WE'RE HERE, WE'RE HERE!

Arusha Travel Blog

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An advantage of flying a turboprop plane from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro is that we were flying lower and slower, so we could enjoy a better view of the mountain.
Culture Shock #1: After looking for the computer screens to find gate information for my connecting flight, I soon realized that these screens do not exist... flight departures at the airport in Nairobi are printed on paper and taped to the wall.

The first of many differences I'm about to notice over the next two months. Which means, I'M REALLY HERE! Where do I begin? We arrived in Tanzania this morning with several other people on a plane that had propellers. A fact that made me nervous, but clearly everything turned out okay, and all our luggage came along for the ride (a rare occurrence with my traveling luck!) AND we got a great view of Kilimanjaro on the way in. All in all, a great start to the African leg of our trip.
A large concentration of Kenya Airways planes on a rainy day.
..

Getting our visas was not a problem. All that stress for nothing! They didn't even need the passport photos that we worked so hard to get at the airport in Amsterdam - what a waste of time and money :) But a memorable experience, and now we have those hideous pictures forever. Christian, our safari guide, was waiting for us at the airport with a big sign with our names on it. Hey hey, celebrity status! Haha, it was a relief to have everything work out perfectly. Christian is so kind and friendly. He told us about himself -- he has a wife and a young son, just a few months old. This makes me sad that he has to leave them behind for so many days at a time to take tourists like us around Tanzania.

Christian took us to Achmed's office to pay for our trip. The office is not what I expected - very minimal.
Karibu Tanzania!
Slow, old computers. Very basic furniture. I should get used to it, I'm in Africa for the next 6 weeks. Achmed is very funny and interesting... he came to Tanzania from England when he was 20 and never left. He changed his name to Achmed when he changed his religion for his wife. How romantic :) After paying, which took forever because we had to write our life story on the back of each traveler's check, we got some shillings - the exchange rate is horrible. Broke city, here I come.

Christian drove us to our hotel - L'Oasis, and it is literally an oasis. We drove down a beaten, worn dirt road, which turned into an even more beaten, worn down dirt road, to get to it. But inside is beautiful. A lounge with huge pillows that I just want to sink into, two restaurants, a "treehouse" area to sit in, these huge birds that walk all around (we took jump pictures with them of course) and the rooms are round huts.
A true oasis.
Huts that have showers, an amenity that it was very nice to finally take advantage of. Oh, and all up and down the roads leading to L'Oasis, the little kids waved at us and shouted, "JAMBO MZUNGU!" I'm in love!

We ate lunch with a nice dutch guy who had just finished a few months of medical work in some remote village. He was very good company, and nice to talk to... meeting random people and sharing stories... one of my favorite things about traveling. After lunch Christian came to get us and drive us around Arusha. We couldn't walk because of the rain, so I fell asleep in the backseat, of course. Something about me and moving vehicles... I can't help it. We stopped at a craft store where all the artists bring their things to be sold. We didn't buy anything but the stuff was beautiful - wood carvings, fabrics, clothing, paintings.
Very interesting architecture inside the round huts... Once we figured out that the hot water is electric and controlled by a switch inside to room, everything felt better.
My favorite was all the bead work. Achmed later came to the hotel for drinks and to talk about the safari. Dad and him sipped on Safari beer and I enjoyed some red wine. Dad described the beer as "strong", so Achmed explained it was also called "The Iron Bar" because you feel like one hit you in the head in the morning. All in all, a good time, and lots of laughs.

So, that about sums up the day... so off to bed! Tomorrow begins our safari...
Anna
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Obviously excited by our presence.
Hello Everyone! 

After several days of traveling, my dad and I are finally here in Tanzania!
We arrived early this morning after a very long night on a very crowded
airplane with some very unhappy passengers. Apparently the flight to
Kilimanjaro from the day before had been cancelled, so all of the people
from that flight were crammed onto our flight, and they were understandably
a little cranky. Combine that with a screaming todler in front of us, and we
were extra excited to get off of that plane and actually step foot in
AFRICA!

Well let me back track... we spent most of Wednesday and Thursday in the
Amsterdam area... visiting the city and also a small town called Haarlem,
where our hotel was. My dad had never been to Europe, so this was a treat
for him. Given the 24 hours I spent in Amsterdam while I was on a bus tour a
few years ago, I got to pretend I was an expert for a little bit to show my
dad around the city. Sort of. That plan failed miserably after it took us 3
hours to even make it out of the airport because what with not being able to
speak Dutch and all, we couldn't figure out where to buy bus tickets, which
bus ticket we should buy, where to get on the bus... the list goes on and
on.
We were terrified of the country before we had ever even left the
airport.


But as soon as we stepped outside, I saw a giant billboard sized
Panasonic television blaring Nelly Furtado's latest music video and I
couldn't help but feel home again... MTV is taking over the world. So we
finally found our way to our hotel (which was lovely. Very, very small, but
had a great view of the main square in Haarlem), dropped off our stuff and
headed back into Amsterdam. We spent the afternoon walking around the
canals, people watching, and of course taking tons of pictures on our brand
new cameras. We headed back to our hotel in the late afternoon and intended
to go walk around the city, but ended up passing out at 7:00 and not waking
up until the next morning at 9. I'll blame it on the jetlag. We did more
walking, people watching and sitting in cafes in Haarlem on Thursday until
it was time to head to the airport.

And that leaves me here... right now I am at our hotel, call L'Oasis. It is
literally in the middle of nowhere... situated on a dirt road off of a
slightly larger dirt road off of a slightly larger dirt road. After a three
year drought, it has been raining here for the past 7 months, so that made
those dirt roads even more fun to drive around on. The hotel is beautiful.
Our "room" is actually a hut... literally. There are trees and plants
everywhere, and these huge birds that I don't even know what they are (like
a cross between a heron, crane and peacock...) are walking all over the
place. I can't believe I'm here. Our tour guide, Christian, picked us up at
the airport and has been nothing but fabulous since the moment we met. He is
so friendly and funny, and he's dead set on teaching us Swahili, as long as
we promise to teach him some Spanish as well. We leave for Safari tomorrow,
and I can already tell its going to be amazing. Christian promised us we
would see hippos and giraffes, among other animals, so I'm a happy camper.

Thats about all for now. Just wanted to let you all know that I've arrived
safetly and I'm loving every moment... haven't caught malaria or anything
like that yet :) Although its day one and my dad and I already forgot to
take our medicine until 2 hours after we were supposed to. Oops.

Love,
Anna
An advantage of flying a turboprop…
An advantage of flying a turbopro…
A large concentration of Kenya Air…
A large concentration of Kenya Ai…
Karibu Tanzania!
Karibu Tanzania!
A true oasis.
A true oasis.
Very interesting architecture insi…
Very interesting architecture ins…
Obviously excited by our presence.
Obviously excited by our presence.
Arusha
photo by: Mikie