A Travellerspoint blog

A look at our weekly culinary diet


Breakfast - Supaloaf white bread (the bread here has a name, the quote is 'Never say bread, say Supa loaf!), banana, smeuige (creamy) peanutbutter; salty blue band; dark honey swirming with fresh dead ants, which gives it a wonderful source of protein but a rather bitter taste Simba sweet jam with a taste of bubble gum; tea (chai) & Africafe, the coffee that is proudly proclaimed to be instant. And, because of Mariet, we also had a piece of extremely sweet Peijenburg ontbijtkoek (typical Dutch breakfast cake), which is actually too sweet but a nice change to the same other sweet condiments.

Lunch - Mkande: red/brown beans with white maize, which C finds horrible. But better with lots of mustard and pili-pili, to cover up the taste. We have Mkande twice a week. Lucky C.

Dinner - Sweet potatoe chipsi with home made guacamole (invention of Johannes), mayonnaise (and mustard for E) and Tanzanian saladi (mix of carrot, cucumber, green bell pepper, tomato, red onion). Desert: water melon


Breakfast - white sunkist bread with all the same sweet condiments.

Lunch - Ugali, some kind of white maize flour pap/polenta which we actually seem to like with enough pili-pili on it; green Tanzanian spinach which reminds us of boerenkool (green cabbage) and tastes nothing like European spinach. We add pili-pili and salt and drink a glass of water.

Dinner - Hutspot (typical Dutch mash of potatoes and carrots), accompanied by meat balls (which E really enjoyed, especially because it's a luxury here) and a bit of mustard. Accompanied by a glass of water and chai. Desert: water melon and orange.


Breakfast - ditto

Lunch - white sticky rice, very nice; red/brown beans. We add salt and pili-pili and have a glass of water.

Dinner - Chappati with green beans in peanutbutter/tomato gravy, our favourite meal! We got the mama's to cook it for us, since we always have to beg for it, as chappati's take a lot of preparation (just kneeding the dough takes 20 minutes and 3 mama's for example). Since they have shown C how to make them, she has gained a lot of respect for the mama's (took 2,5 hrs and lots of sweat)! C seriously doubts if she is able to copy cat the 3 mama's, but she might be forced to give it a try on Sunday.. Desert: orange and half a passion fruit!


Breakfast - Canoed banana on Supa loaf, no ontbijtkoek. But, half a leftover chappati!

Lunch - most probably white sticky rice and white cabbage, since we saw that in the kitchen.

Dinner - pancakes, fried bananas (plantain) and salad.


Breakfast - leftover pancakes, Raspberry jam (new, all the way from Arusha), supa loaf.

Lunch - Mkande with lots of mustard and pili-pili

Dinner - peas (from Arusha) with potatoe, carrot, pepper and tomatoe in sauce


Breakfast – Sunkist bread + cheese (from Arusha)

Lunch - Pilau + meat

Dinner - chipsi with Tanzanian salad and mayonaise


We cook ourselves.

Breakfast + lunch - eggs and sandwiches wih tomatoe, cucumbers and onion

Dinner – Home made ratatouille incl all the herbs available (cinnamon, cardemon, black pepper, pili-pili, salt, garlic, ginger, red onion)

The Week after we made samosa’s!! + home made courgette soup!

Posted by bumble_bee 06:37 Comments (0)

Running with Giraffes and Putting on Dresses

We are into our second month here at Sarakasi Ya Vijana (which translates as "Acrobatics for Youth" centre). We are now teaching secondary school kids, 5 days a week. These kids are supported by the project, having their private school fees paid, and during their holidays they come to Sarakasi for extra tuition and fun. The private schools provide a far better environment as at government schools the teaching is at a low standard and children are still beaten by their teachers.

Owing to a misinterpretation of C’s former job description (Film Production), we are now drama teachers! With this challenge thrust upon us, we decide to put on a play of Cinderella. Together with the 14-19 year old kids we write the script and even a song, accompanied by E on the guitar! Please feel free to sing along:

“Don’t be sad Cinderella,
Be glad Cinderella,
There really is no need to cry at all!
With a swish and a swirl,
I will say the magic word,
For you are going to the ball!”

Cinderella is being played by Paolo, a 16 year old boy, and E is one of the ugly sisters, which he really enjoys, since he is finally allowed to wear a dress and shake his hips!! C is the horrible stepmother, which she plays with aplomb!
And after a week of practice…..Show time!! We set the stage outdoors for the official opening performance of “Cinderella”. There is a natural stage area by the main house that is covered with greenery and washing lines. We use sheets for the curtains, create some posters, a fireplace, and get into our costumes (which consist of clothes donated from other countries.) We put benches out and invite the Mamas and the guards to enjoy the show! Everyone performs spectacularly, and we have Mariet stand-in for the pivotal part of the Fairy Godmother, as Hamza who is one of the kids, is unable to take part. It is extremely funny for all, and the kids really enjoy themselves. Next stop Broadway and the West End!

