Earls High School visits Tanzania. February 2019.

It really shouldn’t happen to a tour leader …

Let me start by saying how marvellous the students have been today … it was commented on our flight, by a Tanzanian couple who now live in the uk but were returning to visit friends and family that this has been one of their most memorable trips … listening to the way our students engaged with each other, the fun and great relationships between them and their teachers … and they were blown away by what the students had achieved to be on the flight … so I am one very proud headteacher.

Anyway … following our 13 hours in the air from 20.30 last night in addition to the three hours at Doha … what we needed was a nice easy trip to the hotel and evening … we were met by Fred at the airport and loaded onto the two minibuses with our bags and then headed off to the hotel … as we drove I was getting uneasy … we were heading in the wrong direction for the Sawe Hotel … that is up by the bus station and we were heading towards the docks … we drove past the catholic secretariat where I stayed on the two visits when I didn’t have students back in 2012 and 2014 … and then we turned and drove in … and we weren’t staying at the Sawe at all … we are at the catholic secretariat … a wonderful venue that I had recommended back in 2015 for our first visit … but a surprise none the less!

Our African adventures staff had decided that we could get a better deal on exchanging our money somewhere else than the four foreign exchanges at the airport … and I had to agree but would still have preferred to get the money changed and have an easy evening … so we hadn’t changed the money … well what a to-do followed … it was decided that I should collect money from all students and staff, leave them to freshen up and pop out to change the money … and so we set off … the driver who I was having to pay extra to do this, much to my surprise, told us that we had missed any other money changers and would have to go back to the airport … the difficulty was that Simba had just beaten Young Africans (the Tanzanian equivalent of a Manchester derby) in the national stadium and the tens of thousands of Simba fans were dancing and celebrating in the street … a fantastic spectacle of colour and noise and I was pleased to sit for over 30 minutes at the junction outside the ground in gridlocked traffic despite needing to get to the airport and back (a 30 minute journey normally) … anyway … to cut a very long story short we couldn’t exchange the money once we finally got to the airport for reasons that included ‘we have no shillingi left’, ‘the computer system has just gone down and it’s a long job to get it up and running again’ and ‘it’s shift change over and we can’t do anything for over an hour’ … so back we headed … I’d missed preparing the students for their first Tanzanian dinner, and come back two hours after I left empty handed … still they were buoyant but tired and well fed … Fred and I had some dinner (see photo for the sumptuous plantain stew in Tanzanian red sauce, cabbage, carrot and onions and bean stew) … then had our welcome meeting with the students … I promised any student who wanted a soft drink that I would buy them one with English pounds (as I’d checked with the bar man that as a special event he would allow me to do that) however when I tried to do just that he had changed his mind!

Hey ho … one of the things I love about Tanzania is the pace of life, the never really knowing what is going to be the outcome of any thing you think is planned but also the warmth of the people … and we had another experience like that at the end of the night when an accountancy lecturer came over and introduced himself to us and engaged us in a great conversation about Tanzanian life …

it’s lights out at 11 tonight but I would be gob smacked if any are left awake at this point … so I’m going to sign off and go and see what the state of play is … I’ve got to be off at 7 in the morning back to the airport to change the money as the exchange have promised to be open, even in a Sunday … but we’ll have to wait and see! Then we are off at 9 heading for Morogoro and Dodoma … averaging 8 hours in the bus … enjoy the photos if the WiFi is strong enough to post them

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