I MADE IT
I have officially made it to Tanzania! And let me tell you, this still doesn’t seem real. Let me tell you how the journey has been going so far:
Sunday morning came way too fast. The day I thought would never come was here way before I expected. And of course, saying goodbye to everyone was harder than it usually is. Luckily I got to kick of Saturday night with some stellar people. Anyway, Kody and Alex drove me to the airport, and of course I was a hot mess. Even the TSA lady who checked my boarding pass (which got pretty rough with the short journey from check-in to security) asked me if my ticket was weathering the same storm as I was. But on the plus size, my suitcase and duffle weighed in at 49 and 42lbs, respectively. That’s pretty good for a chronic over-packer like myself.
My flight from Chicago to New York City went pretty fast, and I had a pretty hilarious encounter. So, background info: I ALWAYS order a ginger ale on plane rides. I don’t know why, I just always have. It’s kind of like a comfort thing I guess? Oh, and the flight attendant was also a red head. Anyway, he came over to take my drink order, and I told him what I wanted and he paused, then tapped me and asked “Can I tell you something that you hopefully won’t take offensively?” and I just laughed and said “Shoot.” So he goes “This is the first and probably only time that I, a ginger am serving another ginger ginger ale.” I laughed pretty hard at that one.
In NYC I met a lot of my classmates and we chatted before catching our flight to Amsterdam. I tried to sleep a lot on this flight, but had no such luck. We had tons of food, though… and it was actually really good! For example, my lunch consisted of stuffed shells, a roll, potato salad, some type of apple bar and cheese and crackers. This flight was also very disorienting, because within 3 hours I watched the sun set and rise, all on the same side of the plane. This plane was also enormous! It was full, so including staff there were 425 people on board. That’s over 100 people more than my entire high school graduating class. How do these things fly.
In Amsterdam, we had a couple hour layover before we continued to Kiliminjaro. This airport was… interesting. There were no outlets, very little bathrooms and was just strange. One weird thing was this ‘smoke box’ which was an all glass cube in the middle of a food court where people could go to smoke. It was literally like a hotbox where everyone could watch you…what? Our flight to Tanzania was very long, and I was stuck next to a very proper Dutch man who did not seem to enjoy my company. Luckily, I had a window and TV (and I probably didn’t score any extra points with him when I watched 50 Shades of Grey…oops). But really, to give you an idea, when we got our boxed pizza for dinner and the attendant asked us for drinks, he said “a red wine would go lovely with the pizza”. Okay. But, we flew over the edge of the Sahara desert and part of the Nile, so that was pretty nifty!
Landing at Kiliminjaro was crazy. It was nighttime and you couldn’t see ANY lights… no cities, towns, nothing. Heck, we couldn’t see the runway lights until (literally) a second before we touched the ground. And the airport building was comparable to an average size office area. From the plane, we had to walk down stairs, across the runway and into a space with 2 customs offices and 1 baggage carousel. And unfortunately, they lost one of my bags. So hopefully that will arrive tomorrow, because right now all I have is camping stuff, some pants, some bathroom stuff and a cribbage board. However, after 19 hours of travel, I just wanted to sleep.
Driving in Tanzania is crazy, and is 1 of the top 5 causes of death in the country. I could see why though- there are literally no rules. On a normal two lane road, you can have 4-5 cars and motorcycles driving side by side. And there is no speed limit, so there are just HUGE speed bumps everywhere (about 2 miles apart on the highways and even closer in the towns). It’s crazy, and I will definitely blog about it later.
Because we got in so late, we made the hour drive to Arusha and stayed in a hotel for the night. It really put in perspective how good we have it in the states. The bedding was disgusting (so much that I just used my sweatshirt as a blanket), everything is grungy and even the toilet paper was not the cleanest. It was an… experience. An eye-opener if none else. Below you can see our room and the hotel.
In the morning, we continued on to our home for the next 2 months: The Moyo Hills Camp in Rhotia. On the way, we saw some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. In the states we have mountain chains, but here there will just randomly be a huge mountain outside of the chains here! And the cities are always busy. There are people EVERYWHERE. And the houses are very colorful, but run down. There is also a lot of Coca-cola themed decorations and paint jobs. Our driver asked us if we have Coca-Cola in America…
Out in the country was gorgeous. We went through the Masai lands, which was mostly open space with a couple of communities. Because the Masai are pastoral. they herd cattle. Everywhere. Literally, there will be random herds of cattle, sheep and goats, followed by a couple dogs and herdsman. Even right next to the road! It was pretty cool! We even got to see some baboons and zebras!
I have so much to tell you guys! But, it is 6:30pm here (10:30am in Wisco) and it’s almost time for dinner! I am safe, enjoying myself and making many friends. Can’t wait to talk to you all soon!