Saturday, 3 September 2011

Tanza Week 4

Day 21. Best Day Ever! Well, eventful anyway! Had a relaxed morning sitting about reading my book (A Game Of Thrones) in camp. Then headed into town at about half nine. There we exchanged some more Tanzanian Shillings from a travelling bureaux de changes. This guy had such huge wads of cash in his pocket it was insane. Tanga must be a pretty safe place for him to walk around like that and not have a body guard or whatever. It felt pretty chilled walking about the markets and stuff. Anyroad, after we'd sorted that all out we went down to the yacht club to meet Eric and Pam and family for our day of adventure. First we headed back to our diving spot on the boat and did lots of snorkelling. I went quite far out from the boat and just loved it - just lost myself out there diving down looking at all the fish and stuff it was great. When I looked around for the others I could make them out all on the boat. Oops, that was a long swim back with the flippers! Doubt they were waiting that long though. Saw a little Moray Eel in his little hole which was cool. Lots more awesome fishies too. Then was one of the trip highlights. We cruised out to this sand island in the middle of the ocean. It just appears like a mirage on the horizon as the tide goes down. Eric and Pam got married out on it. It was so beautiful. It was such a paradise spot, gorgeous turquoise seas and white sands. Amazing. They had prepared a lush picnic for us too. The first cheese I'd had in three weeks. Victory, it was so nice too! Also fruits and cold drinks! We just paddled about in the shaddows and played on the sand for ages. It was great. Then whilst we were messing around I kicked a sea urchin which had appeared out of nowhere (there was nothing around and the water was super clear so I was pretty unlucky) But yeah... that kind of hurt a lot - 19 spines in the back right side of my right foot. (They are still there a month and a half later but not painful) Throbbing pain all up my leg for a couple of minutes but the guys helped me hobble back to the boat and it wasn't too bad after that if you didn't touch it. After that kerfuffle was over with we boated out to an awesome cool ship wreck where we did more snorkelling. I went in but no flippers on this time cos of the urchinfoot making it more tricky to get down deep but I took some pretty good snaps on Gwyn's underwater digital camera. Saw an amazing Emperor Angel Fish, Black lion fish, big pike thing, a big guppa thing and lots of other fish and urchins! After this awesome part of the day it went considerably downhill. The bus taking us to the restaurant was an hour late. Dinner was terrible as we had to wait ages and ages and ages then some things didn't even arrive. They also tried to charge us way too much. I ended up going up to the manager's office with Obi (One of the Camps guys) to go through every item on the bill and saying we weren't going to pay for that because it was cold or didn't arrive etc etc. That took ages but got about £80 off the bill by the end so was worth it. We eventually left at 12:45 after arriving at 8. Not cool.

Day 22. Woke up to heavy rain at 5am and the tent was leaking directly onto my face and mattress. Sam and I abandoned ship and took our sleeping bags and slept on the sofas under the tree shelter. Mozzies everywhere and pretty noisy rain so didn't get back to sleep. At least it was dry though! Crazy. Had to tell myself to keep smiling at this point! Got our tent replaced. Lots of people not feeling 100% including me with my foot so half of us went on the long walk to school while the cripples stayed in the village to help the Mamas (Grandmas) with their work. We had been asked if we would help a lady harvest her maize crop. It was scortching hot work and after filling a couple of bags I had to stop to sit in the shade feeling hot exhausted and a little homesick. I think it was just because my foot was so sore really, felt a little useless. After the others had finished harvesting the crop it was lots easier as we could sit in the shade and peel off the husks. The husks are used to feed the cows, some maize feeds the chickens and the inside part can be used as fire wood so every part is used. The Mama was so so grateful for our work saying we 7 had done as much work as it takes her to do in two weeks within 3 hours so that was lovely. Back to camp for a much needed rest in the shade. Rice and a bit of meet and a spicy salad for lunch and a nice cold drink from the fridge (Had to pay 1000TSh for the drinks - about 45p) All of a sudden, Eliphas came in to camp saying he needed two people to come and teach the villagers some English because he'd forgotten to arrange it. Sam and I went down to the village where lots of people were gathered on a bunch of bricks and we had a chalk board. HOT Sun this afternoon! We taught some continuous present tense (Whatever that is?!) Pretty easy really, just running and swimming and things ending in ing pretty much. Created some fill in the blank type questions and went round marking their exercise books. Set them some homework for the next day when some other people from our team would be teaching. An assortment of people were there. Mostly young men, a few kids and a couple of women. Some much better at English than others. Really interesting experience though and they were appreciative of our time which was cool. Dinner was Chicken and japati. Hung out at camp all night having a laugh.

