Get over it! My journal for the second half of September 2010

Saturday, September 11th, I was packed and ready for my taxi to pick me up and take me some 30 odd miles to Marangu Hotel to get set for my climb kubwa.

I met my climbing partners who were from England, and unbeknownst to me, had my last Kilimanjaro beer.

I felt funny…light headed, no energy, nauseous, and achy. Now this didn’t seem right, considering I was just off five days of Ciprol and 5 days of Flagyl, along with Imodium and my Malarone for malaria prevention.  I’d read all about the amoeba I’d been harbouring and considered maybe it wasn’t eradicated after all, but those couple of Kili’s I had over those five days tasted good, and I didn’t know I wasn’t to have any dairy products within 3 hours of Ciprol – do you realize that with 2 Ciprol a day, no milk in my tea or coffee for 12 hours of that day? OUCH! Maybe it was in my brain and liver after all like the website said could happen. ‘Get over it, Gail’

Sunday I talked myself into good health, but the thought of a beer made me queasy.

Tea, all day, tea.

Bedtime Sunday, my angel spoke to me, harshly, in the bathroom…’oh, Please God, not this again’…Yup, back full force. Well, maybe tomorrow…

But tomorrow was the same story…this ain’t getting better.

It’s very hard to admit defeat before the war has started, but after talking to the director of tour operations, and thank God Desmond and Seamus Bryce-Bennet of Marangu Hotel are the caring people that they are, I was convinced I was best to quit while ahead.  It was hard to see my climbing buddies with their guides and porters head off to Rongai Gate without me. I felt I’d let them all down.

The telling tale is that I was so relieved to be going back to the KCMC Hospital in Moshi. Tests were redone and found nothing. That was wonderful, in my mind. It meant those little suckers weren’t invading my brain and liver. What was hard on the old system was all of the medication. It caused an intestinal battleground. I was dehydrated, exhausted and sad. I went home to my little Moshi cottage and slept again for two nights and a day…Back on Ciprol for another 5 days – WHAT!!!

One thing about being sick, once better, you feel better than before you got sick!

September 19th JGI Roots and Shoots marched for International Peace Day. It was wonderful. The day was perfect. R&S Members and co-coordinators and volunteers met at the end of the Mweka daladala route where we had white balloons with a silhouette of doves, Peace and Amani (Peace in Kiswahili) drawn on them. We had a 6 foot sign made up and students carried it and flew our Peace Dove with it’s 20’ wing span as we walked to the Mweka Trail gate. We then returned down to Mweka Village to Omi Primary School where we held a ceremony and many stories were told and many photos were taken. On her Jane Goodall website, Jane describes this UN International event. She was in China flying their Peace Dove at the same time we were flying ours here in Tanzania.

Presenting R&S Water Bottles

Flying our Peace Dove to Mweka

To Mweka Gate

At Omi School

My workmate/roommate left Monday for her 8 day safari with her parents visiting from New York. I took the opportunity of going to Usa River on the bus with Gumbo as he was going to Arusha. I wanted to attend a Rotary Club meeting there. I’d heard of River Trees Country Inn last October so wanted to have a look for myself. It is indeed beautiful. Instead of one night, I splurged and spent two, because of the kind people I met there. Martina Gherken-Trappe never stops. She’s the owner and hands on everything and everything happens at River Trees. Weddings, bush-babies, tourists coming and going, monkeys, honeymooners…a tranquil, natural respite. In those two days, I gained all of the weight I’d lost from being sick…

View From the Dining Room

Sykes Monkey at RiverTrees

The River at RiverTrees

Today I received word there is a spot for me on a climb going the Marangu Route.

I’ll take whatever is available as I don’t have too much time left in Tanzania. Tomorrow I’ll go to the Hotel again and meet my climbing mates, two ladies from Norway. I hope they are tough on me. Wish me luck for Monday and hopefully, I’ll report my progress next week.

Friday, September 10, 2010 from Moshi, Tanzania

When I was in Grade One, around Easter time, I experienced exactly the same feeling that I am experiencing right now, as I force myself to sit and continue this journal.

