Sunday, January 29, 2012

All Work and No Play….

Jan 20,2012

…. Keeps the Dangers far away!

In all honesty, despite the Mayan claims that the world is going to end, I actually thought that this was my year! This year, things would just … you know.. work out!! I believed that this year, I would stop sacrificing my body, mind, and health for your reading pleasure. I was wrong!!

So, now, as always, for your reading enjoyment I’ll bring you up to date on the drama that has happened in the 10 days since I landed on the African Continent.

On January 10th at 11:30pm, I landed safely in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I had a warm welcome from my long-time friend Uncle Moshi (who had actually come to welcome me the night before to no avail…. Opps! I wasn’t clear about the date in the email!!) But despite waiting until 1am the night before, he was still there at my arrival to welcome me home and help carry my many bags. I was quickly reminded of just how hot Dar is… and the scary part was that it was 130am.

I crashed as soon as we got to his house (which required a decent drive through deserted streets followed by a 15 minute walk down a dirt road with potholes bigger than Winnipeg has ever seen). The following two days I was reminded of just how hot the midday heat is while we did rounds visiting friends and “family”. On Saturday, Uncle Moshi and I headed to Zanzibar.

I don’t want to give away the rest of the email but I’ll just give you one little hint…. My foot cream and sun screen are both in the same kind of refillable container.

So, off we went to Zanzibar to visit some more friends and family (in 2009, I spent 4 months in Zanzibar. Two months living with a local family and another two months living with in a massive house with 15 – 20 other random local dudes). After spending close to 3 hours slugging around Stone Town (the capital), we gave up on finding a reasonable priced guest house and stayed with one of Uncle Moshi’s friends who rented a room in a house in the boonies (or the Zanzibarian equivalent of the boonies). The room was fine but didn’t have a fan and since I had only been back for a few days, my sleeping-without-fan tolerance was extremely low. At 930pm, we tried to find a fan and a nice swindler happily sold us his fan for the price of a night in the guest house ($30). We decided it was worth it since we could at least take the fan with us.

So, that was all fine, nothing too exciting. Here’s the start of the fun.

Oh wait, I skipped over the other fun. On Friday, I bought a cellphone line for 66cents. I put it in my phone which I had bought in early 2009 and had taken home with me and had brought back again with me this time. It was a beauty little nokia phone that had a flashlight and could hold a charge for like 8 days. On Friday I left it in the livingroom while we went out and by Friday night, my lovely little phone decided it was all grown up and left the nest for greener pastures. It was a sad night as it was the first thing that was really stolen from Uncle Moshi’s house since he moved in. The other housemates (a young couple with 1 kid and one on the way and a young mom with 2 young kids whose husband is in Arusha) were all shocked too. But, as they say in Swahili, “nimeshapoa” (I’m over it).

So, that was the first excitement. All the other trips to Africa, the first theft didn’t happen until at least the 2nd month. Times are changing and apparently not for the better.

So back to the Zanzibar story. Saturday, we headed out to the beach. This is where, I selflessly sacrifice my body to ensure enjoyable reading! We took a little bus up north (the bus is really a little flatbed truck with a roof and benches along each side. It fits about 5 people on each side, but of course 9 or 10 end up actually sitting on each side. We spent all day playing in the water, enjoying the scenery (along with the hoarders of tourists) until we both managed to step on some type of sea urchin. I’m not sure what it was and it was definitely not sure what I was, so it decided to inject 5 of its spikes into my foot. Less than pleasant! Luckily, my lovely mom (thanks mom!!!) had used a pin to attach a note in my shoulder bag so we used the pin to attempt to dig out the evidence. No luck! It’s been 6 days and my foot still has yet to heal.

After the foot incident, we decided it was time to head home. It was already 430pm and we had been on the beach since 11am. We got back to Stone Town (the capital city) and visited my old neighbourhood. we had a Fanta with my old homestay family and kicked it with my friend who I used to sell fish and chips with on the street at night. He has since given up the fish and chip business for a fruit stand. I fully approve! The work is easier and I personally would much rather eat bananas than French fries! We grabbed some juice from a friend and headed back to the boonies. Even before we made it home, I could feel the burning all over my body. Remember what I said about the foot cream and the sunscreen???