E is also teaching computer lessons to the kids, using an offline children’s version of Wikipedia, which he is combining with Word, Excel and Powerpoint training. Also there is general computer skills to be taught, like how to find files, and the importance of saving your work, and backing it up! (At this point we think it very fair to say how much we admire teachers, and their skill for making classes fun, keeping order and making lesson plans). For most of the kids, it’s the first time they really use computers. They seem to be picking it up very quickly and are extremely eager to learn!
Today we have helped the secondary school kids write letters to their sponsors (those that have them) telling them what they are doing at Sarakasi during their school holidays. Their skill with MSWord is greatly increasing, as they skillfully use bullet points and change fonts!

Saturday is a full day: four computer classes in a row. We both need to teach intensively, since the children need a lot of help! Primary children have to look up facts about their country, like how high the Kilimanjaro mountain is (we can dream the answers now after having to repeat them for 20 students). A tiring but rewarding Saturday, and completely different than the others have been.

C continues teaching the guards English (their third language, after Maasai and Ki-Swahili), which is quite a lot of fun! She asks them to draw the outline of a human figure, so that they can name the different parts of the body. It takes them two hours to just copy the picture in their exercise books! Obviously, they have never really drawn before (some of them just learned to read and write 2 years ago, let alone drawing, since their youth was spent herding cows and goats), which is why this process is accompanied by lots of laughter!

Sander and Johannes were regularly running on the savannah. Since Johannes left, Sander is looking for a replacement and finds it in E. The last run is very rewarding, because on the horizon they see the unmistakable silhouette of a giraffe! Instinctively, they run towards him till they have reached a distance of only 800 meters! A Wildebeest looks on even closer to them. Amongst E’s runs -the marathons in New York and London, half marathon in Amsterdam- running with a giraffe scores pretty high on the list of unique experiences!
For Johannes's leaving, we went for dinner at Pizza Point in Mto. Fine pizzas and beer is on the menu. The restaurant is mainly for Mzungus, as the locals do not know what pizza is, let alone what it tastes like. A fine farewell. That leaves just C&E as the only volunteers on site.

Sticking to the exotic animal theme, we don’t have to travel far for a safari. Sitting in front of our banda, as we do every day since that’s our ‘office’, suddenly a head pops up next to C’s seat. Eyes meet, and there is a sudden realisation that the eyes belong to a rather long snake, which is looking at her in the same surprised way as she is looking at him. Shock seems to be what both parties feel. The snake disappears quicker than a rat up a drainpipe into the bush, before C can realise what just happened.
In the space of one afternoon we see four snakes, one of which is constricting a chameleon, before having him for dinner. All of them are circling our banda, which is putting us on high alert 24/7!

These latest sightings are most likely due to a change of season. In the mornings it’s pretty chilly and some days are overcast; we are wearing jumpers. In the afternoons it is dry with mostly clear skies and scorchio temperatures! Snakes like to sunbathe apparently.

At lunch today, we are joined by a vervet monkey, sitting with his brightly coloured bits, less than 2 metres away. To our right, a plethora of colourful birds are bathing in the bird bath. It makes a change from the canteen at SWIFT.

There are so many birds here, very colourful and producing unusual chirping conversation in the nearby bushes. We need a bird book, but there isn’t one in the library here and we have yet to successfully download a guide. So if someone can find an e-book with an overview, please send it to us and we’ll tell you which ones we have seen.
So far we are sure to have seen the Augur Buzzard, Melachite Kingfisher, Fischers’s lovebirds, White cattle egrets, Glossy ibis, Lesser Flamingo, Silver checkered Hornbill, Southern Ground Hornbill, African Pied Wagtail, Superb Starling, Hop, Swallow, Maribou Stork and smaller stork, pelicans, herons, speckled moosebird, red billed firefinch, Cordon-bleu, pigeons (yes, even here we find the dull looking pigeon), doves….and others that we don’t know the names of.

On Sunday we visit a local choral competition in celebration of the 25 years of the Lutheran church. It is held in town, near the football fields. When we arrive there is already a big crowd. Under the protection of shading trees the choirs perform in front of a panel (Yes, it’s Tanzania’s got Talent!). We are treated to 2 Maasai choirs, who sing wonderfully and leap majestically. Each choir is dressed in their traditional costume, and each has one member dressed with a head piece that makes him look like a male lion. We are with Masi, one of the Maasai guards from Sarakasi, who is just loving it! The crowd is a mix of many local tribes, and all whoop with joy as the Maasai choirs perform.

