A couple of times in recent years, the Christian floating bookshop MV Doulos has stopped at Larnaka. The first time, Daniel was able to go and work there for ten days, helping with uncrating and sorting out books, and also selling. It's a ship full of young people, mostly around 18-30 and he loved the atmosphere. Last year he went to meet them again when they stopped temporarily, and decided he would like to spend longer on board once he was eighteen. He applied for their STEPS program, which has a set number of participants for two months, learning about all the different jobs that are done on the ship.
The time he hoped to go was from the last week in June to the middle of August. However not long after he sent in his application form, he had an email saying that this slot was filled. I wasn't surprised: for many university students this is the only time they would be able to go. Instead they asked if he would like the slot from late August to the middle of October. Although it clashed with a short course in woodwind repair that he hoped to take in the UK in October, he felt the Doulos was more important. So we waited for them to take up his references, and let him know whether or not he was definitely accepted.
And we waited.
Apparently one of the programme organisers was on home leave, and then the ship was travelling.... but still we assumed it would probably be all right. The trouble was, all the rest of the family plans rather hinged on this, including dates when we hope to be in the UK seeing family and friends. We couldn't book anything until we knew for sure when and where Daniel was going.
Two evenings ago he had an email out of the blue, saying that a vacancy has just come up for the June to August stint, and if he wants it he can take it! The ship will be in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), will visit Mozambique, and will then be in South Africa (Durban) in August.
The problem is, they would need him by 25th June, which isn't far ahead! Tim did some googling to investigate flights; rather discouraging at first when he discovered a direct flight costing £2000!!! But further searching revealed flights via Egypt and UAE which were a lot more reasonable, although considerably more complicated. Unfortunately Richard's away at present and he's the one who knows the travel agents, and can ensure they look at all possibilities and give a good deal. But he'll be back tonight. Either reasonable flights exist, or they don't...
Then there was a whole host of vaccinations they said Daniel would need to get. We don't even have a GP here and the last vaccinations Daniel had were his pre-school boosters. However his drama teacher has a sister who's a doctor, who can apparently do all that's necessary. I hope he'll find out today what it might cost. I don't like the idea of him having several vaccinations all at once - surely that would magnify any possible side effects - but some are certainly essential. For instance, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is compulsory for entering Tanzania. And he's due a booster for polio and tetanus anyway. Malaria tablets are highly recommended too, although they have varying side effects so it's hard to konw which ones would be best.
Then there's a necessary visa for Tanzania. The other visas can be arranged from the ship, but obviously not this one as he hasn't yet joined them. There's no Tanzanian Embassy in Cyprus, partly because - for some unknown reason - Cypriot nationals don't need visas to go to Tanzania, although British citizens do. A visa takes a week even when there's an Embassy nearby, and we certainly don't want to post Daniel's passport to the UK if he's hoping to travel in less than two weeks.
It looks as though visas may be available at the airport, although that sounds a bit worrying: he wouldn't want to do all that travelling, only to find he's turned down at the last moment.
So my mind is whirling. Dan's excited about the possibility and would much rather go now than in August. So we're hoping and praying it will all work out...