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Life in the slow lane

Updated on September 25, 2009
Marangu Waterfall
Marangu Waterfall
View of Kilimanjaro from my dining room
View of Kilimanjaro from my dining room

Life in the slow lane


Life meanders along slowly.  Another day, another dollar.  A little frustration, a big frustration.  All punctuated by your interactions with fellow humans.  The commas are the humorous interludes that join everything together and keeps you sane.  Well, sort of.  I mean really, how sane is sane?  Is it not just a matter of somebody’s perception?

The internet woes continue.  I have realised that there is no way that I’ll be able to market my books online.  Not from here, at any rate.  Not until the promised fibre optic cable arrives in Moshi.  Apparently, it’s in Dar.  However, knowing how things work in Africa, instead of getting cheaper and faster, I reckon it’ll probably get more expensive.  Somebody will be wanting to make a mint out of the better service.  Finally, after nearly seven weeks, we managed to get internet at home.  That proved to be an uphill battle, as we had to rely on the school secretary to arrange everything.  While she is a sweetheart, she is not the most efficient, and organised of people and has a tendency to see no rush in getting things done.  For a start, she lost our application forms for the internet and neglected to communicate this to Patricia and myself.  Patricia being my next door neighbour and the school’s Diploma Coordinator, who is also convinced I got the better house and garden.  She is right though, although I keep telling her they are the same to make her feel better.  Patricia is struggling to adapt to our African ways of doing things, having a sense of urgency that nobody understands here.  As a result, she can be very negative at times which I have dubbed being in the ‘Patricia Zone.’  So, if ever we get frustrated, we say we are in the ‘Patricia Zone.’  She finds that highly amusing, but I digress.  The secretary lost our forms.  When we asked her why she never told us, she replied that she was waiting for when we next came to her office to tell us.  Jeez, that could have been months!  Finally, the fundi (Swahili for expert) arrived, but alas, he was unable to do anything, because for two weeks we had power cuts during the day.  Well, we still have power cuts during the day, but at that time the power cuts just so happened to be every time he came to our houses to do the internet.  Murphy’s Law.  I tried to download an antivirus program, as the one I got with my laptop had expired.  No such luck.  Downloading anything chomps through your prepaid megabytes, so that you run out of money on your internet before you have downloaded anything.  On the positive side, it is about four times faster than the school internet.

The school has open internet time on a Friday between 5 and 10pm, where you can plug in your laptop and upload upgrades for free.  All week I waited for Friday, excited that finally I’ll be able to put Skype and an antivirus on my laptop.  It’s amazing how such minor things can make you excited.  It doesn’t take much, does it?  Anyway, I started downloading AVG no problem.  It took ages, as the school internet downloads stuff at about 7kb/s which is painfully slow.  Two and a half hours later, and I’d downloaded 89% of the antivirus.  Then there was a power cut.  The three minutes for the school to turn on the generator, meant that I lost everything.  There are no words for the anger and frustration I felt.  It was like I had wasted two and a half hours of my life.  Okay, I did get Skype, but still have no antivirus.  Several bad words poured forth from my lips.  However, I did get to have a good long chat with the principal, and his house is just off campus but he has the school internet.  Unlimited of course, as you do when you are principal.  He told me how he downloads all his movies and TV series using BitTorrent.  He just sets it all up at 10pm and lets it download all night long.  So, he’s promised to download season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy for me and Season 3 of The Tudors.  When he’s done with that, I’ll get him to download Bones from series 3 on.  It’s amazing, TV series one couldn’t be bothered with before, become the highlight of your life.  Something to look forward to and chat excitedly about with anybody else who’s watched them.  I’d brought Bones season 2, Grey’s Anatomy Seasons 1-4 and The Tudors Seasons 1 and 2 with me from China.  I’d bought them awhile ago, but had never been bothered to watch them.  With no TV, Siobhan and I quickly became addicted, racing through the episodes, as even if you have no power, you can watch until the battery goes dead on your laptop.

The power cuts and frequency of them are becoming a bit annoying.  Although, there are times when it is exciting, and you feel like you’ve gone back in time and are living in the thirties, something like Out of Africa.  It is often difficult for Siobhan to do her homework, because you can only work by candle light for a little while before your eyes start to take strain.  I might have to invest in a little generator.  I bought a small TV yesterday for Siobhan’s birthday.  I’d bought her a Wii in China, and she hasn’t been able to play it since she’s been here.  I’m going to wait awhile before getting cable.  We’ve also added two puppies to our household, two little sisters, Labrador German Shepherd crosses.  I don’t like male dogs because they pee against the car tires and the smell of their hormonal pee is nauseating.

