It’s been a week since I left the Netherlands and began the epic journey south, and with a week’s life in Africa under my belt, daily routine is unravelling and becoming the norm. I’m amazed at how little time it’s taken me to feel comfortable here, and now that I have started working at the computer centre, I feel like my place is starting to define itself in the community and I’m more confident and outward in every encounter I have with all the people I meet. School restarted in the village yesterday, and it was my first sight of all the kids from around the area that flock to just a hundred metres or so above our house to the local school, with which we have quite strong ties.
I have booted up the BEASTIE again (my computer) and despite some minor teething problems relating to ran down CMOS batteries and slightly dodgy SATA cable connections, she fired up fine, and it’s so nice to finally have a job where I get to work on a decent computer (my OWN computer) not some shoddy office hand-me-down that FTSE 30 companies think is fit for IT professionals to use as their daily mule. It stands out as the only decent computer in the room, and has drawn quite some attention from the regulars that come in to use the internet, not least when Doreen caught me getting a few laps around Spa in Jenson Button’s McLaren in F1 2010, but rather than have a go at me, she asked if she could have a go, and as we only had 30 minutes or so left of the day, we figured it fine to relax a little and play some games. It was the end to what was a very productive day for me, having began to audit the entire site and get some ideas down on paper (well, MS Word – who uses paper anymore?) as to what the plan of action will be for the coming months, and what I intend to do with the network and internet cafe as a whole.
Feels like life as usual, except I’m sunburnt, eating amazingly well, and haven’t smoked a single joint since leaving Amsterdam – that’s a whole week – and feeling all the better for it too. Not that I haven’t been offered – it’s pretty much everywhere just around each corner and behind a lot of closed doors – but it’s not me anymore, I don’t need or want to be that person I used to be. I’m sure I’ll regress at some point, but at least I’ll be able to enjoy it for what it is when it does happen, rather than hate myself for being so weak all the time.
So on to the job at hand, and it’s a surprisingly exciting one. The centre has a good set of facilities, but has been left to dwindle over the last few months, well, years if I’m honest, and there’s lots of scope for me to put into practice everything that I have learnt in my career over the last 7 years, without the red tape of incompetent managers and change procedures; or lack thereof! Web development, traffic shaping, networking technologies and good old “fixing stuff what’s broke” (a firm favourite of mine) are all in line to be worked at as I hope to not only bring the centre a bit more up to date, but also make it bulletproof, profitable, and hopefully find some young hopeful who wants to learn it all and take the mantle at some point in the future. There is plenty of time for that, for now though, I really am having a lot of fun putting these computers back into use and getting results straight away. What seems simple to me: rebuilding, reconfiguring, networking and managing the estate, is far from simple in the real world to those who have not the basic experience I’m drawing upon, but then that’s entirely the point. I have had an incredibly fortunate run of roles over the years, that’s seen me chop and change my job title and given me an invaluable set of skills for this task. I just hope that I don’t let anyone down.
Another turning point for today was the arrival of more westerners to the centre, and it’s ideal that I have been here a while and I’m in a position to offer some help to them as they attempt to settle in. Hugh and Kath have been here before, Kath is on her – wait for it – 14th visit to Tanzania, most of which have been spent here at VEPK, but nonetheless, as things change, and inevitably technology moves on, they’re coming to me for help in getting themselves connected and how best to go about these things. Hugh is going to be working one day a week from here for his firm back in the UK, so I have assured him I’ll do my best to keep him and his laptop online and up to date to help him do just that. The other new arrival, Tess, is not a newcomer to Tanzania, but this is the first time she’s been here to help rather than just on holiday, so she’s in rather a similar situation to me: a bit scared, unsure and nervous, but that’s the way it is when you take the plunge like this, you can never know what it going to happen before it does, and trying to predict your feelings rather than letting them come to pass is not just foolish, but you’re depriving yourself of the best part of all of this: self discovery.
Tomorrow is a national holiday here in Tanzania, so it’s off to Moshi for a bit of a jolly; meet up with James and Roger who I met last time I was there, see if I can’t buy a guitar for a few thousand shillings, then back to Katy’s house where she is hosting dinner for all us foreigners to meet each other properly and begin a new relationship together and get cracking! I can’t wait!
Oh, and here are some more photos of my new found surroundings… enjoy!