We Have Arrived

Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
Trip End Feb 04, 2012

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, January 20, 2012

At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Beth turns on her cell phone. A text from Brenda says we need to go to KLM and pick up corrected boarding passes for the flight to Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, bad weather has caused KLM to cancel a number of flights. Their "transfer station" is mobbed. This time we keep cool. Shortly, we have the new boarding passes. Brenda did her job again and I will never again question the wisdom of having a talented travel agent.

Note: Airlines are notorious for losing checked luggage. So, we carried our suitcases on board. No, that was not our preference. But, Beth is a very petite woman and we could never replace her clothes and shoes if the airlines lost our bags. We read the Delta and KLM carry-on baggage rules. Our suitcases met their size and weight limit. Actually, we traveled light because every hotel on Tauck’s itinerary had reasonably priced, same day laundry service. For our return home, we vowed to check the bags.

We have flown nearly 9,000 miles from Atlanta to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. We have been 16 hours in the air and 8 hours in layovers. We have lost 9 hours in time zone changes from Pensacola. The flight home will take even longer.

We both agree the extra money we spent for Comfort Economy was worthwhile. Both Delta’s A-300 series Airbus and KLM’s MD-11 gave us at least 4 extra inches of leg room. I didn’t have the person in front of me banging my knees for 9,000 miles.

We arrive on time (8:30 P.M.) at Arusha’s Mt Kilimanjaro Airport. Our decision to get visas in advance from Tanzania’s Embassy in Washington is justified. People mob the one government agent present to issue visas. We have our visas and our carry on bags in hand so we are through Customs in five minutes. Kori, our Tauck Tour Director and her three colleagues, meet us as we exit Customs. They immediately secure our bags.

We are arrived in Africa and Tauck is there to meet us as promised. Our Tauck safari will have 18 people. Sixteen of the 18 are on our flight from Amsterdam. We all had the same thought…arrive a day early so we are ready for safari.

It is impossible for Beth and me not to notice where we are. In Atlanta and Amsterdam no one smiled or said “hello”. At Kilimanjaro, even the guys hanging around doing nothing have a friendly “Good Evening” or “Jambo” for us. We are in Africa.

The drive to the Serena Mountain Lodge takes an hour. Once outside the airport, there is nothing but pitch black road. Occasionally, a little light filters out from a generator lit home. The cost to run electricity to a house is very high and – even if you have the money – takes years. Our headlights illuminate an amazing number of people walking along the roads in the pitch dark. There are speed bumps everywhere to slow traffic down.

It is nearly 11 P.M. when we arrive at the Serena. Regardless, the Serena’s Manager and his staff greet us with a damp towel to clean our faces and a champagne / fruit juice toast to soothe our dust parched throats. Our bags are quickly taken to our rooms.

The rooms are attractively appointed. They are solid structures built to resemble circular huts so common in Africa. It is pure joy to stretch out horizontally after so many hours in airplane seats. However, there will be no sleep tonight. Our internal clocks are totally out of whack. It may be 1 A.M. January 21st in Arusha but it is only 4 P.M. January 20th back in Pensacola.
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