A few people have asked how we’re really doing. Rest assured that we’re doing our best to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in our blogs. Of course we tend to emphasize the more interesting or adventurous bits, but we’re trying to give you a complete picture.
Temperatures haven’t been too hot in the places we’ve been so far. Day time highs are typically in the 25 – 32 Celsius range. We haven’t spent any time near the coast of the Indian Ocean, which tends to be hotter. The inland places we’ve been to are usually higher in elevation and therefore cooler. It is the rainy season, although that hasn’t caused us any difficulties, as it usually rains at night or for only short periods in the day.
We’re staying in budget or lower mid-range hotels, typically costing from $10-20 Canadian per night for a double room including breakfast. We often get a double bed, but sometimes there are only twin beds. The rooms usually have a private bathroom, which is rarely clean, but is fine if you try not to touch anything. We’ve gotten used to cold showers, as hot water is available only about half of the time. In Tanzania recently we’ve had a few cockroaches sharing our bathrooms, but they normally don’t come out until after we’ve gone to bed. It is possible to stay in much cheaper places if we wanted. Rooms in budget places with shared bathrooms are often under $10 Canadian. The cheapest room we stayed at was in a Catholic seminary in Rwanda, which was $5 Canadian for both of us.
Our room typically includes breakfast which is usually terrible. It’s almost always a ‘plain omelet’ (which is really just a fried egg) with white bread, dry and untoasted. Occasionally we’ll get a bit of fruit or some margarine for the bread, but more often not.
We’re both getting plenty of calories, but the East African diet isn’t well balanced. A lot of starches (potatoes, rice, or plantain), and just about everything else is deep fried in a dark, murky oil. We are often offered or provided with a small salad, but we try to stay away from them. Beverages are mainly water, with a soda pop in the afternoon and beer in the evening.
We’ve had most of the common travel ailments. Diane has had lots of mosquito bites, two scraped elbows, a bruised butt, two colds, a nagging cough, a sprained ankle (or perhaps a small bone break), diarrhea, and several upset stomachs. Patrick has had one cold, a sore foot, intermittent hay fever, a scraped shin and some strange bite marks on his forearm that went away after about two weeks.
We’re getting plenty of sleep, though it is often interrupted by noise. The mattresses are usually made of foam, which means they are typically firm but not that comfortable. Most places have mosquito nets, but they often have holes, which we patch with duct tape (even Canadian man’s best friend), or use our own net if they’re really bad.
On a positive note, we watch a lot less television that we used to. Our room may occasionally have a TV, but there is usually only one or two channels, and they are probably not in English.
Patrick is starting to relax a bit, but would still like to see and do more than time allows. He’d like to be getting more exercise, but isn’t doing much about it. We do a lot of walking.
Diane tends to get stressed when we transition to a new location. A combination of the scary transportation, and a fear of the unknown. She relaxes once she’s seen that the next place isn’t so bad, and in many ways, is a lot like the last place.
Reading this back, it seems rather bleak, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds, once you get used to it. It’s a bit like camping indoors, and eating out in greasy spoon restaurants. Every place has something unique and positive about it, and there are plenty of opportunities wherever we go.