Day 70: Tanzania Part 1- Dar Es Salaam

Arriving at Julius Nyerere International airport at 2:00 in the morning announced we had made it to the great continent.

Whereas in Europe where you can time your watch by the train schedule, the pace at which how and when things get done in Africa changes largely by the ebb and tide of people’s moods and the time of day. We waited nearly an hour and half to get our visas which were plagued first by the visa official not giving us a receipt for which to pay, than getting sent back to him and then paying, but then us getting harangued for not paying the right amount then the chief coming to chew everyone out in Swahili and everyone pointing their fingers at one another. TIA. This is Africa.

On one of our the last nights in Africa a few years ago, I was tasked with a job that bordered on human trafficking. A girl had drank too much on a cruise in Zambia and we had to get her back over the border to Victoria falls in Zimbabwe where we were staying.

This is never going to work Ed.” I told my friend as we hoisted her up slinging an arm over each of our shoulders.

Well, we have to G, we don’t have anyplace to stay here.” He said.

Ed, we’re taking her across an international border crossing and she’s passed out. Practically comatose. Any sensible border agent would not condone taking someone against their will across the border. “

It will be fine. Don’t worry

We carried our friend Celine with all three of our passports in hand to the border crossing at 1:00 am. I thought the honest approach would be best:

Good evening officers, our friend has had too much to drink and we’re just trying to get her home. We have her passport.

They looked at her, then each other, then me, smiled and waved us though. “Eet hoppens all de time.” They replied as we shuffled past. That was the end of it. TIA.

Getting a Feel of Dar

The smells of Africa remind me of Southeast Asia. It’s perpetually hot, yet a cooling rain is not far off, or has left its mark as damp ground from the night before. You catch aromas of leaves being burned somewhere nearby and delicious curries float in on the breeze. Dar es Salaam is the largest trading port in east Africa and has been that way for centuries so it had shades from south and south east Asia from all the movement over the ages. Curries are a common fare.

The thing that surprised me the most upon arrival were all the Maasai men walking around town. I expected them to be endemic to northern Tanzania, but I learned that many of them percolated down in the south of the country looking for better opportunities while still holding on to their cultural identity. The first veneer is the traditional robe or ‘shukas’ whose color can mean many different things. Red is the most typical color in the pattern which symbolizes blood, courage and strength but hues of orange (hospitality) and green (land and nourishment) are also popular. Every man also carries a knife called a ‘Seme’ which is smaller than a machete but used for everyday tasks such as clearing brush and whatever challenges life throw their way.

A Maasai man. Men wearing traditional Masai dress are found all over Tanzania.

After the airport coteries had their way with us, we arrived at the house of our friends Tina and Bill at 5:00 in the morning just before they had to go to work. After catching up and a few hours sleep we started to explore.

Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Mixing with the Glitterati

We went for sundowners at the ‘Yacht Club‘ which was perched atop a cliff and spilled down to a beautiful beach with dhows and catamarans for rent for members. The Yacht Club was like a country club or golf membership that allowed adults to talk over cocktails and not worry how long their kids were gone or where they were. Our friends were in the last steps of securing their membership by way of sponsorships and signatures from dignitaries within the club who had titles such as ‘Commodore’, ‘Vice President’ and ‘The Grand Poo-bah’.

Dinner was Ethiopian which is a one of our favorites. Eating the most succulent fish and red lentil curries without utensils is truly one of the joys of African cuisine. Tomorrow we’d head to the ferry port to take us to Zanzibar with bellies full of curry and wanting nothing more than to pass on our love of the continent to our little girl whose voyage is just beginning.

Related Posts

Day 65: Old Friends, New Laughs in Budapest

Day 34: Poland Part 1-Eastern Delights

Day 14: Belgrade-Gritty Perfection

Day 65: Old Friends, New Laughs in Budapest

We arrived in Budapest via a 2 hour bus ride from Bratislava and could barely contain our excitement.

Seeing our longterm teacher friends Brett and Heather and their little monkey has been a nice respite from the crazy travel schedule of the last two months and we enjoyed every moment of it. Our two weeks in Budapest were spent mellowing out by taking day trips to the park, swimming pools, canoeing down the Danube and a pub crawl or two. One of the highlights was attending the Sziget music festival to see Ed Sheeran, 21 Pilots and Foo fighters. Dave Grohl is practically a rock icon national treasure. Still rocking at 50.

Last spring, an article came out on USA today that caught fire on social media circles attesting to the benefits of teaching overseas. Most of the comments on Facebook were supportive although some of our stateside friends were still skeptical of leaving the land of the free for another option. Some couldn’t even believe there was one.

Two weeks in Budapest gave us time to polish our CVs and cover letters and begin our job search for our 18th year of teaching and what will become our fourth overseas school. As we were doing so, I interviewed Brett and Heather to share what they’ve liked about their experience.

