Thursday, June 30, 2005

We reached Nacala yesterday. Rather small indeed. I have not been ashore really, except the quayside, as a deckie.

Yesterday I helped first with sorting out the garbage, paper/plastics/other, as we were at sea >40 miles out, and so could throw paper&glass overboard. I now slightly more appreciate what dad was saying about the egyptian church in garbage city...

Then I helped in the afternoon once we had docked with unloading stuff with the
crane. Fun. The gangways and the blue watchmans box, and all.

My deckie shoes
are soo big! Great big size 47 steel-tipped things. I need some more thick socks. Oh well. Perhaps Charlie has some.

I am the only STEPPER to not have been seasick... Pretty much the only
one to have ever sailed at all, actually.

I really enjoy it on board, and think I will enjoy being a deckie the most too. It is
the closest to being a sailor :-) Getting to mess around with ropes and shackles and scrubbing decks and all. And being outside during voyages is the best. Apparently we also get official looking raincoats as well if it is wet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

After letting us know he had arrived, Dan sent another text saying it had taken two hours to get his visa at Dar es Salaam airport, and another saying that the lock was broken on his cabin door so someone had to kick it down! We texted back but had no more response, then a week after he left we received a lengthy email which was written on the Monday after he arrived.

I finally got my computer username to work. Crazy auto-password. I am really enjoying my time on board so far. (Note, if I miss out any spaces in this email, it is because of the weird keyboard. Made in Malasia in '94...) Today we at last found out where we will be working. I am going to be on Deck! Great, this is what I wanted. I will ask the chief Deckie tomorrow if the hours would count towards a competant crewman... I hope so.

The first flight out was fine from LCA, no problems. Dubai was beautiful, very Modern Arab style. The hotel was very close by, the airport hotel and reached by minibus from the airport terminal. Very cool hotel. HUGE room. Met Dad's friend in the airport about 4.30 ish. Cool. I had not slept, but read a bit, and done karate & stretching for the 3 hours or so that I was in my room.

Flight from Dubai was long... at least it felt it. The airplanes (both to and from Dubai) were nice modern Airbus, with (oh so posh) per-seat TV screens that worked! Well... mine was buggy, but they all kind of worked. You know, I'm glad that I read that "plug in drug" book*. It's true! People don't sleep any more on flights. They drift into a TV trance. And sit, heads 20 cm away from the screen for hours, watching junk. I didn't watch more than about 5 minutes, before getting bored, and turning on the classical radio channel. Cool.

Arrived in Dar, looked through "forward camera" view on TV, rough runway, no lines and painting. Inside the "terminal", it was chaos. You had to get these blue forms, fill them out, and then take them to the VISA desk. About 2 score people trying to get VISAs, and one guy sorting them out, and 4 desk dudes doing the actual work. It was a "African" queue, in other words, big squash.

1 and ahalf hours later, my passport and blue form and $50 was on the desk, and a lady said from behind me "are you joining the Doulos?" it was an ex-LogosII person, bookshop manager, come tojoin the doulos. 30 mins later I got my passport back, and visa, and went though passport control in about 10 seconds. didn't even need to show the International Vaccination Certificate! oh well.

Met a whole bunch of Douloids outside, got in minibus and drove to Ship. I didn't need 5 pairs of shoes!!** Mad! Most people only have 1. OR sandels. hah. haa. haa. Oh well. Apparently local people keep asking for one's shoes. Hm.

On board, my Big Brother is Deiter, a South African guy. He remembered me from last year! Also other people keep saying "do I know you from somewhere?" heh.

Anyway, The cabin is right up in the bow. Apparently the WORST place for seasickness on board! Fun fun fun. We sail in about 2 hours.

I am really enjoying it on board, slowly learning peoples names, I am about out of computer time now, so must go.

PS - No direct internet access. only email.
PPS - no big attachements please. 1 56k modem for whole ship!
PPPS - Windows 2k. MS OUTLOOK. ugh.
PPPPS - Nice big library.

* See Marie Winn's site
** Dan was sent a kit-list from the OM UK office, which said - among other things - that he needed to take one pair of dress shoes, one pair of sandals, two pairs of casual shoes or trainers, and another pair to keep in a lifeboat.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A brief text has let us know that Daniel has arrived safely and is in Tanzania. Alleluia!

Friday, June 24, 2005

This is my last post before I fly. I have mostly packed, had all my vaccinations, done my last performance, started the anti-malarials, drunk a lot of water, cleaned my desk, and have only 9720 more things to do before check-in, which is in about 4 or 5 hours time. I will try to post when I arrive. I also have added my mum and bro to the people on this blog, so they can relay for me. About a week ago, I bought a mobile. I hate the things. Stupid bleeping all the time, interrupting, never letting you be alone. I have held out this long against the insidious abominations, but alas, one more has fallen to their fel grip. I still keep it off whenever I can though. Basically, the aim is to allow me to communicate with people here, parents and whatnot.

