Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Journey to Tanzania

We arrived in Tanzania after more than 48 hours of traveling last week. My mom and I flew out of the Knoxville Airport on Tuesday morning with a flight to Washington D.C.'s Dulles International Airport. From there, we flew to Ethiopia's Addis Ababa International Airport. The world seemed to change in the twelve hours during our flight.

Addis Ababa Airport
Although it is the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa's airport had little in common with our nation's capital's airport. We debarked from the plane down a staircase onto the runway, then were taken by bus to the terminal. Upon arrival, I learned what it truly meant to be in a place where you are a foreigner -- where you don't speak the people's language. We asked (in English) for "Terminal 1" and were nodded to and directed to the baggage claim. We realized our error and headed back in the direction we had come, to be bussed about 100 yards to another building, which was our actual destination.

The Addis Ababa staff was friendly and (somewhat) helpful -- especially considering they probably had as difficult a time understanding us as we did them, but the airport is exactly that: an airport. No frills, coffee shops, restaurants, or booths to browse. No drinking water to purchase. No toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms. We waited out a short two-hour layover before flying on to our third destination in under 24 hours: the Mount Kilimanjaro airport near Arusha, Tanzania.

Kilimanjaro International Airport
The Mt. Kilimanjaro airport is beautiful, designed (I'm sure) for tourists going on safari in the nearby Serengeti or who aim to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. My mom and I used our English and (her) minimal Swahili to make our way through obtaining me a visa, customs, and finding our hotel shuttle. I'm quite sure our shuttle driver thought we were insane; we insisted on seeing his badge that read "KIA Lodge" before we would go with him, even though he assured us in English that he was "KIA Lodge."

KIA Lodge at Kilimanjaro
The KIA Lodge is absolutely beautiful. It is a series of more than forty buildings in a compound, with guest cottages, an open bar area, a hilltop pool area, a reception hall, and an open-air restaurant. We relaxed by the pool and explored our first destination in Africa during an overnight stay there.

Mwanza Airport
The next morning we were shuttled back to the airport (which you could literally see from the hilltop pool -- I think our driver told us it was 1.5 kilometers by car). We flew a Tanzanian flight company called Fly 540 from Mount Kilimanjaro to Mwanza, the nearest large city to Geita, where my brother and his family live. They picked us up, and we drove about three hours south to Geita, including a thirty-minute ferry ride across Lake Victoria.

A Lake Victoria Ferry (Not Ours)
I will have many more posts to come after I return about our actual time here in Geita. Also, I have been reading up a storm. Since leaving, I've read:

  • The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
  • The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel
  • I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
  • Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
I will probably have very few book-related posts in the next two weeks while we are here. Look for some travel posts and updates on my reading, but little to no reviews. I'll have plenty of time for that when I'm not running after a sixteen-month-old, visiting the local market, and seeing the countryside here in Tanzania.

Happy reading!

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