We are keeping up with the outside world of news and of course sport. For the euro championships football games, we are going to support the Dutch and the English games. For the first Dutch game we dress in Orange: E in orange braces, C in orange cap, Mariet in orange scarf, and Sander in hat and braces. All of us have the Dutch flag paint on our faces. We watch in the local bar in Mto. A disappointing start for the Dutch!!!!! Better for the English team. We are enthusiastic supporters, and learning some Kiswahili : kadi nyakundu (red card). As we become more frustrated, the locals say "Polepole!" ( which translates as "slowly slowly", but here means "chill out" or as the scoucers would say, "calm down mate"). After each game the locals say to us "Pole!" which means "Sorry!" - for our teams' poor performances!

We have also begun planning the next stages of our African tour. Looking at the costs of Safaris in Tanzania slightly takes your breath away at 400 USD per person per day, and we have put our budget heads on, and made the decision to do a safari in Zambia at South Luangwa Park where you can see all the animals. Also we can do this in C's birthday, woo-hoo!! It gives us something great to look forward to once we finish our work here.

Posted by bumble_bee 06:35 Comments (0)

New Arrivals

Mariet arrives back from Holland on Friday 18th May. She is also a project coordinator for the last 10 months, and she brings with her some European specialities for the table: stroopwafels & ontbijtkoek (dutch ginger cake)!

With the arrival of Mariet the weather changes to full dry season: mornings are very clouded and it is definately getting cooler (fleece jacket needed), afternoons are clear blue skies and scorchio hot! This seems to be the ideal climate for the malaria mosquitos, since there are 2 new cases of Malaria amongst the staff over the last week. This makes the total three cases since we have been here, so it is a very real danger. Since residents here don't take any anti-malaria pills they are kind of used to getting malaria. Mama Baraka, the first malaria case we've experienced, was just off sick for a day, and then continued her work as if nothing happened. Rasta on the other hand, one of the guards, had severe fever and felt really off for about three days, while going to the hospital every day for medications. Mariet, not even here long enough after her break in the Netherlands to be able to get malaria (after the bite it needs 7-14 days at least to settle in your blood cells and to become malaria), weirdly enough does get malaria just 6 days after arrival. She probably has a different malaria than the others, a chronic version, which is less severe but returns from time to time. She needs to go to a clinic for 3 days in a row to get saline drips. It's this treatment that makes her very nautious and dizzy and the malaria hasn't had it's effect yet. Well, at least we know now why we are taking these heavy lariam pills every week...

Posted by bumble_bee 06:35 Comments (1)

Quaffing and shopping at the Maasai market

It's a hot bike ride to the market. We head East out of Mto wa Mbu and before long we run out of cycle path and take to the main road. The dalla-dallas and trucks pass us with horns blowing. Children shout 'hello' from the roadside. On arrival at the market we are submerged in the busy pace as we walk round the islands of clothes - many of which have come from the clothing bins located in Europe. "Habari Mzungu" ("Greetings white person") sounds out in all directions. Do we want to buy clothing, watches, and the like? We wander on and explore an area shaded by large cactus plants. The billowing dust populates the shafts of light that penetrate the area. People are selling mainly fruit (enormous bunches of bananas carries by 2 people) and veg (piles of red onions displayed on floor blankets,(sweet) potatoes, tomatoes, green bell pepper, a cross between lettuce and green cabbage and (barbequed) maize) in this section. We try some small rice cake type snacks, looking like puffed up 'poffertjes' (Dutch mini-pancakes). Nzuri sana! Further on we stop and sit at a banana beer bar. In the centre is a plastic jerry can from which the frothy liquid is poured into a plastic vat, from where it is laddeled into smaller plastic cups (pint-sized mugs like small buckets really). These are then shared amongst the group, passing from one person to the next, and taking a swig. The alcohol content is low, somewhere between 1 and 5 %. It is a brownish liquid with a gritty quality and a sweetness from the fermentation. It reminds us vaguely of wine, anyway, it tastes nothing like beer! (Upstaining from alcohol while being here. We have the occasional beer, but wine, forget about it!)
We leave the friendly crowd and head further into the market. The Masai are cooking goat meat, freshly slaughtered. You could still see the rope that was used to trush up the feet of the goat. Luckily, we weren't there in the early morning to witness the event. Yek! We carry on and purchase some kangas (traditional blankets worn by women on which are bright patterns and often an inscription with a saying printed on it. We also purchase a Masai blanket. We are hasselled to buy things, and several gentle "no thankyoU's" seem to be needed.
En route back on the bikes, we give lifts to school kids making their way home. They jump on the backs of the bikes, Dutch style!

