Trinidadian/Canadian Expat Living in Tanzania Interview With Ishwar

Published: 1 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Tanzania
Ishwar Persad is a Trinidadian/Canadian nomad who moved to Tanzania to discover the wonders (and humour) of living, travelling and running in East Africa. He originally moved to Zanzibar in July 2011 to work as a CUSO International volunteer after having lived, studied or worked in 10 other countries. He is now based in Dar es Salaam on mainland Tanzania working as Marketing Advisor to the National College of Tourism and blogs at African Chronicles (see listing here)

African Chronicles

Here's the interview with Ishwar...

In which country and city are you living now?
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been in Tanzania about 16 months - spent 6 months in Zanzibar and now living in Dar es Salaam and will be here for another 8 months

Why did you move and what do you do?
I wanted to see a lion kill something. Seriously I wanted do some volunteer work and give back to society and was offered a great opportunity to volunteer in Tanzania. I am currently working as a Marketing Advisor to the National College of Tourism in Dar es Salaam.

Did you bring family with you?
No family here with me but I have made a new family

African ChroniclesHow did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Not bad. I have lived in over 10 countries so moving to a foreign country is second nature to me. But crime, the slightly chaotic transport system and lack of adequate sanitation facilities was a bit difficult to adjust to.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
There is a group of 80 volunteers or so based in Tanzania with the parent organisation that I work for, so I had an immediate group of friends and colleagues to socialise and hang out with. Also Tanzanians are very warm and friendly so I have made quite a few local friends at work and through other expats. Sometimes I think I socialise too much - especially with all the good cheap beer which come in oversized bottles.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Tanzania is an amazing country and there is so much to explore and do in this vast country. A safari to Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti or Selous is a must. Visiting/climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or running the marathon in its foothills; visiting the Lake Victoria area; and hiking the mountains in Morogoro are also fun things to do on the mainland. In Zanzibar, visit Stone Town - the historic capital of Zanzibar; do a spice tour, or laze on one of the many white sand beaches there. In Dar es Salaam, the Charity Goat Races at the end of summer is one of the most fun events.

African ChroniclesWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
Nice weather, warm and friendly people and an amazing country to explore. It is also a great place for long distance running. So far this year I have run the Kilimanjaro Marathon, the Safari Marathon in Arusha, the Rotary Dar Marathon, the Rock City Marathon in Mwanza and will be doing the Zanzibar one soon.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Well it depends on where you are living. Zanzibar is very touristy, as well a Dar es Salaam, so prices are similar to back home. That being said, if you know where to go in Dar for example, you can find really good food for about a couple US dollars. Also in the up-country and rural areas, prices tend to be much cheaper. I once bought 50 oranges for about US$1.50 and got offered 5kilos of carrots for 30 cents

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I would say crimes against tourists and expats. I lived in the tiny island of Montserrat in the Caribbean for 5 years before I moved here where you did not lock your house or cars and violent crime was non-existent. Unfortunately here you have to be very careful with your valuables and with securing your premises and belongings.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn some Kiswahili. Even though you can manage with English here as it is one of the national languages, you will get a lot more respect, make a lot more friends and increase your bargaining powers with merchants and vendors if you know some of the language.

African ChroniclesWhat has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Daily power outages when I lived on Zanzibar. It was very frustrating. I have a generator in my building in Dar now so that makes it a whole lot easier. Keeping to a time is not a priority here - pole, pole (slow, slow) is more the norm.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Well to be honest, first I will have to figure out where home is for me these days. I will have to make some adjustments if I move back to Canada or Trinidad though - like remembering that I cannot barter and haggle over prices with the taxi driver or the street vendor. Or that I won't be able to do all my shopping from a bus or vehicle during traffic jams or at intersections.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language.
  2. Do not be ethnocentric in your thinking - if you want everything to be the same as back home then you should have stayed there.
  3. Make local friends - you learn so much (and pay much less for things)
  4. Explore your new home. Travel!
  5. Be respectful of religious customs.

African ChroniclesTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
This is actually my first blog and titled it Adventures of a Trini Nomad. I am from Trinidad (Trini) and have moved around quite a bit over the past 23 years, so wanted to give some perspective on my African travels from a mostly Caribbean perspective. I try to put things in context and provide some factual information while trying to make it funny and interesting

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email is best - ishwar_persad{at}yahoo{dot}co{dot}uk

Ishwar blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. African Chronicles has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Ishwar, please also drop him a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 3 comments

Frances Nixseaman wrote 9 years ago:

Very interesting and some good advice too. Anyone who can run marathons in the extreme heat deserves a medal. Returning home maybe it will be hard not chatting to everyone you meet on the street? Perhaps that's different in Trinidad. Certainly makes a visit to Tanzania and Zanzibar sound compelling.

Henry wrote 9 years ago:

Great stories and pictures on your blog, Ishwar. I can relate to some of your experiences after our recent trip. The blog is a great insight into life in East Africa for foreigners and tourists. Watch out for the lions.

Lesley-Ann wrote 9 years ago:

Ishwar is truly a global citizen. I've known him for longer than some people have been alive so I know he can live anywhere, make friends with anyone, and "buss a lime" at the drop of a hat (i.e. arrange a hang-out among a group of people from as little as 2 to as much as infinity). So it's only natural his blog reflects this appreciation for other cultures and his natural zest for life.

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