John and Babs in Tanzania

Page 6

31/5/07 (Written in late April)

As mentioned on the previous page, we are very much on a roller coaster. Life here is proving very difficult at the moment, partly because we have just returned from an amazing time in Australia where Eve & Mark were married on 5th April.


We left Hekima on schedule, and after 7 hours on buses, over 21 hours on planes & a lot of time queuing, we finally arrived at 6.15am on Friday 30th March – nearly 4 days after leaving our home. As you can imagine, we were very tired, but also very excited about the wedding, the reunions and the holiday. Eve & Mark met us and took us back to their home; then they went to work and we went to bed! After a few hours we were up and exploring the local area.

Enjoying a Coffee

We spent the afternoon getting back into a ‘western’ world, window shopping and having cups of coffee, and we also had an ice cream - mmmm! luxury! Then it was back to Eve & Mark’s for a lovely meal, cooked by Mark, and an evening of catching up.


Saturday morning was spent at the hairdressers, which was desperately needed and another luxury, and then we strolled around the Harbour area, stopping for more cups of coffee as we people-watched. Helen & Mike and Babs’ sister, Sas, arrived on the Sunday morning at about 8am, followed by Mark’s family, on a different plane, about 30 minutes later. Once again, lots of tears and talking. There were also more luxuries, as they had brought us goodies from England. Eve & Mark had organized a separate house to rent for each family for the visit, in Balmain. When Babs’ brother, Stuart, with his wife, Lesley, and their son, Luke, arrived on the Tuesday, our house was complete. Our bedroom had an amazing view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – and no curtains!

The View from Our Bedroom
Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sailing in Sydney Harbour
John at the Helm

Eve and Helen had organized a Wine Tasting trip to the Hunter Valley for her ‘Hen Do’. Mark and the men went sailing (& drinking!) around Sydney Harbour, and they all took turns at the helm of the luxury yacht. We all had a wonderful time.


The wedding day of Thursday 5th April duly arrived. We made an early journey to Eve’s home, where Helen & Mike had also slept on the wedding eve. After hair and make-up it was time for everyone to start dressing. Given the circumstances, it should come as no surprise that Eve & Mark had planned and organized their own wedding. We had been unaware of the timetable for the day, except that the ceremony was at 1pm, and we had no idea of the style of Eve’s dress. So we didn’t tell her about ours! You’ve guessed it – we were proud to wear authentic Tanzanian outfits, as can be seen in the pictures.

The Wedding of Eve & Mark
John & Babs in Tanzanian Dress

Eve emerged looking radiant - but we are slightly biased. Helen had chosen her dress while visiting Eve earlier in the year, and looked stunning too.

The Bridesmaid & the Bride
Helen & Eve

The photographer arrived, and then a stretch limo took Eve, Helen & Mike and us to the Rotunda near Balmoral Beach where the couple were to be married. The ceremony was simple but beautiful, and produced even more tears.

The Wedding of Eve & Mark
Signing the Documents

While Eve & Mark had a tour in the stretch limo, the rest of us boarded a bus which we thought was taking us to the reception. When we ended up at the water’s edge, we realised that they had chartered a boat to tour around the extensive Harbour. We spent the next couple of hours drinking and chatting to friends, old and new. We had to hold onto hats, bags and anything else that moved, which caused great amusement to others watching.

The Wedding of Eve & Mark
The Boat Tour

The Wedding of Eve & Mark
Safely Back on Dry Land

The Wedding of Eve & Mark
Cutting the Cake

Eve drove the boat for a short time, without crashing, and then we were dropped off at Watsons Bay, which was the reception venue. More photographs, but that was to be expected with such a unforgettable backdrop. In all, there were about 40 relatives and friends, many of whom had travelled from England to join the happy couple. Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time in a relaxed atmosphere, all due to meticulous planning by Eve & Mark. We all saw spectacular views of Sydney, had a magnificent meal and finished the evening with traditional wedding disco-ing, aided by copious amounts of alcohol.


