Back in blogland

Holiday

It took me way too long but I’m back to blogging now! We had a great holiday back home. We stayed at the Belgian coast and had a lot of family and friends visiting. The girls had fun playing on the beach, being spoiled (extremely spoiled even) by everyone. I think they had more ice cream and cake in those six weeks than in their entire life before our holiday! We enjoyed some Belgian speciality too, the french fries from the “frietkot” and the “boule de berlin“. The holiday was great but we’re also happy to be back, seeing everyone again and meeting lots of new people who have just arrived.

Hope you also had a great holiday!

 

We made it back!

I’ve finally found the time to blog and a decent internet connection. The longest night ever was long and painfull for the ears! As I already feared my Little Daughter didn’t like the idea of sitting in her carchair especially when the plane stood still. This resulted in furious crying and yelling (at the look of certain people I’m quite sure they didn’t now a 1,5y old could be that furious) for over half an hour. This little treat got even longer as the plane had a technical probem that needed to be resolved.
However as soon as the plane started ascending, the volume turned down. We still had some minor breakdowns but nothing compared to the pre-take off ones. Due to the technical problems the plane was delayed and I did not get my connextion. This was however a blessing as Zurich airport has a great kids area, both girls enjoyed the break before getting on the flight to Brussels.

We are now settled and enjoying the Belgian coast and the many visits of friends and family. I probably won’t be able to blog as regularly as I would like but I’ll make it up to you once I’m back in DAR!

Hope you all get to enjoy the summer!

My longest night ever?

Ooooh God, what was I thinking?! I suppose it all happened in a weak moment, a moment of homesickness, a moment of longing for family, Belgian fries and chocolate! Tonight might be one of my longest nights ever, a night trapped high above earth alone with my two little girls. Oh right, there will also be like a hundred other passengers sighing when my two little girls show up, hoping they will not sit next to us. 10 hours up in the air, 1 hour to get a connection flight… Will I get a preview of hell or will a miracle occur and turn my girls into sweet, calm little angels? I did the best I could for the preparations: my handbag is packed with toys to keep them busy, cookies to bribe them at a difficult moment, games on the iPad as a last resort…

A little to much…

Tired mummy

Something was tickling my head. I opened my eyes, startled for a second. There she was, our Big Girl, holding her face not even an inch from mine, scrutinizing my face. An endless string of words followed. She chattered whilst making huge movements with her arm, explaining she had already slept soooooooo long and now was time to get up! I peaked at my alarm clock: 5.30AM. Aaaaaargg, how could she be awake, be so energetic? Our little babbling girl danced her way to the bathroom, came out declaring that she had washed her face, hands and feet only to run of to her room. A second later her head reappeared, bossing me around “Muuuummy, get up! I can’t open my closet, can you pleaaase help me!” I remembered a night, just a few months ago, worrying if she will like her new school, if she would be able to make friends in this foreign country. Actually hoping, praying that she would love it, well she does! Maybe she’s even a little to exited but hey, all a mum needs is for her Big Girl to be happy right (oh well, maybe some sleep would be nice too ;-))

 

One goat can make a difference!

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This weekend we went to the Dar es Salaam Charity Goat Races. We had a wonderful day out! It’s the 14th time the goat races are held in Dar es Salaam and the aim is to raise money for different charities and local organisations. Last year they raised over 135 million Tanzanian Shillings! Some of this years causes were Fahari, Wonder Workshop, Help2kids and eleven other deserving causes!

As we wanted to avoid the biggest crowd we went early with the kids. This was great as they could enjoy the kids corner whilst it was still quite calm. There were bouncing castles, a train, different games and a toddlers area with a sandpit and a colouring area. They had a lot of fun but whenever our oldest heard the announcement of another race she’d rush out, desperate not to miss a second of the main event. Goat Race 3

She loved it when the goats were carried in, accompanied by a bagpipe player to the race court and off course the race itself. Almost every half hour there was a race where the goats would run 2 laps. Although it’s hard to call it a real race, non of the goats were actually running. It was more “who would walk the fastest” and they even had to be encouraged by men walking behind them. Nevertheless it was fun to watch and we all had a great time! For every race you could also place a bet on a goat.

Goat Race 1

Between the races there were also elections for the most fancy dress, most fancy hat. This years theme was 1920 and it was also a lot of fun to watch.

Goat Race 2

Off course we couldn’t ignore the tasty food stalls and bars. We had freshly pressed, refreshing cane sugar juice and a very tasteful bbq. Our youngest nibbled the chicken drumstick till there was nothing left and the eldest really enjoyed her drumstick and french fries.¬† Goat Race 4

We had a really good time and it was nice to have such a fun family day out!

Link-up with Travel Tuesday

 

Foodie Friday

It’s been such a busy week and I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t have the time to cook. All I did was unfreezing stuff, going out for dinner, order pizza,… But I have some great links for you with lovely recipes I would like to try out myself:

The Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Joy The Baker)

A healthy quinoa salad (I am a food blog)

The egg and avocado breakfast (I am a food blog)

A simple curry with poached eggs (Eat like a girl)

And finally I’m always in for a good chili: The three bean chilli (Smitten Kitchen)

What are your favorite food blogs or recipes?

