Going Soft

31 Dec

The Plan was to bring gifts to Zanzibar orphanage on Christmas day, play some games with the wee blighters and then head back to the north for ‘party party’.
The plan was fluffy at best and when we arrived at the surprisingly plush orphanage it was  immediately foiled by two frosty orphanarians(?). They sat us down in the huge marble floored reception hall, gave us a few stern glares, told us the kids were asleep, and we left.

Embarrassing. Plus I had arranged to meet with Nilsu (a friend from Nungwi)’s friend, Zakia, who helped organise our visit, for a drink and a debrief. I quickly explained that we were expecting something a bit less grand and our cheap offerings were more likely to benefit the poor local kids in Nungwi.

Zakia and her husband Mahmud, who joined us with their daughter Shirin, are Zanzibarian politicians. They told us more about the orphanage. Built with large amounts of foreign aid and badly staffed. These two were inspiring. Mahmud is studying with world and military leaders in Switzerland, recently getting one over on an ex-USA army general by predicting the timing and direction of the change of leadership in North Korea. They both hope to tackle Zanzibar’s litter problem among other things and after one Tusker I found myself happily agreeing to travel to the orphanage to teach english and hang out there for the next 4 days running.

This sounded like a less fluffy plan, but was again foiled by lazy assumptions on my part. The 25 strong class is aged between 4 and 20 and has a similarly huge range in their english language ability. After a few attempts at being useful we gave up on teaching much. The ‘english lessons’ consisted of playing games, saying tongue twisters, football with the boys and with the girls a rather vicious throw-the-ball-at-the-person-in-the-middle game. We really enjoyed hanging out there with these tough and affectionate kids who often pulled my hair and punched and kicked me really hard out of what I was almost certain to be friendliness.

And then the spare parts arrived in the post and I remembered I was on a bike ride.

Another cramped and manic 2 hour commute to Stone Town* and I find Mr Prandeep in his metal workshop in the outskirts of town. Within an hour I have a working bike again. And it’s New Year’s Eve. Plus everyone in East Africa has come to the north of Zanzibar to ‘party party’. Also I have a new pair of flip flops. So now I have enough excuses to get back on that pain in the arse dalla dalla to Nungwi and celebrate like it’s 1999.

*A total of 20 hours with with a numb bum in 5 days, all good training for getting back on the bike.

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