With the countdown to our return to Tanzania well and truly on, our headspace is shifting. Arthur and I are speaking Swahili to each other again; the little boys are asking, “can we make X food in Tanzania, or is that just an Australian thing?” We are longing more acutely for parts of our life from there, and bracing for the things that are difficult.
The flip-side of that is we are counting the things we will miss about life in Australia. Apart from obvious things like family and friends, reliable water and power and tradies come immediately to mind. Here are some others:
- No bugs. I know the decrease in insect life in Australia is because of shrinking biodiversity, but I’m starting to remember what it’s like to have tiny little ants constantly crawling on you, or to have to check the floor for centipedes if you get up in the night, because those things are nasty.
- Mosquitoes that don’t give you malaria. Or Dengue Fever. This is an entirely separate category to the other bugs. Get bitten by a mosquito in Australia? No big deal. It might itch, but it’s not going to make you really sick. And there are just fewer of them. There is no nightly war to be waged before bed, or waking with that high pitched buzzing somewhere in the vicinity of your head.
- Greens. Broccoli, broccolini, baby spinach, baby cos. I spent our first week here eating lettuce with a creamy dressing as if it was a luxury food. Because in Tanzania, it is. Tanzania has about a thousand types of spinach-y stuff, but they’re all for cooking not salads, and they’re generally pretty bitter.
- Up & Go. This might sound silly, but being able to give our little ones Up & Go for breakfast has drastically changed everyone’s stress levels as we try to get out of the house in the morning. And for that matter, it’s the convenience of food, often healthy food too, which I don’t have to prep and can just pop in a lunchbox.
- Libraries, playgrounds, museums. The number of free, educational and interesting activities for kids in Australia blows my mind. Elliot’s amazing school in Dar gets us access to a library and a playground (which was more than we had in Dodoma!) and we are super thankful for it. But the wealth of opportunity in Australia is amazing. Multiple libraries so you can move on after you’ve read through one; different playgrounds, where you learn different skills and invent different games; a museum that has your old favourites, but is constantly reinventing itself and putting on new exhibitions. Our world will shrink in Tanzania, which might not be a bad thing, but at least initially we will miss all the inputs and ease of accessing them.
- The gym. This is not just me. Arthur took up Body Pump, and our gym had an amazing creche which our boys loved. We’ll still work out in Tanzania, but, like many of the other things I’ve noted here, it’s convenient, fun and offers more variety to do it in a gym situation with others around. And we’ve become part of a community there.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.