In Tanzania ... Hakuna Matata
Trip Start Apr 08, 2009
27Trip End Ongoing
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Update on Amose and Happiness:
I wrote of Amose's surgery in my last posting, an event that prompted me to pour my heart and soul into organizing a TAFCOM fundraiser before my time here in Tanzania is over (I am tearing up just thinking of it). The fundraiser plans are coming along (slowly, but surely) and I am hosting the "Adventure Africa Party" this coming Wednesday night at a local restaurant. This place is big enough for us to host our attendees, local artists, tour operators and perhaps some live music for people to enjoy. For about $8.00 USD/ 10,000 Tanzanian shillings people can come, enjoy a buffet of traditional Tanzanian food and drink and then peruse through a few booths set up by local artists. I designed some t-shirts, which we'll sell for the same price as the dinner and I am currently working on getting either a DJ or a local band to play some live music after the dinner (for what people here call a little "shaky-shaky" or what we've come to refer to "a negotiation of the legs"). All of this planning has taken a considerable amount of time over the past week (and burned a little hole in my wallet for the time being) but I am feeling good about the whole thing. I've been passing out flyers and hand-outs all over town hoping to talk the event up with tourists and volunteers in town. I am crossing my fingers that it will be success. I've had quite a bit of help from one of the owners of a tour company here, who knows the local artists and musicians and set me up with the venue we're having the fundraiser at. I've done some mad negotiating and bargaining in the past few days - the business woman in me finally coming to the surface. I can't say that this type of thing is my forte, but coming to Africa was all about challenges and so far I think I've done a pretty good job J (toot! toot! Is that my own horn I'm hearing?)
Having said all of that, since last posting about Amose, I received a very generous donation via an on-line interact money transfer from Calgary. This donation has afforded Amose and his wife transport and transfer to the local hospital (the best they've got here in Moshi). Amose is currently under the care of doctors here and waiting to undergo his surgery. There are some added costs that will need to be covered (after surgery recovery days, meds for recovery, meals at the hospital, transport and a few other bills). I am hoping that the fundraiser will help to cover these additional expenses, but for now Amose is getting his surgery and that's all that matters. My sincere thanks to this generous donor (you know who you are), you have touched the hearts of many people in the Pasua district who have been praying for Amose and Happiness.
Aside from dedicating my days to planning this fundraiser, I took some time last weekend to do a day hike of Kilimanjaro (a tease,really because as you all know, I wanted to hike the entire thing). We made it to the first over-night camp, had some lunch and then regretfully had to turn back down the mountain. We ran all the way down (such a good work out!) through a rainforest, trying to avoid mad-skin piercing ants and trying not to break our ankles on rocks and tree roots. I made a vow to come back one day and conquer the mountain. One day......
Myself and a few other volunteers also visited the Amani (Swahili for Peace) Center for Street Children one particularly boring afternoon at the CCS house. We ventured just a few minutes down the road from our home-base and yelled "Hodi, Hodi!" (knock! knock!) outside of the massive gates enclosing the center. We were warmly welcomed and brought around back to this massive yard. There were children cleaning up after lunch in the sinks, washing their own clothes at the laundry station and running around and playing on the jungle gym they have there (this is the best Children's Center I've seen here in East Africa - truly a success story). Two teachers came out of the building holding a soccer ball (they call it football here, just like in Europe) and a bunch of those candy necklaces that have chewable pastel colored candies strung on them. The kids dropped whatever they were doing immediately and ran to the (almost) full sized football field out back. For over an hour we watched them compete in running races and watched them scrimmage. I even joined in a few a minutes, but mostly ended up cheering the kids on - I couldn't get the ball if my life depended on it! Those little guys are like little Maradonas or Ronaldos. There was even one kid wearing a bright orange East Leaside Toronto Football Club jersey (most likely left behind by some tourist at some point). He was my favorite.
On Monday I moved out of the CCS house, said goodbye to the few volunteers that were left , and the CCS house directors (who I absolutely fell in love with) and moved myself into the backpackers hostel in Moshi. At $12.00/night, it seemed like such a good deal! A double bed, a fan, common washrooms on the floor and a rooftop bar, you couldn't beat it! I spent one night here and got the (explicit language) out of there. I will refer to this place hereafter as "The Crack Den". At the Crack Den, the lights and water did not work. Therefore, using the bathroom just didn't happen. The rooftop bar was in full swing though, which made not being able to use the bathroom a little tricky. My double bed was most likely infested with bed bugs, which wouldn't have been so bad save for the rabid dogs barking all night outside of my ground floor window. I could hear beautiful muslim prayer calls from my bed, which would have normally been enjoyable, if they hadn't started at 4:45 am. The mosquito net above my bed looked like something out of a horror movie and therefore was never used during my time there and although there was a massive fan in the corner of the room, it didn't work. I would love to tell you that I toughed it out.... but I am no liar. In fact, I'll freely admit to you that at promptly 6:30 am the following morning, I hastily packed up my belongings and walked a ½ block down the street to the Kindoroko HOTEL and promptly booked myself into a luxurious double room with a canopy bed, a mini-fridge for juice and lunch food, a working en-suite shower and bathroom (which oddly was never stocked with toilet paper) and a TV. Also, the fan above my bed worked and the lights turned on every time! I even had a place to plug in the cell phone I bought and a place to put my clothes, off the dirty floor. For $30/night (breakfast included) this place has two restaurants and bars (and no bed bugs). Much better. I indulged in that room for a few nights but eventually moved to a cheaper single room alternative and after getting to know the people at the front desk, was able to convince them to move the mini fridge in there with me (the only price, the chocolate bar I had chilling in there was missing after the fridge transport....Ha!).
Anyway, I am on my way to a local mzungu bar called The Watering Hole (can't remember if I have posted about this place or not). We typically go on Thursday nights when for about $3 you get in, get to watch a movie played a on a huge outdoor screen, get a free beer or soda and some popcorn (if you're lucky to get some before they run out). This week they played the Kite Runner, an awesome movie if you haven't had the chance to see it yet. Usually we eat some dinner there, have a few ice-friendly cocktails (a rarity here) and enjoy a movie. The Watering Hole is truly the coolest restaurant/bar I have EVER been to. Tonight they are hosting a BRAZIL party. Don't really know what that entails, but chances are it will be busy. I am hoping to pass out more flyers for the TAFCOM fundraiser and hopefully meet some more people in town.
I am leaving on a bus for the coast on Thursday (Dar Es Salaam) where I'll be spending a night and then catching a plane to Cairo to start the second leg of my travels. I can't believe the past 6 weeks have gone by so fast. I will do my best to post about how the fundraiser went before I leave, or shortly thereafter.
I can see myself coming back here someday. If any of you ever thought of travelling abroad, and perhaps even to Africa, Tanzania is the place to start. it's a great intro the rest of Africa and I can say whole heartedly that you won't be disappointed. This place has stolen my heart. I think they do that so that you'll come back to retrieve it...... if you can manage to leave at all in the first place.
Much love from East Africa,