Nearly two weeks after my accident and I’m genuinely feeling a lot better. The bruise is still purple and yellow and green and all the colours of the rainbow, but apart from a bit of swelling, has largely stopped hurting and I can now walk and even run without holding my beer belly in to stop the pain. Nice.
I was more than a little worried that i had done some more lasting damage when I found, three or four days after the fall, that there were in fact three bruises, and the area affected was much bigger than I first anticipated. Patience has won out in the end though, and I’m glad I didn’t waste money going to the hospital and getting x-rays and the like, despite strong encouragement from most of the locals who saw my injury.
I’ve used this ‘downtime’ to concentrate on the work at hand, and have achieved a hell of a lot in the last two weeks, and effectively the computer centre is now a fully managed internet café, with full reporting on all net use, centralised windows updates and a much more solid infrastructure that I can now start to use and develop properly. The best thing about being the only IT guy here is that I make the decisions, based on need, cost and efficiency, and so with a bit of boot polish and some elbow grease, i’ve cobbled together a fully working dedicated hardware firewall running a slimmed down Linux kernel that handles all my traffic, caches the web, as it is used, to a redundant 80GB hard drive I found and is now so fully ad-blocked and optimized, that you’d barely know that our total maximum download and upload speeds are barely 220kbps, it’s almost like being at home 😉
Here are some pics of the centre, and the PC’s i’ve salvaged:
So we have things up and running properly – finally – and a reasonable amount of settings and features to play with, and all the time in the world to get it right. I need to make everything I have done usable by Doreen, who not for want of trying, is not very technically minded, but that’s part of the challenge I guess. Documentation is one thing, but real world instructions and a baseline understanding of what’s going on, is needed for this to work without me there. Next up though, continue to get the rest of the PC’s going, including two new Windows 7 desktops, and then start work on curriculum and other activities.
A friend of a friend here was talking with Cath whilst she was teaching the other day at the secondary school, and there is a student there who writes his own music, plays instruments and sings, and this is the perfect opportunity for me to get my production skills dusted off and teach him how to use Reason and other sequencers. This is gonna be fun. He’s coming into the centre at some point this week and I’ll find out what he’s like, and hopefully we’ll be able to put together some sort of homebrew record label and get his stuff recorded and produced, and get him learning the tools of the trade in the process, Kilimanjaro’s homegrown talent is about to be unleashed!!
Besides work, which has taken up a lot of my time recently, I’m also finding my feet socially, and i’m beginning to build up a good network of friends here in Mshiri and down in the town.
I went down to Moshi to meet Roger and James again, booked myself into a cheapo hotel and went out on the town – three Rastamen together, and what an awesome night it was. A bit stoned for the first time since arriving, I went back to their place in the Ghetto, a small house they each pay very little to occupy, and drank a fair amount of Kilimanjaro beer before heading to Glacier for the night out. Reggae versions of throwbacks by Phil Collins, Lionel Richie etc were a highlight, but most of all it was nice to whet my whistle on the being out front, and I enjoyed being out with those guys, who equally enjoyed it, as for them, without my monetary support, could not have afforded it at all. Now I know I basically funded the whole night for all three of us, but I simply didn’t care. They were upfront about how much they could afford, and so was I, and what proceeded was a good night by all. Whilst on the daladala to Moshi that weekend though, I met a gorgeous American girl and her friends who had been here in Marangu seeing the waterfalls. As the only wazungu on the bus we talked throughout the journey and exchanged numbers and I’m glad to say they are firm new friends. I met up with Bree and Kristina again this weekend and went back to their place, and met all the other volunteers they live with. This is a madly mixed group of Americans (Bree, Jasen and Bill) a German (Kristina) and an English girl (Sophie) and we got on like a house on fire. Also just as varied are their roles here in Tanzania, as Bree, Kristina and Sophie are all medical volunteers who help with AIDS awareness, and rather spectacularly Jasen is a paramedic from Texas who basically and single-handedly is revolutionising the healthcare in his hospital by providing 13 years of real-world western experience working in America. Just this week he has performed surgery to a rather nasty injury inside a girl’s mouth, who would not have received any help from the inexperienced local doctors, and genuinely made a difference to many people’s lives by being resourceful, kind, and above all having a “can-do” attitude that is ever lacking in the locals here – and all as a volunteer! It’s more than humbling to meet people like him who have so much to offer the world and do it so unselfishly, it really puts the whole of our society to shame. His kindness isn’t lost on me, and i hope we become good friends as time goes on.
As well as being a cool bunch of people to hang out with, they are the first wazungus I’ve met here in Tanzania outside of our own group, who i genuinely like and want to be friends with. Everyone else I have met has had a lack of humility for the situation here in Africa, and seem to me to build their home lives up here, with no regard for the lives of those around them – the very type of people I had hoped to escape by leaving the UK, but whatever. It’s nice to know there are others out here who, like me, enjoy themselves but know really and actually why they are here, and are prepared to let change happen to them in order to succeed in their own field. Good people. My new friends.
Unfortunately, she has a boyfriend back home, but more on that later, we’ve just met, and for now I genuinely enjoy her company. That’s more than enough for me.
Back to Mshiri, and powercuts abound in the late stages of every week, with both Thursday and Friday being completely dead until, surprise surprise, the time of day that officials will be back home enjoying their dinner, and wham, it’s back. Hmm. Call me a pessimist, but it smacks of something rather corrupt going on. I’ll leave it at that. So with no power, the computer centre is a bit dead and there’s very little to do, so i grabbed my camera, and headed up the path towards the waterfalls I’ve been told about that the locals don’t patrol and charge to see, and found what follows. Simply breathtaking. I’ll let the photos do the talking, because, well, I was speechless when I stumbled across the big falls at the end of the stream, and then just grabbed the camera and took over 50 photos of it, the best of which are below. Anyone who has any tips on how to make these better, which settings to use and anything else, drop me a comment, I need some direction, and will be heading back out to this spot again on Tuesday afternoon to try and improve.