Yesterday, after the last school performace, we (the theatre) went out to starbucks for cheesecake. My first time there ever. Strange place. Nice cake though. And the rest of the company had bought me a book, and a card. Funny Korina. She wrote "Dear Vromopaido, come back soon because I wont have anyone to fight with." Charming.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Had them two vaccines. Very tired, long day, with two performances this morning. Tomorrow, the last real performance! Yeah!

Didn't fall over after the vaccine. Tonight I am going to my final karate class before next August, or September. I wonder if I will be able to train, and find others while in Africa, and on ship? That would be a pretty cool actually. Go join a karate group in whatever port, and invite everyone to the ship. Hmm...

Found a small scrap of paper in my room today which I had written on about 6 months ago:

"Fruit trees grow well with manure as fertilizer. Do the Fruits of the Spirit also get fertilized by manure?"

Anyway. Am I being heretical again?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Here begineth mine tale, friends all,
Aren ye sitting wel comfortablye?
Goode. Then I shal beguine.

"When they begin the Beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender
It brings back a night o..."

OK. I'll stop now. I couldn't think of a good way to start this thing, and that seemed like a quite unusual, and quite typical me way of doing it. I was thinking of writing the whole blog in middle english, but after the third line thought "No way".

Anyway. About 1 and a half years ago, the ship MV Doulos came to Larnaka (where I live) for 10 days or so. I had the privilage of working on board for the time they were here with a friend from Lemesos.

At the time I loved the ship, and the community and wanted to join them properly, but at age 17, I felt I was too young to really do that, and wanted to do a year working at the local theatre group in which I had been envolved. A year later (last December, now), and they came back again for 1 day only, to pick up some new people, and I got to visit again, and meet up with the people in charge of short termers, and meet a whole load of guys who had just finished their STEP (Short Term Exposure Programme) and talk to them.

I sent in the "interested" form from their website,

and waited.

2/3 weeks later, not even an auto-responce. So I sent in another, with an email.

And waited.

Eventually a responce! Yeah! Then they (the UK office) sent me the full application form, which I duly filled out, and sent back, a few more questions went back and forth (it was March by this time) and eventually they said "Well, the time you applied for initially on board (June/August) is full... Is your second choice (August/October) OK for you..." I said "OK", slightly disheartened. Then they said they needed to wait to ask the ship if there was space on board.

So I waited.

1 month later, I sent an email asking if anything was happening. "Still waiting for the ship to respond" they said.

So I waited.

1 and a half months later, I was getting a bit concerned. My family were wanting to plan for what to do for the rest of the year. We needed to visit the UK to sell our house, and do the usual chuch visits and all that, and we still didn't know what was happening about the Doulos!

So I had a talk with God about it, and asked "Lord, if you want me to go, please can I have a response, one way or the other, this week..." It would be awfully nice to know...

Next day, an email arrived "Hi Daniel, I have just heard that a vaccancy has become available on the Doulos for the STEP in June. I know that this is short notice but I was wondering if you would be interested??"

Hey, wow God, I wasn't quite expecting that :-) Thanks! This was about 2 weeks ago. These last 2 weeks have been quite busy.

The STEP starts on the 25th, and I had performances with the theatre group (where I have been working this last year as an actor and musician) until the 23rd. We looked up flights online, but the only ones available were on the 19th... So Dad and I went down to the travel agent. It was an afternoon, and my dad was saying "Well, normally it's very busy at this time of day, I expect we'll have to wait some time..." we went in, and the only others in the room were sitting behind desks! Once one of them had finished her phone call, we asked about flights, and there was one on the 24th (this Friday!)! Wow! Thanks God!

I have had some of the vaccinations I need, all of the "VITAL, CANNOT ENTER COUNTRY WITHOUT CERTIFICATE THEREOF." ones, and will get some more of them tomorrow. It looks as if I will be going! I'm quite excited now.

I'm not good at praying. I get distracted all the time, and am never quite sure of what I should be praying about anyway. Often I will ask for something "Hey, Father, it would be awfully nice if it could rain today, you know?" and then half an hour later am shouting "No! Please God, not rain! Tomorrow, maybe, but not today, right?" Thankfully, God is in charge, whatever I pray, and whatever happens, it will be to His glory. I don't even have a visa yet. Hopefully I can get one at the airport, but if not, and I get turned back, I know that He is in control.