20.05.2009 - 23.05.2009
After abandoning me for the second time – this time, 10 days in Uganda – Maaret returned to Nairobi. Feeling a bit better and in one of my “let's wait and see” rotations at the hospital between appointments and Maaret's return to Europe looming, I made an executive decision and decided we would go to Arusha for a few days. Now I freely admit that I am not entirely sure what i expected to accomplish as i am still not in anywhere near good enough to attempt such things as long safari trips or climbing Kilimanjaro (I can barely climb stairs at the moment, let alone anything else!), but it made sense at the time. Basically, I was so bored of looking at the same walls that I just fancied looking at some other walls for a bit.
And it kind of worked. The journey didn't cause me too much in the way of problems, and we found a nice little hostel mostly used by long term volunteers, and where we were instantly brought into the 'family' and made to feel very welcome. Plus there were puppies. Which for those that understand – and even those that don't, as it is pretty obvious at least from one angle – means baby animals.
The people behind the Ujamaa Hostel have links to several local charities and projects, and people come and stay for a while and volunteer. You can choose to do as much or little as you want, and get involved in whichever project you want, and mix and match pretty much as you please: It is one of the few programs that i have come across in the last few months where they are genuinely looking for people to come and volunteer, as opposed to the norm which is that they want the money the volunteers pay (normally lots of it), but then really seem like they couldn't care less if the volunteers stick around or not. At Ujamaa, you don't pay (read: hand over a blank cheque) for the privilege of volunteering: You just volunteer.
Sadly, i wasn't really up to much. I had good moments and bad, but pretty much did not allot except hang around the hostel and occasionally wander around Arusha. Frustratingly, I didn't make it to a single of the projects (reasoning that with my currently extremely sensitive stomach, the last thing I need was enthusiastic kids running up and grabbing/hugging me), though have already resolved to return when I am finally alive again and stay for a few weeks and help out.
One of the things that I have enjoyed so much about being sick and stuck around Nairobi for the last few weeks has been the wonderful support and consistent presence of Maaret. And so having been abandoned by her twice in the previous couple of weeks, and with a third abandonment rapidly approaching, I was warmed to discover that when she went out to a club with most of the hostel residents (pretty much everybody except for me and 2 other sicknotes), she had to field 2 wedding proposals – and not from locals – and got involved in this**...
Sigh. The hints are becoming increasingly less subtle. The evening was topped off when part of the group arrived home around 4am, and when Maaret came in to check on me, I got a strong whiff of alcohol and “club” smells and pretty much had to sprint straight off for another, erm, comfort break. And who said romance was dead?
- * To be fair, the three guys are all really cool New Yorkers who are gay, gayer and really gay.
DISCLAIMER: I have been almost politely asked to point out that Maaret has never really abandoned me, and I am using that term for semi-dramatic-ish affect. Left me alone for days on end whilst she went off to do other, more exciting things on 3 different occasions? yes; abandoned me? not really. To set her worries that free that any of my friends who ever stumble across this and actually read it will think that by leaving me in my hour of need (or something like that) she is a heartless so and so, in the hope of not being slapped later on, I hearby state for the record that I had no problems with – and actively encouraged – her side trips. I don't want somebody ruining/wasting the end of their holiday to sit in a cell staring at a wall with me hen i'm in an even less friendly, sociable and useful way than normal, when they could be out enjoying themselves and seeing all sorts of exciting things, such a paint drying. Fred, on the other hand I am a bit miffed that he deserted me. He could have worked wonders in several hospital situations that I have found myself in! Now, Honey, please don't slap me?