Why did you decide to move abroad and teach internationally?

“We were just looking for an adventure and thought going overseas would be a cool opportunity. We wanted to get right into the classroom and not start as substitute teachers back in Canada. Teaching is hard for new teachers in Ontario, but we also had an ‘in’ to the overseas lifestyle as my parents worked overseas and the expat lifestyle.”

Where have you lived?

We started in Tokyo for 2 years, then Saigon for 7 years, and now Budapest for 5 years. Starting our 15th year and 6th year in Budapest this week!

What are some of the benefits and your favorite aspects of living overseas?

“The international student body. They are slightly more ‘globally minded’ and we have more freedom to teach and not be bogged down by district mandates of testing and excessive paperwork. We get to focus on student learning which has been so rewarding. The lifestyle side is great. There are great opportunities to travel and our money goes far here. Rather than living in a small circle, you meet so many more people outside of your normal school community. “

Be prepared to laugh a lot about cultural hangups and just know that they are just little things.

You talked a bit about travel. Where are some places you’ve been over the last 2 years?

Mostly in Europe. We’ve been to Croatia a few times, Montenegro, Malta, and Greece most recently. We have some fun trips coming up to the Canary Islands this fall and Portugal to meet up with family for Christmas. We do trips home to Canada nearly every year.

Are there any difficulties with an overseas posting?

“Being far from family and friends is hard when you wish you could be closer. We’ve also had to get more creative with retirement saving as we don’t have pensions or access to American savings and investing options. We bought an apartment here in Budapest a couple years ago and hope it continues to rise in value.”

What advice would you have for prospective teachers who are considering a move overseas?

“I think to be open-minded and flexible. Also, do your research. Make sure the school and location are a good ‘fit’ for your preferred lifestyle. Ask “Are you willing to grow and change and adapt to a new place and to what a place might bring?” Be prepared to laugh a lot about cultural hangups and just know that they are just little things.”

10 Books for Early Readers

Resources to Get you Hired and Learn About Schools

Although you can research schools on your own and cold call them by sending your resumes, most international schools use a recruitment service that collects applicants into one central database complete with their teaching experience and letters of reference for easy access. These companies host fairs around the world where candidates and schools can mix and mingle for a weekend of conversations on education. If you’re looking for a position for the 2020-2021 school year, you should get started now with any one of the following:

Search Associates. Search is well established and attracts good quality candidates. Their dashboard is super expansive and after creating an account, you’ll get daily updates for your position. Search is a little pricer than the competitors but their fairs are well run. We used Search and visited their Bangkok fair which is how we got hired to work in South Korea.

Global Recruitment Collaborative This fair is the new kid on the block and undercuts their competitors with lower costs for schools so admin have had good things to say about it from a pricing perspective. About to kick off their 4th year in Dubai in early November, their success has led to a second fair in Bangkok mid November. The GRC fairs are earlier than others, but as schools are moving their declaration dates to November 1st, GRC may be poised to be in the ‘sweet spot’ of hiring season when prospective candidates flood the market.

International School Services. Although we haven’t used ISS for a while (we got hired through them for our jobs in Saigon back in 2006) others have told me they haven’t innovated as much as their peers. ISS has partnered with ‘Schrole’, a vetting platform that is cumbersome to apply through over and over, so ISS makes this process easy.

International Schools Review This is not a search service, but public forum where teachers can speak candidly about their experience at various schools to help you determine if the school is a good fit. You’ll get a feel of school climate, administrative support, and living in country all in one place. The trick was this platform is to get a wholistic perspective by reading multiple reviews to get the full picture. A disgruntled employee may leave a bad review on a school’s administration, but that administrator may have left (or will be leaving) or grumblings may be from a different division than the one you’re applying for.

The Bottom Line

As we are in Istanbul airport heading to Dar Es Salaam to stay with other friends in Tanzania, I can honestly say that a career of international education has made the world our home. Friends connect our world like lines of latitude and longitude and we’ll stay and reconnect with many of them on our trip in cities like Cairo, Muscat, Dubai, Beirut, Amman, Sao Paulo and Curitiba. At a softball game in Vienna yesterday, we rubbed shoulders with two degrees of separation- a player from the Warsaw team whose brother I worked with in Vietnam. A woman from Bucharest who worked with our friend Stacy in Dhaka. International teaching makes the world is a small place.

In a profession back home that results in high teacher burnout and politicization, we’re beginning to see the slow exodus of teachers to overseas locations looking for a better life.

What will happen if word gets out?

