Wednesday, 21 August 2013

1 day left!

Ahhhhhhh! I am so guilty of lakbloglazersum (lack of blogging from being lazy and enjoying the summer too much) 

And OH MY DAYS! Have I had a good summer or what!

 after living in Tanzania for nearly a year, the thought of coming back to the UK for 7 weeks was both exciting and nerving. To be honest I was a little nervous of culture shock. However on the plane I had a sense of peace that this summer was going to be incredible, and that thought of peace was absolutely right!

There were a few things that I found very different and had to get use to though, for example, when I first went to the toilets in Heathrow airport, i had to ask my friend what the 'funny smell' was. After a few moments thought i realised it was actually cleanliness!!! Not saying that our bathroom wasn't clean, but the difference between the amount of different cleaning products people use in England. 

People kept asking what are you most looking forward to, when you go back to England and the answer I would say again and again would be BREAD. Before you start wondering, you can get bread in Tanzania, but seen I am gluten free I can't eat it and Tanzania don't have gluten free products. So on my way back from the ariport when we stopped in London at my grandparents house and they brought me out a plate of buttery, melting'ing', deliciously, scrumptious "gluten free seeded bread", toasted with a thick layer of butter you can imagine my thrilling excitement. 

Aside from seeing my incredible family and friends, jetting off all up and down the country, eating and drinking galore, shopping, WIFI and generally being spoilt rotten, I have grown so much and feel like I have grown so much in who I am, where I want to be and what I want to do with my life (what this space                                                )

So with my room looking like a WW2 bombs raid and having just 1 full day left until I jet off back to my 2nd home, Tanzania, I am a very busy girl. Fitting in goodbye dates and getting those last little bits and bobs sorted and packed I am feeling very positive about the coming year. Believing for new adventures, challenges and experiences. 

I hope you keep in touch and follow me as I set out for Africa year 2!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Animals, Pets, Pests  -- whatever you want to call them we have not had the best of luck when it comes to them.

Here in Africa we have had a number of pets (note the past tense ‘had’) but for some reason we cannot hold onto them for long.

In the beginning, there was just the 5 teachers, no animals, no responsibilities -- just ourselves to look after. Supposedly our guard George (who is literally adorable I must say) wasn’t enough security therefore we were given our first dog, Dodger. The fact that he just lies down on our porch all day, doesn’t exactly settle my mind for feeling secure but apparently people are scared of dogs here.

1 up

Then came along two cute little tortoises Gimney and Albert. Sadly after a play date in our garden we came out to see the last of the shell hanging out of our dog, Dodger’s mouth.

2 down

We then had our dog Flash whom we rescued from the orphanage (the orphans use to torture the poor dog) but I wasn’t exactly a fan of Flash, as he took all Dodger’s attention away!

1 up

So as you can imagine when my friend and I were driving to church (yes church of all places) and we heard a big crunch, I can’t say I wasn’t the teeniest, tiniest, little bit happy (please don’t judge, Flash was stinky and smelly).

1 down

We then were blessed with our little cutie Mowgli who I adore. He is a bit crazy and still likes to suck our fingers (so gross), but it’s nice to have him fall asleep on you after a long day (I clearly am not getting enough cuddles) and finish off your crumbs from your biscuit. Besides drinking from my water, drinking from the toilet, pulling my underwear out of the laundry and waking me in the morning with his crying, I really do love him.

2 up

I was so excited to introduce our new class pet Eldridge the hedgehog to my 3rd and 4th graders last week. The children loved him, fed him, cleaned him and cuddled him. We introduced him to the other classes in the school and Eldridge was sent pictures, letters and even had his own reading book when all the other children were reading. 
1 down

 It was a student’s turn to take him home at the weekend. When I saw this girl at church she sadly told me Eldridge had died, she then strangely put her wallet in my hands. I laughed, confused at what she was doing until I saw it in her eyes, yes she had brought the wretched dead hedgehog back to school--yes the dead hedgehog, in her wallet.

