I have moved into my house now! It is very large and fancy, one of the largest/fanciest in town. I’ve got TWO guest bedrooms, electricity, ceiling fans, metal-framed windows in sliding frames, and I will have running water, but it’s not finished yet (the house/grounds are still under construction).
On the negative side, my house is surrounded by chain-link fence with barbed wire on top, and will have a formidable metal gate where there is currently a gap in the fence. My little block of housing is also a little bit removed from our neighbors. The best way to keep your stuff safe in Tanzania is to befriend your neighbors and have a good reputation so that people will not want to steal from you and instead will want to help take care of you. The fence etc is also somewhat isolating, and declares that this house is one that has stuff worth stealing in it. Oh well. I’ll survive somehow, I’m sure.
I’ve since been conducting a major project of cleaning the place up and getting it set up with all of the essentials – buckets, nails to hang a lantern on*, a clothesline, reinforcing my sink so it doesn’t fall off the wall, etc.
*The electricity for the entire town has been cutting out a lot.
I like my town. It’s got pretty much everything I could want in terms of household items and food, including fancy things like spaghetti noodles and soy sauce. The only things missing are popcorn and a bank that I have an account with. I’ve stocked up on popcorn in Mtwara town (got 5 kilos of kernels now) and will look into opening an account with the local bank.
At the same time, my house is sort of on the outskirts of town, in a very quiet area with little traffic etc, and has most of the peace of a village. The area here is very lush and green by Karatu standards, and is a nice place to live.
From my house, it’s about a half-hour walk to the local Ministry of Education office, where I work, and another half-hour walk from there to “downtown”, where most of the shops are. The walk from my house to the office goes through some very nice neighborhoods (beautiful scenery, friendly people), and I like it.
My town is a few hours from Mtwara town, and the travel time greatly varies by means of transport etc. Land Cruisers belonging to the TZ21 project do it in about two hours. I came in by bus yesterday and it took about four.
When I first got settled in, there was a gathering of PCVs at another nearby town, so I went and met many of the people here, who were all very nice, so that was good. After that, I spent about a week settling in and attempting to be productive after my laptop’s charger died, the electricity kept cutting out, and the office’s only available computer was a desktop that A) had no electricity much of the time and B) its mouse had been “borrowed” and nobody knew where it was or how to get it.
(Related note: if anyone knows how to select a user account to log in with in Windows 7/8 using just the keyboard, I’d be very interested to hear it! Either I didn’t guess the right method, or that computer’s kebyboard doesn’t work.)
I have gotten a new charger for my laptop, so no worries there.
After about a week, I was called in to Mtwara town to do some work there, and ended up staying about a week at the same beach house I’d been at before.
Two missionary families ended up staying there for two nights, and they were very nice and I enjoyed meeting them. They also gave me and Lisa free food! Outside of the religious aspect, I feel like missionaries are the next-closest thing to volunteers out here, and there are some advantages to the way they work. They’re much more organized than we are in terms of working together and supporting each other, and some of them end up staying for their entire lives and getting to know the languages and culture and environment much better than we ever do.