October 28, 2015

Day 740 – Farewell Africa, time to go down under


After the Nomad tour finished I spent a week thinking, urming and ahing about what to do next. I had many ideas. Initially I thought about working in China. I know many friends who have worked there teaching English and they enjoyed it. I did some research and as I don’t have a TFEL qualification, it wasn’t going to be easy. Moreover, the application process can take more than a month. I didn’t have a month to hang about. I found plenty of teaching jobs and emailed my resume but received few replies. Plus, those that did reply were hoping to have a skype interview and with the time difference this was proving next to impossible.


So, I decided to consider South Korea. I found a useful blog detailing how to apply and where to look for jobs. This certainly looked more promising. I managed to find the South Korean embassy in Nairobi however, they require a page for the visa and two blank pages in my passport which I don’t have. My passport isn’t due to expire until November 2022 however I have only two pages left! So I went to the British embassy to see if I could get more pages added to my passport however, this wasn’t possible. Rather, I was advised to apply for a new one and this would take up to six weeks to process! Outrageous, another dead end.


Whilst in Zimbabwe, I applied for an Australian work visa. It seemed fairly straight forward and given we had great internet connection, I managed to send my application form no problem. It is a little tricky stating what kind of work I intended to do once I was here as quite frankly I didn’t know. Sure, I had an idea but I didn’t know if I would actually be successful. I have met many a backpackers who applied for a work visa and went on to get all kinds of jobs in Australia. Some loved it and others well not so much. Whilst, we have been to Australia once before, I had never lived or worked there. So this would be a new challenge and understandably, I didn’t think that I would be teaching English here.


I got various emails from the Australian Immigration department, asking me to clarify various things. One of the things was whether I was home or on the road. So of course, I explained that I was touring through Africa and that the tour would end in Nairobi. This clearly sparked some alarm bells and next thing I know, I got a email stating I would need to do a health check. They required I have a chest x-ray and blood tests done. I have no idea what they thought I had and of course couldn’t argue. So, of I went to the International Health Centre which was essentially in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the city and the hostel.


I had the idea that I could just rock up and see the nurse. I was very wrong. No, of course there a process, a long process and no one is above this. So I had to book an appointment for the following week and the assessment process would be two days, two days! I had no idea what they were checking for but two days was both long and unnecessary. Nonetheless, I turned up the first day and we were divided depending on what country we intended to visit. So all those headed to the States went to another room. All of us hoping to get to Australia, Canada or New Zealand were together. And of course all the others were locals and I was the only foreigner!

I got talking to three Kenyan Indian girls headed to Canada to study. They were much younger, 21 and had a plan of where they were going to stay and study for the year. Unlike me who was going to rock up anywhere I could find a job or a friend to stay with. First part of the assessment was an x-ray so like sheep we got called out one by one. Next stop was blood test and urine sample, wonderful. There must have been at least fifty of us. The day had started at 07.30 and we were done by lunchtime. Surely they could have finished the health assessment on the same day. The only thing keeping me sane was Neha, one of the girls I had met. We talked about everything, Indians in Kenya, marriage, Canada, college, my backpacking experiences, family, Australia, friends, childhood, boys, temple and god. She is a ball of joy, shining brightly, different from her peers and will go so far in life.


The second day began at 9am thank the lord. It was just as busy and for some reasons we were called out in smaller groups. I was next to last, joy. We had to see the nurse so she could weigh us and take our blood pressure. She then had us read letters, so eye check only clearly she was no optometrist, thus it was rather bit a of joke. The fun didn’t end there. The final stop was a body examination by the doctor. I requested a female doctor so again had to wait longer. I don’t know what she was looking for and again the check was a joke. No joint test or anything. She then spotted my tattoo and explained I had to do a blood test as bikers have tattoos and thus I could have hepatitis B or worse. Brilliant, here we are in the 2015 and I’m being told that only bikers have tattoos? Charming. So sure enough I had to get a blood test and sure enough it came back negative, no surprise.


Thankfully with the two day assessment done, I just needed them to send the results to the Australian Immigration Department. Now, again you would think this was easy, I mean everything is electronic. I finished my assessment Friday so had to wait the weekend out but I thought Monday, okay no problem. But no, nothing, okay Tuesday, today I called up to find out what the hold up was and thankfully they emailed stating I was clear. So sure enough on Wednesday morning, I got an email stating I have a twelve month visa for Australia! Amen! Finally! So, I then looked at flights again and booked the cheapest one. I lose a day flying to Australia because of the time difference.


So time to leave Africa and what a beautiful journey it has been, so colourful and filled with so much warmth, love and laughter. I know I’m British and Indian but I’m also African because my dad was born in Tanzania so I feel like I belong here. My feet left but part of my heart will forever remain amongst the wonderful, loving children I played with, hugged and sang with every day for ten weeks in Masi. I know I will come back and I know there will be more children but these five months in Africa I will always treasure. No matter what happens or where I go, I have these great memories, photos and friends to remind me of all the good times. So with a heavy heart I set off for the next adventure, down under, in Australia.