1 down

So as you can see we don’t exactly have the best luck with pets here, however unwelcome pets or should I call the pests have no problem staying alive, let me give you a few examples.

When one wants to eat honey in England you simply go to your cupboard open the jar and see yummy, runny, sweet-smelling honey. Unfortunately in Tanzania, you go into the cupboard, open the jar and find that you’re not the only one who like honey in this house. Ewww!

10 up

We also have the herd (not sure if it’s a herd or pack maybe even an army) of termites that seem to enjoy tormenting us every Sunday night.

60 up

The bugs I find in some of my food is one thing but finding critters such as this is your mug is one step too far. gross!
61 up

In addition to the 20 lizards crawling around our house (in particular the shower) and the zillions of mosquitos I would say the grand total is:

100,000,000 up

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Shopoholic? I don't think so!

I guess when you think of what people buy in everyday life, it wouldn’t matter where you are in the world, the result would be roughly the same; food, clothes, toiletries. It’s how and where you shop that makes the difference.

Take food shopping for example, people in the UK tend to go to a supermarket, order online, or go to a convenience shop. In Tanzania we go to the Central Market. 150x150 square feet of open space packed in with stall after stall selling anything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to spices (half of which I don’t even know the name) to lentils, beans, corn and fish (I try and avoid that stall as its very stinky) and stalls and stalls of meat.

 When buying meat you really must try to avoid looking at the bugs and flies chilling just sitting on your meat.

I love the amount of fruit you can get out here, especially pineapple. So for one pineapple its 2,000 shillings. Which, wait for it, converts into £1.20. Amazing!

Little Swahili Lesson:
Banana's = Ndizi
Onion = Kitunguu
Pepper = chili chili hoe hoe (my fave word)
Very expensive = Ghali sana
Punguza bei - Reduce the price

And the most important:
Chocolate = Chocolatie (EASY)

So now let’s move onto clothes. Now I am not the biggest clothes shopper (that’s my little sister’s expertise) but everybody needs clothes once in a while (especially in Africa, with no washing machine, our house mama does a great job washing all our clothes by hand but it can take its toll on our clothes and I often put t-shirts on, get to school and then spot a hole around the chestal area, not a great look I must say.)

With little money the perfect place to head to is Memoria! Memoria is another big open market maybe twice the size of Central Market. These are all the left over clothes donated from western countries, Tanzanians make a living by selling these clothes at Memoria. You can buy anything from jeans, baby clothes (not that I would need any, don’t worry mum) dresses and bras (I am not brave enough to buy a second hand bra yet {well I say 2nd hand but really it could be 6th hand} but I may get desperate soon.) It is a very busy atmosphere, very hot and people shouting out different prices to you in Swahili (still practising those) and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. I think my limit is one hour and then I am done.

I have only had four shopping trips there (I am very sensible and only go when I really need clothes), look at some of my finds.

So these skirts were 3,000 shillings each, which equal to around £1.75 each. Incredible. I bet you’re wondering why I don’t go shopping more, I guess if I was earning money in the UK I would be there every week. But for now I am very happy with my every-now-and-then trips, I can then enjoy my clothes and wear them until I suddenly start spotting holes in them.

There are even cheaper clothes you buy--they are stacked in big mound piles that you literally have to delve into to see. I found this cute pink dress in one of these piles, for only 1,500 shillings that equals to less that £1. Crazy! But once an item of clothing gets the coat hanger of honour the price goes up, so it’s worth a dive in one of the piles to find a bargain.

Toiletries. Well I am not ashamed to say that I am blessed with great parents who have sent me packages with enough toiletries to last me the whole year. So blessed. So I guess there might be a blog about buying toiletries when I run out next year. (That is if my parents don’t decide to send me more for next year, hehe)

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Just so you all know I am starting to feel sick even thinking about the MEAT OFF, so I hope this post is worth it. (Update: okay so I have just brushed my teeth and I feel better already as instead of the taste of meat juice I have some minty freshness) So without trying to sound too cocky I will tell you all a story of the BEST day of my life (okay maybe not the best day of my whole life, but it was pretty up the there, apart from the whole feeling sick, fullness and meat sweats).

