We had only two days without wifi this week – not too bad. The water in our rooms was also intermittent and buckets of warm water were supplied for ablutions. It seems the pressure is poor and the flow ceases if too many people shower and flush toilets at the same time. At first the long delays in getting clean laundry back were blamed on the same problem but lack of co-ordination between the room maid who had keys and the laundry lady who had none emerged as the most likely explanation. After several attempts to retrieve them, my underpants and socks eventually appeared, draped over the cane furniture in one of the lounges.
In the afternoons we wafted our way through clouds of lake flies dancing suggestively with each other above the pathways from lecture room to breakout sessions. We have learned by now not to confuse them with mosquitos. I cannot imagine how some locals catch them in sufficient numbers to make anything substantial enough to eat, but apparently they do. One day there were several monkeys in the trees alongside the lecture hall and on the roof. They clattered noisily across the corrugations, fortunately choosing a time when we were having coffee else they would have been in strong contention with the cranes and the rain for the most intrusive disturbance to the lectures.
On the final day of the basic course we conducted post-course assessments designed to test the effectiveness of our teaching method. Extracting answers from some candidates was like drawing teeth although the overall knowledge seemed much improved – Efraim struggled to disappoint with the indications, conditions, mechanism and complications of vacuum delivery, but was followed by the shy and retiring Lena who hesitantly whispered all the correct answers and deserved a big hug for the effort!
All of us were too tired to bother tidying the breakout rooms at the end of the day after finishing very late with speeches from the area and national ministry of health representatives. During our meal in the hotel we heard a dull explosion from the town and our driver brought the news that there was a disturbance – the police were trying to disperse a mob that were attempting to burn down the house of a woman they decided was a witch.
Dramatic tropical storms before dawn two days running threatened our escape from Bukoba. The first night of torrential rain and sheet lightning delayed by 40 mins the usual 7am departure of the 12 seater Cessna for Mwanza. Fortunately the next day’s downpour had eased by the time dawn broke and we walked the short tarmac road from the hotel to the airport without getting too wet. The road had drained well and the runway had little standing water.
We had no time to gaze at the rising sun over the island where two days earlier we had landed at the fishing village and climbed to the top of the cliffs to watch kites and fish eagles soaring in the rising air. We ourselves were soon soaring over Lake Victoria in the capable hands of our co-pilot Sophia, who gladly took the controls once we were airborne and handed over for the landing in Mwanza 40 minutes later.
There was hardly time to transfer to the twin engine Precision Air jet and we were the last to board for an uneventful journey to the unpleasant and uncomfortable in-between world of Dar es Salaam and international airport terminals.
Farewell to Madam Malingumu of the Ministry of Health who in two busy and tiring weeks has metamorphosed from reluctant old-school caterpillar to modern Madam Butterfly and enthusiastic advocate of the new methods of training and maternity care. Farewell to our colleagues travelling to Zanzibar, returning to UK or, in the case of Mselenge, staying in Tanzania for Christmas and New Year. Farewell for now to Tanzania and her people who bid us “karibuni” and made us feel welcome and appreciated.
After unsuccessful attempts to send a photographic Happy Birthday on Rachael’s 30th a mobile phone call to Manchester was worth the cost and was a welcome contact with family and home. After four planes and 27 hours it was a delight to see Hilary with Jonah and Faith at the barrier in Manchester Airport. We were whisked away to a children’s birthday party, then off home to Bala and the routine of home.
That’s it until the next time, maybe in March, though we will celebrate Christmas and New Year with another visit to Cambodia …