Left and leaving: Leaving Mwanza …arriving in
After packing most of the day yesterday and having a few stops to say bye to some friends we’ve made…we had the night before a trip sleep…you sort of rest but even in your dreams you think you’re forgetting something. We got up early and made our way downstairs with our huge suitcases that are probably more overweight than when we first got here because of the stuff we bought. They don’t seem too bad…but then again, the scale at the apartment broke so we really had no idea. As we made our way downstairs we were dreading the ridiculous route we were forced to take: instead of a one hour direct flight that Missy will be taking to join us in Kigali a few days after us we’re taking a stupid detour flight that has us going from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam for a 3 hour layover, then to Nairobi for another 4 hour layover and then finally making our way to Kigali. Now, I’m not very good at geography or have very good sense of direction, I get lost in my own neighbourhood…but even I know that that doesn’t sound right. And if you look at the map, which I am doing right now, you will see that actually...we went further way from Kigali by going to Dar, and then still further in going to Nairobi probably flying right over Mwanza again on our way to Kigali…so all in all not the best route.
Already dreading that nonsense, it seems as though every single taxi, that is normally hanging around waiting for us…sometimes 5 at a time would ask if we needed a ride, were all busy or not around. We stood in front of the apartment just trying to flag someone down. The flight from Mwanza to Dar seemed to be quite normal, no major commotion or turbulence, although we didn’t get to sit together, it wasn’t a bad flight. On the way off the plane however, we realized that something was not right. It seems that an elderly women travelling with her grand daughter or maybe even niece died sometime while we were in mid air. Of course, we would never have known if it wasn’t for Helen who was sitting with a woman who knew the young women who was in tears while the rest of the passengers were exiting the metal bird. I saw the woman crying and wondered what was going on, beside her I saw what I thought was a women sleeping with a kanga over her face…(duh I know now putting the pieces together) but didn’t think anything of it. While coming off the plane we noticed an entire airport crew (as in like 30-50 people) waiting outside the plane. In my naïve eyes all I could think of is “Wow! What a welcoming!” After Helen told us what had happened an eerie feeling came over all of us. We just couldn’t understand how no one on the plane reacted. Maybe to try and keep everyone calm, I’m not sure but we didn’t even notice the crew doing anything out of the ordinary.
After that strange experience that was almost a non experience we were a little rattled and eager to move on. When we wanted to check in, they told us to come back in three hours. When we went back 2 hours later they had told us that we were late but it didn’t matter because our flight was cancelled and oh yeah your bags are overweight. We didn’t have a problem with our luggage out of Mwanza, so we couldn’t understand why it was a problem now. We tried taking things out and putting them in our carry-ons and even contemplated leaving things behind. Then all of a sudden, the man working behind the counter told us to hurry because our plane was leaving without us. This was news to us because we thought it was cancelled. He took our luggage and told us to go and wait in the boarding room. Still confused, we walked over, passing the gates and metal detector we were now realizing that they had given me the wrong tickets. He accidentally printed two of the same off, so we had two tickets for Helen and none for me. The airport was super busy at this point with the many people that had missed their flight that seemed to be overbooked. I walked over to the counter to have them print me off a ticket that had my name on. Trying to get back through the gates was hard because the line ups were never ending. Not knowing if our flight was actually leaving or still cancelled the only thing we could do was wait to get our exit stamp as patiently as possible. Running through the airport and up to the plane happy to not have to wait an entire day in
When we got to
We still couldn’t believe it, but it was true, we would be spending a night in
We were so happy to be done with travelling for the time being and at this point we just wanted to go and settle into our new home…
Just our luck, because of the confusion in the airport in Dar and the cancellation in
Tired and very hungry, we waited for Yves our community contact to pick us up from the airport. Not knowing what he looked like, we weren’t sure who to expect. Everyone at this point was Yves Didier in our eyes. When he got to the airport we were so happy to see him and he welcomed us with the most open arms. We stayed at the airport for a while just to catch up and chat a bit and get to know each other a bit better seeing as we’ll be spending so much time working together. He seems really excited to start working on the project and so are we! He is such a nice guy and we are really lucky to have a community contact just because we would have absolutely no idea what to do or where to go for anything. Even though French was an official language, and English is one now, the language most used is Kinyarwanda, which compared to Swahili that we were beginning to pick up quite fast in Mwanza, will prove to be the ultimate challenge.
