Saturday, January 15, 2011

What a journey to Africa!

What a journey to Africa!!  The weather in Kansas and other parts of the USA made it a challenge in arriving in Arusha, Tanzania.  See the flight routes we had scheduled to take on Follow in my Footsteps. We both departed Wichita on January 11.  My flight out of Wichita was delayed due to weather problems in Chicago, but I did get out and made a connecting flight to Philadelphia.  When I got off the plane in Philly my name was called with two other people to Board Now for the Zurich flight.  I was the second to last one to board.  As I got on the plane I asked, "Will my bags get on?" And of course the standard answer was, yes!  Do I need to say anymore!  You might guess the rest of the story.  It is now almost 10 pm TZ time on Saturday, January 15th and no luggage for me yet.   Lots of phone calls but nothing seemed to move the luggage closer.  I felt better this afternoon when someone in the Swiss baggage area told me the luggage would be arriving tonight in Nairobi and then they would send it on to Kilimanjaro. 

Bob, left on January 11th but was diverted to Minneapolis to avoid the Atlanta weather problems. In doing so he had to stay overnight in a hotel in AMSTERDAM and then travel the following day.  He didn’t mind because he thought he might take a quick tour of the city, but when he arrived it was pouring rain so he stayed in the hotel and got some rest.  Bob took both of the big gear duffel bags as checked luggage because his fight pattern was better than mine and hopefully the luggage would follow along well. You guessed it, my duffel bag with my gear came off but Bob’s didn’t.  Same story, his is supposed to come in tonight.  I have high hopes for his luggage…oh, by the way Bob’s luggage went to Budapest, Hungary.  Maybe they were picking up some snacks for the climb.  We’ve sent a driver to the airport to secure the luggage.  The airport is about an hour away from the hotel.   It will make for an interesting evening.  If the luggage doesn’t arrive, Bob will rent some gear and we will buy snacks to take along plus a few other items. 
The weather has been very nice in Arusha it is like a nice warm fall day.  The people we have met are very nice and cordial.  But you must go slower or give yourself high blood pressure.  The hotel accommodations are adequate but have some unique qualities.  For example, there is only one electrical plug-in for the entire room.  So there is a lamp on a bed stand by the bed, but no plug in!!  The usual no wash cloths and toilets that work and don’t work.  From the bedrooms, we have beautiful views of Mt. Meru.  We are on the 8th floor and take the steps up and down to keep in shape.  I’ve slept quite well but Bob is suffering from lack of sleep.  He has been worrying about the luggage which is understandable.

Bob had his 72nd Birthday yesterday.  I asked the pastry chef to decorate a small cake with a couple of candles.  She did a very nice job.  We were so full after eating dinner we decided to save it until tonight.  We shared it with some really nice folks from Iowa who we met this morning at breakfast.  They are here for 3 weeks doing mission work at a local hospital.  This is their second time coming to Tanzania. 
Today we met our climbing group, two couples from Houston, Tx.  They arrived late last night with their entire luggage.  They appear to be in their late 30’s early 40’s.  The guide for our climb is a young fellow who seemed to be very knowledgeable and explained what our days would be like.   He reemphasized that we would go slow.  Music to my ears.  He will pick us up at the hotel about 8:30 am.  We will travel to the Mt. Kilimanjaro area.  It appears we will begin our first day around noon.   

Today we hired a driver and toured around Arusha. The driver was highly recommended by another man we met yesterday at breakfast. He comes to Tanzania for 3 months to volunteer at a hospital where his brother-in-law is an administrator.  He doesn’t get any pay but room and board at the hospital. He is from Norway.  It is Saturday so many people are out shopping.  Lots of open markets with fruits and vegetables and flea market types of clothing.  Plus nice small shopping areas.  I even found a store that sells Coleman products.   We stopped for fresh mango ice cream so good. 

I asked about a Catholic church for Mass this evening and found one not far away.  Our driver took us by the church and school and I visited with the administrator and several teachers.  It is a school from 3 years old till 7th grade.  Very basic.  The compound did include a mini medical clinic.  I walked back to the church from the hotel and was able to visit with shop owners on the way back.  They were really friendly and eager to talk with me.  The small butcher store with hung meat had hundreds of flies on the meat.  I didn’t ask to take a picture of that!!
We learned a few words in Swahili Jumbo means "hi" or "hello", Mumbo means "how are you?" Poa means "good" or "cool".  Asante means "thank you". 

I’ll close for now and we’ll send my next blog after the descent about January 22rd.  If all goes well I will call KFDI 101.3 radio from Mt. Kili on January 21st with the Verizon Wireless phone that has been given to me as an in kind donation for use in Africa.  It would be during the Brian and Kellie morning broadcast 5 am to 10 am show.  I don’t know what I would have done without the Verizon phone in tracking down our luggage.   We will see at the Top!! 

Thanks for our prayers and positive support.

Diane and Bob