I had my first visitor, Linda, who worked with me in Nanjing and is now working in Khartoum.  It was great seeing her again.  Poor thing though, she got up the Friday morning at 3am to fly here, only to find that her plane had been cancelled.  So, she arrived a day late.  Then when she was due to leave here again and fly to Zanzibar, we went to the airport and a gut feeling told me to go inside the airport with her and not just drop her off.  A good gut feeling, because her flight did not even appear on the board.  When I asked, I was told it would appear later, but I asked around some more and was directed to the Air Tanzania office, who told me that her flight was cancelled, and she should return the next day.  Although friendly and apologetic, the Air Tanzania staff did not seem concerned in the slightest about the inconvenience they had caused to Linda and some of the other passengers who had been waiting inside the airport for over two hours.  They had forgotten to put up the flight on the board with a cancelled message.  Why am I not surprised?  Anyway, it give Linda and I the chance to polish off the last remaining bottle of a South African Red.

Because of Eid, last weekend was a long one.  We decided to head out to the Marangu Falls, which is on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Absolutely spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful.  I’m taking my class back there on Thursday for a field trip.  We’re doing a unit of inquiry on Explorers, and I’m going to drop them off in groups of 4 accompanied by an adult, with a compass and a grid, and they’re going to have to find their way down to the waterfall, map their route plotting landmarks and their coordinates.  Basically, just practise being explorers.  Tomorrow, we go on a teacher outing to the Arusha National Park to check out the wildlife.  We probably haven’t explored as much as we should have.  We have been out to the TPC Sugar Plantations twice for BBQ’s with some South Africans, and to watch some of the trinations rugby games.  I’m so proud of my Springboks winning the Trinations!  The outdoor life and BBQs with friends does make this an awesome lifestyle.  Even with the internet woes and power cuts.  I could never live in a place like China again.  Mind you, who knows what lies in the future?  I’m off to Mumbai in November for a workshop.  I think all the humanity over there might be stressful, so many people everywhere, as life here is relatively carefree and unstressed.  Like today my stress is, should I buy my meat first before going to the market?  Should I have a second cup of coffee?  This kind of life is addictive.  Like Grey’s Anatomy, Bones and The Tudors.  I hope the principal remembers to download the episodes for me!

Otherwise, all is well.  Both Siobhan and I have been struck by a particularly virulent strain of flu which swept through the school, decimating numbers.  I had 8 kids away from my class on Thursday, and 5 kids away yesterday.  I have been soldiering on at school, but Siobhan has spent the last three days at home, sleeping, coughing, blowing her nose and making bead necklaces.  Well, I guess that I had better get myself towards myself, feed the puppies, have that coffee, shower and get dressed.  I’ll try and update my Facebook with my latest photos.  Last time, it wouldn’t upload the photos, the internet is too slow.  Mind you, it depends on how many people are using it at school, as that is what slows it down and why it is so much faster at home.  Keep an eye out for my Facebook photos, I’ll post the link when I manage to get them on!


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    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Hi Whistler, you can subscribe to my blog I just updated it yesterday, if you want to follow my adventures in Tanzania. Sometimes life is hard, but you know I get the same kind of adrenalin rush that those guys who do extreme sports guess. Maybe, I thrive on crisis and problems lol

    • Whistler2417 profile image


      9 years ago from Mississippi

      Love this Cindy. Just now getting around to reading a lot more on the Hub site. Are you really addicted to the livestyle over there? I am so much of a city girl that I cannot begin to imagine living as you are. I am low maintenance, but where you are is a little much for me. I traveled to Japan and lived in Korea and when it was all done, I decided third world countries were not my style. Looking forward to hearing more from you. Hope you are much better by now.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Hey Jim, am just busy uploading photos onto Facebook and will put the link here. for some reason, probably because our internet is so slow, I struggle to upload pics onto HP.

    • jimcain207 profile image

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Cindy, Love your hubs. I am always interested how people live in the far reaches of other countries and different cultures. Looks like the scenery is spectacular. Looking forward to more. BTW, I hope you get to feeling better.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Hey Alekhouse! Thanks for dropping by!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hey Cindy, Love your nice of you to share your life with us. I love the waterfall photo at the beginning of your hub. Sorry about all the hassles with computer networking, etc. That would drive me nuts!

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Fastfretta, Paradise, Jerilee, Blue, thanks for following our lives. Will be writing something new this week....I have a cunning idea....

    • Blu Ink profile image

      Blu Ink 

      9 years ago

      Wow! Beautiful pictures. Despite your internet woes, you must enjoy what you're doing, right? When I read about the sick children, first thing that came to mind was H1N1. Hopefully, all are well. Keep writing. I enjoy reading your hubs.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      I hated not having reliable internet service and frequent long periods without electricity years ago back in the woods of WV. I think when it's all said and done, as frustrating as it is -- you and your daughter will look back and see it was one of the best times. Always love reading about your lives.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Cindyvine, how very good to hear from you again!!! We realize your technical difficulties but still wait with impatience; we are following you with all good wishes for you and yours and the children in our hearts and souls.

      The pics are awesome. I'm glad for your lifestyle: we certainly could use less stress and mind-clutter here in the USA! Even if it came at the expense of a few conveniences, it would be worth it!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Hi Cindy, sorry to hear about your illness and your computer woes. Hope things get better soon. I guess we don't know how fortunate we are here in the states to have access to the Internet when we want it. I'll think of you the next time I start to complain about my computer being slow to boot up. Thanks for sharing and good to hear from you.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      No, that's my friend Linda who was visiting me from Khartoum. Down Ralwus, down boy!

