Lukundane, Tamiha, Usa river and Arusha

Today I met Moody early in the morning. Moody is a Crispin’s assistant. One of his tasks is to introduce volunteers in the environment they will work in: the orphanage, Tamiha, the offices and Arusha.
Our first visit today is the orphanage (Lukundane). There, at Lukundane, I get a short introduction about the different projects, my schedule for the first 2 weeks and the plan for the day.
At Lukundane there are several buildings located in a vast area. There is always at least one vigilant by the entrance. On the right side you find a shop (buka) where you can buy mainly refreshments, candies, cigarettes… The profit obtained are considered as donations. By the side of the shop you find the toilets. Forwarding from the entrance you find the kitchen, where the children take their dinner. Then, besides the kitchen, a place used for meetings, and building used as a disco sometimes during the year. Jointed the disco there is another construction where the vocational school takes place. Vocational school is a program created to give a chance of learning some subjects to a selected group of teenagers. The subjects are chosen thinking in constructing skills which can make easier finding a job. So, languages, as English and Spanish, and computer skills shall be the subjects they learn while my stay. English shall be taught by Crispin and the rest by the one who writes these lines.
After the buildings mentioned above we can observe a long table where widows meet for the micro-financial program. Here they discuss how to approach the future in a short and medium-term: making plans of how to direct their economy, loaning some money depending on the current needs and budget of each individual and giving warm and support to each other.
The classroom is the next building. This is only 30 meters away from the long table, where apart from the widows meeting, the children take their brunch and lunch. The classroom is completely open, just a roof to protect against the rain; no walls, no windows. In it there are 3 tables, some plastic chairs and some selves where the material is stored.
Beyond the set of buildings already described a small kitchen where the meals are prepared is situated before 2 canvas houses, inhabited by the bibis (grandmothers). Bibi Sarah is the one in charge of cooking and putting the children to bed. More or less she is the one that watches how things are going with the children.
And last we find the building where the children sleep and do their homework. This is a conic shape building formed by several dwellings. In each room there are several bunks. Each bed is shared by 2 or 3 children. Girls and boys sleep in separated rooms. Every bed is covered by a mosquito net but all nets are in bad state. Holes can be appreciated at first glance in almost any net.

At Lukundane Moody explains me widely which are the projects they run and my tasks for the next 2 weeks. After the explanation we go to Tamiha. There I have the first contact with the children. They always sing a song greeting to any visitor. I am not the exception. I greet the 2 teachers in charge of Tamiha. The children start getting closer to me and asking questions. Some of them just look at me like stuned. Then I decide to start interacting with them. I take one and throw him up and catch him again when he falls down. And what a surprise, suddenly I have more than 50 children around me telling: “and me”. Some of them wants to be always the first one and some little fight begins. Then I quit the play and commence making a queue. They don’t understand what I want to but one of the teachers help me out and the line is made in a few seconds, although the order is not always kept. Some of the already launched does not pass to the last position in the line but it does not cause big conflicts.
One of the teachers is in charge of the children with a medium and advance level, inside the school rate. The other one is responsible for the called “baby class”. The medium level and advance level classroom are open: walls of 1 meter, desks, benchs and roof. The black board is a black painted longer wall. The baby classroom is a square room where the children stay up or sit depending on availability and circumstances.
After a while longer at Tamiha Moody and I start our way to the city, Arusha. We walk to the main road and once there we take a dala-dala. A dala-dala is just a van. In these vans there is no limit of people that can be carried. Luckily we got a seat, otherwise we should have stood during the journey until a seat is available. In the way to the city the dala-dala becomes really packed, more than 20 people at certain parts of the rute.
Once in the city we walk around many streets. In the city center there are numerous banks and boureaus du change. It is quite impresive how banks are guarded by blokes carrying big weapons. Walking away a bit from the center there are several markets where locals sell their product. There it is easy to meet masaai people, many of them wearing the typical dress and using their original ornaments, like the one the use for piercing their ears.
During the visit we visit many places that may be usefull to me while my stay in Usa river and other more turistics, like the masaai market. As well I learn how to deal with taxi drivers and prices of things in general. And so, after walking and walking, taking taxis and shopping we go back to Usa river, again in dala-dala, after a first long day.


Water from the Kilimanjaro!

The car came to the final destination. We wait in front of a door’s house. Crispin hooted. A kid opened the door. We get in and park. This is the house where I shall spend the next four weeks. Everything looks fine here. Two young women welcome me. They show me the room and the toilet and ask me if I want to take breakfast or otherwise I want to rest for a while after my long journey. I answer that the second option is the one that fits me best right now. They are two bunks in the room. I choose the lower bed of one of them, then I lay down and place correctly the mosquito net. After a few hours someone wakes me up telling the lunch is ready. It is an exciting time due to the doubt of what I am going to find to feed myself. Four different pots lie before me when I enter the kitchen. I open the first one and find rice cooked with vegetables and some spices. The second one contains beans in a brown souce. The next one is meat in a sauce with vegetables and the last one houses a sort of cooked herbs. In addition, one plate with some fruits as desert. I serve myself a good portion from the first three pots. I am exceptic about the contain of the fourth one; the herbs might be kind of washed and I don’t want to provoke any sort of laundry in my stomach. I love the food but I don’t have a drop of bottled water, and believe me, it is quite hot in Usa river. The fruit saves me this time, half orange is like an oasis in such a situation.

