Sunday, 30 September 2012

first day or two

Before I left, I had some friends over to say goodbye again. It was lovely, we sat in my kitchen, drank a few beers and ate too much of a lovely curry. After walking Hana home, it was about 1 45 am, and I still had a few things to do. So, I decided I would stay up until my coach left Brighton at 5am. I was feeling really rough by the time I got on the coach. My stomach was hurting, and I was having frequent trips to the toilets once I got to Heathrow airport.
 I was travelling on my uncles concessions this time, so that meant that I was on standby. When I went to check in, it showed that I was still on standby and that I didn’t have a seat yet. After an hour or so, I managed to get the okay to go through. My flight was delayed by two hours. I wasn’t too bothered to be honest, it gave me time to get a bit of food and have a quick nap. I also bought myself a video camera, so that I can do a little video documentary of my next few months in Tanzania. As we were boarding, I, and a few others were pulled aside and asked to wait. I got a little worried, but when my uncle called, he told me that probably meant I was getting an upgrade. There was a lady who sat close to me, who looked a little bemused. I asked her if she’d ‘been summoned too?’ she said ‘Yeah’ and we both laughed. After everybody else had boarded, me and four others were told that we were being upgraded, result! I got a club in business and was sat next to the same lady who I had briefly spoken too. We got chatting. Her name was Lorraine, a married mother of two who was going to Kenya to work in an orphanage. Lorraine is a primary school teacher’s assistant at home. We spoke for a couple of hours over the nice dinner that we had, which went down with a Kir Royale and a few classes of Chablis. It was quite surreal taking valium with a mum, but fun at the same time. I passed out soon after dinner, when I woke up we were about half an hour away from landing. Once we had landed, I headed towards the front of the plane to thank the captain for my upgrade. I asked the senior first officer if I could go through, he said ‘Oh, are you Zac!?’ It was nice to know that my uncle had told them I was on the plane, and he took me straight through. I chatted to the captain, who was called Peter, and the other pilot. I am always impressed with the cockpit so I couldn’t help looking around a bit. I chatted to them about the project that I’m doing. Peter was really impressed, and he even gave me a tenner donation towards the house. It’s nice when people appreciate your work. I headed off the plane, I could feel the heat already.
It took a while for me to get my visa sorted. I waited in line with Lorraine for a half hour or so. By this time it was coming up to 12am. I got my bag, and helped Lorraine with hers. She had three bags, all full of clothes and toys which she had bought in England and was taking to the orphanage as gifts for the children. I gave her my email address, and we agreed to stay in touch. Lorraine left with her guide, and I went to try and get a taxi. I had emailed local companies beforehand to see how much a taxi would cost, I was told no more than ten dollars. I was immediately surrounded by taxi drivers, asking where I wanted to go etc. I haggled with them, but couldn’t get them down to ten dollars, most were sticking to fifteen. However, one guy said he would take me for ten. He took me around the corner, away from the other taxi’s, and into a dark car park. A tall man with a striped top walked towards me, I noticed he had a dodgy eye. He spoke with his friend in Kiswahili. I had a bad feeling and decided that this was unofficial and also extremely unsafe, so I walked away and back around to the other taxis. The guy with the striped top came running after me and shouted, ‘man, man, I am the driver and here are the keys’, I told him that I didn’t trust him and continued around the corner. I agreed fifteen dollars with a guy called Bonofas. He had a nice smile and eyes which I could trust. In the taxi ride to the hotel, he told me that those guys were probably going to take me into the middle of nowhere and rob my things. Thank god I have good instincts then. We arrived at the hotel to a less than friendly welcoming from the receptionist. She told me that there were no single rooms left, which I didn’t believe for a minute but I didn’t really have anywhere else to go. She told me it was 3,500Kenyan shillings. I automatically thought that they would be pretty similar to Tanzania shilling, so I figured it would be about £5 maybe. She told me $45. I was a bit thrown back at the start but texted a couple of mates at home and they told me that it worked out about right. I told her that if I was going to pay $45 for one night, that I expected breakfast. She wasn’t impressed, but I pushed and got her to agree. My room was fairly small, and the bed wasn’t especially comfortable. I sorted out my clothes for the next day, and set my alarm. I was leaving on a shuttle bus to Arusha at 8am so I had to get up fairly early.
I woke up the next morning feeling pretty exhausted. I went outside and booked my shuttle to Arusha, it cost me $25, which is the normal going rate (for a white bloke anyway). I had previously chatted to a guy called Christian when I was eating breakfast. He told me that he’s from Cardiff but had been studying in Liverpool for the past few years. He leant me one hundred Kenyan shillings so I could buy some water which was cool of him (I only had USD). We spoke for a bit on the shuttle. He’s currently living with a family in Arusha, and teaching at an orphanage. He’s loving it and doesn’t want to leave. Fair enough, it really is an amazing place. Two other guys sat in between us. I got chatting to them too about football mainly, they both spoke good English, and one had studied I.T in Luton for five years. I took a valium and passed out. When I woke up, we were at the border control. It took about half an hour and cost me $50, but I didn’t have any problems getting the visa, which was handy. I fell asleep on the bus again and when I woke up we had arrived in Arusha. I got a huge rush when I saw places which I recognised. I got dropped off at the Empala hotel, where I called ahead to the volunteer company, who came and picked me up. I knew the taxi driver from last time, we chatted and reminisced. I was also met by the house manager, called Nancy, who is an absolute legend. She told me that I will be staying in the new volunteer house, not the same one which I was in last year. Apparently that’s got about thirty people in there at the moment, and the majority of them are American girls. What a relief. The house is lovely, smaller than the last one and it feels more like a home already. I chatted to Anna Lucia who was one of the housemaids from the old house and I gave her a massive hug and a kiss. Then I headed out because I wanted to watch the Arsenal v Chelsea game. It was cool to be back in the city. I almost felt a little too confident because I’d been there before, and I had to remind myself that it’s still dangerous and to keep my wits about me all of the time. I had a few beers and watched the second half of the football. I recognised one of the guys who works at the bar, and asked him if Jenifer still worked there. She was a girl that I was pretty fond of last time I was here. He said yeah, and rang her straight away. It was funny - I spoke to her on the phone briefly and told her that I would see her on Monday whilst she was working. Then I went for a walk, passed the shop where I buy all of my football shirts from and grabbed a long sleeve Liverpool t-shirt. I walked to get the Dalla-dalla, and headed home. When I arrived there were a few more volunteers here than last time. They all seem really nice, all girls. The guy who I’m sharing a room with is on Safari at the moment. He’s called Matt, and has a Mohawk too which is wicked. I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’ve chatted briefly to a girl from the Pacific, who’s lived in Australia for a few years. I am at the same placement with her, so I was just telling her how things work etc. I’m going to take her to see the orphanage tomorrow.
When I was watching the football, I had a dying urge to just pop down to the village where Mama Mary and he daughters live. But I held out. I’m meeting Cassie tomorrow, another volunteer, and we are going to go together, with Grace, too. I am going to film it and hopefully will get a good reaction from Mama Mary when she sees me. I really can’t wait, and I can’t wait to write about it either.