So about 4 weeks ago, a missionary told me of a chicken nugget competition he took part in, he told me he ate 84. I scoffed and told him I could eat way more than that (that is post gluten free though). One thing led to another and somehow we challenged each other to a meat off. With a lot of banter leading up to the competition and the school I work at divided into Team Alex and Team Holly, the day finally came. I was a bag of nerves the whole day and with just two bowls of cereal eaten all day I was starting to get pretty hungry.

We all met at the restaurant which has a meal you can get called “all you can eat meat” The competition rules were as follows:

1)   2 hours of non-stop meat eating
2)   At the 2 hour mark, you were allowed time to finish your plate
3)   If both opponents ate their plates it went to a tie
4)   The tie breaker would be a speed contest on who could eat a plate of chips in the fastest team.
5)   A toilet break was permitted on the terms that a chaperone took you
6)   If you were sick you were automatically disqualified

The whole community came out to support us and we had our friend Brian as M.C – he was great and got the whole crowd excited. We then came out with our entourages and everyone cheered us on. We then shook hands and the meat was brought out.

First, I had a beautiful plate of tender beef, pork sausages and pieces of chicken, I cleared my plate in record time and was thinking that this competition was going to be a breeze. Oh how wrong I would be.

So I had finished that plate but within less than a minute my plate was piled high with beef (but oh my, the most chewy fatty beef ever, and we had to eat the fat that should have gone on the rule bit, sorry).

I think I got pretty out of it at some point because I cant even remember the order of the meat, but at some point there was even goat (I mean I’ve never even tried goat meat before). Amongst the fact I was feeling sick, I remember the goat actually tasted pretty good. The spare ribs were the worst, with the ratio of fat to meat, the fat definitely hands down won that one. I remember having a piece of fat in my mouth for about 5 minutes, so gross!

At one point I looked over to Alex and he wasn’t looking good (to be honest I was thinking YEY he might give up). He turned me and was actually sweet and told me he was very impressed and surprised that I was still going. Bearing in mind this was after an hour and a half of non-stop meat munching.

It was starting to take its toll on me, and the meat sweats had come (yuck). I had my supporters giving me back rubs, getting me water, encouraging me - it was so great. At one point I felt like I couldn’t possibly go any more. But then I had a Bruce Bogtrooter moment (Matilda). And I took my fatty piece of chicken and demolished it with all my friends cheering me on, I felt like I was in a film or something!

I looked at my plate which had few pieces of fat and chewy beef left and then at Alex’s who still had a while to go to catch up. I felt pretty good. Not judging by this picture though.

The next thing I know someone is shouting for a plastic bag for Alex, its all a bit hazy - I wasn’t sure what was going on. I quickly glance at Alex and see that he is throwing up (he gagged on a piece of fat, and it was all downhill from there for him), it took a second to register what was happening until people started cheering my name. I’D WON!! I actually won! The first thing I did was spit out the piece of beef I’d been working on for the last few minutes and the next few minutes were a blur of congratulations, cheers and high fives.

It was such an incredible feeling, especially to prove to the people who thought I would lose, as some people may not realise how much this girl can eat!

So just remember everyone, don’t challenge Holly… you will be disappointed!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Despite the fact that I use to think Zanzibar was a country and possibly a bar called ‘zanzi’ I somehow managed to end up going on an Easter holiday to the beautiful Island that is Zanzibar.

