Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend of 11 July 2014

Life in Africa can be peaceful with absolutely nothing happening for weeks on end...

Or it can be HECTIC! 

Or is it that we ladies make it HECTIC??

These past weeks have proved that life can be very busy in our remote little mining town in Northern Tanzania! On Thursday afternoon I'd asked Grant to arrange that Marita and her sisters visiting here from South Africa, could watch a blast. Although the blast was scheduled for 4.30pm it was delayed an hour. Grant collected me at about 4.45pm and dropped me off with the "girls" who were already waiting at the viewpoint. This is always a very safe distance away from the actual blast to protect the people from fly rock.
 Marita (green top) and sister, Suzette with Stephen, the blaster,  pointing to the spot where the blast will take place. Fynus watches in front of the front of the vehicle (on which I was standing!), FIRE! 

Although I've posted about mining activities and the surrounding environment and wildlife many times before, I always marvel how everything reverts to normal just minutes after a blast. A case in point is the Yellow-billed Kite which soars high above us just after the explosion.
Yellow-billed Kite soars across the skies which is still dusty from the recent blast! 

Thys, the production manager on Grant's team was on the other side, supervising the blast on Thursday. He has been with the company and this camp for twelve years. This week was his anniversary! 

The men (with Grant at the helm) decided to have a function at the Guest House for Thys on Friday night. They wanted a Mongolian BBQ and apart from our 21 expats on camp, and two Tanzanians, who have worked with Thys for the past five years, Grant also invited the client. And of course, you know who he asked to arrange this function for 35 people? 

Uh-huh! I ended up organizing it all!

Fortunately I have Chef Paulo and Chef Michael with whom I liaised on Tuesday and we went through the list of what we needed for the meal. Paul always does the shopping in Shinyanga (who can remember when I did it?) and Michael is excellent with snacks which was also part of my requirements for Friday night's eats.

On Friday afternoon while Michael and the entire Guest House staff helped to make snacks in the kitchen, Paul, Isaac (assistant chef) and I decorated the newly-built Lapa* in the garden. Isaac blew up dozens of balloons, I hung bows made of colored ribbon from the beams and Paul unearthed and hung several Christmas decorations (I didn't mind that this was July and not December: everyone was in the spirit of the great arrangements!)
The decorated Lapa with snacks already displayed on the covered tables

All the while we had to ensure that Thys didn't get wind of this party. He doesn't like a fuss made of him so Grant admonished all to keep this function in his honor a total secret. As far as Thys was concerned, he thought that the party was to initiate the new Lapa and that's why we had invited the Client as well.
Paul and Rosie, the barmaid from the club, wait for the guests to arrive
Grant welcomes Andre and Amanda to our party. (Do you remember Amanda? My tutor in all things artistic!)
Thys duly arrived still none the wiser to the reason for the party. He's the guy in the bright blue African shirt, talking to Johan (in jeans) and Andre, partly obscured
Soon, the rest of the guests arrived. Above is moi, Amanda, Debbie and Louise, with the men chatting just beyond the Lapa

Once everyone had arrived and had settled down with refreshments and snacks, Grant called for silence and announced that although the function was in aid of initiating the Lapa, it was mainly in honor of Thys on his long service with the company.
Grant welcomes all and announces the real reason for the party tonight
Grant watches while Johan presents the a handcrafted trophy to Thys

Grant and Thys

Although I've never met Thys' wife, Elize who lives in South Africa, I am regularly in contact with her on Whatsapp and on Face Book.  I let her know that we were having a surprise party for Thys for which she thanked us - as, only an absent expat wife knows how lonely their husbands become away from home . That day,  I kept sending her photos to keep her in the loop. I feel this is a small way in which to keep the wives far away motivated while they are alone at home as well.
Touro (production supervisor in Thys' team), Grant, Thys and Johan
Henry (training manager) Grant, Thys and Johan

After the formalities were over, I asked the people to go over to the BBQ grill and make their own dinner. It went off a treat! 

A Mongolian BBQ is a great way to socialize while cooking your own meal
Chef Paulo assists some of the guests at the BBQ. Young Wessie, Louise and Wessel's son, is the only child on camp
Soon the music was turned up and people weren't shy in coming onto the dance floor for a twirl!
 Long-arm dancing (my kids used to call it wind-surfing!) is very popular with South Africans and from the time the music started until the party ended that night, people took to the floor
Three of our company's expats monkey around on the floor 

Afterwards Thys came to thank me for the party and said it had been a complete surprise for him. Well, that was the idea, wasn't it! 

Here's wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

* Lapa:
A lapa is a structure that is popular in South Africa. It usually consists of a thatched roof supported by wooden poles. Lapas are commonly used as semi-open entertainment areas. It is sometimes misspelled as lapha. 


  1. you did great! and pulling off a surprise for the guest of honor was really nice. :)

  2. Hi dear Jo, the lapa looks fantastic and it is so nicely decorated for the event. Great efforts by everyone who pitched in to make such a lovely surprise for Thys. It was also a wonderful idea to keep Elize in the loop through your photos and updates. What a thoughtful gesture and I know how well you would understand how important this is to the wife left behind at home.

    I was especially interested in seeing everyone dance because I've yet to see this in Africa other than traditional African dance. I don't go to clubs and haven't had occasion to attend an event where there was dancing :-)

    Have a wonderful week ahead my friend. xx

  3. A perfect party! Nice way to christen the lapa and surprise Thys. You folks sure know how to have fun.

  4. You guys are good at having get-togethers

  5. Jo, you are great at arranging parties.. I am glad Thys had a nice surprise. And Thys wife probably loved seeing the photos. The Lapa looks great! Have a happy week!

  6. The papa is a great idea for entertainment in the tropics. You get the hard job of organising parties but you do a great job. Nice to see how all enjoy the dancing. Often a great community spirit in these camps I suspect.

  7. from all the photos it looks like the party was a huge success and that every one was happy... love shot of the Fire in the hole

  8. Hi Jo, just came across your site via Deb's at Just Cats. Enjoyed your pics! Plan to visit more of your site later... esp ones with bird and critter pics. Thanks for sharing.

  9. How nice to surprise someone with such a wonderful party. I'm sure he was happy to be honored. :)


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