Posted by bumble_bee 06:34 Comments (0)

Living for Weekends

Saturday: Primary school
The day begins with playing hopscotch in the dirt outside the volunteer house, pff this is hard work for E! The kids run rings round him. Next is computer lessons, which there is also a teacher for, but she cannot always make it on Saturdays.
The afternoon we head to the savannah, taking with us ball games and frisbies for a fairly chaotic but fun afternoon with the kids.

Sunday: Walk to the Baobab
It's Sunday, and our sacred day off. The plan after lunch is to make a walk to a huge baobab tree, west of the town of Mto wa Mbu. We order the bajaj (a tuk-tuk..pronounced "Ba-judge") into which piles E & C, Johannes & Sander, 2 of the Maasai guards (Masi and Rasta), and 2 dogs (Mayello and Sali). It's bit of a tight squeeze, or you may argue, cosy. It's very unusual to take dogs like this, so we get plenty of strange looks from people on the streets. At then western edge of town we pull over beneath trees brimming with storks and their nests. The noise is like a busy cocktail party, and their is a pungent smell of guarno. The walk begins along a side road that takes us near to the old site of the Volunteer house (it moved site in 2011 to its present location), and through banana plantations, maize crops, and an asortment of other trees, which Masi points out to us: mango, papaya, sausage fruit, lime and avocado. The path takes us gently up hill, passing though a small wooded area, and here we find the stream which is the water source for the town of Mto. We emerge from the woods on to a plateau. To the right is a steep rise to another plateau, and an enormous and ancient baobab tree. The view is extraordinary: to the left is the escarpment of the Rift Valley, in front the plateau created by the rift, then sweeping to the right is the town of Mto wa Mbu, and over to the right is the savannah which we visit from the project, and Lake Manyara National Park.
As we return to town, the bajaj stops near the market for us to get provisions for dinner. Fish is on the menu, such luxury is scarce here! Driving home, the bagged fish is passed to Rasta to hold, which he does so at arms length - Masai do not eat fish, infact they detest it, because it smells, looks like a snake and stares at you.

Saturday: Primary School
The morning begins with the opening, in which the kids sing a beautiful song in kiswahili which we are told is a multi-ethnic/religious song. After this we all shake hands saying the word "Hama" meaning "Peace". The task today is to decorate the children's banda with mural of the savannah. Robert is the Art Teacher and a local from Mto. He paints the mural, and we help the kids to draw animals, cut them out, paint them, stick colourful feathers and eyes on them, and then stick them to the mural. I think we have as much fun (if not a little more!) than the kids themselves!

Sunday: Cycle ride to Lake Manyara
IT's Sunday again, and C&E decide that today is the day that we conquor Lake Manyara! We pack sanwiches of peanut butter, and take some oranges, and check the bikes are in working order (no punctures). The morning is overcast and cool, with the feeling it may rain - we pack our jackets. There has been no rains for over a week, so the savannah is dry and crusty. There are very few animals as we make our way to the lake; 3 or 4 wildebeest, a small group of Thompson Gazelles only. We also meet no fishermen cycling to the lake. Just then a motorbike roars past us on the track to the lake...unusual traffic on the savannah today. Within 45 minutes we bike over a ridge and there is the lake. There is a peninsula and either side, the lake is filled with flocks of birds: bright pink flamingos, pelicans, storks and herons. We find a spot a short distance from the end of the peninsula where there are 3 fishermen tending their nets. We sit on the slightly prickly grass and flowers, and picnic. The storks fly back and forth across the peninsula, and at close range we can hear the sound of the wind through their bright red and yellow beaks which they open and close - they sound slightly wheezy to us. No sign of hippos today. The sun comes out fully as we head back realising we are not so prepared after all. A young Masai herding his goats approaches us and examines our bikes carefully, and also E's digital watch (a cheap Chinese thing bought in the markets of Dar es Salaam, which puports to have a stainless steel back to it, that has begun rusting already. This watch is the source of much curiosity generally!). We arrive back home, slightly cooked from the equatorial sun.
The sun sets, and the incredible starry sky appears. As we are just south of the equator, we can see the Southern Cross and the upside-down big bear, but are needing help with the other constellations from our star map.

Posted by bumble_bee 06:33 Comments (0)

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