Related Posts

Day 50: Sampling Intercourse in Vienna

Day 18: White Nights in Tallinn, Estonia

Day 10: Making a Monster in Budva, Montenegro

Day 1: So it Begins- In South Korea

Day 54: Laying Low in Bratislava

At just an hour and 20 minutes, the bus ride between Vienna and Bratislava was the shortest ride we’ve taken on our trip between cities. I sat next to a woman who was nervously clutching the purse on her lap and across the aisle, a textbook frat boy. Oxford blue long sleeve shirt rolled up above the elbows, khaki shorts, leather penny loafers without socks and a neatly trimmed quaff just starting to show signs of thinning. He wore a permanent smirk for our entire trip. Probably for his life.

Bratislava is a more subdued European capital than its big brothers and sisters of Vienna and Prague. In either of the aforementioned places, you’re more likely to bump into more tourists than locals, so Bratislava feels like an ‘authentic’ town where people actually live and don’t just cater to visitors. The smaller size means it’s a very walkable city. Here are some of our highlights:

  • Walking across the Stary Most bridge for view of the city and Danube
  • Sampling craft beers at the ‘Craft Beer Bar’.
  • Enjoying some of the best Ramen in Europe at ‘Ramen Kazu’
  • People watching on Venturska walking street.
  • Having the duck confit at Bratislavsky Mestiansky.

Bratislava was our last stop as a family of three before coasting into Budapest tomorrow to stay with our Saigon family, the Macs, for two weeks of catching up, playing cards and lots of laughs. It’s been 2 years since we’ve seen these good friends of ours, and we were so eagerly looking forward to a reunion we seriously considered just leaving our pre-paid hotel a day early.

Ava’s Digital Story: Avigail’s Story

Bratislava did give us time to complete a big literacy project. After a month of drafting and revising, Ava finally finished her narrative essay, inspired by her trip to the Jewish Ghetto in Riga, Latvia. Aside from all the grammatical benchmarks, one standard still remained, which is using technology including the internet to publish writing an to interact with others.

W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

For this standard, digital story creation comes in handy. A digital story is a multi-media creation that uses photos, videos, along with narration, sound effects and music to evoke a richer experience. We used iMovie and published to youtube in the hopes of getting some viewer comments either there or through wordpress (hint hint) to interact with others.

Layering media such as narrations, sound effects in ‘iMovie’

Although digital story creation can be time consuming to teach and make, it’s generally worth the wait as students learn that ‘literacy’ has come to encompass digital literacy skills as this medium is now a mainstream form of communication. Here is a guide I made to walk you through the process.

Here Come the Malarial Side Effects

Today was another important date for us, as we started taking our malaria drugs to prepare for a 5 week trip through Tanzania and Kenya straddling late August into September. We got our last few vaccinations in our final weeks in Korea but we had to start taking Malaria drugs (Mefloquin) two weeks prior to arriving and 2 weeks after leaving. I wasn’t looking forward to the after effects again and we felt nauseous all day after taking our first pill this morning.

The last time we took Mefloquin, Lisa and I suffered from horrible, long term hallucinations which is a typical side effect. It was always the same- we woke up in the middle of the night convinced that we were covered in spiders and would hyperventilate ourselves awake while frantically fighting off the imaginary arachnids slowly bringing us from nightmare to sweaty lucidity. Although the episodes faded away over time, their intensity didn’t, and it wasn’t until 2 years later that we were back to normal. Just the other day, a Cambridge student interning in Madagascar opened the door of her light engine plane and fell to her death. Anti-malarials are the suspected culprit. I hope the medicine doesn’t hit Ava too hard.

At least we’ll be with friends.

Related Posts

Day 50: Sampling Intercourse in Vienna

Day 38: Poland Part 2-Auschwitz Birkenau

Day 22: Teaching Tolerance in Riga, Latvia

Day 50: Sampling Intercourse in Vienna

Are you ready for intercourse?” The waitress asked me.

Beg your pardon?” I kindly asked back.

Intercourse. Is your family ready for intercourse?

I’m sorry, we didn’t think this restaurant was that kind of place.” I said while protectively eyeing my wife and daughter and shooting glimpses towards the bushes to see if I was on candid camera.

Intercourse.” She said. “The space between dishes so you can sit, talk, drink and digest.”

Oh yes! Intercourse. Of course.” I replied. “Yes, our family will have intercourse now.” That’s Vienna for you.

That’s the fun thing about traveling, you never know which funny custom or lost in translation moment you’ll find yourself in. Many brazen thrill seekers actually search out these perilous moments and some are psychotic enough to voluntarily be chased by bulls in Pamplona, swim naked in the freezing waters of northern Russia, or fight with live fireworks in Chios, Greece. Some of these traditions are engrained in religious or holiday events; such as whipping women with willow branches on eastern Sunday in the Czech Republic, or the fact that Santa comes to visit families on Christmas not with reindeers, but 6-8 black men in the Netherlands. No shit.

