Friday, October 5, 2012

Just to Get There

Excerpts from my journal, starting on the ride to the airport.  I'll try to post a couple days' worth every couple days.  (*when I say "excerpts," I really mean my shorthand notes expanded after the fact)

  • Don’t worry, it took us until 0430 on the way to the airport to start our list of things we forgot to pack.  So far, just my Dad leaving behind his “verso l’alto” bracelet and his cake gel (in case he has a seizure and goes hypoglycemic).  A quick text to Laura took care of the latter.
  • Our layover in the Detroit airport was spent making sure Laura no longer looked like a ghost (puking and nearly passing out during the landing can be fun) and finding motion-sickness meds for Mary and I.  I opted for the dimenhydranate but Mary insisted on meclizine because she thinks she has vertigo.  Fortunately, Detroit’s airport is nothing if not conducive to travelers needing drugs.  Legal drugs.
  • We are officially out of contact with home, landing in Amsterdam after a long flight made more bearable by frequent food and a wide array of TV and movies.  I got really excited about the “My first Dutch lesson” t-shirt that had pictures of a house, a cow, a car, etc, with the corresponding Dutch word underneath.  Then I realized they were for kids and the largest they had was a size 11-12.  Adults can learn Dutch too!
  • At our gate, waiting for our flight to JRO, it’s not hard to pick out those who are climbing the mountain versus those going on safari.  And of course, a whole bunch of people in jeans—no idea why they would be flying to a tiny airport at the base of Kilimanjaro.  We met a fun family from Utah who happens to be climbing the Machame route as well.
  • Flight to JRO was miserable; sat next to a sick lady who kept coughing all over, and thanks to my wonderful Dramamine, I slept through the hot towels, ice cream, and last round of drinks.  Boo!  The massive deplaning down the stairs straight onto the tarmac, paired with the giant Kilimanjaro sign, makes up for the flight a little.  We are finally in Africa!
  • Got a little freaked out waiting for our luggage as two other travelers had the exact same red, green, and yellow REI duffel that I thought was so unique and identifiable.  Flashback to landing in Barcelona and realizing that some moron from Pennsylvania walked off with my look-alike bag.  Not to worry, all bags are accounted for and we meet Hosea and Peter who will drive us to our hotel.
  • Driving in Tanzania is interesting, as I was forewarned.  Was expecting the crazy passing and the left-side driving, but was more than slightly amused by Peter’s exclusive use of the right turn signal.  Moving into the right lane? Right turn signal.  Back into the left lane? Right turn signal.  Hilarious!
  • Our hotel is 5-star by Tanzanian standards and is pretty much a first-class oasis in the middle of poverty-stricken Arusha.  Aside from not being able to figure out the lights and realizing our shower doesn’t have a curtain or a door, we are very pleased with the accommodations.  Hosea is surprised when we refuse a meal and opt for our beds.  More than 10 hours of sleep prove we made the right decision.

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I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.