Every Day life in Mbeya
Everyday Life in Mbeya:
Less of a guide and more of a snapshot of daily life but I’ve had a lot of messages from people that are moving to Mbeya, or to Tanzania in general asking what it’s like, so I hope this helps. I know why, when I was moving here I was desperate to understand the mechanisms of daily life, not the tourist destinations or what restaurants to go, to but would my life would be like.
Growing up in the USA, Africa seemed like the last frontier; a savage land of wild animals, drought and famine, and a place where nobody I had ever met had ever been. When we planned our move to Tanzania I spent more time googling local snakes and baboon spiders than I did searching for a house. I was terrified, heading into the unknown with my tiny 3 month old baby, it all felt so foreign and so far away from home.
So what is it like? It’s impossible to put into words, suffice to say Tanzania is a complete immersion into another culture. There are spots in Mbeya (a few) where you can sit and pretend you are in Europe but for the most part its raw, rough, ready and utterly wonderful and frustrating at the same time. In brief, of Mbeya the following can be said with conviction:
- #1. It’s nearly always warm, even if it’s chilly in the morning you can always sunbath come the afternoon… but warm doesn’t necessarily mean sunny AND when it rains, man! does it chuck it down.
- #2. There are road works (meaning piles of dirt and ditches full of rubbish) everywhere. In some you can’t drive fast ever because of speed bumps, cows, horses, boda bodas (motorbike taxis) buses, and people that generally swerve all over the road or drive down the centre of it forcing you into a ditch… the ditch and you are going to happen, accept it and get a 4×4.
- #3. The local people are lovely (if you ignore the drivers) the people who work in our house are the cheeriest, friendliest people Ive ever met. On the streets people wave to the kids in the car, the security guards at all the gates smile and say Jambo every single time, you are gifted with bright smiles wherever you go.
- #4. The expat people are lovely; there are some cliques to be sure and it’s a case of trying to figure out where you fit, but most people have been a newly arrived expat in a strange country and invitations will ensue with gusto.
- #5. Culture is all around you, from people selling flowers, brightly coloured baskets and fruit & veg on the round-a-bouts, to Maasai grazing their cows down a busy street. People light fires all over the place, sometimes to cook maize but sometimes just for the hell of it. In Cape Town you had to travel to tourist destination to find something of how locals live, here you are immersed in it… in fact, this is my favourite thing about Mbeya.
- #6. Things are expensive; everything is nearly as expensive as England. The only things you can buy cheap are flowers, kikoy, local fruit and labor.
- #7. Labor: if you are an expat you are generally expected to employ someone to help around the house, perhaps to do the garden and maybe an Askari (guard). These are loving people who work to make your life easier, so please pay your staff fairly. Contrary to what some people believe the cost of living isn’t that much cheaper for them, don’t those people who care for your children as though they were there own deserve a life free from stress and worry too.
- #8. There’s so much more.. the list is endless… look for more in this website, ideas of schools and places to eat, or hit me up if you just want to chat.
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