Summer Update: Routine and Expat life in Tanzania
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In my last life update, I told you my big news of moving to Mwanza, Tanzania…well, I’ve arrived! After my 3575 mile overland journey North from Cape Town, I’m starting my next chapter as a global health researcher.
Though there is no doubt that I absolutely love to travel (and let’s be real — I’m already planning my next trip), I did find it a little stressful to balance all of my work responsibilities while on the road.
Seriously — I don’t know how all you ‘digital nomads’ do it!
So much has changed since the last time I was in Mwanza 2 years ago. It seems everyone has a smart phone now, so I’m no longer afraid to walk around with mine in my hand. There are heaps of new high-rise buildings and I discovered Mwanza now has Taxify, an app simlar to Uber — it’s actually made my life so much easier not having to negotiate taxi prices all the time.
Now that I have a home-base again, I feel a sense of normalcy and routine — but not without some misadventures!
I take the dala dala (insanely crowded and hot mini bus transit) into the city center on days that I need to get out of the house. The fare is just 400 Tsh (25 cents) per way, and my rides have proven to be a source of both entertainment and frustration. (Case in point: it’s easy to miss your stop when the bus is too packed with bodies to see out the windows. Once I got so lost I had to take a motorcycle taxi back and relied on google maps to navigate, but it sent us to a random village. We flew down sandy paths and narrow market stalls, dodging goats and men hauling sugar cane…and ended up in a soccer field. Guess that’s one way to see the sights).
On most days, I buy fruit and veg from the stalls on my street for 200 Tsh (10 cents) a piece, boil my own drinking water and live for Mwanza’s epic sunsets.
I’m renting a tiny apartment on Airbnb just outside of town in a local neighbourhood. Roosters crow before the crack of dawn and if that hasn’t woke me, there is a gospel church next door which hosts a daily 7:00am choir practice. Needless to say, I’ve been going to bed early these days!
All jokes aside, I love being in a local community and getting a feel for authentic Tanzanian life. In my opinion, that’s one of the benefits of AirBnb.
If the 3G network goes down, I head to one of the local hotels to get a coffee and use their wifi. Conveniently, some of them (like Malaika Beach Resort) have amazing pools, turning my office into a pool-side lounge for the day.
I used Taxify to get to Malaika and paid just 4000 Tsh (2$), way less than I recall paying 2 years ago. Try it out for yourself and get your first fare free.
It might look like I’m on vacation all the time, but I do a lot of work behind the scenes on this website and for school. I’m currently working on new content from my African travels and updating old blog posts so they perform better on Google — all while I wait for ethics approval so I can start my research.
Expat life in Mwanza moves slowly — something I struggle with at times, but overall it feels like coming home!
Have you ever lived abroad? Would you?
Let me know in the comments below!
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