25 November 2010

Spare keys, anyone?

Remember last time when I wrote about that acronym ‘AWA’? Yeah, words can’t really express how much that statement can sum up my life over the past weekend. I wish that I could just say ‘Full Moon Party in Nungwi’ and everyone would know exactly what I meant, but I can’t. Haha. So my train of thought (and nothing is left out) is all organized, I need to write out bullet points and then go from there. Deep breath.

  • Flavia’s jigger and Chris’ tropical ulcer
  • Van ride up north
  • Full Moon Party
  • Post-Full Moon Party
  • Stop at the Police Station

Now, that might not look like the most interesting weekend, but once I divulge the happenings then you’ll understand. Basically, once a month one of the resorts up north in Nungwi throws this kick ass party to celebrate the full moon. A bunch of tourists go, but there’s also always a good chunk of locals that like to check it out. It’s a great way to let loose, dance, have fun with your friends, etc.

Anyway, so Toni and I (well, mostly Toni and Rasmus) organize it so that all of the vols go up for the weekend. Right before it’s time to leave, one of the vols Flavia asks me whether or not she has a jigger in her toe. FYI – a jigger is a worm that somehow gets through the soft tissue of your foot and just hangs out there. If it stays in there long enough it lays eggs and then dies. Very awesome. Needless to say, I tell her yes, ‘cause I’m 99.9% sure that that’s what it is, despite her fianc√© trying to tell her differently. So, I ask one of our cooks Fadhili if it is, he says yes, and then he proceeds to get it out. Not as gross as it sounds, just definitely not something you see back in the States. Then her fianc√© Chris starts looking at this thing he’s had on his leg for quite a while – which I about a week before this had said was lookin’ like my tropical ulcer did and that he should get it checked out – and said that it was hurting him. ‘Cause we were all in doctor-playing modes, Flavia and I start trying to care for his leg. Let’s all remember back to when I talked about mine; had to cut the scab open and squeeze all the shit out of it. He wasn’t impressed. And THEN (right before we were all set to leave) he decided that maybe he wants to go to Dr Hamza. Well-timed, sir. ;)

After all of the shenanigans were over we were on our way. Our van was deemed the party van, purely because of the sheer amounts of crazy (people) that were in it. Quick breakdown: two Germans, one Brit, one Swede/fake-Brit, two Aussies, and an American. Yeah, it was nuts. The van ride up was just epic. Everyone was in a goofy mood, so we were all jamming – and I mean that literally; there was even water bottle microphone singing! – to people’s iPods and just being pretty much idiots. Range of songs to which were listened: ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?,’ ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,’ ‘Run This Town,’ and some good ol’ Whitney Houston.

Once we finally arrived Friday evening, it was just in time for everyone to drop their stuff at respective lodgings and then regroup for dinner. Pretty calm dinner and walking around… Yeah, no, I totally lied. I forgot that after dinner a group of us went to this beach bar and continued to knock back some drinks. Yeaaaaah. Forgot about that one. Haha. It was good times. Totally learned more about people than I really needed to and found out that I am forever destined to be like people’s best mates and never anything more (not that I’m bitter or anything…). Checked out a Rasta bar but didn’t stick around for long – for some reason I just can’t quite make it past 2 am anymore. Called Ri, got a semi-update about how ridiculously awful my boys have been doing while I’ve been gone. [Although Tazer’s Hatty and then their subsequent win in Vancouver (right? Crawford’s almost-shutout of 7-1?) are starting to redeem themselves. Keep it up! Aaaand they lost to San Jose. Well done, guys.]

Saturday day itself is quite lazy: laying in the sun and swimming in the most beautifully clear water ever. Don’t know why I didn’t dive; in hindsight, I totally should’ve! After lunch – which I didn’t mind, but I guess everyone else found it terrible? You can so tell my standards no longer match other people’s or what they used to be – we all headed off to our respective hotels ‘cause we were all knackered and wanted to be ready for the party that evening. Had a GLORIOUS two and a half hour nap before getting my shit together, taking a shower, and getting dressed (yes, like a female!) for the night’s events. Finally got to Kendwa Rocks – the hotel where the party was to take place – and ordered our dinner. While waiting, we partook in silly antics some of us cooked up before we left for the weekend. For example, I had to say ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!’ before I started a drink and right before I took the last sip. Someone else had to do a chest pop every time the word ‘drink’ was said. And only a select few were in on it, so whenever it happened, we would all burst into a fit of giggles. The English speakers tried to teach some Germans and Dutch people how to play Ring of Fire and that ended up being quite… interesting/entertaining. Some people were a bit sullen for unknown reasons, but then after a few drinks were consumed, everyone started to loosen up. I know I did – as I don’t normally do splits on the middle of beaches. Haha. I don’t know exactly what flicked the switch, but around half 12 everyone hit the dance floor. So. Much. Fun. Excellent jams, just kickin’ it with friends and one of our students from Jambiani – a story in itself… – and totally just enjoying the night!

