(Disclaimer #1 formerly Ed. Note: Geoff is on his own for this trip. Terry is home in Penticton entertaining her book club ladies. He’s pretty sure the 23 women and 1 other guy will keep him in line)
We are now on our way home and I’ll start to write my posts over the next little while. It was difficult to find the right time and mind set while we were there. It was an amazing experience and I frequently had to shake my head to comprehend that I was in Africa. For those of you who have followed the blog from the beginning, you know that I am often a little sarcastic and occasionally irreverant. I also used a wide variety of photos, both posed and not in order illustrate the ideas I wanted to share. I’m not sure how much of that is going to come across in the Tanzanian postings. The Me to We organization is doing good work in the communities it is working with. However,as I mentioned previously, they frown on the types of photos I frequently utilize. We were asked not to take pictures of people at their work or outside their homes, on the street or in restaurants and markets, etc. I knew going in these restrictions existed and I have tried to limit those types of shots. However, there may be some included over the posts. On the occasions I do this I hope to do it judiciously and with respect to both the Tanzanians and the We family. There so many fantastic shots that never were taken that I hope Dayvo, Anna and Sahana will forgive the ones I did take. And now off to Arusha, Engutukoit, Tangangire National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro (Kili to those in the know!) and environs.
There is just no other word to describe it. I am sitting here in The Peter Gilgan*Leadership Centre in Arusha, Tanzania. It is one of the most fantastic and yet unsettling experiences I have ever had – and this is just day 1! On my right there are 7 Canadian women, 4 of whom are battling it out over a crib board and on my left is a Masai warrior, one of two who will be our guides for our 10 days here. How’s that for surreal!
We landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport at 3:10 this morning and got through customs by 4:30 – 32 hours after checking in at YVR. A very interesting experience. First you line up to get a visa – $50 for Canadians but $100 for Americans – who knows what the charge for whathisname would be.
After you pay for your visa, you line up again to see the first customs agent who gives you the actual visa and then sends you the second agent who checks the work of the previous agent and stamps the visa and away you go. I’m guessing they are working on the concept of full employment.
We were met by our facillitators Anna and Sahana, our Masei guides Lekititi (Leki) and Nhatebu – both in full Masei regalia, and our drivers Omari and Amani.
We are very close to the equator – 3 degrees south and it gets dark (6:30 – 7:00 pm) and light (6:30 am) almost instantly so driving in to Arusha this morning was in the dark. The drive in took about an hour and a half and we saw lots of people walking to work along the very narrow highway – not a place I’d walk for sure. We were discussing how dark it was and suddenly the headlights went off. I figured it was our driver Amani turning them off to show us how dark it really was, but no, he says “Oh oh, I have a problem”. Now it was DARK, we are now parked on the side of a (remember, it was very narrow) highway with no lights – front or rear. Twitchy is a pretty good way to describe how we were feeling. However, Amani jumps out, pops the hood and discovers it is just a loose connection. When was the last time that happened to you and your car?
When Terry and I have travelled to other parts of the world which might be considered developing countries, one of the most noticeable things was the poverty one sees when driving in to a city. It was no different here. Although it was dark on the drive, it was clear that many of the homes along the way were a reflection of the lower economic situation. It will be interesting to see it in the light of day.
We arrived at the Peter Gilgan Leadership Centre to a light breakfast of toast, fried eggs, fruit, coffee and chai. Now, serving 25 people fried eggs all at the same could cause some kitchens a little challenge, but not with We. Each time we had fried eggs, over 50 were presented in a warm chafing dish. While they may not have been piping hot, they were always tasty and nutritious. In fact all of our meals were nutritious, tasty and, as they say in China, delicious! The only complaint I had – at least until the last day – was that the lunches were always vegetarian – and those of you who know me can figure out my reaction to that! However we did have a fantastic coriander chicken on the final day. Thanks Steven.
After breakfast we had a chance to rest in our tents. Now, my idea of camping is the Holiday Inn Express but these tents were fantastic – complete with an ensuite I’d like to have in Penticton. Plumbed in shower and sinks with hot water and flushing toilets. Pretty cool. (Disclaimer #2: Not to say we don’t have running water in Penticton…)
In retrospect, perhaps I should have opened the window flaps to get some light in there, but you’ll get the idea.
After lunch we were off to the community of Engutukoit where the school is. First of all though a little about the roads in Arusha. The ride from the paved highway in to the Centre takes about 15 minutes and it isn’t paved or even gravel. It is a dirt track which I’m sure in the rainy season would be nearly impassable. In the non-rainy season cars throw up an awful lot of dust on other cars and the many people who walk on it. It is interesting because the area around the centre is a very popular area for the rich caucasians in Arusha. We were perhaps half an hour from the centre of town and 15 minutes or so of that was getting back to the highway.
From the centre to the building site was about an hour and a half – with the last 20 minutes on an even more dusty road. We had a bus and a Land Rover. On the ride in from the airport, I was in the Land Rover, and everytime we travelled after that, either one of the guides or drivers told me to get in the car when I went to get on the bus. This had it’s good and bad points. I had leg room but no a/c; I had a good view, but lots of dust found its way into the cabin. The price one pays! After day 1 I encouraged Amani to be sure he was “Number 1”.
The camp at Engutukoit was similar to the centre with one or two exceptions. First, no running water. The water comes across to the camp from the school, a distance of about 250 yards. More on this in a subsequent post. So, with no running water, there obviously weren’t any flush toilets. Just drop toilets. Now the staff at the camp did a yeoman job to keep the toilets (I think there were 7 or 8) fresh, but c’mon, I gag taking out the garbage. Water for showers was kept hot by the “magimogi” (sp.?) who would bring three gallons (I think) of hot water to your shower stall and pour it into the bag, which you could then turn on and off before and after sudsing up. Very effective. I got smart after my first shower. Leave the flipflops ON when showering, then you don’t keep slipping on the rubber mat floor. Smart, huh!
Next post – more at Engutukoit.
The Shoe Blog
Only took three times almost falling on my butt to figure out I should leave them on.