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News item submitted by Gap Year Blog
News item dated 5 Dec 2017

So you’ve received your field brief, started studying for your PADI Open Water course, and you’ve learn how to count to ten in Swahili. You’re feeling prepared for the volunteering part of your project, but what about the living part? Well no fear, we’re here to debunk any myths, answer any questions and prepare you for life on Camp Frontier.

During your time here, you’ll be sleeping in a traditional banda. We have three bandas on camp, which are completely made out of makuti (dried palm leaves). Suffering from jet lag and can’t sleep? You can spend hours admiring the intricate handiwork that goes into the making of your banda – you could even have a go at making some yourself! The bandas are basic, and you may encounter bugs and insects, but each bed has a mosquito net to stop any creepy crawlies coming too close. You’ll definitely feel more connected to nature by the time you leave!

Next up, we all know you’re thinking it…what is the toilet situation like?! There’s no way to glamourise a toilet, and I’m not going to try. For the duration of your time on Mafia Island you’ll be relieving yourself on a long drop. It’s not pretty, but it conserves water, can create plant fertiliser and it does the job. The shower on the other hand is something that can be glamourised. OK, so we can’t compete with shower jets, or even running water, but what we can offer is a bucket shower with a view. Have you ever taken a shower under the milky way, with the sound of the sea lapping at the beach in the distance? Beats your jacuzzi-jet-spa-power-shower any day.

The biggest worry many people have is about food. What will you be eating? Here’s the lowdown. We start the day with chapatis that are made by a mama in the local village. You can eat these plain, or fill them, like you would a pancake! Top tip – bring a jar of Nutella in your luggage and you’ll have instant friends. Lunch is normally made on camp by whoever is on camp duty. Facilities are basic (we cook on a coal fire), but it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative. Rumour has it, a Christmas dinner has even been made on camp! If that’s possible, anything is. We end the day with another visit to a local mama, who usually serves coconut rice, beans or spinach, with fish. Delish!

Finally, it’s that burning question that you want to know the answer to. Is there internet? Yes…and no. There is no wifi on camp, and places with internet on the island are few and far between. However, if you come with an unlocked phone, we can sort you out with a Tanzanian sim card and get you on a data package. It’s surprisingly fast, and means FaceTime, Instagram and Netflix are still definitely on the cards during your time here. We wouldn’t want you to miss the latest episodes of Stranger Things, would we?!

By Anita Lateano - Tanzania Field Communications Officer

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