The year has a different shape in Tanzania because the education system is the same as the northern hemisphere. The Christmas break of 1 or 2 weeks is over and it’s business as usual. But the year feels different because of the weather too. Arthur is fond of noting that the seasons Australians inherited from the European colonisers don’t match Summer/Autumn/Winter/Spring, and saying that Australia’s first peoples had a much more intricate way of telling the changes in seasons. Living here in Dodoma, I feel like I get that.
Temperatures are pretty constant the whole year through. The high each day is between 25 and 35 and it generally cools down overnight. But the seasons are about more than temperatures! Let me take you through the year as we’ve experienced it.
Feb/March – the end of the rainy season; a few storms and rain overnight, but no massive downpours. Everything is green and brightly coloured lizards cover the house.
April/May – the dry season begins; don’t expect to see rain for another 8 or so months. The temperature starts to drop and you may need a cardigan or jumper in the early morning. Tanzanians break out their ski gear and talk about how cold it is!
June/July/August – ant season. Little tiny ones crawl over everything. It doesn’t matter how clean your house is, there will be trails of their everywhere. Initially they don’t bite but they swarm over everything and get into everything. Later on, bigger ones appear and they have a nasty bite.
September – It also starts to get windy, like, really windy, all the time. The wind stays until the rains come. The weather starts to get much warmer, but you don’t notice it heaps because there’s a constant breeze.
October/November – still windy, and there are noticeably more flies around. On everything, buzzing around all the time, not matter how much you try to keep the fly screens shut. Everything is super dry. There are scheduled water and power outages, apparently because the water shortages are a problem for the hydroelectric power, though we’ve also heard this is more a political than a practical problem. The lizards start to reappear, with even brighter colours! .
December – the rain starts. The traditional thing is that the rain comes in November but that hasn’t happened for a few years. This year it came in a downpour on graduation day and the nursing and pharmacy students had to take their oath in the rain! The rains bring thousands and thousands of all different types of bugs out as well as moths, scorpions and snakes. There are mosquitoes everywhere, even during the day. There are big electrical storms.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.