Moving to the circus
Most of you already know that for the last four years we have had minimal or no say in the accommodation where we live. In Kenya we were allowed to choose between two locations, but as one of those locations was a house with around 9 bedrooms, not including staff quarters, there really wasn’t much choice in the matter.
We loved our rather large apartment in Kenya, and when we moved to Tanzania we were also assigned a lovely (huge) apartment with four bedrooms and a balcony with sea views. Well, we were allowed to pick a house too, but Jon’s colleagues had warned us about the karaoke bar in the next compound, so again we really didn’t have much choice. But we loved our apartment in Tanzania too. It came with a pool big enough for laps and even its own little gym with running machine and stationary bike.
A year after our move to Tanzania the company Jon started working for no longer existed (it was taken over by Shell) and in the process many people were sent home or re-assigned. The project was entering a new phase and numbers were cut drastically. Our apartment was one of 16 in the compound, we had been living in B8 on the top floor, and the others were all occupied by Jon’s colleagues. But as more and more people left, the apartments became empty and it was time to move to a smaller compound with fewer houses.
This time we managed to influence the selection process a little bit, and in the end the company signed the lease on 5 houses in a small compound of only 8. It was located on Mbuyu Circus, named after the huge baobab (baobab in Swahili is mbuyu) that stands on the large roundabout.
It is a lovely roundabout with many people walking across, including large numbers of school kids all heading to the primary and secondary school not far from us. In the late afternoon it is used as a soccer field and several ‘mamas’ can always be found selling fresh fruit underneath that beautiful baobab tree.
After some initial delays and moving the moving date because the houses weren’t finished yet (they were brand new), we finally moved in October (the initial move had been planned for July). We had already packed some of our personal things and drove them across the short distance to our new home. The packers arrived on a Monday morning just after Jude’s birthday, and as we don’t have much ‘stuff’ they were already moving everything across a few hours later.
Within days we experienced what living at the circus meant. The first flooding happened on the day we moved in when they wanted to test the hot water system and opened taps everywhere. Our downstairs guestroom flooded as the drainage wasn’t working, resulting in all cardboard boxes temporarily stored in there getting rather damp. The second major flooding we only discovered when we came back from our trip to Kenya to ride the Rift Valley Odyssey. Lights on the first floor didn’t work and we soon learnt why. Heavy rain on the day we left had flooded the balcony on the first floor and the water then escaped into the large hallway upstairs and one of the bedrooms. The water had slowly evaporated and we were left with a very smelly and damp rug, lots of damaged wooden furniture that had been soaking up the water for a few days and only 2 boxes of damp clothes. Jude had luckily already unpacked the majority of boxes and other things temporarily parked on the floor there by the movers before we left for our weekend trip.
Then there was the drainage pipe of the washing machine that wasn’t working, and a burst hose on our roof top terrace which also caused considerable flooding, but this time no electricity was involved. We also discovered that pretty much all of our windows let in water when it rains, even windows that cannot be opened… Oh and twice our doorbell has nearly caused an electrical fire.
The most random things that were ‘wrong’ with our house however, were the toilets… we have 6 (!) in our house, and 5 of them were not very comfortable to sit on. After some research and measurements it turned out they had hung our toilets rather high, the icing on the cake was the toilet in our master bathroom which was hung at 54cm! (for those not in the know of how high a toilet should hang – between 38 and 43cm is normal, with 43cm-heights being for senior toilets). It took them two weeks of nearly full-time work to lower two of those toilets, and we can now happily report that it is a much more comfortable daily experience 🙂
Several other colleagues have also had their fair share of issues at the circus. Some were similar to ours, with major floodings and all windows leaking when it rains being the most common. But one colleague has also had a toilet break off the wall when a visitor was sitting on it. Not once, but twice! And she also had a ceiling collapse and water from the plant beds upstairs leaking into the walls. Others have had sinks in kitchens fall down because brackets were ‘forgotten’, and several doors and windows cannot be closed or opened.
We have now been living in this circus for just over three months and we have decided to ignore all our issues. Trying to have them fixed means several fundis (tradesman in Swahili is fundi) in the house continuously without anything really being finished.
Instead we enjoy the roof terrace (and try to ignore the neighbouring terraces from Jon’s colleagues are only 2 meters away with no privacy screens) every morning for breakfast, and try to spread the load between 6 toilets…
Come and stay with us so we can show you what live is like at the circus!