Thursday, May 27, 2010

I got to Nampula...

This blog will try to give a chronological account of the happenings of the last few days! I will leave out a few things because to much has happened and I would rather not keep you reading this for to long as you are very important and probably have better things to do. Nevertheless, I would appreciate it if you read this because I somehow feel connected to you as you read it, which is good for me because I miss you.

So last sunday, my friend, Mr. Awesome, (thanks Mr. Baker!!!) drove me to the Nairobi airport! We get there with about an hour and half before the flight takes off. So I get to the counter and the lady takes my eticket and passport, looks at the computer and says "uhm you are not in the system, can you wait over at the side here." I am thinking, "Ok, I am just being tested to see how I adapt and how flexible I am," so I respond, "yes, I can, but I am waiting right here so you can see me ok." I didn't want to be unloving by yelling and complaining, but I also did not want to be dumb.

She just smiled, I think she was thinking, "you can always see Muzungos". True enough, white people can't blend in very well. Anyway, then they send me over to another lady, she tells me the same thing, "you are not in the system!" I am quite dumbfounded at this because I know I confirmed these tickets weeks ago so I know I should be in the system. So I got sent to another counter, but all the people are behind a security glass window so I can't really tell whats going on! I am very worried by now, because everyone else, who was on flight is long gone through check -in and costoms.

My Awesome Friend, was on the outside of the airport, (in Nairobi's airport you have to go through security at the front door so he was not allowed in). Thankfully though, I was able to yell to him my problem so then he went into the side door of the office (behind the impregnable glass wall). He was able to make it into this office through the street door, and I remained stuck behind glass. I couldn't hear a thing, but I knew I had a good rep in there for me, so I was quite happy about that. By now, over an hour has gone by bouncing from counter to counter stuck behind a glass wall. So my flight is leaving really soon!

Finally, Mr. Baker comes over and yells to me, "Jeremy, your ticket from Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam was not paid for, but every other flight is paid for." So, somehow, the system/agent/whatever else is in the middle messed up so I made it from Toronto to Amsterdam then to Nairobi, then I got stuck in Nairobi with a connecting flight from Dar to Nampual already paid for, as well as a all my return flights being paid for. The only thing to do is buy my flight there, because if I don't catch this flight then I miss my last flight which is already paid for. Moreover, I have people in Nampula waiting for me, so I do it, thankfully, I have just enough to cover the cost.

So then I get to the counter to check-in and I find out the flight is delayed for two hours. Long story short, I missed my connecting flight from Dar to Nampula so I have to stay in Dar till the next flight, Wednesday.

I could have gotteb mad, but then I thought, ok I'll just see Dar Es Salaam! So I get to Dar, and had to pressure the airline to put me up in a hotel till the next flight. So I got to stay in an great hotel called Blue Pearl.

It had an amazing bed, thus I took advantage and got some very essential sleep. The sun woke me up, with its brilliant rays! Wow it was hot. So I got up washed my dirty clothes in the bathtub, and went down for breakfast. I forget what I had, but it was great! I then asked a some people what I should do for my few days here in Dar, they all told me, "Go to Zanzibar!" So I made plans to go to Zanzibar the following day, I met a taxi driver, and got a good price and asked the time and price of the boats to Zanzibar. I could only go the next day, Tuesday, because the boat left early, so I planned for that, and I went into City Center to buy an alarm clock so I would wake up, not a strength of mine. So I spent the day roaming and reading until it was time to sleep. As I said, that bed was amazing, but morning always comes.

This time the alarm clock woke me up, it probably woke the sun up to, it is LOUD! I jumped out of bed and into the taxi. We get to the port, and people swarm around me cuz they all want to sell tickets. Through a VERY long series of events I get onto the boat, and should not have, because I did not have my passport with me. I made the decision to leave my passport locked up in the hotel because it is precious and it could get stolen in Zanzibar. Well, I was clueless as to the need for a passport to go to Zanzibar, its not a different country so I thought I was fine! This was not the case. I get off the pleasant boat/ship ride only to face frowning immigration officials!