Day 23. Walked down to the school this morning. Very sweaty journey on foot under the sun. Started about our work fixing door frames to the toilets, cementing them in place and that. Made more door frames in the shade but it was still really really hot. I had a go on Ndjoko the Carpenter's motorbike. Excellent fun! It was a 125cc cruiser. Sooo cool. Played frisbee with the kids at lunch. When we got back to camp Eric had filled up the fridge with drinks and chocolates and cheeeeese! I bought and ate a massive lump of the stuff. Yummyummy. Played some rudimentary baseball hitting rocks into the sea with a stick from our clifftop. Good fun. For dinner, rice and bean stuff with onion bhaji things. Still not a big fan of the beany thing they seem to enjoy making us but the bhajis were lovely! Played a board/dice game called pass the pigs. Very bizarre but quite fun.

Day 24. Felt pretty sleepy this morning, had a big breakfast of sausages and cornflakes! Today we went into a bit of land in the village which needed clearing so they can build a primary school - lots of the kids who want an education can't walk all the way to the school in the town each day so they asked for a primary school in the village. Suddenly the rain came pouring down hard and Sam came rushing out saying our tent was getting soaked so we went back and sorted all that out first. Then back to some very hard sweaty work but good fun. We were pickaxing at the tree trunk stumps to remove them. Sam and I had a good system going of work then rest and directing. Cleared lots of stumps and one had a big ants nest in and apparently they could give a nasty bite so we were lucky to escape that one. Met two of the gap year students who stayed at a camp further up the road. They were from Australia and the only ones left in their camp so joined us for meals. Creamy spaghetti and veg for lunch which was lush. Went for an afternoon swim in the sea. I went down into the village later to make a kitchen out of mud! Really quite enjoyable actually. Had to dig up the mud from the earth, mix it all up, add water and then trample on it with our feet until it was a sticky consistency, then bundle it into balls and fill the wooden frame. Had to do some first aid on Jess though who got something sliced into her foot. Cleaned it up nice though. Did a wall and a half while the others made roof tiles out of palm tree parts. Went for another swim in the sea after that, mainly for the cleaning. Hung out with everyone in the evening, great mashed potato and sausages for dinner with some vegies. Had a really good fun evening. The African Camps staff are such good fun especially Eliphas, Obi and Sylvesta.

Day 25. Jam sandwiches for breakfast because the milk was all warm... Did the washing up with Sam as Gwyn was getting his dressing sorted from where he'd put a hoe through his shin! Crazy boy. Rained a little more. Went back to finish off our kitchen for one of the village families who were chuffed to bits. Had a bit of a mud fight with the surplus mud, jolly good fun. Casava for lunch which was like fried parsnip mixed with sweet potato. Bought some trousers and shorts off the tailor who came in to make some money off us. She was such a sweetie as we gave her so much to do and she worked all day on it for us. The fabric was so funky! The boys went off for some manly weaving of roof tiles for our kitchen. It was pretty fiddly to start with but we got into it eventually. You had to use a special knot with the fibre strings and fold the leaf strips in the correct way over the stiffer piece of bark as the spine. Pretty fun after a while. Some kids came and watched us and were playing about. One was sharpening a knife with a rock quite innocently. She was about five. Crazy eh? Fancy dress party that evening was great fun! I went as the Moon from The Mighty Boosh program with my friend George. (Relevant because of the massive moon rises) Rice and beef stew for dinner. We came first in the contest for 'awesomeness of costume' :o) Had a brilliant night.

