My First Christmas Physically Outside of Ozland

It’s the week before Christmas and dust's through the house; everyone’s coughing, including the mouse.

 This December the rains failed to appear in Tanzania and there is this fine dust wafting everywhere. The roads being generally unsurfaced in the villages and heaps of motorbikes and the ubiquitous 4wd churn up a lot more than would be considered necessary. It is actually a good to excuse not to wash much on two levels, you hang it out to dry and it’s covered in dust, you wash and wear, walk out the door and you’re covered in dust. It hasn’t been real pleasant for my fluey lungs, lots of coughing and spluttering. Another by-product of the monsoon failing is the lack of water in the dams, and as a lot of our electricity sources from hydroelectric, there are lengthy outages each day. This creates food storage problems and the lessons learned during my time in Imbil re the pantry, are really coming in handy. What I mean by this, is there may be 2—3 items in the fridge/pantry and somehow, as if by magic, a delightful meal emerges.


THE TOOLS ARRIVED ON MONDAY, after some interesting and lengthy delays. So, I am of course getting a tad excited. BUT, being painstakingly ADULT, I have resisted opening the box until our accountant and my studio partner audit the contents, hopefully on Wednesday morning. After close to, wait for it, 7,000,000.00Tsh, I’m not taking any chances. I can now answer Eddie McGuire’s question. There have also been interminable delays for simple things like installing shelving, getting the double fronted jewellers bench made, etc. The studio is humming but I have been a bit of a grumpy bum, possibly “should have” closed down for the week I was felled with the dreaded lurgy, but dang, that’s just not who I am.


The process of sourcing supplies for the studio tends to be rather fascinating, especially when one realises how much privilege we enjoy in Australia, like a Bunning’s on every corner or even an opshop. It is doing my head in trying to reconcile the huge difference between here and Oz, the ongoing attempts to find explanations that make any sense of why such a disparity is constant.

In an attempt to create income streams for the locals, I have identified a market for affordable wedding and engagement rings, but again sourcing material locally is restrictive. Interesting how difficult commerce is in the Global Village.


Last Thursday, I had my first real experience of what I came to Tanzania for, the family/tribe/village. It was a wedding for a popular local couple that finally tied the knot after being together for decades. It was wonderful to see beneath the denim, rap, Pepsi and Coca-Cola that traditional culture not only thrives but is also visible.  There were too many parts to try and condense it down (and we were awfully late getting there) but a couple of highlights were: a roasted calf was wheeled in and small pieces were cut and placed on toothpicks. The first bites were between the bride and groom, and then gradually more family were ‘fed’ by the couple. I read this as being a representation of one body, one mind type of thing. Following this various family, work, community groups one at a time formed a double line at the rear, and waving presents and gifts of money danced their way down the front where there booty was presented to the wedding couple. Guess who received ululations and cheers for his dancing style? The whole occasion was filled with so much warmth and belonging, a lot more pronounced than weddings I’d been to over the decades in Australia. Another segment, which really pressed my buttons, was that at various times groups of women would dance down the aisle bearing lengths of Kitangi and draping them around the bride, the groom and at times both with huge displays of affection and warmth. Surprisingly, one of the all time wedding singers is the one and only Celine Dion, in a village, on the side of a volcano in Tanzania, who would have thought.


Another situation where I have observed this family/tribe/village culture is at the local and regional markets. Row after row of folk selling basically the same things, one would think that the rivalry would be intense, but not observably so. There is laughter, jostling, camaraderie and a general sense of community in a way I had nor seen at home, and as mentioned previously, a marriage proposal.


I am pleased this healing path I have taken is bearing fruit although the odd childhood demon pokes its head above the parapet occasionally.


Thank you to everyone for your comments, jokes, wishes and the stream of love emanating from you all, much appreciated and at times essential.


Something a bit weird 




Babu Chris and some of the toddler munchkins at the children's orphanage, we also had Qatar Kitkats, although they are nearly all gone, but wait, there are many other treats around.

This is us all conversing by rolling our tongues around our mouths, created much hilarity AND, we all understood each other.


Images of our trip to the Culture Heritage Art Gallery with the crew from the studio and a couple of willing kidnapees. Brilliant outing which included a guided tour for the crew. Tanzania has such a long history and culture and some had not been exposed to it before. The munchkin at the bottom is Glory, driver Emma's daughter and she is a gem, and ended up asleep in Babu Chris's arms on the way home.

Write a comment

Comments: 6
  • #1

    Valerian (Wednesday, 21 December 2016 02:44)

    Great rasta

    Thats sound great tour keep on Chris

  • #2

    Chris (Wednesday, 21 December 2016 03:30)

    G'day Babu, Not being familiar with the situation or culture there, I have to ask why there are so many small children in the orphanage? There seems to be a strong sense of family.....why aren't these children with the extended family? I also note from the pics that there's no shortage of bottled water, understandable given the effort that goes into the privilege of having clean water on tap (I worked for 2 decades for a water filtration company dedicated to providing clean water to 3rd world countries), I've seen the unfortunate result of this plastic when it's not properly disposed of, without sounding like a rabid tree there a means by which they can responsibly dispose of or recycle the plastic?
    Great to learn that your tools arrived, sounds like you're taking the right approach to unpacking them, some things don't change no matter where you are in the world. I sincerely hope you are able to put them (all of them) to good use and achieve your goal of teaching self sufficiency.
    It's as hot as hades here in Imbil, the weather does nothing to improve one's mood when one turns up to a plethora of donations that have merely saved someone a trip further on down the road to the dump. I fully understand the one's mans trash being another's treasure, thing, but the stuff we've had to remove of late is well beyond a joke, Red Cross provide gloves to sort things but recently full blown anti nuclear/biological suits would be more fitting.....time I got myself an AK47 and staked the place out ! After closing the shop today I had one, very well dressed lady from the Sunny Coast (probably Noosa Heights) knock on the door to point out that it wasn't quite 1pm yet and attempt to demand her way into the shop (on high high heels) to peruse the goods. Here isn't the place to tell you what my response was but I reckon it's safe to say this 'lady' won't be a return customer.
    Chris, love the pics....little Glory is a treasure. I hope this finds you feeling fit and well in the lead up to Christmas Day and I hope that the Tanzania experience continues to please.
    If we don't 'speak' before, Bryan and I will both raise a cleansing adult beverage on the day, in your honour.

  • #3

    Tom (Thursday, 22 December 2016 19:37)

    Thanks for the ongoing insights into life on the other side of the globe. I’ve been following with much interest but it’s been so busy with work and family that I’ve hardly had a chance to scratch myself… midnight shifts and all! I’m sure you’re adjusting to your new surroundings much better than my techno-addictive self ever would. I’ve gotta say I’m impressed with your resolve to see this adventure through and I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found a place that offers you a sense of belonging if not running watering and high speed internet. The photos are great! Still hope to see a pic of you on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Perhaps a new years resolution is in order… haha… stay well… and Merry Christmas from the Capalaba tribe in Oz

  • #4

    Lindi Pott (Sunday, 25 December 2016 03:27)

    Merry Aussie Chrissy Babu Chris!! A lovely day at St George, a bit muggy though, just not scorcher thankfully. Had a great dose of rain last night in a wild storm, cooled things down.
    Be good & take care with all your little friends:)

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  • #6

    Michael Beck Vest (Friday, 09 June 2017 02:02)

    The primary chomps were between the lady and prep, and after that steadily more family were "encouraged" by the couple. I read this similar to a portrayal of one body, one personality kind of thing.