Archive for August, 2018

Tanzania diary, day 4

Saturday, 4 August, 2018

Monday, 2 July, 2018. 18:30

We’ve had an incredibly full day already, and M. is having a nap before dinner while I type.

Our alarm went off at 06:00, and almost as I was turning it off the phone rang, being reception giving us a wake up call to make sure we made our morning start. We got up and dressed quickly, then headed down to the restaurant, taking everything we needed for the day so we wouldn’t have to return to our room before meeting Timba.

The breakfast buffet included eggs to order, plus fried potatoes, baked beans, sausages, bacon, as well as a variety of breads, cereals, fruit, yoghurt. One cereal was a dark muesli which looked very intriguing. I scooped a bunch into a bowl and added yoghurt. When I tried a spoonful, I discovered the muesli was hot! Going back for seconds, as it was so delicious and unusual, I asked what was in it, and the chef replied that it was hand made here at the lodge, using ground weet bix, oats, and some other ingredients, then they bake it. It was so good I even had thirds, forgetting about everything else on offer, except to try one of the local fried dough balls, which had a cinnamon and sugar dusting on the outside and was also pretty good.

Breakfast done, we quickly used the toilets in the reception lobby and then went out to meet Timba, who was waiting there for us. We loaded up the car and set out right on 07:00. The drive was initially back through Karatu and the way we’d come yesterday, until we reached the turn off for Lake Manyara National Park. Just inside the park we stopped at a gate where park staff recorded our names and nationality and then did some other paperwork with Timba while we used the toilets there (as it had been a fair drive already). A few other vehicles with tourists were also in the vicinity. Before we left here, Timba popped up the top of the Landcruiser, so we could stand up and see out through the opening in the roof, with some protection from the sun above us.

Then we set off into the park, following a dirt road that often branched and headed off in different directions. On the way here I’d asked Timba if we would have the chance to get out and walk around much, or if we essentially stayed in the car. He said we were required to stay in the car, except at designated picnic or toilet spots. He told us to keep an eye out for wildlife as we drove and yell at him to stop if we see anything.

Before long we spotted a troop of olive baboons. It turned out these were the most common thing to see, and we saw many groups of them throughout the day.

Olive baboon juvenile
Young olive baboon

But then we spotted vervet monkeys in the trees, small pale brown monkeys with black faces.

Read more: lots of animals in Lake Manyara National Park, back to Acacia Farm for a late lunch, walking around the farm, spotting lots of birds

How’s my Ethics teaching going?

Saturday, 4 August, 2018

I’ve been teaching Primary Ethics for 5 school terms now (a term is a quarter year) since I began in April last year. In 2017 I taught the Year 4 class. I’d hoped to move to Year 5 in 2018 so that I could have many of the same children, but due to a wave of teacher retirements I was assigned Year 6 at the beginning of this year.

Year 6 is the oldest kids at the primary school, so the most mature, around 11 years old. As one would expect, they generally have better concentration skills and are more interested in discussing the sorts of topics that we teach in the classes. So it’s been pretty good for the past two terms.

Topics we’ve discussed so far this year are:

  • What makes a fair society? What makes an unfair society?
  • What are human rights? Where do they come from? Should animals have rights too?
  • Fatalism: Is the future predestined, no matter what we choose to do?
  • Does it matter what other people believe? Should we respect other people’s beliefs, even if we don’t agree with them, or if they are harmful?
  • Determinism: Do we have free will, or are our choices determined by our circumstances? And if our choices are determined, are we responsible for our actions?

Some of it is pretty heavy stuff for kids this age, but the curriculum is designed to introduce the topics in ways they can understand, and they’ve been enjoying it.

Then yesterday I got an email from one of the other Ethics teachers (the Year 2 teacher), who has a son in Year 4, and who took my class for me a few weeks ago when I was holidaying in Tanzania:

David I keep meaning to tell you that my son (Year 4) when I told him I was taking your Year 6 class said “Mr Morgan’s class? Everyone wants him he’s the best Ethics teacher”.

Needless to say: wow, cool! Clearly the Year 6 kids have been telling everyone how much they enjoy their classes with me. So I’m pretty chuffed!

First day in the park

Friday, 3 August, 2018

Today is a big day for Scully! She had her last puppy vaccination last week, and today is the official first day that she is safely allowed to go anywhere, including places where other dogs go.

So to celebrate I walked her down to Berry Island, which has a grassy park by the harbour where dogs are allowed off-leash. Here she is, playing on the grass for the first time!

Scully's first day in the park

Toilet training has been progressing pretty well recently. We had six days in a row with no toilet accidents in the house, and we were going for seven days in a row, but unfortunately she had one little peeing accident on the carpet yesterday, so we’ve had to reset the counter. We’ve obtained a dog bell which hangs near the front door, and we’ve been training her to ring it if she needs to go outside for toileting. Two days ago she rang it of her own accord for the first time, and yesterday she did it twice – each time we followed up by taking her straight outside and she peed on the grass each time. So that seems to be going pretty well (apart from yesterday’s accident).

She’s sleeping well through the night now. We put her in her crate in the bedroom with us when we go to sleep, and she settles in pretty quickly and sleeps soundly. I’m getting up around 03:30 each morning to take her down for a toilet, as she’s not old enough to be able to hold it in all night yet, but we’re slowly extending the time. She’s very sleep and groggy at 03:30, but she goes on the grass once outside, and then I pop her back in the crate to continue sleeping until we get up in the morning.

The main issue we have left to deal with is that she hates being left alone. We’ve been leaving her in the house for an hour or two while we overlap our work schedules, but a video we took during this time shows that she’s basically crying and howling the whole time until she exhausts herself more than an hour later. Our dog trainer came over on Wednesday to help us out, and she advised that we need to stop leaving her on her own, until we can train her to cope with it without getting upset. Doing this means getting her used to being left alone for very brief periods, just a few seconds, and then very slowly increasing it. This training could take weeks or months, but we have to do it. So we’re exploring possibilities of adjusting working hours and recruiting friends, relatives, neighbours to sit her if necessary when we absolutely have to go out without her.

Tanzania diary, day 3

Friday, 3 August, 2018

Sunday, 1 July, 2018. 07:38

We’ve finished breakfast, a rich affair with lots of choice from the buffet, including mchicha with corn, roasted sweet potatoes, chapatis, small starchy bananas fried with onions and capsicum, mixed vegetables in a sauce which M. said was delicious after she plucked out some of the broccoli, and a chicken dish that looked like some sort of curry. There was also the usual breakfast things: eggs, bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, French toast, a bread selection and toaster, pastries, fresh fruit, muesli and other cereal, yoghurt, and so on. One item was a cake with a rich dark and light grainy texture, which turned out to be very almondy, like a dense sweet almond bread.

Arusha breakfast buffet
Four Points breakfast buffet

We sampled and ate our fill, washing down with some watermelon juice which was thick and dense, basically just pureed watermelon without straining it. After we ate, M. reminded us that we need to have our malaria tablet with breakfast, so I dashed back to the room to get them and we used it as an excuse to have a little more food.

On the road

The following was written in a combination of observations typed in the Land Cruiser while driving, mixed with details filled in later.

Read more: The drive from Arusha to Karatu, passing Lake Manyara, fancy lunch at Acacia Farm Lodge, a walk in the Ngorongoro Forest, seeing our first wildlife