Sunday 19 August

Breakfast is a bit of a let-down this morning. Most of the food seems to have run out. One small piece of bacon is left and one roll. Once more the staff are not very attentive. When eventually more bacon and rolls are brought out I have filled up on porridge.

I do some hand washing back in the room. No matter how many times I rinse it, my fleece keeps on turning the water black from all the dust that has accumulated, and I give up hope that it will ever rinse clean. The rest of my washing goes in the laundry basket.

All Nations Worship Centre (Photo: RS)

We walk down the road from the lodge to try the “All Nations Worship Centre” morning service, which Rachel noticed the sign for last week. The church “building” is a steel frame with open sides onto which about a third of a roof has so far been constructed. As we walk up the driveway a woman comes over to welcome us and introduces herself as Anne. She makes us feel very welcome and says that she will be back shortly after she has got changed ready for the service.

We sit down on a pew about half way back. There is one other person already here, a man probably in his late twenties. Soon, Pastor Richard comes out of the house opposite and greets us warmly.

More men, women and children roll in and eventually the service begins with Pastor Richard and his assistant leading some singing. They seem genuinely very pleased to have us as visitors and even go to the trouble of holding the entire service in both Swahili and English. Some of the time the pastor speaks in English and his assistant translates into Swahili, and the rest of the time he speaks in Swahili and his assistant translates into English. I cannot imagine such a thing happening at St Nic’s if we had non-english speaking visitors! It is a very humbling experience as well as a great privilege. The address is about obeying God, in the small things as well as the big things.

Stickers for the kids (Photo: RS)

The worship really takes off when two of the women take the lead, accompanied by a very talented young lad on keyboard, playing entirely by ear. We recognise “Lord I lift your name on high” and sing along in English. They worship with great freedom, including dancing. One of the men is moving constantly up and down the aisle with the music. This particular man later in the service sings us a song that he wrote himself, which was something to do with God wanting him to be a head, not a tail!

We think it is all nearly over, but then we get a second address, by one of the women, on the subject of not judging others, again translated into English solely for our benefit. Besides us, there are about fourteen other adults plus several children. The children are immaculately turned out and well behaved, right through the three hour service.

Afterwards we are invited into the pastor’s house. By our standards it is very bare, but it is at least brick and concrete. He tells us that it is also used as offices and meeting rooms for the church as well as being his house. He is very keen to show us a video of some Tanzanian dancing. What follows is a somewhat over-produced video of a small group of men and women waving handkerchiefs around to music, superimposed in front of various landmarks, including bizarrely the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I am rather relieved that we are not asked to give our verdict on it. Instead we chat for a while about life in Tanzania and in England.

Eventually we make our excuses and head off into the centre of Arusha. We want to reserve RL a seat on her homeward flight tomorrow, sort out an excursion to keep us occupied in the morning before going to the airport, and to find a room for RS and me for tomorrow night. We have lunch back at Jambos and while we are there speak to a man who can organise a trip for us tomorrow. We are not sure, but he gives us his phone number so that we can call him when we have decided.

It turns into a tiring afternoon. We try two Internet cafés without success – Internet access seems to be down in Arusha this afternoon, probably not an unusual occurrence. We finally find one that is working, but it is desperately slow. It takes thirty minutes to get through the KLM on-line check in and we get confirmation of her seat, 23A, a good bulkhead seat, with just seconds to spare before our allotted time runs out.

Next we walk down Sokoine to find a hotel room. We try the Backpackers’ Lodge and ask to see a room, but although clean it is tiny and has no window. We settle for the Meru House Inn, a Rough Guide recommendation, although it seems very busy and might be noisy.

We had already established that the Dar Express bus terminal is not on Colonel Middleton Road last week, and we try an alternative location suggested by the Lonely Planet. We end up back past the Shoprite supermarket before deciding that it is not there either, but the most likely spot is fenced off pending some new development. Enquiries with some of the locals gets us no further and once more we give up. Honestly, it feels like some kind of conspiracy of silence…

We return exhausted by taxi to the Ilboru Lodge to pack. I’ve lost the piece of paper that I wrote the man’s phone number on at lunchtime, but perhaps that is not such a bad thing. We ask the receptionist about the best way to visit Lake Duluti, which we think might make a suitable excursion for tomorrow morning. She is wonderfully helpful and finds us a car and driver for a very reasonable $70, including to the airport to drop off RL. (The standard price for a taxi just to the airport is $50.) The hotel will even make us packed lunches, though at a rather steep $9 each. Still, the overall package seems good value and we are glad to have it all agreed.

I have a decent spaghetti carbonara for dinner. RL and I are both extremely tired. I think I’m still at a deficit after Kili.

There is one final piece of excitement left today: Shortly after we are all in bed and have just finished praying, a small earth tremor strikes, similar to the one we felt at Natron. My mind goes back to the small village just below the lava flow at Oldonyo Lengai, and I wonder if it will still be there.