I get back to bed after I finished my lunch and there are two corcerns rounding over my head: Being protected at the most against mosquitos and how a bad time I am going to have today if no water is provided to me. I fall asleep with those concerns in my mind. After a while I wake up, I am really thirsty. I pray for having orange again in the dinner.

The dinner time comes, I head the kitchen with huge hope of finding something refreshing but the only fruit I find is banana (ndizi in Swahilli), so I decide not to eat too much for not being so thirsty after dinner but suddenly, when I am close to finish my dinner, Crispin is back from work and brings a bottle of water and some sodas. I grab the bottle and drink half bottle in once! What a refreshing water from the Kilimanjaro! The day finishes better than expected a few hours ago. It is time to rest for the first real Tanzanian day.

Arrival in Tanzania

My plane landed in Cairo. The environment in the plane made me feel like something has already changed. People and languages are new to me. The flight went fast. I have two hours at the airport before the flight to Daressalam. I don’t know what to do in the meantime, walking from here to there, sitting and watching other kind of people that are new to me or I am not that used to see. But during one of my non-destination walking, I see that there is a football match begining on a screen before me. It is Getafe vs Real Madrid. What a good chance to see how it is supported Real Madrid abroad.
Real Madrid scores and I can feel like there are not that many supporters as I expected. Then I think the reason why they are watching the match is the same as mine, which means that there are as many Barcelona supporters as anyone who likes football could expect.
The time for going to the gate is here. Half of the second half of the football match, Madrid leads 0-1, I hope that if by chance I knew the final score, it would make me happy.

The plane takes off and lands as an unique event. This already is Tanzania. It is that hot and wet that my first thought is about how I am being able to resist this weather during forty days.
We get in the airport building. A police receive us and give instruction to fill the visa form. I do as my coordinator said, pay my fee and ran to take my flight to Arusha. I am starting to realize where I am and how things run here.
To get the flight to Arusha I have to get out the building and come in again. Security procedures and equipment in general are not like the ones I am use to see, although I must mention that the equipment at the visa control was highest tech you can figure out.
When checkin my luggage, they ask me to get a copy of my passport, since I am one of those extrange people that pay online directly to the tanzanian air line company, not making use of other means or travel agency. I am a bit exceptic but there is no other way, according to my knowledge (let’s read ignorance). They look at my credit card during several seconds, then one of them picks my passport and makes a copy somewhere at their office. There is no check-in belt but that even makes me feel safer about getting my luggage in Arusha. And yes, finally I am close to Arusha.
The plane lands without any incident to mention. Luckily wheather here is so much drier, I can breath. My luggage is on my back, I can breath again.
Crispin receives me at the airport and drives me home. He is in his daughter and another girl’s company. I will live at his house with his family during my volunteering. In the way to his house I cannot stop staring everywhere, even I don’t force myself to keep a conversation, since I am completely focused on my surroundings. The dusty road, people everywhere all along the way, some just walking or standing, other carrying material upon his/her head or on carts, cars, trucks, bikes, houses constructed with any sort of material, all is used to anything and all follows a smooth rithm… Finally I am in Tanzania, I am in Eastern Africa, I am in another world.

Days 0

The day begins early (2nd Feb 2012), there is no nerves to conceal into myself but tiredness. I haven’t slept so much in the last 3 nights. I think some sort of anxiety is covering me in the last days. Yesterday evening I said goodbye my family, in special my brother and sister since I woundn’t see them today.

The time has come, I greet papa for last time before departing. Mama is the last one in talking to me previous to my embarking omboard the journey. Everything is prepared and I am ready. All is packed except my laptop. I take advantage of the time I have to wait until Roge rings the doorbell, to advance on my blog’s setup. I turn off the laptop and insert it in the small backpack that is plan to be my partner wherever I go. I set the big one on my shoulder and fit it on my back, grab the small one and head to the main door. Roge waits in company of his girlfriend, Cristina, and a friend of them, Pili. We settle my luggage in the car and start driving to Madrid.

The day is cold, as we test during our only stop before arriving in Madrid. Siberian wind has pervaded the iberian peninsula..

Finally we arrive in Madrid. Maria will host us during the next two days. Maria is Cristinas aunt. We rest for a while before taking the train/metro to downtown. We meet Pepe, our captain Pedro and my buddy Jesus to take a dinner and enjoy chatting for a while before returning to Maria’s house.

On Friday we wake up at a reasonable time. The goals for our day are mostly shopping and meeting friends to go out. In the meantime a surprise arises. Ana will be mother in a few days. Live surprises me every single day. For the dinner we meet Pepe and our captain again. In addition the feline Pedro Leon-Tigre and Pepe’s girlfriend join us. The evening runs smoothly but tiredness appears early after dinner. We, Maria’s guests, fall overslept in the train back home. The day finishes on thoughts about how few hours I will sleep before taking my first plane.

Eventually the day came. Juanito came to pick me up and drive me to the airport, but first we had breakfast together (thanks Juanito). And so, I took my way to Usa river, in Tanzania.

Hello world!

Don’t get confused, I am not going to present a first example during the learning process of a programming language but a first post of a blog that will treat about a journey around the world. The journey starts February 4th and is planned to finish about Christmas, but the end date is flexible. The only thing that is sure about the end date is that the earliest end date is about Christmas, but who knows how long it might become prolonged.

Murcia is the starting point, and the place where the tour will get finished. Murcia is a city located in south-eastern Spain, where sun shines most of the days. There is so much I could say about Murcia but the goal is to share what is going to be new to me on my trip, and the trip begins in one week.