However, since all good things must come to an end, around 2 o’clock one of the vols comes up to me and she’s like ‘Greer’s bag is gone.’ I’m fairly certain that you could’ve knocked me over with a feather when that was said. For one, that means a vol’s bag was stolen, but in addition, MY Blackberry (I knew I shouldn’t have gotten one of those to take with me to Africa!), small digital camera, some cash, and my sweater were all put in there for safe keeping as well. Without really reacting, I just peaced out to go sit on the beach and just stare at the water. Two of the vols came out after me, but weren’t overbearing, just kind of silently sitting down next to me and letting me just process through it out on my own. And when I was finally ready to face the situation, they pulled me into a hug. Head back into the party only to be told the real kicker to the situation: the keys to the car in which we rode were in the bag as well. Which meant that we were unable to get into the car to get back to our hotels, not like we would be able to get into our rooms, ‘cause a bunch of us had locked our room keys in the car for ‘safekeeping.’ Isn’t it funny how karma works? Drunken frantic running around trying to figure out what next to do ensued. Taxi was taken back to Nungwi, where I burst into a fit of hysterical laughter, grab two of the girls, and literally run straight into the ocean, fully-clothed. It just needed to happen. We had talked earlier about doing a midnight swim anyway, and half 2 in the morning, after all of this shit seemed like the perfect time to do it. :)  But then again, it once again came back to kick us in the ass, ‘cause when Greer, Ben, Jess, and I headed back to our hotel, we were told that the manager herself was at the Full Moon Party, so we’d have to wait until she got back for us to ask for spare keys. Are you havin’ a giraffe? So, the four of us jumped into a hammock, a couch, and two pulled-together chairs and slept outside – with the MILLIONS of mozzies whining around our heads – for two hours, the time now being 5 am, until someone came back to the hotel. When that happened, we had a chat, as much of a chat as you can have to someone who only speaks kiSwahili, only to find out that THERE ARE NO SPARE KEYS for our rooms. I promise I’m not making this shit up. So, all four of us, the three girls all shivering because of our wet clothes and the cold of the night, got to crash in some random room for another two hours before we had to get up for breakfast and try to get all of our stuff out of our respective rooms in time for check out. Greer left earlier ‘cause she had to get back to her hotel and find HER spare key, as well as get to the police station, if you can really even call it that, to file a police report. Which meant that when Jess and I woke up, since our dresses were still wet, we had to take the sheets off of our beds and make couture kanga gowns out of them in order to not be naked while going to eat. I seriously wish I had had my camera so that I could’ve taken a picture in all of our ridiculousness. Long story short (too late), got into our rooms, got our stuff, checked out, thanked the guys working profusely, and then headed to the other hotel.

When we got there, we found out that since we didn’t have the key to the car we left in Kendwa, we were going to have to wait for a fundi – handyman – to be driven out from Stone Town so he could break into the car and then hotwire so we could return it to its owner. Oh, have I forgot to mention that both of the cars we took up to Nungwi were rented and that we were going to be charged a fortune if anything happened to them?! Yeah, adding to the drama. So, we’re all sitting around, waiting for news and the latest update only for Toni and Rasmus to roll up and then hand over the small clutch in which I had everything the night before. BUT the only thing that was in it were the car keys (weird, right?) and the key to Greer’s hotel room. It’s funny how things work out, eh? We all finally get into the car around 2 pm, but before we can head back to town, we have to make a stop at the police station, so Greer can amend her police report to include my camera and the cash that I had in my clutch. The asshole police officer won’t let her, so I have to go in and file my own police report. Dude was a dick to us, asking us why didn’t we include it to begin with and why had we waited until just then to report it instead of first thing in the morning. Luckily Rasmus was with us so he used his Swahili charm to tell them that we were volunteer teachers and it wasn’t our fault, blah, blah, blah. But that took a good 30-45 minutes before we could actually head to Stone Town to drop off the cars and have lunch before heading back to Jambiani. Had a delicious meal at Lukmann’s, although that’s always the case. Brooded out the window all the way back from Stone Town, had dinner when we got back to Grand, and then basically crawled into bed and slept until it was time to get up for nursery school.

Exhausting weekend, that’s for sure. And in hindsight, I enjoyed most of it. There are parts I’d obviously like to forget (some more obvious than others), but when it all comes down to it, the things that I lost were just material objects. Granted they were a bit pricey, but all of the pictures from my camera were already on my computer and my Blackberry only had numbers and texts that needed to be saved, nothing more. At the end of the day, that isn’t the stuff that really matters. Everyone is safe and sound at home, no one was hurt, we all have hilarious anecdotes from the experience and we’ve become (mostly) fast friends because of it. Definitely an AWA moment, but now that it’s over, it’s quite hysterical. I’m sure reading this is not going to be as entertaining as it will be to actually hear it from me ‘cause I’ll be able to add funny random tidbits of information. But until I get a chance to see all your beautiful, smiling faces, this will just have to do.

