Tanzania, Africa travel journal – day 3

When we got to Kenya we were somewhat uncertain where to go but someone who we think may have been a private business man collected our luggage tags and went down to claim the luggage of the folks whose luggage had not been booked directly with Rick and check it in. Rick also checked on his missing bag. All of that took some time. We then got in a slow moving line for Kenya Air that was checking people in for our Precision Air flight. Jackie, Shareen and I checked in and went to the gate with the expectation that the rest of the group was right behind us, but just after we left the group was told that there were no seats left on this flight. They expressed, in no uncertain terms, that waiting for 6pm (instead of 9:40am) was not acceptable. Finally it was discovered that the flight was larger than expected and they could have seats. We all then proceeded to the Tarmac in a frenzy of open boarding. We all had to claim our luggage and identify it so it could be put on the plane. But, the luggage that Rick and checked in had disappeared and so we ended up getting on the plane without 11 more bags (20 originally, now down to 8). Both my bags did not make the flight. Normally I don’t travel with so much luggage but almost 10 of our bags were filled with school supplies and homemade quilts for the orphan children being cared for by the church we were going to visit.
At the Nairobi airport we did see the acacia trees that look like a scene out of the Lion King, It was an uneventful flight except for seeing Kilimanjaro as everything else was below the cloud cover. We then spent another hour or so at the Kilimanjaro airport filling out forms and explaining repeatedly that since we were a group we were all leaving at the same time. We also pointed out that the office for Precision Air in Arusha is across from our hotel but left with no great confidence that the luggage would make it to the hotel. Both in Nairobi and Kilimanjaro Precision Air looked like a company in great need of an efficiency expert.
We met Thomas and Samuel from our safari tour company. Thomas speaks excellent English and will be with us the next few days. Samuel drives the bus and is a man of few words. Tomorrow we will be picked up in land-rovers so we will have different drivers. We drove the 45 minutes to Arusha. As soon as we got out of the airport it felt different. The road had a lot of people walking or biking along the side even when it looked like we were miles from anywhere. We also saw two Masai in traditional garb. We saw young boys herding a flock of goats, or goats and a few cattle. We saw women carrying water, charcoal, fodder and other things on their head. Many of the outfits people wore were the colorful batik fabric. We are not sure if people were more dressed up because it was Sunday. The area we drove through got more and more lush as we drove to Arusha. It started with corn (the staple crop) and sunflowers (grown for oil) but gave way to Jaccaranda trees, banana trees and other fields and gardens. All along the way we continued to see vendors and people walking. Those who rode bikes would often have two people. If we saw a pick-up truck it would often have 8 or more people in the back. A lot of the little shops along the side were little more than shacks while the buildings varied widely in construction. We saw mostly tin roofs but some thatch. Most of the construction was brick or concrete and in Arusha there is a new high rise hotel going in.
Our first stop in Arusha was a place to change money. We were not stopped for a minute before the vendors showed up to sell us things: batik, jewelry, maps, small english-swahili dictionaries, spears and knifes mostly. They were very very persistent.

The bus driver would let in someone and then close the door on the vendors who by this time were surrounding the bus and ignoring our signs of disinterest. After we checked in we went to a small restaurant nearby with vendors following us the whole way. At least 3-4 of us put our heads down on the table and tried to sleep while waiting for the food.

The food was slow in coming, the crowd was fading pretty seriously by this point but the food was good and 10 of us ate for about $35 on things like chicken in a coconut sauce with rice, chicken curry, vegetarian stir fry, and several people opted for more breakfast egg dishes. And now we know which comes first, the chicken, as all the people who ordered eggs waited for their meal.
We saw someone ride up on a bicycle hauling ~5 2.5 dozen flats of eggs for the restaurant. After lunch we collapsed back at the hotel for a nap. It did not look like much was open in town so no one went out exploring. After 2-5 hours of sleep we stayed at the hotel for dinner. I became very glad that I had brought a clean shirt and boxers in my backpack. Some clean clothes a nap and a shower helped me feel human again. That seemed to be enough to hold actual conversations, which was an improvement from lunch. I came down at about 5:30pm for the 7pm dinner. For a while there was a group of 4 men watching the Daily Show on TV. They never laughed once so I had to wonder what they thought of the whole thing. The hotel seems to cater to business people as there is an internet connection. Their computer did not seem to connect but mine worked with their connection just fine so Rick borrowed my laptop for an hour to send an email and do other internet things. We had a very nice dinner, with most of the people opting for some sort of steak dinner. Even with beer, soda, some ice cream and wine it was about $8 a person. Things are cheap. Soda is .50 in the restaurant, a beer a little more than a dollar. Internet is $3 for 60 minutes.
While the final game from the world cup was on TV I used the internet to check and send mail and to call home using Skype and the headset I had brought. I went to sleep around 11pm.

Author: chris2x

One man's view of life in Silicon Valley from Chris Christensen - a podcaster, blogger, programmer, entrepreneur

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