After a lot of preparation and organization from our good friend Megan who planned the trip for 7 people, on a volunteers budget (incredible girl) the day finally came when we all packed our bags (and snacks) and headed 40 minutes north to the airport. Spirits were high and snacks were eaten (yes before I had even got onto the plane) and we all excitedly hurried into the airport. There seemed to be some complications and unfortunately our ticket was booked for the day before (even though Megan has specifically told the airline the dates we wanted) we all decided that we would buy some new tickets for the next possible flight which was the next day. But when you have great friends and a great community around us, nothing can get you down for long. Our great friend Vince who had driven us to the airport came all the way back for us and we decided to have a tropical themed evening with good food and a movie (I was also rather pleased as I could get a nice cuppa tea (well as good a tea as you can make in Africa)

So we were then back to the airport again and everything went smoothly. We arrived in beautiful Zanzibar and went out to eat (yes I was starvvvvnig) to a restaurant called Mercury (after queen) I ate a scrumptious Zanzibar special curry and splashed about in the sea.

We were staying in a place called Aquarium Bungalows, sweet little shallets 2 minute walk from the beach and overlooking a beautiful salt water pool filled with beautiful tropical fish and a whole herd of turtles (I am not sure whether herd is the correct term for a bunch of turtles) It was so incredible that we could just swim with these fascinating creatures. That is until one bit my bottom, and I had a mini breakdown in the pool, a few Tanzanian men came running towards me making sure I was okay. (Which I was, and when they saw that I was not dead, bleeding or actually hurt, but just a bit shocked that my bottom had been pinched they walked away)

The beautiful Turtles I got to swim with!

Oh and by the way this is the one that bit my bottom.

As we ended up only having one full day in Zanzibar (which was totally worth it because it was amazing) the majority of the group went off snorkelling in the Indian ocean, myself and my friend Megan decided to stay and explore the beach and all the expensive posh resorts.  Before we left we put some sun tan lotion on, I thought one layer would be plenty for the day as all we would be doing was walking (how wrong could I be) Lets just say my face (minus sunglasses marks) is as red as a tomato and somehow the sun burnt me behind my knees (ouch) so as you can imagine walking is rather difficult. I have to remember that the sun near the equator is hotter than anywhere else (pretty obvious, you’d think)

So back on track, we had a lovely walk down the beach. What I found interesting was, the view looked like a postcard, the beautiful white sandy beaches, that greeny, bluey sea that you see in the expensive holiday brochers, the sun beating down from the bright blue seas.  However you can never forget for long that you’re actually in Africa, and these gorgeous little children reminded me of this. Its funny people can (if they have the money) pay thousands for a holiday like this and stay in on all the best resorts, whereas these children live here, and amuse themselves with creative homemade toys and sing songs.

The further and further we got up the beach the posher and poshe the resorts appeared. By this time we had been walking goodness knows how long and my belly was getting frustrated. Luckily for us this happened in front of a very incredible looking resort so we thought we would go in a see if we could have something to eat. The staff were very welcoming (whether they thought we were staying in their resort or not, we don’t know, but hey we weren’t going to walk away) We had a cocktail (non-alcoholic: s) and laid in a double sunbed enjoying the view and then headed to the restaurant, but not without have a little sneaky swim in their breathtakingly stunning infinity pool. (I promise we didn’t see a sign that said “For resort customers only.” Any way we had a scrummy lunch and then made our journey back to the bungalows where we met the rest of our party.

The next day we were travelling back and took a wagon type vehicle where people were literally stuffed in with no thought of personal space. It was definitely an experience, especially when a woman brought in her big bucket of dried fish, lets just say it was a bit pongy to say the least.

We were travelling by ferry to inland Tanzania to catch out flight back to Moshi. We had reservations for our ferry tickets so everything should have gone to plan. But oh no, Zanzibar had another challenge for us to face. After lots of discussions with the ferry people after they told us the ferry was booked and said our reservation never went through, we purchased ferry tickets for a later time, which meant our getting on our flight on time was put at a very high risk. We yet again made the best of it and were able to explore the beautiful streets of stone town (if only we didn’t have to carry our heavy bags around with us, which grossly left massive sweat patches on my back….yuk)

We thankfully got to the airport on time and made our flight. Zanzibar was incredible and if possible I will definitely be returning.