Hello everyone, I’m now writing to you all a day early this week as I’m going to be out of the loop for a while as I’m off to Amsterdam for a few days, as of 8am tomorrow morning. Going to Amsterdam is all part of my very strung out ”chill out” process which I’ve been treating myself to since finishing exams last Tuesday. As I mentioned last week, it’s been so great to be able to go out, relax, catch up with friends, read non academic books, and lie in the park without feeling guilty about not doing work. I booked to go and meet up with three girls who I was out in China with about two months ago as an incentive to keep me motivated with work, and now I can’t believe that I’m actually about to go, it’s all seemed to happen so quickly!! Once I get back from Amsterdam, I’m meeting up with some old buddies in London and going to watch the polo which I’m very excited about (though slightly intimidated by how many wealthy people are going to be there throwing their money around) and then I’ll return to Cardiff for one last time to collect my final few belongings, clear up the house and leave forever! (Well, maybe not forever, but certainly for an extended period of time).
So what have I been doing this week? Well I can certainly tell you that everything I’ve been doing has very much been contained within the ”chill out” process I’ve mentioned. On Monday I headed into town and bought a load of stuff that I’m going to need for Tanzania from various outdoors store, I got a huge £60 taken off my bill in one place as they had a massive sale going on, then a further 20% off, then buy one get one free! I virtually got all my kit I’m going to need for Tanzania in there which is fantastic! I also decided to pay ‘Go Outdoors’ a visit in order to buy some decent walking boots as that’s what we have to wear every day out in Africa, and very much under estimated just how far away the shop was from the city centre. When I looked it up on the map it looked about a 20 minute walk away and I thought, yeah that’s not a problem, I’ll walk it no sweat….oh how wrong I was! After 20 minutes of walking I looked at my location on the journey to this store, and I was barely half way!! At that point I thought there was little point in turning back, so carried on walking through the torrential rain to finally arrive at Go Outdoors completely soaked after 45 minutes of walking! The hike was worth it though as I bagged myself some really decent walking boots which should hopefully keep my feet in good nick whilst I’m out in the wilderness in Africa.
My adventures in Tanzania are just 3 weeks away now, and I’m so so excited to go. I’m trying to keep it in mind that it’s not all a big holiday as the working and living conditions out there are going to be really really hard. Where we’re staying is so remote that you can only get to it after a few hours of hiking once a 4×4 has driven you as far is safe to drive, and the place itself contains no running water or electricity. Once we’re there we’re doing mostly construction work which means getting on to the site at 6/7am in the morning before the heat of the day starts to set it, then a few hours off during the heat of the day, and then back to the construction site until about 6 or 7pm. Once we’re back at camp we’re all expected to help with the cooking and maintenance of the place. This means that we have to dig trenches for the long drops we will use as toilets, burn the toilet paper that we’ve used each day, make sure we’re keeping on track with the food rations, and keeping the place clean and tidy. Once the days activities are finished, I’d imagine we’re going to all be pretty tired, but spend the evenings sitting round the fire talking and getting to know one another, and revelling in our new environment. It’s going to be such a challenging few months as living and working in such a remote area with few comforts, and also dealing with the heat is going to be really hard, but I know the experience will be so rewarding with the difference we’re going to make to the people who live there, as well as the friends I will make, and the lessons I will learn.
As well as getting my Tanzania kit together this week I’ve also moved all my stuff out of my house now, and have said goodbye to a load of people who I’m not going to see again for another few months. Whilst I usually go home when I move all my stuff out, as my parents make a special trip from home with the big car to come and get everything, this time I packed up the car with all my stuff and they drove it home for me, but I have stayed in Cardiff for a few days to see people and to catch my flight to Amsterdam from Bristol. Although it’s sad and pretty strange that you finding yourself packing up the room that you’ve lived in for a year, and saying goodbye to the people you see almost on a daily basis, I don’t think it’s truly sunk in yet that life as I know it has really come to a definitive end. Right now it just feels like everyone is moving out for the summer as we’re used to, and we’ll all be back again in September. I don’t think the notion that university is over will truly sink in until I get back from Tanzania when I see my friends travelling the world or starting their new jobs rather than coming back to Cardiff.
Anyway, enough dwelling on the situation for now, I’ll post again sometime after next weekend when I will have returned from my trip to Amsterdam, and my reunion in London. See you then!! x