      Dohn, thanks for popping in and commenting. That view is awesome, isn't it?

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You really are lucky to have such a magnificent view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Cindy. I really hope your internet situation improves over time. It's wonderful to hear from you again! I hope Siobhan feels better!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Is that sexy woman in the water You? woo hoo

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Well Ralwus, ants in the pants might

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well that fine. Just got your email and will finish it soon dear. Gee I miss you all so much anymore. Please be safe and take Firms advice if you can. he's a great friend too. hugs now. xox keep the ants out of yer pants. hehe

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Hey CC, have to put my blogs on here as well, as my friends in China still can't access blogs as they are still blocked.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hmmm, just read this one today, early on your blog. Missing you a lot dear. hugs, CC love the pictures too.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Yeah Jaspal, if Delhi is anything like Mumbai...mind you, there are some spectacular views there as well. India has some great waterfalls as well, and the Taj Mahal, and great great food!

    • Jaspal profile image


      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      It all sounds so familiar to someone like me in India - the power cuts and the inefficiency at least does. Our internet and telecommunications are however on a roll .... and to see through the power cuts we have inverters which convert battery power to mains for a few fans and light bulbs, and for the pc we have the UPS.

      Despite all that life, unfortunately, is not in the slow lane in a city like Delhi - it's all hustle and bustle and endless congestion on the roads!

      Great hub, Cindy, as always! Lovely pics too ... what one wouldn't give to have a view like that from some of the windows at our home. :)

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Christoph, I think my flu is more hayfever from all the tropical greenery lol

      FP, am definitely enjoying life in the slow lane!

      Bbudoyono, the photo does not do the view justice. The days when we can see Kilimanjaro clearly are breathtaking ones and completely magical. It's far better than any photo portrays it!

      Candie! How art thou? See, I've gone so far back in time I'm speaking Shakespeare.

      Hello Hello, I have written a book, now if you'd only buy a copy off Amazon, it'll be a bestseller!

      Catherine, this life is the best, who needs the internet when one can sit watching one's steak sizzle on hot coals with Kilimanjaro and its glaciers as the backdrop?

      Shamel, am off to the game park tomorrow to see wild animals in the wild. Woo hoo! Maybe another hub on that!

      Ethel, yes, I do tend to hop from one adventure to the next. On my gravestone one day, they'll be able to write, 'She lived her life to the fullest."

      Pam, photos never do the scenery justice. As soon as I put my other photos on Facebook, I'll post the link here.

      TOF, yeah, I dropped old Charlie boy an email. Thanks for the info about generators. We have to have regulators as the power dips and rises so much. If we don't have them, all electrical appliances will blow with the big surges.

    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 

      9 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      Hi Cindy, good to here from you again.

      A generator sounds a good idea, but as a suggestion try getting an inverter, 400w-500w would probably do you with a good margin to spare, a heavy duty battery (reconditioned truck type will do) and a cheap battery charger.

      The choice depends of course on cost. I think that a generator is a must, I have a 600w one which I've never had to use - yet, but it runs on petrol and sounds like a lawnmower. You would need surge protection to run a computer from it. It cost a little over $100NZ new. An inverter as described costs about the same here and a battery charger $20 - $30. The other thought is to get a spare battery for your computer. Check the cost on-line.

      Best wishes, TOF

      PS Charlie was asking after you, he's missing his mates.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great hub Cindy. Your story of your daily life sounds exactly like my son and his family when they were misionaries in the Dominican Republic in a remote area and they were also managing a health clinic. Their power was off and on also, and all the rest. As far as your surroundings, they are gorgeous.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      You do get to some strange, wonderful and problematic places :) Thanks for the visit

    • shamelabboush profile image


      9 years ago

      Hello there, what a nice place you're living in! I can't believe that boredom can reach you there! You're actually living a constant vacation :) Nice photos out there. Thanks.

    • Catherine R profile image

      Catherine R 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Your internet woes would be enough to drive anyone to distraction but with a view like that of the mountain and stunning waterfalls like that to visit I am sure you will stay sane! It sounds like a good life.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      What a lovely hub, so different and i like your style of writing about it. Lucky thing - showing pictures like that makes me green with envy. You should write a book I am sure it will be a bestseller. All the best.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Cindy!! WooHoo! Back in the saddle again! I'll bet your happy to have internet.. even if limited, time-wise, to having it censored like it was in China! Glad to see you writing and I agree, the pictures are stunning!

      Got the Skype update, glad to have you back! Feel better! Have a cup of tea and curl up!

    • Bbudoyono profile image


      9 years ago

      The view of Kilimanjaro is very beautiful.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      Good to hear from you again Cindy. Get well soon...and enjoy life in the slow lane! :)

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      9 years ago from St. Louis

      Hi Cindyvine! It sounds like you are living quite the adventure! What a suitcase full of memories your collecting! Hope you are well and you shake the flu thing quickly.


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