Monday, June 13, 2016

Flying High, Traveling Late

On Monday, after a tasty breakfast in the hotel, we caught the five-hour flight to Dar Es Salaam, which was, fortunately, uneventful. Jumana’s two suitcases, however, were missing upon arrival. She was left with only her small carry-on. Then we learned that our domestic flight to Arusha was at another terminal, and getting there was a major challenge. Finally, we found that e-tickets are not used at that terminal, so we had to find the airline office (not an easy task) and have the tickets printed up, one by one, on the office printer.  As we entered the terminal, the women were called into question because all of our names had been listed as, “Mr.” The person checking our tickets could see that we were women and knew enough English to know that “Mr.” meant a man. Once that battle was resolved, we proceeded to the gate where our luggage was weighed and loaded onto a hand cart to take to the plane – a VERY SMALL plane.  It was a 12-seater. The pilot and co-pilot, one other passenger, and the nine of us crowded into this very small space.

We took off and the flight was spectacular! (That doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary!) We could see the large city of Dar set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, and watch the city merge into the lush, green countryside. Eventually, the countryside gave way to the busy city of Arusha. After two hours, we were once again on the ground, grateful for terra firma, but in a state of wonder after our flight.

I had arranged with a hostel in Moshi to pick us up at the airport.  When they were not there to greet us, I called the hostel, only to find out that they were at a different airport – Kilimanjaro, which was an hour away.  So . . . we arranged with drivers at the airport to take us the two hours to Moshi. By the time we got on the road, it was dark.  The rule in Tanzania is not to drive after dark. Fortunately, the drivers we chose were extremely careful, with specially adapted techniques to signal their location on a two-lane road.  Fortunately, as well, all the roads we traveled were paved – and although we hated the heavy traffic, it meant there was no choice but to drive slowly.

Dinner was waiting for us when we finally made it to the hostel at around 8:30 PM. The Karibu Hostel is run by a group of Spaniards, and they use the proceeds from the hostel to fund a nearby, English-medium school at which volunteers – mostly from Spain – teach children or work on construction of the new school building. I never expected to use my Spanish in Moshi, Tanzania, but I had several long conversations in “Castellano” before our stay was over.

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