We had an amazing day, it was truly wonderful. We feel very fortunate indeed to have two beautiful, clever daughters who have married two handsome, clever men, and to have been able to share, in the last eight months, two totally different, but each perfect, wedding days with them both. We are thrilled to now have two sons as well as two daughters!

Our Family of Six
Mike, John, Mark, Eve, Babs, Helen

Before we left Hekima, we had had dreadful problems with Lloyds Bank (Head Office), who were incapable of transferring money from our Darlington account to the Tanzanian travel agency, whose bank account was in the United States, to pay for our air tickets. Eventually, VSO paid for them on our behalf; we only got the tickets on the Saturday before we left on the Monday – but we didn’t tell Eve! We then had to start all over again arranging to repay VSO. It was obviously much easier to do this from Australia than from Tanzania, so we used an internet cafe in Sydney. Another luxury! What a speed – we are used to sitting and waiting ... and waiting!

Watsons Bay
The Sea Cliffs

The remainder of our holiday was spent sightseeing and trying to relax. It was, emotionally, quite draining - a wedding, family reunions, culture shock - and very tiring. We visited the Blue Mountains, toured the sights of Sydney and its wonderful Harbour, took many fascinating ferry trips between Balmain and the centre, (some of us!) surfed on Bondi beach, we had a family barbie, we shopped in the city and its suburbs, visited the Opera House, and its bar, and walked over the Harbour Bridge. And we have so many photos to remind us of that amazing time.

Watsons Bay
Babs Enjoying the Beach

Bondi Beach
John Enjoying Surfing

The Opera House Bar
It Did Rain - Occasionally

The Harbour Bridge & the Opera House

All too soon, however, it was time for Helen, Mike and Sas to leave, and, a few days later, they were followed by Stuart, Lesley and Luke. Then we had only just over a day left with Eve & Mark. We had had a lovely, memorable time, but it was tinged with sadness, as you can imagine.


Our return home was much quicker! We left at 9pm on the Wednesday evening and arrived back at Hekima at 7pm on the Friday evening. We brought quite a lot of extra luggage back with us, some from England via Helen & Mike, and some bought in Sydney. Compared with the 18kg between us going, we were heavily laden. Some of what we had was for us, but quite a lot was for work. Babs bought some cookery books, to supplement the total of 7 books in the Home Economics department at Hekima. We brought tools, kitchen utensils, stationery and computer items, including a data projector, none of which can be obtained in Bukoba. We were up to the baggage limit and our ‘hand’ luggage was very heavy, but we managed.

Entebbe Airport Guest House
Evening Meal in the Gardens

The whole two-day trip was fine, except for the final bus ride between Kampala and Bukoba, which was quite frightening. The plane journeys were enjoyable, and we were beginning to feel blase about the relative luxury of airline travel. The Guest House in Entebbe was our final luxury.






It is true to say that we are not exactly thrilled to be back, and we know that it will take quite a time to settle down again in this other world. Communication, and life here generally, is a constant struggle. We feel very isolated, have had no internet here for over two months now, and the mobile phone signal continues to be very poor. In addition, probably because of the current(!) rainy season, the electricity is also cut for hours at a time – the longest period has been 5 days! The Tanzanian way of life is chaotic. They do not plan ahead. The School calendar for the year that started in January has still not been made available, and so we don’t know dates for holidays, the large number of exams that they have and other such events. Weekly staff meetings are confirmed or cancelled at a few minutes notice. Although they say they want us to help them, what they really mean is that they want us to do it for them! We are desperately trying to make them understand that, in the long run, this is not going to be of any help. We are now trying to stand back more, and not immediately offer to dig them out of yet another hole! We don’t think we will come out near the top of a popularity contest, that’s for sure. However, most of the students are very supportive and keen to learn, and, after all, that is ultimately why we are here.


We are so very grateful for all your e-mails and website comments, and are very sorry that we have neither the facilities nor the time to always reply to you individually; we only hope you understand. Please do keep them coming, you don’t know how special it is to hear your news!

More to come from John and Babs in Tanzania soon.