Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Austrian Restaurants, Massage Cream and Ceiling Fans

My last night in Moshi got a bit interesting. In the day I'd been quite pleased with myself. I bumped into the Irish people again, had lunch with them in The Coffee Shop, and read the paper.

Then I went to the market in search of tat to buy. I was spotted by a Rasta who had seen me earlier in the day, pointed out his shop, but judged correctly when his presence was no longer required, and left me alone.

He showed me that he was also involved in a small shop in the market, and then let me have a quick look at a couple of places until I got to it. I picked up a few Maasai necklaces and the prize for the "how many steps" sweepstake (I'll let you know the result for that later), and asked him how the system of street sellers works.

Often you'll be stopped by someone, and he'll go in search of things to sell you. I asked him what they get out of the deal. What they actually do is work in a cooperative, so several shops will work together to bring in custom - and they all share the profits of the group of shops.

I got a reasonable price off him and also a nice chat and learnt a bit too, so my impression of Moshi improved with it. I told him how his approach was better because he didn't scare potential customers away by pressurising them.

In the evening I went to the Salzburger Cafe, which a few people I'd met had been to. It's a bizarre Austrian themed place full of VW memorabilia. From the articles on the wall I think the original owner was a guide/cook with a tour company and his son later took it over.

I presume he must have taken predominantly Austrian people on tours, or he's been to Salzburg. Behind where I sat there was even a Sound of Music poster next to a quote from the Bible in Swahili.

It was almost empty when I went in - there was one Tanzanian waiting to eat when I arrived, and it added to the surreal atmosphere. As I approached the table a sign above my head reassured me, "YES... YOU ARE IN KILIMANJARO..."

Motivational quotes adorned the walls from such Austrian luminaries as Mother Theresa. Three old-fashioned trunks suitcases sat on small tables, various Austrian stickers and event flyers plastered over them. And a whole collection of VW enthusiast magazines were leather-bound together.

When I got back to the hotel, the roof bar was empty, and I was tired so didn't fancy drinking on my own. I went to my room and started to feel a bit unwell. I'd been having random stiffness and pains down my left hand side for a couple of days, and started feeling a bit queasy and feverish.

I kept falling asleep to BBC World on my TV (not that unsual in itself), and I was a bit wary of having to travel to Dar the next morning if I was unwell. I went down to reception and asked if they thought I had enough time in the morning to see someone. After a couple of misunderstandings about whether I wanted them to arrange a lift to the bus station, they thought it would be alright.

When I woke up I felt a little spaced out, but mostly alright, so I thought I would just wait until Dar. Then about an hour and a half before my bus was supposed to go I started to feel ill again. The chap on reception still thought I had time, so I went to the Kilimanjaro Hospital, as it was nearest the Scandinavian Express depot.

Luckily I didn't have to wait long to see the doctor. He was a calm, slow-moving chap with grey hair, and listened very patiently while I explained what was wrong. He immediately asked whether I was taking anti-malarials and I said yes. Malaria had been my first thought - although I didn't feel that bad, I was a bit fluey, with joint pains, and anti-malarials can dull the symptoms.

He dismissed this though, as I was taking anti-malarials, and started writing down a prescription for something to kill the pain (I couldn't read what it was, he is a doctore after all), and then asked if I had any cream or ointment to massage my shoulder. When I said no, he wrote something else down instead.

I asked if he didn't think it could still be malaria - it was clearly his first thought, but seemed to assume that anti-malarials are 100% effective, when they're nothing of the sort. He sighed, and asked me if I knew where the laboratory was, then sighed again when he had to lead me there.

The chap in the lab took a few drops of blood from my finger, onto a microscope slide that he had already cleaned with disinfectant. I waited half and hour, by which time I felt pretty good anyway, and unsurprisingly it came back negative.

I still had plenty of time to catch the bus to Dar, which turned out to be less than half full. I had heard that Scandinavian Express aren't as good as they were, as they had been caught not paying taxes, and as a result were struggling. It showed when instead of a glass bottle of soda I received a plastic bottle of Azamto Black Currant Drink, the ingredients of which were: water, sugar, citric acid, colour and artificial flavouring.

I didn't mind though if it meant everybody had a double seat to themselves. I met a few people to share a taxi with and stayed at the Safari Inn. Our bags were carried to our rooms, and when I got in I turned on the light and ceiling fan.

The man who had brough my bag looked up at the fan, and adjusted the setting, which I had turned to 5. He turned it to 3, and it went a little faster. I looked from the controls, to him, to the fan, and thanked him.

He turned it to 2, and then to 1, and it span faster still, and still he stared up at the fan. He seemed more satisfied now and I thanked him again.

And he looked up at the fan. And he looked. And he looked some more. And I thanked him. And he looked. And I thanked him again. Reluctantly he sighed and edged his way out of the room.

I ended up going to Chef's Pride again for dinner, with Alan and Sophie, two vet students in Liverpool. It was much more busy than I'd seen it before, and they had the barbeque going. We adopted an Aussie called James, who had been traveling in South Africa, then didn't want to go home so had been working for a safari company in Botswana, before taking a break and traveling a bit more.

Today I went to the Nyumba ya Sanaa, which has artwork from very talented artists, many of whom are from the villages and often disabled. It's not cheap, but it's vastly superior to what people on the street try to peddle onto you, many of them have their own style, and it's much much cheaper than what you'd pay at home. I may have to pick up a thing or two before I fly out of Dar.

Later I'll see Bongo and Baraka at Vende's when he gets back from Morogoro - he's had a job interview. Id better have some lunch now - I was going to go before Internet, but the place I was going to doesn't seem to be there any more.

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