 

My expat hurdle: Starting a new social life

just_shy_square_0I’m a diesel, not just a diesel. Oh no, when it comes to socialising I’m that really old diesel, the one you have to push down a hill, jump in it, tear the choke button and try a hundred times before the motor finally starts running. Yeps, that’s how good I am at socialising and getting to know people.

When you move to a foreign country that single characterestic might cause a lot of trouble. You don’t know anyone in the new place (well I didn’t know anyone) so life is kind of lonely. It even got more clear when my oldest daughter started begging me to have a friend from school over to play at our house. One afternoon her teacher told me she had invited her whole class to come over and play! It was time for action! Time for that diesel to tackle this hurdle, roll of the hill and with a big “boum bang” get that motor running.

So when another mum told me her son and my daughter were getting along pretty well I blurted out “would he like to come over to play?” and there it was: the boum bang! The next thing I know I’m out strolling from one baby group to another with the Little Girl, having a wonderful afternoon at the yacht club (reminder: next thing is trying to get in as a member), playgroups,… I’m finally getting out of that isolated, shy bubble. It’s great! People here are so nice. They are much more open than back home. Keen to get to know you, chat with you and help you out. Maybe it’s common to expats but as this is our first assignment I have nothing to compare. Off course I’m thinking, ohhh I should have done this earlier but I think I just have to accept that’s just me. An old diesel, who will always need that extra push but if we get there in the end, it’s all that counts right? And now I have two Girls pushing their mummy out of her bubble: how good is that!

 

 

 

Harusi Time!

When two people want to marry, here in Tanzania there’s a long road in front of them before they actually get to the “I DO” part! It all starts with the man getting on one knee. Well, actually, I don’t know if it’s custom here for a man to literally drop down on one knee but he pops the question. Then he needs to write an inspiring letter declaring his intentions to a respected elder man of his fianc√©’s clan or village. This messenger will discuss the matter with her parents, who will give him a written answer. Assuming the parents give their blessing, the young couple can move on to the next stage: the dowry.

This stage is completely (or almost completely) out of their hands. It’s up to their parents. They meet, her parents make their requests clear, his parents bargain and try to get the dowry down till they reach a consensus. The dowry can vary a lot. While some parents are content with a cow and a khanga as a thank you for bringing up a lovely daughter, others might ask for a few million shillings. The dowry is usually paid by his parents but if the young man has the means he can also settle the bill. Saving for this can however take several months.

When that’s over all there is left to do is partying! Following tradition there are three party’s: the kitchen party, the send-off party and the actual wedding. All three party’s will be paid for by the invitees, however those can choose the amount they pay. When I asked how one would know how much to donate, the answer was “it depends on how deep your pockets are” :-). According to ones donation they may get invitation tickets for one or more party’s and for yourself only or with partner.

The first party is the kitchen party: women only. Both sides of the family are invited as well as close friends. The bride-to-be gets lots of advice about what to expect of married life, what she should do and what she definitely shouldn’t do. The invitees come baring gifts and as you might already have figured out, they are mainly kitchen utilities.

When this is done, it’s time for the parents to wave their daughter goodbye at the send-off party. This party can be as big as the wedding or smaller. Last but not least there is the actual wedding party mostly organised by the grooms family.

Last week, we were invited to the wedding party of my husband’s colleague. Off course I was nervous, not knowing very well what to expect but we had a blast! If there is one thing they know how to do in Tanzania it’s partying and even more dancing! We could enjoy the whole ceremony from the front row, as they had reserved the best table for us (which was really nice but I also found it a little uncomfortable to be seated in front of close friends and family…)
Right in front of us was the throne for the bride and groom, on the left there was a table for his parents, her family sat on the right side. The entrance of the family immediately set tone for the evening: bridesmaids, family, bride and groom came in dancing. There would be no walking during the whole evening. If one had to move, it would be done whilst dancing!

 

 

 

 

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Speeches were alternated by different dances: one for each tribe, one for friends and so on. It was wonderful to watch, people have such a great sense of rhythm! And then off course there was the dreaded moment where one would ask me to join the dance floor. Me, probably one of the most rigid sticks walking around on earth! On top of that I noticed I appeared on the huge projecting screen so everyone could have a good look! At that moment I think I would have done anything for some magic “vanishing powder”. Still they seemed to appreciate the effort I took to put some movement in my sticky body. By the sight of my red blushing face, they must have seen it took me all the effort in the world ;-)

 

 

 

 

Time to eat: the bride and groom opened the buffet. They brought in the whole goat, which is a sign of unity of two families. The sight of the whole goat, which looked like it was smiling was kind of weird for me at first but the taste was really good (I still find it weird-looking at the picture…), then they also cut the cake. As you can only go by the buffet once it’s custom to stack the food as high as you can. There were people coming back from the buffet with true Kilimanjaro mountains on their plates! Mine was really modest against theirs. The food was delicious and it was a great opportunity for us to taste some local dishes.

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After dinner it was time for the gifts. Anything you can more of less carry you should bring to the party. The guests are divided into groups (family of the groom, family of the bride, close friends, colleagues,…) who can then come forward to hand over their gifts. It’s turned into a big show, with a lot of dancing and clapping. This is followed by the opening dance of the bride and groom to open the real dance party. At 12PM however, the lights are shut and everyone leaves together. It was a true privilege and a great experience to participate at this wedding!

 

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Link up with Travel Tuesday!