On Vancouver Island, the little Tsolum School on the hill, across from the ‘big’ school, housed Grade 1 and Grade 2. I was ready for school, loved it, there was no pre-school or kindergarten in 1946 and I remember crying when my brother boarded the bus in September 1945. I wanted to go to school so badly. I’d only turned five that Spring.

I was an achiever. So, when I contracted measles in Grade 1, my pages to a Reading project we each had started was left idle in my little desk. When I returned to class, recovered, the individual pages that I had so lovingly composed, colored, and cared for, were all scrunched up, some even missing, in my desk. Upon this discovery, I was horrified…my ‘creation’…? I was devastated; yet consumed with guilt. I didn’t dare tell anyone. I couldn’t sleep. I felt sick. Days later, when Miss McQuillan asked for our completed projects to be handed in, I made excuses. Eventually, pressured into telling the truth to my teacher, I broke down and cried.

Today, once more, I face the dragon. (I didn’t lose sleep this time – and today, I don’t feel the guilt.) However, it has been three months since my last entry. Naughty child!

I completed my three week Kiswahili Course with KIU at Slipway in Dar es Salaam at the end of June, with an uphill pull. It was tough and I ended with a meltdown.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing…” because, once able to put three words together to form a simple sentence, my Tanzanian friends are so excited they throw back a rapid paragraph, believing I understand…regroup! It’s so hard to learn another language later in life.

At the same time I was going to Tanzanian Immigration ending up spending 2-3 days a week riding daladalas for up to an hour each way and getting evasive shaftings for two months.  Finally, on July 26th I received my Residence Permit Class C , required for volunteering, and celebrated with a 3 day safari to Selous Safari camp in Selous National Park. On August 12th, I was on my way to Moshi.

During the month of July, all of us at Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots in Tanzania, especially Alyssa, Ania, and myself who were living at Dr. Jane’s home in Dar, were involved in the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Gombe Stream. Dr. Jane’s home was her ‘pit stop’ so, on three whirlwind occasions, she arrived during her African Tour. Each time, we all attended receptions held in Jane’s honor. First was the dinner at the British High Commissioner’s, second the Tanzanian President’s Reception held at the Kempinski Hotel in Dar, and third was the reception held at the French Embassy.  All were very impressive and at all three functions.

Gail and Grub

Gail and Grub

Jane spoke so eloquently and passionately regarding her favourite topic today, conservation for animals and man.

Gail and Jane

Gail and Dr. Jane Goodall

I was invaded by some nasty, waterbourne amoeba, a week ago (I have its name and number, which I shan’t ever forget!). Despite being on three regimes of antibiotics until tomorrow, I’m packing, hoping my clothing will be warm enough for the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro…and praying everything fits me, layered. Tomorrow I leave for my hotel and I’ll chill out for a day before I start my climb Monday morning September 13th. I reckon the 13th is a lucky day to start something good.

It’s Edi this morning in Tanzania, the big celebration for Muslims, ending Ramadhan.  The first light of the moon for their calendar was seen and the singing and happiness is literally in the air. So today is a National holiday with banks and Government office and schools etc., closed. Imagine, if the moon hadn’t been sighted everything would have remained open as usual. Amy and I have been invited to two different Edi feasts tonight. Two of our closest co-workers in JGI Roots and Shoots at Mweka are Muslim and have been fasting for a month. I’ve been commiserating with them, saying I feel for them; I fast every day, from bedtime until sunrise. They laugh and laugh, then say, “Everyone does”.

Gail and Gumbo

Gail and Gumbo on the trail to Suungu SS

My two beautiful Tanzanian Muslim friends…happy today as every day.

My First Two Weeks

Sunday, June 12, 2010. Msasani, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

It’s been a long haul, coming to Tanzania this time and I’m still not settled.

On looking back from boarding my British Air flight to London May 25th, so much has happened; I feel as if I’m in a whirlwind. I’d prepaid my extra baggage at home previous to my flight yet overlooked that I was not on a connecting flight (less than 24 hours between flights) from London to Dar, so at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 I discovered I had to pay another 170 British Pounds to have my goods accompany me. On the tiled floor of Heathrow I couldn’t decide which ‘child’ to leave behind.

