It’s ages since I blogged and I apologise. Wifi in Tanzania was unreliable and emails were often clogged up and unsatisfactory. Blogging proved impossible. The Mafia trip actually went very well. We did the usual two week course with a hospital tour in the middle. Interestingly we found some of the hospital wards were sponsored by families from Sicily in memory of deceased loved ones. Now what would be the connection I wonder?
The highlights of Mafia for me were the night we ran out of fuel in the dark returning to our hotel across the island. It was utterly dark as we stood on the dirt road gazing at myriads of stars waiting for the local ambulance to bring us a jerry can of diesel (what it is to have friends in high places). On that road in the dark we were entertained by a passing hotelier in the back of a tuk tuk, seriously inebriated, with his lady friends, inviting us to stay with him or to call if we didn’t have any luck with the fuel. The bizarre conversation was hugely amusing and we could have talked all night had it not been rather annoying after a while and we wished they would drive on. Then there was the evening we watched the sun set over the harbour while drinking coffee sitting on logs in a circle of local menfolk. And the rest day when we took a boat to a neighbouring island to visit the fishing villages and ruins of some old arab trading colonies.
Milo was something else. The hospital there is tragically run down despite many decades of international aid – financial, donations of equipment and expertise and so on. The staff were lovely and received us royally. We had our own house where Hilary cooked over the charcoal brazier on the kitchen floor. We had a log fire in the evenings as it was cold after dark. At the Primary School the marching band turned out in force and sang a song in praise of good education to welcome us! The Chairman of the village gave us his blessing to visit wherever we wished for as long as we liked, and we carried a letter of invitation from him to the Mayor of Bala to come see Milo firsthand. The Bible School wanted an address from Adrian and the Mother’s Union a talk from Hilary, thankfully with interpretation, and the church welcomed us as the long-awaited visitors from their twinned town in North Wales. That all seems so long ago and now I sit in the Business Lounge of Emirates Airways in Manchester enjoying a champagne dinner before boarding business class on another visit to Tanzania – I have been upgraded for the overnight leg to Dubai so I might sleep better than I imagined. There was a moment of concern at the check-in when I was informed that printer ink cannot be carried on board since I am taking a printer/copier/scanner for the school in Milo (and “how can they possibly use it without ink?” I pleaded!) and a swift phone call later cleared up the problem.
So it was once again ‘goodbye’ to Bala and Brechdan this afternoon and ‘goodbye but see you soon, God willing’ to Hilary this evening before off into the setting sun for some destination way in the north west beyond Bukoba and Lake Victoria for another two weeks of training and then down to Milo for two weeks of je ne sais quoi. Always exciting and never disappointing, except perhaps for poor Pakistan. Sadly, that was not the best…