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Things we learned on holidays about holidays

Arthur and I feel like we’re not that good at taking or doing holidays. It’s something we’re still learning. I guess that’s partly settling into being a family on holidays (rather than a couple), partly our personalities, and partly living cross-culturally where you can never switch off entirely. We’ve just returned from 10 days in Dar es Salaam and here’s what we learned:

  • It takes at least 5 days to actually be on holidays. It takes that long for my brain to stop buzzing and for us all to settle into relaxation and spontaneity and being in the moment. This is not the sign rest has been achieved! It’s the point at which you properly start to rest.
  • For me to switch off, I need to not cook on holidays, even though I enjoy cooking. We budget for good food and drink to be part of it so I’m not stressing about that.
  • Elliot needs a holiday too. He settled into the rhythm of holidays as well and became much more content over the holiday to just lie and cuddle with me – very unusual for him.
  • Holiday = pool. I’ve heard people talk about this as being important for kids, but I think it was just as beneficial for Arthur and me. I felt like I got good opportunities for play.
  • Daily exercise is definitely do-able on holidays. We did Tabata or Pilates in the morning, took a stroll together in the afternoon and of course, went swimming in between.
  • The highlight of holidays for Elliot was having everyone do everything together. In his view, Play Dough or craft when Dadda’s involved is a whole other thing, and Dinosaur Train is 10x the fun when everyone sings the theme song!
  • Sleep patterns change on holidays – I slept less and could stay up later; Arthur slept more and so did Elliot much to my surprise, as before holidays I thought he was dropping his day sleep and I thought he would be distracted being in a room with us.
  • The internet is the enemy of switching off. When we foolishly checked email, there were stressful work emails there or we saw issues on Facebook we wanted to blog about. But then again, we were glad we’d checked email because it meant we received and could pray for a friend who had become very ill and that’s not something we wanted to check out from.
  • Bringing a kettle and tea bags for your room is the best.
  • Holidays include the unexpected. On one of our afternoon ambles, we came across a fresh fish market which Elliot loved; on another we met a German/Swedish/Finnish family with whom we have mutual friends.
  • You don’t overcome 2 years of cross-cultural fatigue in 10 days. We’re starting to see the wisdom in Home Assignment every 3 years.

Thanks to our internet company offering 45Gb download for the price of our usual 6Gb, we also rented a stack of movies to take away with us. Here are some super quick reviews.

  • Begin Again – A record producer finds an authentic artist in a New York bar. Notable for what it resisted, but still a romantic comedy tying up all the loose threads.
  • The Butler – The story of a black butler at the White House through the 20th century. Pretty sentimental and triumphant in the end, but the changing of American history and fashion is kind of fun – Oprah and Forrest Whittaker in 80s tracksuits is priceless.
  • The Master – A hopeless vagrant joins a cult. The first hour dragged to me but flew for Arthur. We were both repulsed by the main characters but for me some of the minor characters like the family members of the Master were far more interesting.
  • A Beautiful Mind – Biopic of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash who won a Nobel Prize in Economics. Arthur hadn’t seen this but I had. He subsequently ruined the charm of it by looking up the truth of the story on Wikipedia.
  • American Hustle – Two con artists get co-opted into an FBI operation. I was intimidated that I wouldn’t understand the intrigue of the plot but it was easy in the end. The highlight for me was the fantastic costumes. Another one where ‘based on a true story’ is a very loose statement.
  • The Railway Man – What happened to Eric Lomax on the Burmese railroad in WWII and can he forgive his tormentors? This is really the story of two men, not one, despite the title. (Does Colin Firth only play reserved Englishmen with dark pasts who love their women? ;) )
  • Slumdog Millionnaire – A slum kid from Mumbai makes it onto Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire and wins. Easily our favourite, though slightly soured by knowing that it appeals to us as westerners because it tells the story we want to hear.
  • Charlie’s Country – Charlie lives in a place where he is forced to interact with the occupiers of his country in their language and on their terms no matter how arbitrary. It’s devastating that this is an Australian story.
  • The Sound of My Voice – Another one about a cult. Two journalists join a cult to make a documentary about it but find it hard to remain objective. I was torn between feeling bored and intrigued and anxious watching this one.

Categories: Uncategorized Written by Tamie

Tagged as:

Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

4 replies

  1. I absolutely loved Charlie’s Country, despite it making me feel quite bad. I feel like every Australian should watch it. Nice choices. :)

  2. “You don’t overcome 2 years of cross-cultural fatigue in 10 days.” Brilliant. You are so right. It is about managing your cultural-fatigue when you are smack dab in the middle of it. :) Great post about the holidays, and thank you for sharing!

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