I enjoyed two days of calm at the Palm Beach Hotel in Upanga (an area of Dar) while I organized my banking and visited Tanzanian friends whom I hadn’t seen since August 2008. On June 1st, Alyssa, coordinator for Jane Goodall Institute – Roots and Shoots came to the hotel to guide my way to ‘Jane’s House’ in Msasani (an area of Dar). I’m ashamed to admit we needed 2 taxi’s to accommodate my baggage – but hey! consider Stanley as he bartered his way across Tanzania. I have many special Tanzanian friends for whom I bring gifts and gifts for friends I’ve yet to meet AND six months is a long time from home.

The first week at my Dar home was cluttered and frantic. I needed to disperse with a lot of stuff I’d brought – I needed to ‘organise’ – I can be a cranky old snit until I’m organized as my Expedition friend, Becky can attest to. Well, unpacking didn’t happen until the weekend. Closets and shelves I would use needed sweeping down, washed out, air dried, sanded down to slide and close, debugged and finally sprayed with essential oils to deter wadudu. I had no personal time to do any of this until 4 nights of sleeping in confusion – as Don (my husband) would describe, “It looks like you sorted your room with a hand grenade.”

Days were packed meeting the Tanzanian staff at JGI Office in Mikocheni, (just across Old Bagamoyo Road, but yet a different ‘area’ of Dar) orientation, collecting reams of paper & online information to read in my ‘spare time’…all generally ‘learning the ropes’. I knew I’d never get personal names straight for days but, strangely, I did remember and quite quickly.

Wednesday morning, June 2nd, Alyssa and I headed for our first attempt at Tanzanian Immigration downtown via daladala. This is a ‘cross cultural experience’. Early morning travel in Dar today is stop-start all the way a 40 minute ride packed like sardines in a tin can – literally. Better in the early morning rush than the late afternoon when the deodorant (if used) has worn off. I had all my paperwork organized, even had my expired Residency Permit Class C (for volunteer workers not receiving money) from February 2004 to February 2006. But wait! Aha…this isn’t the ORIGINAL permit. We need the ORIGINAL permit. Gee, and I thought I was clever in bringing my permit! OH! And we need a written release from you previous sponsor, HAYOSAP, stating they have no objection to my working with another Tanzanian NGO! OH dear…now how do we locate HAYOSAP when the High Court of Tanzania couldn’t locate them when they were attempting to sue me for 1.5 million US dollars. “Never fear – Gail’s here” was the battle cry (in my head).

Alyssa left for Moshi early Thursday morning, June 3rd, taking Amy who will be my working partner at Mweka Wildlife Center, to the JGI home in Moshi. Amy is from the US and has been here at Jane’s House since April studying Kiswahili and undergoing orientation. She’s ‘breaking trail’  for my arrival in July.  Anya ( my fellow recruit from Poland via Canada, US, Paris and heading for university in London in the fall) and I were together alone at the house until Saturday when Dr. Anthony Collins arrrived for an overnight stay enroute to Kigoma and Gombe Stream where he was to be hosting 28 visitors last Monday. Sunday night, his wife Esther and her sister Miriam arrived from Arusha for medical treatment and they were here until this past Friday. Alyssa arrived back from Moshi Monday night, so the doors of Jane’s house are constantly opening and closing. I believe Dr. Collins is back this week for the office’s KUBWA final touches to planning Dr. Goodall’s trip to Tanzania celebrating 50 Years Of Gombe July 1st. Amedi, our housekeeper, and Abdullah, our gardener, are busy spiffing up the home and grounds for this occasion.

This Wednesday, June 9th, Alyssa and I made our second attempt with Immigration, a ‘No Go’ until I explained a court action against me by HAYOSAP. We were herded to a back room office with four officers who heard my story then offered a remedy. TAXI! To my lawyer’s office and after obtaining the file number, I headed off to the High Court armed with my Civil Case No. 135 of 2005. A sweetheart of a clerk at reception took me under her wing and by Thursday noon I had two official, stamped decrees with the final verdict: Case dismissed due to Plaintiff non-compliance of….YAHOO! Taxi swiftly to Immigration with paper in hand, so this Friday, June 18th, I will know if I am accepted by Tanzania and know if they really want my money!

