Wednesday afternoon, Nancy took us three volunteers into the town of Arusha for the first time. And wow. This is Africa.
This was only my second day stepping out of the house. I felt like a scared cat. The streets were loud and crowded. Cars never stopped honking, its as if the driver’s hand is permanently stuck on the honking button. Motorcycles trying to drive past people, vendors on the road selling fruit, vegetables and grilled corn… It felt like China, but cleaner and busier.
I wanted to take pictures but I had a fear that someone was going to snatch my phone. I was glad Nancy came with us. I thought that maybe people would stare at me less if we had a guide. Nope. I thought the staring was bad on my way to school, but holy moly, it’s even worse in the actual town. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE was staring at us. The children were sweet, they would wave and say hi. The women would look at us and not say anything. It was mostly the men who tried to talk to us.
This really ticked me off. A couple of people on the streets and in their cars said konichiwa to me. I wanted to tell them, I AM NOT JAPANESE. I’m getting upset thinking about it. I’m learning to filter everyone out. I shouldn’t be too hard on them, they’ve probably never seen an asian person before. It’s hard to live like a local when they gawk at you like an alien. It also doesn’t help that I like to wear shorts. All the women here wear long pants or skirts. But I can’t help it, my legs need to breathe.
Ana exchanged some money and bought a SIM card. I wanted to increase my data at the same place, I had already used 1GB in the span of four days. Somehow, I got 15 GB extra without paying any extra money. I don’t know what witchcraft the employee used. Her name is also Nancy and I think I love her. In Tanzania, they also transfer over the data you have leftover from your current month into the next month.
Is this place sent from heaven.
In town I bought two mangoes, a coconut (a natural laxative), two colourful waist wraps (what most women here wear), a Masai (largest tribe in Africa) shawl and some snacks. Everything here is dirt cheap. 1000 TZS is approximately 0.50 USD. In total, I had spent around 40 000 TZS (20 USD), which is quite a lot here. The wraps and shawl were pretty pricey. 10000 (5USD) for the shawl, and 18000 (9USD) for the wraps.
On the way back we took a dala dala which is a large van used as a bus. It had taken us an hour to walk to town. Each dala dala has its own destination. The ride costs only 500TZS per person.
While we were driving, the sliding door of the van fell off! They tried to put it back on with no avail. Finally they lifted the door onto the roof and someone had to stand out of the door to hold it down. So safe. They had to drop the door off somewhere along the way. Ingrid, Ana and I couldn’t stop laughing, everyone else was chuckling.
Now onto Orland. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, he did not leave a good first impression. In fact, he barely left a first impression at all. The only time he talked to me was when he knocked on my door Monday morning, half naked with a towel wrapped around his waist, telling me that school was cancelled.
When Ana and I had returned from town, we retreated to her room to relax (she has a bunk bed and a double bed). Nancy’s mom comes in and asks us how our day was, what we did, etc. Her english isn’t very good, so most of the time we guess what she’s trying to say. She mentions something about Orlando and we’re both like, yeah, he left without say a word, so weird… She keeps talking and we deduce from her hand motions that Orlando had blocked everyone on WhatsApp after leaving (Ana did actually, I had no idea what she wanted to say). Nancy’s mom gets Selma (the cousin) to the come in and translate; she was at her limit. Selma drops the news that Orlando had left without paying a cent for his two-month stay.
Apparently he kept telling the family that his mom is on a safari and that she will give him the money once she’s back. He depends on his mom even though he has a wife and child? I told you this guy was sketchy. Anyway, they loved him like a son. Nancy’s parents literally called him son and he called them mom/dad. African people are so nice.
He kept putting off giving them money for two whole months. The day before he ran away, he told the family that his mom was back and that he would pay them everything. The cost here is 70 USD per week, he owes the family over 500 USD.
Nancy’s mom wanted us to track him down using GPS. Mike is trying to find him through SIM card tracking. He’s looking to get permission from the police so he can get the phone company involved.
To be honest, I think it’s a lost cause. There was no signed contract, no legal binding. As I said before, people here live life very relaxed. Even if they find him, how are they going to make him pay?
I think it’s funny that as a Chinese person, I probably would have kicked Orlando out by the second week.