Some seem like they were born out of a bet instigated by heavy drinking. How else can you explain that men in Gloucester, England race down the hill to catch rolling cheeses before their peers or that Finland has an annual ‘wife carrying championship’. “Well Sven.” I imagined one Finn saying to another years ago, “You carried you wife faster than me THIS time, but I will train and beat you next year. Now let’s go soak in the sauna, my back is killing me.” Just like that- a cultural tradition is born. All because Sven’s competitor needed a rematch.

Landing in Vienna

We arrived in Vienna early in the afternoon. We checked into the Hilton Danube which was a real treat as we’ve been staying in a string of Airbnbs which, over time, can be a little lonely. At the Hilton Danube, we mixed and mingled with other guests which we haven’t done in a while. Our first afternoon, Lisa chatted up a couple of women who were taking a 10 day trip across eastern Europe. The next morning by the pool I met a woman whose family was following F1 (formula one) races across Europe. The concept of ‘time‘ came up a lot as we shared our stories with one another. “How do you have the time to do such a trip?” we’re commonly asked.

“In your final moments, you realize that ‘time’ is more valuable than money”

In the end, it’s time that kills us. On our deathbeds, we realize, ‘Our time has come‘ or ‘We’re out of time‘ or ‘My time is up.” I wish, I wish, I wish. I wish I had more time to do this, or that, and now, that time is no more and it has simply run out. I think most people, when looking back on their lives, in those final moments realize that ‘time’ is more valuable than money. You can’t take money with you, and it’s impossible to enjoy without time. More time. I wish. If only. For some, ‘If only‘ becomes a state of mind that keeps them from transforming and moving forward and firmly rooted in who they were, and never who they could be. Poor bastards.

There’s a certain air about rich people at a high class resort. A sort of pomp around which their lives revolve around, and it becomes clear which way the wind blows for them even after a short conversation. However, after I let the cat out of the bag on our world tour, I’m often awed at how lecherously the richest of people can cotton to the dreams of a middle class family of teachers to whom time is no subject. “I wish I had time to do that.” They often say ruefully, realizing the true currency of the world.

Highlights of Vienna

  • Cafe Central: This institution has been serving the likes of Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud and sponsoring their conversations since 1876. Looking up at the intricately painted vaulted ceilings one can’t help but wonder what conversations shook out of this place and onto paper as text and arguments in politics which have influenced millions. The apple strudel is to die for.
Deserts at ‘Cafe Central’
  • Belvedere Museum: The gardens alone make it worth the trip alone, but works by Rodin, Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt make it special. See Klimt’s ‘The Kiss‘ but don’t neglect the ‘Self Portrait‘ by Maria Lassnig, and ‘Ball Head‘ by Mara Mattischka in the lower Belvedere for some serious existential introspection.
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica: If you’ve been through eastern Europe, it’s easy to get a little ‘churched out’. Of course every city has an old town, central square and a church spire towering over the surrounding buildings to signify who runs the show. Still, St. Stephen’s Basilica interior and facade is magnificent and only rivaled by ‘La Sagrada Familia‘ in Barcelona, and ‘Westminster Abbey‘ in London. Although you’re more assured to find more tourists here than genuflected devotees, make sure to leave a monetary donation to help your chances of getting into heaven.
  • Walking Streets: Add ‘Graben’ and ‘Karntner‘ streets to your walking path you’ll have no shortage of eye candy for your city stroll. Pop into bars to witness the two national pastimes, (drinking and smoking) and watch the world go by.
Hilton Hotels

Ava’s Narrative Fiction Story Finishes with ‘Pro Writing Aid’

After weeks of tinkering and feedback, Ava finally finished her narrative essay which she started in Riga which seems like years ago. She’ll turn the final draft into a digital story with visual and sound effects while we’re in Budapest but I was happy she finished it so we could move on to other things.

Editing a document with ‘Pro Writing Aid’

We used ‘Pro writing aid‘ to smooth out grammar and spelling issues and ‘pro writing aid’ does this well. After uploading your document the program looks for grammar, style and spelling issues with suggestions. It made revising a snap. “It’s a lot like grammarly” Ava said.

Over dinner one evening, after enjoying burrata cheese and an artichoke salad I told the waiter:

We’ll have intercourse now.”

Excuse me?” the waiter said.

Intercourse. Uh, you know, the space between meals.

Oh yes. Not many tourists are familiar with that term. It’s an old time expression.

Those are our favorite kind. Do you have any more you can teach us?

August Travel Guide: Tours up to 35% Off

Related Posts

Benefits of a Hotel Loyalty Program

Day 48: The Czech Republic

Day 34: Poland Part 1-Eastern Delights

Day 22: Teaching Tolerance in Riga, Latvia