Jambo my friends,
It is 4pm in Tanzania and I have ventured out on the streets on my own to seek out this internet cafe as recommended by one of my dorm mates.
Yes I’m here.
Having left Heathrow just twenty five hours ago with a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach, I know that many of you want to know that I made it safe and sound.
Firstly let me take a step back and give a massive thank you to all of you for your support, friendship, good wishes and sponsorship. I need to update the calender with the most recent dates and I apologise for not having done this but rest assured every sponsored day is noted in my calender and I can’t wait to issue the first sponsored missive. Sponsorship is ongoing while I am here and the Sponsor A Day page will give you all the information needed.
Now more than ever I am sure that the new chapter of my life that I have started to write will be a good one.
The flight was uneventful and not crowded so I really cannot complain. Yes, I did get fed and extremely well albeit breakfast at 4am was a little bizzarre! Nairobi was chaotic as the recent fire there really did wipe everything out and we were ferried through temporary terminals that closely resembled tents. The trip across to Kilimanjaro was short, bumpy and full of muscular young lads discussing their forthcoming climb. Plenty to distract a girl there.
Obtaining an entry visa to Tanzania, now that was a rigmaroll. I do believe the Tanzanians may just outsmart the Spanish for the love of beaurocracy and paperwork. This is an entry visa not my work permit which I still have to obtain. However I am now hand, finger and thumb printed and $50 lighter, but I do have an entry visa allowing me to stay in the country until next year.
The Amani Volunteer Co Ordinator, Salma, was there waiting and she is a delight, tall, striking and wonderfully friendly with a laugh to compete with my good friend Anita’s. I know we will get along.
Uneventful 45 minute drive to the hostel. Well that is if you ignore the frequent double overtaking of busses overtaking lorries overtaking … you can picture it. Impressions of the country? Dry and dusty and not as hot as expected. Towns we travelled through were no more than a collection of shacks, oh but Salma did point out the western style supermarket. Mercadonna or Tesco’s it is not!
Hostel Hoff is a maze of rooms each sleeping upwards of six volunteers at one time. My room sleeps six but I am sharing with just two until the weekend. My fellow volunteers are a mixed bunch of girls from Denmark, Germany and Australia. All are young, bright, happy and enjoying their work experience to the full. They all readily and without malice acknowledge me as the “Older One”!
Having arrived at 11am, Salma left me to shower and settle in promising to return at one o’clock to take me to lunch. Ineed to point out that there are certain of my friends that wonder whether Gill will get real or proper food on her adventure. Rest assured if today’s lunch in a totally Tanzanian non western restaurant is to be the guideline then I am in severe danger of returning as fat as a ***.
Salma threw me straight into the culture. An amazing tin shack type structure where I was greeted warmly by all despite my inability to muster even a basic Jambo. Lunch was a whole fish, fried or bar b qu’d to perfection accompanied by a bowl of bananas cooked in a sauce to die for and some sort of green shredded vegetable. The whole meal, which was torn apart and eaten with my right hand only, was wonderful. To top it off the lady chef produced a thick pancake like bread for the “new volunteer”. Tearing that into bite size chunks one handed was a challenge that I rose to messily as my trousers will prove!
I now face an evening at the hostel, with more food and a chance to get to know the others better.
Tomorrow i am taken on a tour of the town and then off to amani to meet the kids and my fellow carers in advance of an 8.30am Monday start.
I have to log off now but will ensure I keep you all posted but until then, rest assure I am safe, happy and over fed.