Day 26. Terrible nights sleep and up super early to get the tide right to help out a mama with her seaweed harvesting. The mama hoisted up lots of her rows of weed and we had to pick off small sprigs and we attached them to a new length of string so she can resow it. That took an hour or so then we lugged a few bags full back to shore as the tide was changing. The seaweed is sold to China and the Philippines by the kilo as a ridiculously small price for the mamas so the only thing we can do to help is lend a hand as there are lots of people trying to improve the amount they receive but it appears to be a bit of a unwinnable fight. Listened to a few Hamish and Andy podcasts while at work attaching the seaweed which was good fun. Omelette and fried potato for lunch. Went down to the school in town for a sports day in the afternoon. Good fun doing running races, sack races, lemon and spoon, three legged race and a big game of football. It was sooo boiling hot though and I had put about four layers of suncream on and still feeling the burn! I let in a terribly easy goal as keeper but also did some ok saves. Soccer has never been my strongest sport! That night we had a chilled one at camp. I did some star gazing and saw a few satellites. I wish England has clear skies like the ones out there, it's quite a peaceful thing to do. Dinner was japatis with tomato sauce and a banana-esque vegetable. Josh our 'leader' from Camps International had to leave that night due to inappropriate conduct. All a bit strange but was handles pretty smoothly and professionally by everyone. And we got switched to a new leader James straight away. Was so tired that night!

Day 27. Lovely chilled morning on our Rest and Relaxation day. James gave us a chat about what had been going on and we all introduced ourselves etc etc for those who hadn't really spoken to him yet. He reminded me a lot of my brother James actually. Very competent yet casual and funny! Eric came and exchanged some dollars for us at a much better exchange rate, bless him. He's such a great guy. Went to a small supermarket in town and then wandered round a really big market. Really interesting but not very touristy. Really hot too. George had asked me to get him some flip flops so I bought the silliest ones I could find for him then drew on a unicorn! Good giggles. Got back to camp in the afternoon and played lots of Frisbee. We booked a bus ride into town to have a meal at a hotel then go out clubbing. I had my new shorts from the tailor and was ready for a great night out. The service was a million times better than last time. We ordered our food a day in advance too so as not to have the same problem as before with them running out of stock! (I ordered a pizza and a steak... Was really missing normal food it must be said) Just tucking into our first beers when James announces that Camps International were going to pay for our meal because of the kerfuffle with Josh having to leave. Fantastic news! Double bonus since I had ordered two meals in one! Anyway that was all great fun and then we hit the club. Although Sam and I felt a bit sick after our mammoth meals we were alright by midnight when the party started getting going and had a great boogie to the Mbongo flavour music and won't forget Eliphas's favourite 'Black and Yellow' coming on. Crazy bloke.

Day 28. Woken up by Amber at 5am as the other group were leaving for Ndarakwai camp where we had started our adventure and I'd promised to wave them goodbye. Of course they didn't flipping leave until about 6.30 did they so I was a wee bit sleep deprived that day. Got some nice pics of the seascape as the sun rose though. Super hot and sunny again today. Packing all our stuff up was hot work so I lugged it all into the shade. Got a henna tattoo done by a local lady on my left forearm. It looked pretty cool (interestingly I suffered an allergic reaction to it some four weeks later when back home, came up in little blotchy boils, very odd - perhaps it has nut oils in? No lasting damage though, only just visible now.) Had a cooking lesson from some ladies in the village after that. We made sambosa (Vegetable samosas basically) and jipatis which tasted really great. I played about with the kids loads that afternoon it was good fun. Bit windy back at camp that evening which was quite nice, must be due to the heat on the sea during the day I guess but I'm no meteorologist! Rice, meat and spicy salad for dinner. A new wave of students arrived to take our place that night.

Day 29. Woke up late - 4.30am was late apparently... >.< Anyroad, packed up and on the bus in time. Said goodbyes to all the staff. Got to Moshi for 10.30ish and saw Jackson and Benny who remembered me which was cool. Bought a few snacks for our travels then off to Kilimanjaro airport. Said goodbye to James who was going back to his old group now in Ndarakwai. Did some window shopping in the airport. Small wait then transfer to Nairobi went smoothly with great views of the mountain. Waited in Kenya for sooo long. about 8 hours wait there I think. Flight back to London was another 9 hours. Strange to be back in the hustle and bustle after so long. Said goodbye to the gang who were all so great. Dad was there to greet me with my TanzaBonanza poster which was nice.

A very memorable, humbling and interesting adventure filled with lots of learning and fun and which will stay with me forever.