Immigration!? Why, Zanzibar is part of Tazania!?!?! So after a long lecture, some standing around, some begging, a written letter of apology, I got into Zanzibar. Yes, I was so releaved! However, this feeling was soon followed by a feeling of confusion! What do I do now, Zanzibar didn't seem all that special there was cars going here and there, including tourist cars, but I didn't have enough money to do the tourist things, so I just started wondering around the city. I greeted everyone with "Mambo" and walked like I knew where I was going so I wasn't to easy to take advantage of, because I was making friends along the way and I looked like I knew where I was going. I memorized all the streets I went on so I wouldn't get lost, but I avoided stone town because it looked really confusing.

I walked so much!!! I only had my hotel keys, $20, and Tsh 1000 (a dollor or two) in my pocket. I knew how much I would stand out so I didn't want to carry much with me. All that walking made me so hungry and thirsty plus I had nothing to eat before this trip, the hotel wasn't serving food at 5:00 am, so I walked till I was about to faint. Then I bought Fanta Orange. It was great. Then I wondered around some more and stumbled across a beautiful garden with a fort and old buildings behind it. So I sat there and I kept saying Mambo to those walking by. I made a lot of friends in Zanzibar. One particular friend, was Harrim. He was a friendly man, and spoke english very well so I was able to practice my friend-making skills. He was kind enough to show me the buildings and gave an overview of the rich history of Zanzibar. Then we went into stone town, its like maze in there, but some really cool buildings. He showed me the aricture, buildings, markets etc. After about an hour we just sat and chatted for awhile.

After about half an hour of chatting, I decide that its time for me to go, but I am quite lost in stone town. So I ask him, "how do you get out of here." He says, "yes, yes, I can take you."

I am thinking what a nice guy, I am going to give him the shilings that I have when I leave which is Tsh 500 now, (maybe a dollar probably less). Althought, I had already told him I didn't have any money and that I wasn't paying him when we first met, he said, "Yeah, I don't want money." Anyway back to the story. So we are walking out, then he turns to me and says, "So, how much for all this?" I say, "Harrim, like I told you I don't have money, but because you are nice guy I'll give you Tsh 500."

I am quite certain this was considered an insult to Harrim. He got very angry! I didn't want to get beat up so I ducked into a change bureau and changed my $20 and gave him about $5. He was quite happy about this and wanted to show me his family, but I didn't really trust him at that point, because he cleverly got me lost in stone town using it as leverage to pay him. Thankfully, I had been wondering the city for hours before I met him so I knew my way around from the fish market.

I wondered a lot that day, and finally it paid off. I found a soccer field. There was a local matching going on so I decided to make some soccer friends and watch the game with them. I met a bunch of players waiting for thier turn to play, after the game were were watching. I watched the first half then I wondered down to the port to catch my boat/ship back to Dar. I had a flight to catch the next day so I couldn't miss this boat. I got there and finally got on the boat. I met a journalist on the boat! He was Awesome!

Then I finally, got to Dar, and met up with my taxi man, Mr. Barrack. (side note, I spent a lot of time with Mr. Barrack the first two days talking in front of the hotel, so he was quite trustworthy) Anyway, I finally made my way back to the hotel. I tried phoning the airline once I got there to confirm everything and that they were picking me up the next day to get my flight, all of which they said they would! I also got personal cell phones of the airline employees. (side note: 3rd years do this, it could help on your trip!) I didn't help me because nobody picked up, but I think it was a good idea. Anyway, I decided that I had to sleep and worrying wouldn't change anything.

Once, agian the alarm woke me up agian!! It is so LOUD!! I get my stuff ready, checked out. Then I waited to get picked up by the airline! I waited for a very long time, then I decided, I'd rather pay for a taxi out there then stay in Dar for another week and do something even more dumb then go to Zanzibar with no documents and get conned. So I called Mr. Barrack and jumped in his taxi and we headed off to the airport. I wanted to get there super early this time. (I learned from my Nairobi expereince, airport mix-ups happen). So I get there and talk to my friend Ezekiel (another side note: making friends with airline employees is VERY helpful, be friendly and get their supervisors email and say you will write their superviser about how great so and so is) In my case it was Ezekiel. He was very helpful, but only after I was kind and offered to write his supervisor a good letter.

