Written by: Joel Brown
WGA Structural Engineer, Master Plumber, Bat Hunter
Day 4 – Thursday 25 October
It poured with rain all night and is still going now. And once again, paradise has lost power, which means no hot water… sponge bath it is (what a beautiful sight to imagine)!! Today we scoured town for these special toilets which Michael had researched. It took us a while but we finally found them. They are gravity fed and kind of work like a porta-loo so they empty on their own. Much better than a hole in the ground! Michael and I then tackled our first manual labour task for the trip, fixing the sink at Team Vista HQ. We had a plan, the tools, the material and a shitload of testosterone… we got this!! After an hour or so and many failed attempts, we were searching available URLs for Brown-O’Flaherty Plumbing Services. We will monitor the sink for a few weeks but we are overly confident that it will last forever. Later in the day on the drive back to our meeting point, a tyre blew. To be honest, with the conditions of the roads and maintenance history of the car, I am surprised this didn’t happen sooner. Thankfully we were walking distance to our destination and since Michael and I had already earnt our man tickets for the day, we left Ally to sort this one. Our night was pretty chilled and we turned in early enough. As I was getting into bed I saw something run across the floor… it was decision time, do I get up and see what it was or do I ignore it and hope whatever it is, it doesn’t eat me in the night. I got up and checked it out and it was a cockroach the size of my hand!!! I armed myself with a shoe and went hunting. Then all of a sudden, it started flying around the room. Fuck this!!! I ran around the room waiting for it to finally land and then I pounced, whacking it with my shoe. I was tired at this point so I decided to go back to bed and hold the funeral/burial tomorrow morning.
Highlight of the day:
The best part of the day was seeing the 65kg of stationery that we sent from Perth, arrive at Team Vista HQ. Caroline and the co-ordinators here were so happy and grateful. Huge shout-outs to Connie for organising the whole thing and Luke for letting us spend the money to get it all. Items that we would deem basic, like pencils, rulers and erasers, are so hard to come by here and are super expensive. I’m sure the kids will be stoked to see their new school supplies.
Lowlight of the day:
It was time to take some measurements of the existing “toilets” at the school we are fixing. Michael had been doing the heavy lifting on this project so I thought I better take this bullet and do the measuring. Michael warned me about where I was steeping. There is a 10mm layer of pee over the entire floor so there is really nowhere good to put your feet. Little did I know my foot was mm’s away from a giant turd that I somehow didn’t see. Thankfully I avoided the brown pile. Measuring the hole was the worst though… the smell of shit was strong and the fumes coming from the hole was near unbearable. Let’s hope the power is back on at the house so I can scrub my entire body!!
Day 5 – Friday 26 October
So I woke up, picked some flowers, wrote down some nice words and proceeded to organise the ceremony for the cockroach. I went to collect the squished bug but it was gone… where could it be? I still haven’t found it but I figure one of two things could have happened. Either it wasn’t dead and is plotting its revenge, or something bigger came in and ate it… neither are good scenarios.
I looked out the window at the Ferrari (its actually an old land rover that has more problems than Jarrad – the passenger door doesn’t open from the inside, only the driver can put the windows down, it leaks inside and it has been raining all week) and it had a flat tyre. Thankfully we organised to get picked up from the house so it was now Richard’s turn to earn his man cards for the day and sort the flat. Michael, Caroline, Ally and I made a trip out to the Team Vista farm. To get there we had to go down about 5km of dirt road which was now under a foot of water. We got to a point and couldn’t drive any further so we got out and walked. It was like walking on ice, everyone was slipping all over the place and worried we would latch onto the barbed wire fencing if we did fall. Don’t worry guys, we made it!! We sussed out the fence around the farm and figured out how to fix it and chatted to the lady running it to find out what other maintenance she needed. On the way home from the farm we shredded another tyre… that’s 3 tyres in less than 24 hours!!! We nursed the car to a mechanic and got a quick fix so we could keep getting stuff done. We met with Child Protection Services about organising some seminars for all the kids as sexual and physical abuse has been a recent issue here, so we want to educate the kids and make sure they know what to do if they are approached by strangers. It’s sad that it has come to this but everyone involved is committed to helping and trying to stamp it out as soon as possible.
We went to go get takeaway for dinner while leaving Caroline and Imani at home. It was pretty uneventful until Richard received a phone call from Caroline… the bat was back!!! Clearly we didn’t plug the fire place very well and the bat was flying around the bedroom with Caroline and Imani stuck in bed luckily with the mosquito net down for protection. It kept flying into the net, presumably trying to eat Imani. When we got home, we found the bat holed up in the ensuite bathroom. We opened a window, closed the door and prayed it would leave on its on accord. A couple hours I thought I better redeem myself for my poor bat hunting skills the other night. I slowly went to open the door, Michael and Richard behind me for backup. I got the door open a crack and then Richard knocked his hat off and it fell right next to me. I lost it and ran away thinking the bat was after me. Luckily the other two carried on and made sure the bat had seen itself out (which we think it did). The bat saga was again over. I handed back one of my ‘man cards’ and we all hope to never see the bat again!!
Highlight of the day:
There were not too many highlights to choose from today. Some might say that seeing me shit myself at Richard’s hat was a highlight… but the writer firmly disagrees!! The best part of the day was that Michael and I finally won a game each of Last Card (a card game we have been playing in our spare time). We went many nights without winning so even though it may seem like a small feat, we were pretty happy with our achievements.
Lowlight of the day:
At the farm we spoke extensively with the lady who is running it. Well it was supposed to be her husband running the farm but evidently he had some issues going on and she was doing the bulk of the work. She told us that a couple days earlier he had beaten her, grabbed a few of his belongings and left. It was sad to hear the abuse that she had been subjected to on a regular basis. She was a strong woman and wanted to stay and run the farm herself. The silver lining in all of this is that she will now receive the salary for working at the farm directly and the community has rallied around her and banished her husband so we are confident that she is safe and she now has a steady income to support herself which is seemingly rare in Tanzania, where the male is usually the breadwinner. We want to do as much as possible while we are here to set her up and make sure she has all the help she needs.
Day 6 – Saturday 27 October
Saturday is a rest day and that’s mostly what we did. We started in the morning by meeting a fundi (tradesperson) to get some input on how to fix the toilets and see if our plan would work. Thankfully he helped develop the idea a bit further and suggested hooking up the water supply directly to the mains so we didn’t have to install gutters and a rain water tank… good work fundi!! After this, we really just chilled out and took it easy for the rest of the day. Michael, Richard and I hit a couple of pubs later in the night but didn’t go “full Raf.”
Highlight of the day:
We played pool while at the pub. The winner stays on and you pay what equates to 30c to challenge them. We each had a few games and I think won at least one each. I angered a local because no one explained me the house rules so I was just playing how I knew. Eventually he cracked it and explained the game through broken English and charades. After this, he suddenly took the lead and was kicking my butt. He finally got to the black ball and bang, he sunk it!! But the white ball slowly rolled into the pocket afterwards. Take that angry man!! I claimed that win as my most rewarding victory.
Lowlight of the day:
There really was no lowlight for today… we are just winning at life!!
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