We were making so much progress with the language barrier in Tanzania, we find ourselves trying to speak to people in Swahili and thankfully most people seems to understand what we’re trying to say. In most cases though, it’s back to throwing whatever words come out in whatever language comes out.
After checking into Aphrita’s hotel in Nyamirambo (in the Nyarugenge District) known for being the most lively and diverse neighbourhoods in
She was sad to know that our bags were missing and quickly began to make calls to the
Yves, who is better known as Didier, was nice enough to take us to town when we told him that we needed a few essentials now that our bags were MIA.
You can really get the feel of city life in
A few minutes later, he called saying he would be here within 20 minutes, but we didn’t think it was actually happening. Sure enough, there was still no sign of movement. The three of us started dozing off when Helen’s phone rang, he assured us that he was on him way just five minutes from the hotel. We decided to wait outside reluctantly now tired at 12 AM. Sure enough ten minutes later two cars pull in the drive way blaring a little Akon. At this point all we could do was laugh…especially when about 20 people came piling out of the cars…I the only image that came to mind was that of the clowns at the circus with the tiny ca cramming themselves in. It turns out that Didier’s friends, who were waiting for us at the airport with him the day before were having a friendly get together and came all the way across town to pick us up. So we got in the car and drove off. We had a really good time meeting his friends and talking about the project, life in
It’s also a bit strange, because if you talk to any random Canadian our age, or even in general, you wouldn’t here the same pride that we can experience here with Rwandans. Most of them expressed a tremendous love for their country despite its difficulties; this is where they want to be.
Somewhere in between conversations we realized that it was past midnight and that it was my birthday. Didier’s friends sang me happy birthday in three languages: French, English and Kinyarwanda! I got showered with hugs and kisses from our new friends and I was crazy happy to be spending my first hours as a 23 year old in
The next day we went to pick Missy up at the airport and were happily informed that our bags had been found and were waiting for us! We could not be happier!! That was the best birthday present I could have ever asked for!!
We were happy to be reunited with the fourth shade of Team Spectre.
That night we went out to a pub like bar that played Rwanda music that were part traditional part oldies and just awesome! It was probably one of the most memorable birthdays yet. Didier was able to translate the meaning of some of the songs which was really cool. It’s hard to take it all in, cause I still can’t believe I’m here.
On Sunday we got our actual apartment, so we won’t have to stay in a hotel forever and the best part is that KHI will be letting us stay there for free as KHI volunteers!!! The apartment is amazing. It has three rooms so we don’t have to share which is nice, two bathrooms, a small but spacious kitchen a dining room and a living room. It is perfect for the three of us because although it’s cozy, it’s big enough that we’re not on top of each other 24/7. it will be a change though, because up to date I have shared a room with Nilmi because we’re both kind of scaredy cats and we comfort each other’s fears!
After we unpacked a bit we decided to go to the clinic because I was feeling really tired and a bit dizzy at times. I thought I was still just tired and readjusting to the time change and everything, but I wanted to be safe than sorry. Plus, Missy was convinced that I had
2 ring malaria. We walked to the clinic nearby and it was closed. So we went to another a while away just to have Missy’s diagnosis confirmed! “Congratulations you have 2 ring malaria and as a bonus…” it appears that I had Typhoid. Hooray!
After finding out, Helen decided to get checked out too and she ended up having one ring. Nilmi felt fine, but after having both team mates fall under she decided to see if she had it too. Since she didn’t have any symptoms, the nurse told her that she didn’t need to run any tests, which was good for her because we ended up paying quite a bit for the consult, plus the meds. So for the rest of our day we rested because we were all feeling a little tired after walking half an hour both ways to the clinic. So for now we’re just going to concentrate on getting better so that we can go full force in the weeks ahead. We already have a full itinerary for the upcoming weeks. On Monday we went to town so that Missy could exchange some money and had a good time walking around in the daytime looking in shops. We had come on Sunday but everything was closed. To us, it was a total surprise to know that everything, absolutely EVERYTHING was closed on Sundays. We took it easy today, just existing on the streets of
When we got home it was after six so it was pretty dark, and shortly after arriving to our apartment our power went…we had no candles so one of the cleaners that showed us around came with candles and matches. We sat around candlelight like our first night in Mwanza, but this time with Didier. He told us more about his life in