I balance sorting out logistics for San Diego events with my “second job,” booking reservations for a hostel in Tanzania.
It’s great fun. Volunteers and travelers constantly contact me asking about the area. It’s cool to hear their excitement and about what different people are up to. [This hostel serves as a base for people working on volunteer projects around Arusha, a town near some major destinations in Africa including Mount Kilimanjaro.]
A-Town is nothing like a normal hostel. There is no address. There is no sign. It’s about five kilometers out of town. And you can’t really ask anyone in town for directions.
Ideally, guests meet Justin Mtui (the hostel manager) in town and he brings them to the volunteer house. But when that doesn’t happen, here’s what I tell guests:
“Ask for directions to Ngulelo, five kilometers out of town. Get dropped off in from of Rachel Cosmetic. To the left of the building there is a small dirt road and the hostel is not a far walk from there. When you get to the second small shop (very small) on your left, the house will be across from it on your right. (There are also two small fruit and veggie stands right outside of the gate). Ask for Frank or Mtui at the shop. They should know which gate to point you toward (there is no sign).”
Everything in Africa, including checking into a hostel, can be an adventure.
Trying to check people into an African hostel from San Diego can be an adventure, too. The way it works is, when I see a booking online, I contact that person and send their info to Justin in Arusha. He doesn’t always check his e-mail, though, and when he doesn’t respond and volunteers/guests are already en route… I start to freak out! For instance, I just tried to call him with a stupid calling card, then texted him over the internet…
He has never let me down once though. And here’s Justin’s response to my panicked communications sent from about 9,000 miles away:
“Yes i have got your msg! everything is ok! will email 2morrow! i got the clients!”
O.K. Now I can relax until the next one!