Kat to Parents 14 Dec 2006
Hello!! Thought I’d write you a letter to say Merry Christmas. I’m missing you lots like usual, and send lots of love and sweat from Tanzania! I hope the present [a picture of an African landscape] arrives safely with this letter – I really liked it. It’s handmade out of dried banana skin. Thought it might look nice on the wall somewhere? I got it at an exhibition we went to which had loads of handmade products from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia displayed along with some history of the places. It was great apart from the very scary dala-dala ride home which took 1 hour 15 minutes (usually it’s only 20 mins) and we literally had to fight our way onto it during rush hour. I lost a flip flop at one point which wasn’t funny! Sophie and I ended up sitting on the engine because we mzinglis must have looked so stupid standing up squashed against the door and I think they felt sorry for us.
As you’ve probably gathered from the phone calls I’m absolutely fine – I do miss home but am getting into life out here I guess. The Swahili is going quite well. I love it when I actually managed to have a conversation in Swahili with someone… that doesn’t happen often but we are improving and our lessons are definitely helping. So that’s going well.
I’ve managed to develop a friendship with our maid Clemencia, who’s really lovely but doesn’t speak a word of English. We’ve discovered she’s an absolute star as she actually managed to wash all the mud out of our clothes from Mikimi last weekend and they were completely covered so it was a very difficult job. If the disks arrive with this letter [they did: posted in England by a friend returning for Christmas] then you’ll be able to see the state of our vehicle when it was stuck in the mud. It was dreadful an we literally did push it out ourselves which took ages and was not easy. There’s also some aftermath photos of Sophie and Lealah looking v v muddy… I was like that as well, only couldn’t take a photo of myself.
Today was our last proper day of school [before end of term] and it was lovely because we had a Christmas assembly at the primary school and our nursery kids performed ‘when Santa got stuck up the chimney’ with handmade hats on and they were great. It went really well. When then had a party at the nursery with English food for once! Aka crisps and cake. It was so nice afterwards because all the kids gave me huge hugs and some even said ‘I love you teacher Katherine’. I will actually miss them over the holiday as I’ve got to know them now, especially my class and they are so lovely. This whole experience is not at all how I really expected it would be. It’s very bizarre!!
Still haven’t got the parcel!! I think it would be best if you want to send things out maybe send them to Les’ house? That guarantees they’ll actually arrive I think… As usual I am tres messy and Sophie is the opposite… v tidy and just sort of cleans around my mess!...
I’ve been told by four people that I’ve put on weight… so when you arrive at the airport expect me to be larger as I think it is probably true. The food out here is OK but very repetitive – rice and beans, ugali and beans, chapatti and beans (or maybe cabbage) and if you’re lucky then chilps and salad. I miss cheesecake and normal fruit like apples and bears (there’s way too much banana out here. They eat it with everything, or they fry it… v odd…) but apart from that, I’m surviving.
I don’t think I’ve decided if I like it out here or not really… part of me is counting down the days until I get home, but part of me is counting down the days until we go travelling as I can’t wait for that because I’ve really enjoyed our weekends when we’ve seen different places, so I think it should be good. At the moment I think it’s [going to be] me, sophie and Lealah travelling together… nothing’s been decided yet but we want to see similar things (although Sophie wants to do a bungee jump off Victoria Falls… I think I might give that a miss!) and luckily I get on really well withm so it should be good.
[Re English friends]… It’s bizarre that we’re all living completely different experiences right now – Leicester and England are such a different life from out here!
But anyway! I now have to wash my underwear, so better go! But…. Lots of love. Speak soon. Kat.