Karibu (Welcome) to Tanzania!
Well we arrived safely at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) around 8 o’clock pm local time last night. Each flight was smooth sailing and I was able to meet some interesting Canadians and Tanzanians. I even met one woman, Anita, who also happened to be from Winnipeg and was also traveling to northern Tanzania – to scuba dive!
It was 6.5 hours from TO to Amsterdam, 4 hour lay over, 8 hours from Amsterdam to Kili. I wasn’t able to sleep much on the either flight. In fact, over the last week I’ve only slept about half as much as I normally would. In Winnipeg I am a train wreck when suffering from sleep deprivation. Yet here I feel great! It must be my excitement and anticipation. Adrenaline is my new sleep.
I did however feel tired and grumpy when we hit the ground at KIA. It was warm and muggy and we had to wait in a long line for about half an hour to get our Visas. But after grabbing our bags and exiting the airport, it hit me. I was finally in Tanzania, and it was no time to be grumpy.
Japhet, Nderingo, Deo, and Mohammed greeted us warmly at KIA. After brief introductions we were ushered into Land Rovers and began the one hour drive to Arusha. Our driver Aggrey (Leopard Tours) was enthusiastic and just as excited as we were.
The drive was a bit… anxious. Aggrey was a competent and experienced driver, but night driving in Africa can be a bit tense. Oncoming drivers leave their brights on, there are speed bumps, people walk along the highway on both sides, and some drivers aren’t afraid to take a risk when passing other vehicles. But for context the highway was very smooth and the lines were crisp, I’d say that it beat most highways in Manitoba.
Although it was already quite dark, the drive was scenic. I was surprised to see so much action along the highway at around 10 pm on a Sunday night. Stores, restaurants and bars were open as we past through small towns and roadside markets. The terrain was hilly and green. There were numerous gorges that were very lush and beautiful, at least from what I could tell…
We arrived at the Outpost Lodge in Arusha around 10. We sat in the open-air Mambo Cafe and enjoyed some Kilimanjaro Lager and a snack while chatting about Tanzania culture and customs. I had zucchini soup followed by a Mexican bean wrap, the latter of which I’m sure was Heinz beans with lettuce and tomato in a housemade flatbread. But after three or four airplane meals, it hit the spot!
We called it a night around midnight and settled into our rooms. Mine was nice – a big bed surrounded by netting, a desk, stone floor, and a big bathroom. The cold water tap in my room was broken, so once the hot water became scorching I had to shower with cold bottled water. That was chilly… but I was clean and slept well until about 5 am.
Dogs, birds, frogs, and even a rooster sang the morning song. I’m not sure if they woke me or if my adrenaline did. Once the sun came up and it was bright outside (about 6 am) I sat outside my room in a wooden patio chair and wrote this entry in my journal. There is wireless internet but I have to move closer to the lobby and cafe to retrieve a good signal. Right now I’m sitting on a leather couch in the internet lounge typing this out. It is cool and cloudy, but I am neither of these things. I am warm and can’t wait for the others to rise and the day to begin!