All I want for Christmas

Little things are a whole lot more complicated when you start somewhere new, but on the plus side you get to enjoy the rush of pride that comes with every moment of near-tears averted. Ticking off those little successes keeps you going: making it into the city centre and back in one piece; figuring out how to top up the electricity meter; surviving my first stomach bug; discovering that the ancient radio set in my apartment broadcasts BBC World. And finding someone to spend Christmas with.

My new travel buddy and I are off to Lushoto, about a 6-hour bus journey north of Dar. It’s supposed to be a bit like Switzerland – a picturesque place in the mountains – but apparently there’s no ATM in the whole town, so the analogy doesn’t quite hold.

I’m mainly looking forward to a break from being too hot; from battling the frenzied ant colonies (they even get into my toothbrush! Are my bathroom habits that disgusting?); and from overhearing the nightly goings-on in the rats’ dormitory in the ceiling space above my head.

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