So there I was in Nairobi airport, at seven in the morning, after an average flight and very little sleep. Squinting through tired eyes at the departure board, I realised with a mild sense of panic that my flight was the only one not to have a departure gate listed next to it. After a few confusing conversations, I was finally informed that the flight had been cancelled. No reason given… This Is Africa (TIA – expect that one to crop up more than a few times in the next couple of months). Panic levels increasing, one lady told me the next flight to Mwanza wouldn’t be until tomorrow. Tomorrow! The only thing running through my mind at this point was that I was definitely not, never in a million years, going to spend the night in Nairobi by myself. But ‘luckily’, the very cheery guy behind the Transfer Desk was able to put me on another flight, leaving in an hour or so, to Kilimanjaro. From there, he said I ‘should’ be able to get another flight to Mwanza. He also assured me that my hold bag would follow me to Kilimanjaro and then again to Mwanza. I really wanted to believe him, I really did, but I just couldn’t bring my sleep-deprived self to trust in something so unlikely.
But let me tell you, if you are ever re-routed through Kilimanjaro, do not fear. It is possibly the most beautiful airport I have ever been in. It feels like some sort of luxurious beach-side hut; all wooden decking and courtyard cafés with brightly-coloured cushions to lounge on and huge trees growing through the roof. Flying in, I saw the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro peeking majestically through the top of the clouds – the highest peak in all of Africa! What’s more, my hold bag magically appeared on the carousel at the airport. Oh Africa, you are so unreliable sometimes but you always make up for it in the end!
I’ve been back in Buswelu for about ten days now and thanks to a very slow dongle only managing to receive 2G signal and with busying myself with teaching the children and decorating the walls at the new children’s home , this is the first time I’ve managed to get down to some serious blogging.
Despite some big changes that have happened here since my last visit six months ago, it sort of feels like I never left. It’s incredible how much difference a little rain can make. There are luscious green plants and trees everywhere you look and the corn plants tower to over six feet tall. In a way, it makes the place seem much more prosperous, healthy and full of life. There also seems to have been a bit of building boom here lately, too, with several new buildings cropping up in places that used to be wasteland.
As we are planning on moving the children into their new home in mid-February, most of our mornings are spent finishing off the building. The boys – Chris, James and Andrew – are busy with hoes and spades clearing the land, tiling the bathroom walls and putting in fence posts while Mel and I have a far more relaxing task of decorating the walls inside with colourful paintings of safari animals. Each day we are visited by two girls called Betty and Gladys who live next to the children’s home. They like to sit and watch us paint all the animals. Yesterday, Betty listened to my music while I finished off painting a butterfly.
We are enjoying trying all the little cafés that seemed to have cropped up around the village since last time. We’re making a habit out of sampling each one on our walk back from site at lunchtime. It’s around 35 degrees here so we’re usually all gasping for a cold (baridi) Sprite or Coke in one of the cafés.
The volunteers have a new home here, too, and it’s quite an upgrade from the last one. We have tiled floors, proper toilets and glass windows, and all the various rooms surround a central courtyard. I think the only thing we all miss about the previous volunteer house is the huge yard outside. It has been a bit of a squeeze with the boys playing football and the girls skipping at the same time.
We are also getting into the Africa Cup of Nations. We have a sweepstake going and I have South Africa, Togo and Angola to root for – the winner will get 50,000 Tanzanian shillings, which is about £20 – that can go a long way here considering that a meal of rice, beans, spinach and a soda costs just 75p!
The children come over to the volunteer house at around 4.30pm each day after school. We help them with any school work they are struggling with and make sure they understand everything they have learnt that day. Afterwards, the boys like to play football in the courtyard and the girls like to play with the skipping ropes. Sometimes we put a film on for them on my computer – they all love the Lion King! I put on the first Toy Story yesterday and they seemed to be enjoying it very much – almost as much as me!
That’s all for now… stay tuned.