He confirmed my flight to Nampula and that I was on it. So I wait till its time to check in, Ezekiel came over while I was waiting and told me he was off for the day. So I aksed to meet one of the other employees in case something went wrong. So I met Christian. Anyway, finally its time to check-in. I finally get to the counter and they type away at the computer, frown, and say, "you are not in the system, please stand to the side."

Not again!!! I am going to get beaten and robbed before I even set foot in Nampula. Thankfully, I saw Christian on the other side of the hall so I ran over to him explaining what had happened! He came over and sorted everything out, but by this time I was the last person in line. So I was worried I would miss this flight as well. Thankfully, though, I made it through and took my seat on the plane. Finally, I was on my last flight to Nampula. I was soo happy to be on that plane!! It was great to be finally going to where I was going to live for a year. Traveling is exciting, but I had my fill for now.

Skip to today, I worked my first day with COCAMO! I we are preparing for a workshop in Nacala! So I have to leave for Nacala next wednesday! Wow, I am already worn out, and I can't cook so I am hungry, but God is good, and I learned a million life long lessons this past week.

I hope I grew somehow this week...

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Nairobi for a bit...

So on my trip here (Nairobi) I stopped off in Amsterdam, and I looked deep inside. I have nothing against the Dutch, in fact, I quite enjoyed the airport. My friend and I had a great conversation about how God is still good even though bad things happen to us. I am still learning this, because I often blame God for things He didn't even do, which leads me to ignore the only one who can make a tragedy into a story of redemption.

Anyway, I arrived in Nairobi airport in the evening and was the 2nd person out of the door, because I showed up early at the airport allowing me to pick the seat right beside the door (which you guys should try to do as well). This meant I was the first person to get to the immigration table getting my visa for my short two day stay in Kenya. It was easier then checking out a book at UTSC's library! Then I was the first to get my bag and the first through customs. No hastle. Since this blog is about growth, I learned that it is a good idea to sit as close as you can to the door even though it might be annoying on the flight, because it comes in handy to be the first person to see each official.

So last night I slept amazing, with no dreams. Today I went to Java, and had a great breakfast, then saw baby elephants at the elephant nursery. Then we went out and saw the BCC orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi. It is incredible, it is truly impacting lives, and its really cool because the kitchen is partially powered by biofuels (cow dung). Really Really amazing stuff!!

As amazing as the biofeul-run-kitchen is, there are more incredible things. These things are called people. Now, people are generally found on planet earth, although, occasionally one will escape to jump around on the moon. You laughed, I know you did, but you should stop because the next part is not funny.

The following people are amazing. 'J' is amazing because although he lost his wife just over a year ago he thanks God that she Knew and Loved God. He does not blame God for her death he thanks Him for the relationship she had with God. 'E' is amazing because although he is already supporting his 5 brothers and sisters, he told me that he would be happy to help just one person in his life. So he prays to God that He will put him in a position to help others. 'E' does not complain about his responsibility to support his family of 7 in all, but prays that he can help more. 'R' is amazing because although she has been bed-ridden for six weeks with a shattered leg and hip she thanks God that she has a sound mind. She was the only one to survive a matatu crash. She does not complain for what she has lost, she thanks God for what she has. There are many more stories, even more traumatic then these, but I cannot describe those for my writing would not do them justice.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge that I know, many of you may not like all this talk of God. There are many reasons for this, mostly though, it makes you uncomfortable. I do not aim to make you uncomfortable, but I cannot neglect to write about the deeper things of life.

It seems I have already seen tragic stories turned into stories of redemption. I have learned, though, that this redemption is much deeper then I had first thought.

I leave you with this thought.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Three days till I go.

Only three sleeps until I am on a jet plane that will take me to Nampula, Mozambique. I also get to stay with a family friend in Nairobi for two days! How Awesome is that!? I don't want to write much, because nothing interesting has happened yet. Although, I did have the MOST AMAZING DREAMS EVER a couple of nights ago! I learned that a very real side affect of Mefloquine is extremely vivid dreams! The other night I lead a revolt against the Dutch. It was exhilarating. In fact slept till 10 because the revolt wasn't done yet and my people needed me. I don't think I have anything against the Dutch, but who knows what is deep down inside me.

Gots to Go.