Trip Start Aug 24, 2008
116Trip End Aug 01, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
There is a World Health Organization conference on in town now, and hotel rooms are pretty full. We went looking for and alternative, but could only find one really expensive (120.00CAD) and only for one night, not the three that we need. We are keen to do some last minute shopping but today is Sunday, so not a lot is open. We still need a Lonely Planet book for Eastern Africa, and will pick up a cell phone to contact the people we will be meeting in Mozambique, Dar Es Salaam and Kenya.
Our time in Africa is well laid out for us with many places to go and a lot of travelling to accomplish, so we will be busy. I will do my best to keep this blog up to date, but in some places there won't even be computers!!!
In Mozambique we will visit health clinics set up by Gerri and Murray Dickson from Saskatoon. In Tanzania we will visit Father Roland who has a mission in Gooah on the western border of the country. His sister lives in Saskatoon, and I think he is from there as well, though once we have met and talked to him I will be more enlightened.
In Kenya we will visit Kip Keino and see the high school that the Saskatoon running and school communities helped to build for the orphans that Kip looks after. He has a training camp for elite athletes, but again I will be more accurate after our visit.
I hear McDonalds has wireless internet, so will try to add some photos to bring you up to date before we head to Africa.
Magical Mumbai March 7-10
We were surprised when the taxi dropped us off next to the Taj Plaza Hotel, the one that was bombed last November. Because the Taj is such a beautiful, 5 star hotel, I was certain, and glad of my certainty that we'd be no where near it. Our taxi driver told us our hotel is here somewhere, but that we'd have to walk and look for it. We were immediately picked up by a tout who wanted to help us find a hotel. No matter how many times we told him we already have a reservation, he stuck to us like glue. We followed our map to the hotel, but the tout remained in the lead, guessing which place we were going to, leading us up the steps, and then requesting a fee for his "services". I protested loudly, knowing that any fee paid to him would be tacked onto our bill.
Our hotel didn't fit in with our idea of a nice place. It didn't live up to our standards of an O.K. place. We searched for another place to stay but everything is booked up for a W.H.O. conference. This left us needing to sort out our room and try to make it comfortable. We pushed the two single beds together, and hauled in another narrow mattress for the floor. With three of us sleeping sideways on the two beds and one on the floor we could make do. The sorry T.V. was another challenge. We don't consider a T.V. a necessity, but since it was in the room we like to try to catch up on what is happening in the world. The channel buttons had a mind of their own with the up button moving the channel up one or two and then down one. The down button made the channel go upwards. If we ever found a channel that we were happy with, then adjusting the volume to a desirable level made the channel go up or down at it's own whim. We asked the guy up front if there was a T.V. that worked. He came in to check it out and declared the T.V. "magical".
We had heard that Mumbai was just another big, filthy city, but we found Mumbai to be a nice place for a city. It certainly was different from the phrenetic, chaotic, crazy busyness of the northern cities. We saw only three cows in the three days that we were there, and very few stray dogs. The roads were primarily paved, with some construction going on, bits of ripped up sidewalk and street, but on the whole in good shape for what we have experienced in the rest of India. At the end of our first day in Mumbai we were heading for supper, walking along a street that has a lot of street shops when I heard a woman say, "excuse me, would you be interested in acting in a Bollywood film?" When she assured me that she was serious, I called the others back to listen to her pitch, and before long Reetu was handing us her card and agreeing to pay us each 500 Rupees in exchange for our talents on the set of the movie called "Blue". Unfortunately the kids weren't able to act because the scene to be filmed was in a bar, but they were welcome to come along for the day. Great, we get to see Bollywood. I imagined it was going to be a lot like it's counterpart, Hollywood. I was to be disappointed. The next morning we had to get up early to catch the Bollywood bus at 7:30am, and being that we were promised breakfast and lunch, we had no problem getting out the door. We were met by Reetu and then taken over to our bus, which was sitting waiting a couple blocks away. We sat on the bus for over an hour before we finally pulled away, and with an hour of travelling through the city to get to Bollywood, we were fairly hungry by the time we arrived. There were interesting sights out the window at times when we travelled through various slums. It is understandable to pass through slums as it is reported that 55% of the population of Mumbai lives in a slum.
Once we reached Bollywood we went in what I thought was a back entrance, because it was a little dirty, and there seemed to be a lot of rag tag people hanging around. We went straight to a red-fabric surrounded area which would serve as our mess tent and our dressing room. We lined up for a traditional Indian breakfast of rice, a sandwich with garlic spread inside, and a baked samosa like thing. We were rushed along to get dressed before we were able to finish eating. There was a rack of clothing and a woman was handing out dressed to the women for trying on. My dress was too small so I had to go for another choice and she handed me a white lacy, frilly thing that a very young girl might wear. The dress fit well, and so I was stuck with it. The strap on one side was ripped leaving my bra exposed no matter how much I fiddled with it. I found some big, lovely broken beads for my neck, and a sort of matching blue bangle. Next I went for makeup. I had some black applied to the outside of my eyes to widen them, and some rouge applied to my temples, jaw line, and chin. Next and most horrifying, my eyebrows were make dark and thick with a pencil. After the lipstick was applied, I went out to face the kids. They laughed at me. No matter, they were rushing us along to the set and we all gathered there waiting instructions.