So, yeah, in the packing rush, I grabbed the jar of foot cream, which was far less useful than the sunscreen and which mean that I spent the day at the beach without sunscreen. I foolishly thought I wouldn’t be too bad since I hadn’t been wearing too much sunscreen the days that we walked around Dar. This is where all you “all-inclusivers” and “snow-birds” can have a good laugh, as I’m sure you’ve learned that hard way too!

So, we were barely back at the house when I started feeling the burning! YIKES!!! After struggling to sleep I got up at 400am only to discover… (sorry family..I didn’t want to tell you until it was all better..) not only had my body turned fully Sebastian (you know… the lobster in little mermaid) but also, my entire face was swollen. I linked the cause to the mango in the juice I had at my friend’s house, which was the same mango in the juice I had had for months while I was here, but this time, it decided to work its magic for evil instead of for good. So, there I was, red as a tomato and just as round! Uncle moshi and I joked that I became fully African. My nose was just as wide and as flat is his and my lips just as big! Good times!!! Well, not really, but what can you do!

We left the house by 530am to beat the heat and I checked myself into a guest house with a fan to wait out the swelling and the sunburn. Fortunately it rained that morning and made everything a little more tolerable! Maybe good luck really was on my side! :) Maybe 2012 really will be my year! Uncle Moshi headed back to Dar to go back to work and I went to buy a new phone (to replace my stolen one) and then headed to the guest house to chill out. On the up side, I finally had the time to relax! :) I guess there was a silver lining! I read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2 days! It was a good read and I was happy to be able to send it on its way to someone else’s hands (Fran- I swapped the book at a book shop in Zanzibar. I hope whoever buys it decides to check it out on book crossing!). After a couple of days, the burning subsided a little and started to blister which was a hot look considering my face was a still a little puffy and now scabbing over since the swelling and sunburn combo was more than it could bear! I did meet 2 very nice Aussie couples and showed them around for the day. I think they were happy for the tour! By Thursday, the swelling was gone and I headed back to my old stomping ground to sell some fruit and chat with old friends. Fortunately, they all informed me that indeed, I had gained weight! :) I had three answers for them.

1- I tried to convince them it was swelling from the mango

2- they didn’t remember correctly and I’ve always looked like this

and then, if neither of those worked, I resorted to number 3, which was saying that they looked fatter too! Apparently that response was less well received! :)

I hung out for a couple of days and helped with the fruit business. I also started running in the morning on the beach, same place that I used to back in 2009. There were still 100s of people! The run was great but because of the sunburn, the sweat just pooled and my arms and back were covered in juicy blisters! (more than you wanted to know right? Sorry, I just feel like if you’re going to come along for the whole ride, you need all the details. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! :)

Speaking of unnecessary details, let me share the silver lining that came while I was in Zanzibar. After more than 6 months of ridiculously frequent bowel movements (like how tactful I was, I wanted to say after 6 months of pooping 5 times a day.. but I didn’t, I said “frequent bowel movements”:)

So, yeah, after 6 months of too much poop, I got CONSTIPATED!!!! It was super exciting!!! I had 3 full poop-free days!!!!!! Very exciting! Especially since I was running again!

Saturday, after buying another batch of scarves and some beautiful paintings, I got on the boat back to Dar. That’s where I am now!! My skin is flaking nicely and I should be completely peeled in a couple of days. This morning, I got up at 600am. When for a run with Uncle Moshi for 45 minutes (with 2 big hills!!) and then did some stretching, came back home, I attempted to wash my filthy clothes (I only had 1 pair of shorts and 2 shirts for the 8 days I was in Zanzibar) and then I filled and carried 12 buckets of water (10-20L each) from the neighbour’s pump (which fortunately is very close) and then I washed yesterdays dishes.. and all that was before 10am! I was going to go shower but even showering is a lot of work so I decided to rest a while and bring you all up to speed!

Im heading to Moshi (the base of Kili) on Monday for a couple of days and then for real, I’m on my way to Mwanza. I should be there by next Monday at the latest.

I hope you are all enjoying the weather, where ever you are! If there is snow, then enjoy it extra for me! I’ll send sun if you send snow!

Also, if anyone is interested in scarves, there are another 70 that should be in Winnipeg by the 31st. They’re super pretty as I handpicked them! They make great gifts and the proceeds, of course, support the construction of Hero Home.

Well, that’s all for me! I’m sure more things will happen to write home about! The trip to Tanzania is shaping up to be just like all the others.. which means good reading for you guys! :)

Take care! All the best! Be in touch! Feel free to let me know what kind of misadventures you’re having! It makes me feel better! :)