Friday, June 4th, was an extra special day travelling with Japhet, one of JGI’s Tanzanian Roots and Shoots co-ordinators, and Anya to Kibamba Secondary School. It was their last day of school prior to holidays until around July 9th. What an exciting event. I was mesmorized.

The students sat in the shade of a huge tree, while teachers, and then Japhet, spoke. Japhet introduced Anya and me. Then came the presentation by Kibamba S.S. Roots and Shoots Members…ahhh it was amazing. Their  faces were made up and they had clothing props; they danced and sang a song they had created saying even though they are Tanzanians they don’t know all of their National Parks because they don’t have literature, maps or information and how sad is this. Brian & Tara, you would have hugged them all and wanted to take them home. I couldn’t take my eyes off one young fellow – oh, the rhythm and energy and what a cutie – the startling fact was, he was the ‘twin’ of my daughter’s stepson, Jacob. He was watching me also and his eyes were Jacob’s eyes. His face and movements will be imprinted in my mind forever. Oh, I kick myself… Anya & I didn’t even think to take our cameras…mine was still packed away in my ‘hand grenade’ mess. After the dance and song the secondary students dispersed while we and the 29 or so members of Roots & Shoots who were honoured to remain (there are 48 members but those who did not contribute during the year were not invited) continued on to a classroom where refreshments were served. We were given bottled water then a plate with cupcakes and a package of peanuts then, a soda. The refreshments were supplied by the young Roots and Shoots members and they are to be praised for their warm and generous hospitality. Speeches were given then Anya and I were asked to say some words. I told them that I am a Bibi (grandmother) so I KNOW they are no different than secondary students in Canada who would be saying “Let’s get out of here and get on with our school holiday” when it was their last day of school. But, I had to tell them that, having been a painter, the artwork on the blackboard (that they had sketched for this celebration) was beyond anything I could ever create. It was absolutely beautiful. The room exploded with clapping. I told them I loved their performance and that they should be so very proud of their achievements. I was honored to have been their guest. It was hard to ‘read’ their reaction, but as they passed by our guest table at the front of the room to shake our hands, well over half of the students took my hand in both of theirs and said “I love you”. I saw the sincerity in their faces. What a great group of young Tanzanians – their parents, their teachers and their country should be mighty proud of them.

Born To Accept Fate

The countdown continues with little hitches and glitches added along the way…obstacles I can handle.

For those of you just discovering my latest adventure, I am returning to Tanzania for my ninth journey. I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to work with the Jane Goodall Institute’s conservation education program, Roots and Shoots on a six month recruitment. After a month of Kiswahili language training (or re-training for this brittle brain of mine – I’ve had three months of language study previously, at ELCT in Morogoro) I will be posted in Moshi, TZ and working at the Wildlife Center in Mweka, on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Roots and Shoots, for those who don’t know, is the Jane Goodall Institute’s global program for youth. It was formed in Tanzania in 1991 when a small group of students gathered on the porch of Dr. Goodall’s home in Dar es Salaam, wanting to know how they could make the world a better place. R&S has grown to clubs in over 100 countries around the world.

I am so proud to be associated with this amazing group and especially so, being a member of the Rotary Club of Whistler that is presently active in funding reforestation in Uganda.

Getting Prepared

Hiking Bump & Grind in the California Desert in March

5 Days To Lift-Off

The count-down begins.
I’m starting to feel pressured.
It didn’t help to receive an email from British Air that my flight from London Heathrow to Dar es Salaam was cancelled due to their impending strike. All is well; I am rebooked and have to rethink my ‘carry-on’ to include 3 days in London instead of an overnight stay. Am I excited? NO! I only get excited once I’m on the plane and know it’s too late if I forgot something. WELL! I can go shopping in London and purchase forgotten items!