Luckily, my good friend Max, who volunteered and worked in Vietnam for eighteen months decided that he would like to come with me, and to see the work that I had been doing.
After a comfortable flight in First Class on a British Airways flight (thanks), I landed in Nairobi. After weeks on end of poor weather in the UK, it was great to feel the warm air. Max was on a different flight so I waited in the airport until 4am for him to arrive. It was great to see him, and I welcomed him to Africa.
We took a Taxi into the center of Nairobi, knowing that we had another few hours to wait until the bus left to Arusha. The hotel I usually stay in wouldn't let us leave our bags there without booking a room so we just waited outside on the steps, smoked cigarettes and chatted.
A few hours later, we had some breakfast. Then as always, we had a bit of a nightmare getting on the bus, the usual shit. We took something to help us sleep after hours with no kip, and slept the whole way. Only waking up to get our visa's as the border. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Arusha. We were dropped off at the Impala hotel, and then took a taxi to my apartment. It was great to get back and see everybody. It's always a nice feeling going back to somewhere where everything it's familiar but still exciting.
We settled in the apartment, sorted Max's bed out, then went out for the night, to empire for Karaoke, of course. My friend Adam and Max drank a fair bit that night and were both a bit of a mess, I was fine though, and was the designated driver. I still ended up backing into a wall which I couldn't see and smashing the rear bumper up though, oh well. Paid it off, bit of a bummer.
The next day was great. We woke up a little late but got out of the house early and headed to Uswahilini. Of course it was lovely to go back, Mama Mary was happy as usual, she kissed and greeted us continuously. I showed Max around the project, and introduced him to everybody. The house was looking great, the vegetable garden had come a long way too, I was so happy, for the first time in a while. I agreed with Mama Mary that we would come back shortly after to have lunch, but we were going to visit the school for a bit.
We walked down the road towards the school, the kids were on their break so they all came running up to me going crazy, it was a nice feeling. We spent a few hours at the school, meeting the new volunteers, catching up with the teachers, and of course chatting to the children. I love the fact that they are always smiling.
After that, we headed back to Mama Mary's for lunch. We had ugali and spinach. It wasn't Max's first time having it as we had it the day before once we had arrived. The meal was good, but we couldn't finish it all, it was too much! We spent another while there, relaxing, talking and just hanging out. It feels like my home there now, I can go and lie down in the bed and feel as comfortable as I would do in my own bed. It was nice. We headed off shortly afterwards towards home, did a few things in town, and then went back to my apartment.
That evening, on Thursday, Max, Adam and I drank at the street bar and then went to ViaVia. Unfortunately, after the street bar, it rained so heavily that we were stuck inside Adam's apartment waiting for a lift for over an hour, so we sobered up a bit before we went. The night was okay, I bumped into some people who I hadn't seen in a while, but left pretty early, wasn't feeling it too much.
The next day was a big one. In the morning, Adam drove me and Max to Mama Mary's so that I could pay out some money to the builder to plaster the outside of the house. The original quote for all of the finishing's was too much so I knocked off a lot of unnecessary touches, and saved a good bit of money.
Later on we drove to Sakina. I met with Nelly and Angella, the directors of TVE, the volunteer organisation that I used to go through. They helped me to find a good place to buy a double sized bunk bed for Mama Mary. We got it all sorted eventually for a good price, and they said that it would be ready by Monday.
Then, we drove to Monduli Ju. Which is an hour and a half drive west of Arusha to meet a lady who is in desperate need of help. The scenery was beautiful, and Monduli Ju is a stunning area of the country. It's right up in the mountains, and all the land is owned by the Maasai. As we drove through, we got a lot of stares, I don't think they see many white people up there. Once we arrived at the area for the next project, Adam who knows the family through an NGO he works for, introduced us to the Mama and the man who was living with her and helping to provide. Their housing conditions were appalling, on the same scale, maybe even worse than Mama Mary's previous house. There were two small huts, housing nine people, seven children, and then adults. Unfortunately the children weren't there, but it was good to see the houses. The best bit about it, was that she owns a large bit of land. Which is perfect for the next project. I want to build a small compound, and house three or four different families in it who are in need of help too. It will help more people in a shorter space of time, and cost less. It's exciting, Max and I have lots of ideas. I won't go into them too much, but you'll hear about them soon. The Mama was a bit wary of us, I don't think she was really sure what was going on when we were wandering around and measuring here land. Next stage is to get a rough drawing of what I want the building to look like, then go back and meet some local builders to get a quote. It's a close community up there, so we are meeting with local officials to see how to cut building costs. I.e getting free labour from locals who want to live in the compound.
On the way back, we bumped into some friend of mine, Mike (who's apartment I rent) and Wilbert who had just ran 10k's. They were having fun a drinking, so we left shortly afterwards. It was a long day, and when we got home we were both knackered.
As it didn't look like much was going to happen that weekend involving the projects, me and Max booked some cheap flights to Zanzibar for the next day. That's where we've spent the last four days. Driving around on mopeds, and chilling on the beach. We met some great people. Niki, Ruth and Will, all from London who had been volunteering in Iringa became close friends. We hung out a lot and spend most of our time with each other. It was a shame to part today, but good things will come from building those relationships. Will, was involved in investment banking and is willing to be on the board of directors once I have registered an NGO. He knows people with a lot of money, and he will be a good person to have to raise money through.
I had a stressful day today, I won't go into it too much. I spent the majority of it in the hospital with a sick child from the school. He's okay now though, he just had bad tonsillitis, so he'll be fine!
I'll leave it at that for now, more to come.