Day 3- March 10
Sunday night we landed in Arusha, went through immigration (there was a gigantic moth on the counter that looked like the ones from Lord of the Rings- I wish I could have taken a picture!) and hopped on the bus. It was very dark and there were lots of stars. I cried a little bit (just a few tears) because I have wanted to come here almost my whole life, and I never thought I'd make it, and there I was. And then I started thinking of that silly "Somewhere Out There" song from Fievel Goes West, and that made me want to cry more! Which is lame.
The hotel was beautiful, even though I mostly just saw it in the dark. There were lots of carvings and woodwork. The wrought iron railings around the stairs were shaped like animals- skinny ostriches, gazelles, giraffes, and the like. The floors were stone and everything was open and airy and lovely. The rooms were in little cabin-like things- four on the top floor and I think two big rooms on the bottom floors. Mine and Christina's room was gorgeous- there was a fake fireplace (no chimney, but there was a bucket, which we think was a garbage can), a desk, paintings and carvings, a big bathroom with a whirlpool tub and the best shower I have ever taken in my life, and pretty white beds covered with a mosquito net, which for some reason just made them look prettier. The light in our bathroom didn't work, but that was OK because the door had smoky glass and enough light came in from the outside. And it was sooooo nice to sleep in a bed, rather than an airplane seat!
The dark and lovely whirlpool
We woke up early, got dressed, and headed to the lobby to meet the group, check out, and move on. There was wi-fi available so I was able to check in on facebook, which was pretty neat! We each got a breakfast box to eat on the bus. Everything in it was warm (including things that I would normally eat cold), but here are the contents: 2 weird looking pink sausages, a butter sandwich on thick white bread, some kind of fruit bread (maybe lemon flavored?), 2 croissants, an apple, a tiny banana, a yogurt, and a juice box. I could only eat my croissants in small bites, and then later eat the sandwich, because I had the early morning gaggies and was a little nervous about the long drive to Singida.
It took several hours to get to the center in Katesh (812), which was midway through our trip to Singida. That included a pee break at the side of the road (I did not partake.) Then later we got pulled over at some sort of traffic checkpoint, and one of the officers said something to Peter in Swahili. Peter works for Compassion and I think he will be travelling with us this week. Anyway, after he left, Peter and the other Compassion staffer Hellen both started laughing. Everyone pressured them to say what was up, and finally Peter admitted that the officer "liked her"- and pointed at me. Um, what. Someone said that I came to Tanzania to get a boyfriend. No thank you. And can you imagine if that happened at traffic stops in America? Creepy!
We got to the center and the kids were waiting with the project staff, clapping and singing "This is the day that the Lord has made." It was beautiful and fun. We got inside the pavilion and the kids did 2 songs for us. The boys were on the stage (maybe a foot off the ground) wearing purple, and the girls were right in front of us (I was in the front row!) They were incredible. The songs were great and the dancing was fun. The boys were breaking it down on stage- they were awesome! And some of the women of the project would march around the perimeter of the crowd, yelling and praising. They did that ululating thing, like Xena: Warrior Princess or whatever. It was neat.
Then we ate- white rice, yellow rice with peas and meat, a cooked banana, a regular banana, a piece of watermelon, and what I think were rooster parts. Mine was a ribcage so...I had bones for lunch. Oh well. A 12 year old girl named Edwata came to sit with us, and she was giggly and smiley. She loved Emily. Hellen, the Compassion staffer, also sat with us and helped with translation.
I got my Sprite! It's the little things in life.
Emily and Edwata
No matter where you are, kids like to pose for cameras!
After lunch, we heard a presentation about the project. Part of it was done by the project's social worker, whose name is Hosannah. They said that there are only 4 unsponsored children in the project. They have also applied for CIV grants for computers, new toilets, and a library.
After the presentation, we started to tour the center. I was a little bummed because I didn't have a buddy- the child I was sitting next to during the presentation wandered off to find someone else, so I started out by myself. But then Happiness found me. She just came up, grabbed my hand, and said "come" and smiled at me. She showed me her classroom, the storage room, the sewing room, a football pitch (aka soccer field), the volleyball net, the older kids' classroom, an office with pictures of her teachers, and the computer room. I brought up Microsoft word for a minute, and she laughed when I typed "Jambo, Happiness!" Then we played with Microsoft Paint. I'd draw a picture and she'd guess what it was. During that time she also plastered herself with the Minnie Mouse stickers I brought. She made sure to put one on my hand, too.
Happiness brings happiness.
The closing comments had stated so we rushed to the main building. Happiness brushed the rain off my arms as we listened. When we started to leave, the kids swarmed us. I hugged at least a dozen of them, even ones I hadn't seen before that time. Happiness came back and found me. When I got on the bus, one of the kids was on there! It was cute. And then we waved goodbye, and everyone from the center- kids and adults- waved and shouted and smiled.
We're in Singida now, and it's hard. It's a very, very poor area. The hotel is not great. I don't even want to say much about it, but my shower doesn't work and we are here for like four days. Dinner was interesting. Walking to the dining area I heard the chickens being caught and killed. They served chicken, fish, two kinds of rice, "sauce", greens with onions, and fruit. I found some lemon soda in the cooler and it was pretty good- like a sour sprite, I guess. I wasn't feeling so well so I didn't eat much- mostly rice and greens. I think maybe I was still full from lunch. They also served us soup, as an official first course kind of thing. I have no idea what kind it was, but it reminded me of gravy. Maybe it really was gravy!
The hotel had concrete animal statues scattered throughout the compound. I was excited about the dinosaurs at first.
This is the last photo I took of the hotel. I got to my room and didn't want to take pictures anymore. Oh well!