We recently finished our first school year at International School Moshi. We’ve grown so much since our arrival last July. We were bright-eyed with so many new things to learn; not the least of which was how to live life in a new place.
In many ways, I am sad that I didn’t chronicle all of those “firsts” before they became comfortable and normal. At the same time, it was really great to just experience each day.
So, what is it like to live here? That is a loaded question, but I will try to answer it.
Home: If you have followed along on Facebook, then you have probably seen photos of our home. We had no idea what to expect upon arrival, but the expectation we did have was blown away. We live in a great house. It has four nice-size bedrooms. The kitchen was remodeled in the year before we moved in so it has a quality stove and refrigerator. The cupboards are nice. Aside from the sink height being too low, the kitchen is probably nicer than the one we have in MN.
As many of you know, I like to have a perch. In MN, my perch was an Adirondack chair on the deck. Here, it is the veranda. I love to drink coffee, read, grade papers, admire birds, have a glass of wine, entertain guests, and just generally hang out on the veranda. It is my perch. You are welcome to join me on my perch. Anytime.
We have lots of unexpected “guests” who live with us. Living in a tropical climate invites certain living creatures. In MN, if I saw something scurry across the floor, I would probably yelp and jump due to a mouse. Here, the scurry is usually a gecko. They’re cute. They’re harmless. They eat mosquitos. I welcome them. Before arriving here, I probably couldn’t have actually identified a cockroach. Now, I have seen more than my fair share – in the house. I am good with a can of Doom and can spray them to their death, but I cannot bring myself to pick them up. I am not usually very squeamish, but there is something about the size of these guys that just gets to me. Xaden is brave and will usually handle them for me.
Our yard (aka garden) has many different flowers, trees (banana, mango, papaya, orange, avocado, sour sop, pomegranate, frangipani), and plants. We acquired some hens and roosters to liven up the place (and provide us with delicious eggs for eating). Overall, it is a gorgeous place, and we really enjoy the space.
Work/School: We came here to teach. And, that we do. The name of the school is International School Moshi (ISM). It has close to 300 students from EC (PreK) to D2 (Grade 12). It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) School and has all three programmes: PYP, MYP and DP. (If this sounds like gibberish to you, just gloss over it.)
Joel and I both have DP experience, and we are both teaching MYP for the first time. We have learned a lot about how MYP works and have gained some insight into a different approach to the DP. Our kids were all in PYP last year, and thrived using an inquiry based approach to learning.
The students at ISM come from all over the place – many from different parts of Africa (mostly Tanzania), Europe, and the Americas. The school has a boarding component so many students are boarders. The students at ISM are lovely creatures. They are respectful and full of life. I adore them. It seems that students develop relationships with teachers differently here; it is likely due to boarding, but also just the size of the school.
One of my favorite things about the school is the internationalism. We had an assembly where students dressed in the clothing from their countries (USA is boring on days like that – red, white and blue, anyone?). We had an international festival where families made food items from their countries – talk about delicious! We had a few Open Mic/Talent celebrations. Students completely thrive at these. They are great performers and often incorporate dance, music and song from their home countries. All of these students from all of the different places all-together at one school makes for an amazing place to be!
Shopping: This gets its own heading because shopping here is, well, interesting. The first price you’re given is rarely the actual price of the item(s). You must bargain. In order to bargain, you must know a bit of Swahili – this is still a challenge for us. At this point, I could go on a diatribe about the prices we are given for items solely based on the color of our skin. At the same time, I could go on a diatribe about the huge gap between what Tanzanians earn and what I am privileged to earn. I will spare you from that (at least for now), and just tell you that shopping feels difficult when you have to haggle and you feel like you’re being taken advantage of.
Local fruits, veggies, rice and beans can be found in the market. The most common veggies are tomatoes, avocados, red onions, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, ginger, butternut squash and greens. Apart from those, you have to do a bit of searching to finding “treats.” The day I found Vidalia onions in the market I almost hit the roof because I was so excited. Now, I know where to get them so my excitement is held at bay. Cauliflower and broccoli are rare and small. We find asparagus every now and again. There is lots of corn, but it is maize versus sweet corn.
The fruits that we feast upon are banana, mango, pineapple, coconut, papaya, passion, watermelon, oranges and lemons. Often, we can get limes (tiny little spheres of absolute deliciousness) but sometimes they are difficult to find. I heart lime anything and absolutely love the potency of the baby limes. March/April is blood fruit season. Blood fruit is another name for plums. They were everywhere and they were delicious!
Meat. We typically purchase meat from a butcher shop in town. But, you can walk down an aisle at the market and buy meat there. We aren’t quite that adventurous. Seeing the dead animals hanging from some rafters can be just too much. Though, there is a place outside of town (Kiboroloni) where we like to buy fresh “kiti moto.” This is another name for pork. There are many Muslims who live here, and they are not allowed to eat pork. Some eat it anyway, but they don’t want to be caught. They sit down quickly and eat it up – hence the name “kiti moto” – hot seat.
Mzungu stuff. Mzungu means lost person. We are called ‘mzungu’ due to the color of our skin. There are several places in town that have dry goods that are muzngu type goods – baking supplies, olive oil, condiments and the like. It seems that each duka (store) has different items and we have to do to different places depending upon what we want that time.
Artisans. There are curio shops everywhere. Souvenirs, coffee, tea, clothing, art, shoes… it’s all here. Bargaining is important in these shops because the shopkeepers or corner sales people will do their best to charge you double what the item should cost.
For now, this is your introduction to life in Tanzania. I hope to share more experiences with you in the days to come. In the meantime, what questions do you have? I would love to help you to see Moshi through our eyes.
Filed under: la reina | Tagged: Tanzania | Leave a comment »