In the mean time, I need phone numbers from pretty much everyone and their brother. Either FB message them to me or text them to my American number. Won’t necessarily be able to answer your texts, but I will get them. Have a new, working phone at the moment, so I’ll use that through the rest of my travels until I get back to the States and use my old one.

Know that I love and miss you all!

07 November 2010


Despite how much I’m able to journal and blog about what I’m feeling on a daily basis, I’ve come to the conclusion that I physically have NO IDEA how to tell people about myself in a formal, professional way. I’m currently wracking my brain trying to figure out how best to ‘introduce’ myself to my host country staff for the Peace Corps so they can better place me once I get there. Talk about nerve-wracking. I have a hard enough time writing flipping cover letters and resumes ‘cause I always feel as if I’m bragging or I have the problem about not being formal enough and trying to infuse such things with my personality and humour (which I guess you’re not allowed to do?). How is a document on a computer screen going to fully explain how I can place six degrees of separation with practically any actor and then tell you where they dry clean their clothes or that I have the utmost love and respect for the people in Jambiani and other villages on the island of Zanzibar? I just don’t think it’s possible and that frustrates the hell out of me. Or everything I write comes out as short and detached with no feeling behind it; saying that I have a strong academic interest for 15th-18th century British history or about the Crusades does not really describe how much I loathe the TV show The Tudors because they’ve bastardized one of my favourite historical figures ever or the inexplicable love I have for the movie Kingdom of Heaven because of the way Ridley Scott has portrayed both ‘sides’ of the story.

In other news, as you might have noticed my recent change of Facey-B status, I have a new acronym that has taken over my life. AWA. It’s the new TIA, I swear. Firstly, let me clarify that we all know what ‘TIA’ stands for: This is Africa. It is usually used when something has happened, such as the electricity going off for a good chunk of your day, and you’re resigned to the fact, simply because it cannot be helped. Example: ‘Aw, damn, I’m in the middle of a cold shower after a long (extremely) hot day’s work, and the electricity in the whole village has gone off, leaving me soaping my hair in the dark… TIA.’ Alright, so we’ve got that settled so we can move on to the new one and the one that has really come to embody my life within the past few days. AWA = Africa wins again. Usage is very similar to TIA, except for the fact that using it seems to be a bit more negative that if you were to say TIA. Having heard it from a Canadian VSO member the other day, it’s become quite apparent in my life.

Now, I’m sure I’m overreacting and being dramatic, but whatevs. The other day I went to the local clinic (an experience unto itself; Mom, you may or may not be shocked when you see it) to get my leg checked out. On Wednesday morning I had woken up with a blister on the outside of my calf, not knowing what it was or where it had come from. I let my body try and deal with it naturally; expecting that I had just burned it somehow or it was a spider bite or something. Anyway, after it had done its thing and started to ‘heal,’ it continued to get red and the skin around the scab was getting quite hard. Toni – my boss and current roommate – said that I should get it checked out because it looked very similar to the tropical ulcer she had on her foot earlier this year. After good ol’ Dr Hamza checked it out, sure enough, it was the beginning of a fabulous tropical ulcer. Basically, it’s a bug/parasite/thing that gets into a wound and seals it self in, the infection spreading underneath the skin. Pleasant, eh? Yeah, try going to a clinic in the middle of rural Africa and having the doctor use a small razor blade to cut off the scab and then squeeze out all of the ‘sluff’ (as Toni and I call it). With no warning or painkillers. Yeah, that was definitely a fun experience. NOT. And then to have it done again yesterday for my ‘check-up,’ living the good life, I am. Haha. As of right now I’m healing fairly well – seeming to have good vibes from the doc himself. I now have a legitimate excuse for not doing my cycling every other day with one of the local dudes and not to get up for early morning runs. Yesssss.

My mind is currently all over the place. It’ll definitely be interesting to try and refocus my brain to finish my aspiration statement in the next 30-45 minutes before running off to have dinner with the rest of the volunteers (who are a right trip this time around). Maybe after John Mayer finishes this amazing rendition of ‘Belief’ – from his Where the Light Is DVD – I’ll put on some Madge – her Confessions tour DVD, for Joe, if you even read this anymore – and jam that way. OH! Before I forget, everyone who knows my mother needs to help convince her that she and I need to go to Melbourne while in Australia so that we can try and see good ol’ Philip Quast as Mr Banks in Mary Poppins. It needs to happen. No jokes. And I need to see Meggie while I’m there. Obvious Yodel love night. ;)

Keep me updated on everyone’s lives! What were you all for Halloween? How was Bonfire Night? What is everyone doing for Thanksgiving? How freezing is it in the good ol’ UK and US of A? I’m dying of heat, but loving that I can sit in the sun and tan when friends in Chicago are suffering the rain and cold (has it snowed yet?).

Miss and love you all!