Arthur and I are not that good at holidays. Both of us are a bit allergic to admin for a start, but that might be just as well: our ministry calendar has been so changeable that our lack of planning for holidays means we can be flexible with it. We missed last year’s holiday when we were unexpectedly in Australia and haven’t planned one for this year since we could be recalled for Red Twin’s funeral at any moment.
But we’re both convinced on the value of holidays for long-term productivity and sustainability, so we’ve been trying to do a weekend away every 6 weeks or so in lieu of taking longer holidays.
It’s been harder than you’d think to find somewhere to stay. After all, Dar is chockers with holiday resorts and touristy things to do. Unfortunately they are all priced well out of a missionary budget! We are not campers, and we have found that the places to stay that are in our budget mean sacrificing something.
- There are the places on the Indian Ocean where you can self-cater – but there’s no (fresh) water.
- Or a place we found up at Bagamoyo (literally ‘relax’) where there were no screens on the windows so we were attacked by mozzies all night long. (Nets can only do so much.) They had a restaurant but the food took a minimum of 1.5 hours and by the time it arrived, we had one kid who was were starving and crazy, and another who had fallen asleep.
- Or the budget guest house at Kigamboni with the stunning beach where there was no power, so no fans in the sweltering heat, or light to get to the bathroom in the dark. We didn’t sleep well there either. And at the end we had to negotiate the guy who owned it down to the price we’d agreed upon at the beginning.
- Or another one we tried down that way where you stay in little hut on the beach, but the huts literally fit one bed, so we took a child each and curled up on thin sandy mattresses.
It’s just not that relaxing! Holidays – even weekend mini-breaks – take so much effort it doesn’t seem worth it. We do them anyway, and we make the best of it, but we’ve also kept trying new things in the hope that a solution would present itself.
Which it has!
This weekend, we stayed at a house that had the works: power, water, a working toilet, mozzie screens. Even better, it had a lady who cooked and cleaned but otherwise gave us privacy. We also had the option to self-cater (we did half and half) with a well appointed kitchen including a fridge and oven, both of which worked! And all these luxuries for the same price as the budget guest house. It was a little further back from the beach (a short drive rather than a medium walk) but made up for it by having an extensive garden including a massive baobab. Our kids loved having the space, so different from their apartment life. And we loved sending them off to play outside while we sat on the balcony with our kindles.
There were things that didn’t work (one of the toilets, a shower, some fans and lights, plus there was a very steep staircase that I was worried about Callum being on, and the beach wasn’t as nice as some of the others we’ve been to), but on the whole it felt to us like the Australian beach shack – you kind of expect it to be a bit run down because you’re letting it all hang out while you’re on holidays. Considering what else is around in our budget, it’s the best we’ve found so far by a long shot. What a relief!
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.