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.