living in a hut with no electricity, no water, and have to go outside to use the bathroom. And while that’s real life for many people here, I’m living 3rd world life easier than most.
I live in a real 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house made with solid walls and concrete floors. We have electricity, however, it goes out periodically a few times a week. In those instances, solar lights ensure we aren’t sitting in the in the dark. You just hope there’s enough battery power on the laptop; otherwise, it will be a short workday.
My bedroom has basically everything I need.
There are only two other people in the house right now, so I have my own room and it’s pretty spacious. I do miss my bed from home. This twin size bed isn’t the most comfortable, but it could be worse. Mosquitos are a nightly problem so sleeping with a net is a must. I’ve heard some people say that sleeping with a net on their bed makes them feel like a fairy princess – it just makes me feel claustrophobic. But I’m pretty much used to it now. What I’m not getting used to? About once a week a sneaky mosquito gets in my net and wakes me up with his incessant buzzing around my head. This briefly turns me into a crazy person until I can get him out.
The bathroom. Better than expected.
Check us out. We have a real shower, a real sink, and a real toilet. We are doin’ it up western style! The hot water and water pressure, while not the best, is much better than I thought it’d be.
Hot water is possible due to fire built daily by a nice, older gentleman living next door. Now if it’s been too long since the last fire, the water will be cold. If you shower right after the water has been heated, it will be too hot. If the pressure runs out, you plug in the pump outside and wait about 30 minutes. It’s all timing. It sounds like an ordeal, but more times than not it all works out. And with a properly flushing toilet, I really can’t complain.
Luckily, I came after the kitchen upgrades.
Our kitchen does not contain many luxuries, but I’m lucky to have three recent additions – the refrigerator, the ceramic water filter, and the electronic teakettle. Prior to these, residents could only drink purchased bottled water, had to boil water on the stove to make coffee, and couldn’t keep fresh food fresh longer than a day.
With these exceptions and the cork screw/bottle opener, there are no small appliances or gadgets of any kind. No microwave, no blender, no can opener, no toaster, etc. You quickly get used to it. I don’t find it to be a big deal…I’m just happy we have a refrigerator!
This is my office at the house.
But I usually work here at the dining table.
Or at this table outside.
This is our lovely backyard we spend a lot of time in. But looks can be deceiving. While serene at times, there is usually a lot going on.
Our house resides on church property and their staff lives right along side of us.
On the positive side, it feels more secure to live on church property. The negative? Continuous noise. The environment is filled with daily conversations, sermons, choir practice, church bells, repetitive music, and even a random person playing the tuba. I mean, where did someone here even get a tuba?
Did I mention church bells? These could be the longest, loudest church bells ever. Every Sunday they go off at 6, 7, and 10am. Per my iphone stopwatch, the first round rings for about three minutes straight. I find it a bit over-the-top, but I guess they REALLY want to ensure everyone is awake for church!
This particular church is Christian (Lutheran), however, many Tanzanians are Muslim. So in addition, we also hear the daily call to prayer at 5am.
Between the “battle of the churches”, I think the Christians win for making the most noise.
The Laundry Room
Okay, so we don’t actually have a laundry room. Laundry is done outside with our fancy washer and dryer.
Laundry is basic, but in my case, a luxury. I pay our house mama 10,000 shillings, (or $6 per load) to do it for me. On laundry day I just cross my fingers it doesn’t rain, which equates to not only longer drying time, but also slightly crunchy clothes.
After 60 days without a lot western conveniences, I am faring pretty well. Other than the noise, I don’t mind our living conditions at all. Bread would be better with a toaster, my hair would look nicer with a blow dryer, and breakfast would be better with a smoothie – but at the end of the day those things really don’t matter too much here. We live a whole lot better than most people and it’s something to appreciate.