I’m leaving tomorrow morning, very very early, for Mahale. I’ll be there for five days. I’m going with a tour group and paying a fortune to stay at the luxury camp and spend half my time doing random silly things (like snorkeling, fishing, and bird-watching, instead of chimp-tracking the whole time), rather than just going on my own to Kigoma, renting supplies, hiring a guide and a cook, and going in on my own because dealing with medical issues in Arusha ate up tons of time. I’m very glad I’m able to go, that I am finally going, and I know that it’ll be an incredible experience with the tour group…
My health has been completely checked and cleared and I’m feeling tons better. My head doesn’t even hurt much any more and I’ve only the tiniest bit of a black eye left. I realized today just how insanely lucky I was to come out of that (potentially) serious of an accident so unharmed.
Today was a long day. Today was a frustrating day. Today was one of those days where it might just have been better if I hadn’t gotten out of bed – you know those days where you keep trying, but that only makes it worse? (Actually, it wasn’t that bad. It was only close to it.)
I got my camera back from the shop that was “fixing it”. They managed to delete all of my pictures off of my card (I’d asked them to burn them to a cd), so I lost everything I had from Kikatiti, from the orphanage, and from the school – all of the pictures that mattered the most to me, all of the pictures that the kids took of each other, and all of the pictures that I had promised to send back to the orphanage and the school. (And no, it isn’t fixed, either. So I still don’t have a working, non-schizophrenic camera.)
I went back to the internet cafe (the one I’ve practically moved into, where they know me) and cried in the bathroom. I didn’t realize until I walked out the second time that I’d forgotten to pay for the hour of internet I’d used beforehand – they forgot to give me the coffee I’d ordered and paid for, though, so perhaps it’s almost even? I sorted out the details with Chimpanzee Safaris (which really means I sorted out the payment, which really means that I woke my parents up at a horrible hour of the night, again, so that they could sort it out – sorry and thank you!) and camped out in their office until they could give me an itinerary. I met the pilot who will be flying me tomorrow – he’s an older French guy who was similarly camped out, looking for details and timing, and took my cell number and promised not to leave without me tomorrow, whichever time we do end up leaving at.
I decided to go back and visit the orphanage in Kikatiti, so I called Temu, who is the very nice taxi driver with a college degree from the UK who helped me get a cat scan yesterday in the hospital in Moshi (everything’s fine and “normal”, and the rest of my life will be just fine if I never have to spend another entire day in a hospital in Tanzania, or any third world country, in which no person who works there is ever, ever at their desk or locatable). I intended to pack first, but I managed, instead, to lock myself out of Buck’s house. (Luckily his office is near and he was already on his way home for lunch.)
I made a surprise entrance back at the orphanage and it was nice to see the kids. (Although I smell like the orphanage, again.) I was mobbed as several of the girls ran out to meet me and jumped on me. (Eliza, at 13, really is too big to jump all the way up on me like that.) Samuel, the orphanage director, and the volunteers still there had heard about my accident and had been incredibly worried about me. Samuel also told me that Amadeus had sold the cd player that I had left for the kids. I feel silly and naive now, for having given it to them, and I wish one of the other kids had told me (I’d asked if it was still working and if Amadeus was sharing it), instead of Samuel but I suppose they wouldn’t tell on him. I got some pictures, though, and I played with the kids for a while and it was nice (just a little bit of a reality-kick).
And tomorrow I leave for Mahale! And then I’ll be home in a week! This is probably my last note before I’m home, actually, as my schedule’s a little tight on the other side of Mahale – hopefully I’ll have a chance to see Bapu and Bibi again in Dar before I fly home. (Then I’ll have returned to both places; it’s a little odd, going back, but it’ll be nice to see them again!) I’m all packed and ready – I pack quicker and tighter each time I have to do it, it’s amazing – and I’ve got an alarm set for way too early.