Kirsty's Birthday

Trip Start Sep 08, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Kirsty's 19th Birthday began well with a trip to Arusha's Ice cream parlour. It was a 'girls only' trip, the delight of finding anywhere that served ice-cream seeming to be a mystery to the boys who were off for a run???? A run versus ice-cream? Hmmmmm, so glad I am a girl! Actually the word Parlour may be overdoing it - the ice-cream shack is a dimly lit building, with a chipped stone floor and Formica tables, and red plastic seats. Still I was surprised Arusha had such a place - it served very edible but sloppy Mr-Whippy with abundant artificial red strawberry sauce. Could we manage two? Yep it's a birthday, what a good excuse! I looked across and grinned at Kirsty as she slurped the remainder of her sauce. What a way to spend a birthday. I had been teaching class 5 before coming into Arusha, and had again set them the task of writing their diaries - I doubt any of them had been lucky enough to come here - even if it didn't compare to Haagan Daaz back home! Dinner that night was in another 'western bar' Jambo's, which I would recommend to travellers as it does a decent Lasagna! Mmmmmm. Very expensive meal by local standards, about 3000 shillings - 1.80. We could normally eat for 500 shillings, but sometimes you need to be able to eat a meal that is edible, and is served on a clean plate! (They also give you a knife and fork - what a luxury!)

The evening finished with me and Lee playing doubles and thrashing everyone at pool (Nb - this is my diary so any embellishment of the truth by the author is valid and allowable!!) A tired Emma got into 'Yamma's taxi for the ride home, only to be woken with a jolt every time the car with 'smashed windscreen, bald tires and no suspension' - but the 'safest taxi driver in Arusha' went into reverse. Every time Yamma hit the gearstick, The Lambarda burst out the tape deck, only to fall silent when the car went forward again. I laughed and wondered how many times we would have to go into reverse so I could hear it again. (Quite a few: as we first had to stop for petrol, then to chat to Yamma's mates, and finally once more as both Vic and I fell asleep and missed the school by a few hundred yards!) Only in Africa!!
Friday and I had arranged to stay with Stuart and Kirsty for the weekend. Vicky had decided not to come out, and the thought of listening to the Lambarda all the way home to Usa River on my own did not seem safe or really appeal! Kirsty had made special arrangements to hire out the cinema in Arusha so we could watch our own film. On the proviso that it wasn't a 'chick flick'! the guys agreed to come along, and it was with excitement that the group settled down with Harabo sweeties - courtesy of Kirsty's mum, strawberry laces and fizzy pop to watch a film in a cinema that would bring nostaligic memories to anyone of an older generation. The cinema screen was set on an actual stage, and had big royal blue velvet moth-eaten curtains draped down each side. The seats were in tiers, with a grand circle and stalls. (The boys did have a point about the lack of leg room - and that there was no 'Warner bro's' style drink holder or reclining seats!) but I enjoyed the thought that we had the cinema to ourselves, it was our party. The film 'Romeo must Die' whirred and cranked into life, the sound being played only marginally after the picture. The film operator running in and apologizing when the film cut out half way through leaving a blank screen, as he needed to switch tapes over to get the second part of the film!

A night of drinking followed, after the obligatory pizza at Stiggys (by now a Friday night institution!), although the boys were very disappointed K and I decided to share a pizza - we had cottoned on to them taking for granted that we would have leftovers - and besides it left room for (more)Ice cream for dessert!

Segabar followed (see picture!). Sega is a dark dingy bar, with a few 'sega' motor racing arcade machines in the corner. The bar is lit by a few fluorescent 'it's a scream' faces on the wall, and the lights above the pool tables. It seems to be favoured by Mzungus, although we all agreed that if it was a bar in England we wouldn't ever go there! The drink of the night was Gin and Fanta? Hmmm, one sip and I went back to drinking 'redds' - a kind of apple flavoured brew - which I don't think has ever seen an apple - doesn't taste like cider but is similar enough to Appletize to make it drinkable. The other recommendation is that, compared to most of the drinks (particularly the gin) sold here, it has a relatively low alcohol content - I had just heard that I was to be seeing Yamma that night after all, he was driving Stuart, Kirsty and I home. The advantage of already knowing Yamma was I knew the safest place to sit in his car and it is not the backseat!
The back seat is a ticket to a fairground ride - zero suspension involving a banged head just from driving over a pebble, and the road to Enaboishu School is a rutted old river bed, that goes steeply up hill, the car swaying from side to side as it climbs and sinks over the muddy potholes. I was determined to call shotgun. Credit to Stuart - I think he can read minds - I was no sooner out of the pub with the door handle to the front seat of the car locked on target, when I felt my feet lose contact with the ground as I was picked up and spun round and deposited next to the back door. Doh!

The next day was a rude awakening, still full of happy memories from the night before - not to mention full of pizza and ice-cream. I met Matt (the drunk looking one to the right of the photo!) and Keith to visit an Orphanage. Matt has his own Landrover, and I got the envious position of sitting with my legs either side of the gearstick. I counted myself lucky - the night before on route to Sega bar, I was on the roof rack. Hmmm, this is okay I thought munching on a muffin, thinking of the day ahead. I thought I had prepared myself for all the horrors Africa had to offer; I had seen the shanty towns, watched the children get caned - but now I was to see the children that had got left behind. That was what I expecting:- children. What I got was babies - the oldest was three. My jaw dropped. They were so tiny, playing on the wooden toy-less floor of the playroom. My respect for Mat deepened as I watched him pick up three kids and spin them around. He has been out here for a few years, living and working with local people on an AIDs awareness programme. I was later to learn that this was the chief reason these children were orphans. I tried to get a grip and pick up the children, play with them and make the day fun for them, but my heart broke as I watched a three year old girl, pick up a three month old baby and grab a bottle to feed it. In England a child as young as that would not be allowed near a baby unsupervised, let alone in sole charge of feeding it. All the children wanted attention, to be spun round was a such a pleasure - I smiled as I remembered my dad doing that to me as a child. I would love it, asking to be spun again, or faster. These children so rarely had that much attention. Just as I felt I couldn't take anymore, Matt came up behind me and gently reminded me that these children are the lucky ones - the others are still on the street.
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