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Trip Report

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Let me begin by saying that ever since I have returned from Africa, I have found myself thinking about all of our different experiences any time my mind is not occupied. Not just the animals on safari but the people you meet, the places you go, the things you see will overwhelm your senses (in such a good way). The day after we returned I told my fourteen-year-old son that I felt changed after this trip. He said he felt the same way. I hope that the understanding and perspective gained will forever stay with him.

Our flight from Orlando to Detroit was uneventful and short. We had a couple of hours of layover in the Detroit airport; we had dinner and wandered. Detroit to Amsterdam was our sleeping portion of the trip. I used Ambien and slept like a rock. My husband and son both took Tylenol P.M. and had no trouble sleeping either. In Amsterdam we had a very expensive breakfast: four donuts, a croissant sandwich, coffee, and two waters for twenty-eight dollars!! Our flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro was pretty much miserable as we were all trying to stay awake, and economy class seats are small and uncomfortable. We watched movies on demand and read our books. Of course it was well worth it! We experienced no jet lag at all.

We arrived at JRO airport around 7:30 p.m. We did not already have our visas so we went to that window to wait. There were only a couple of people there and we were through before most of the people who already had their visas. Chaos reigned as the luggage began to appear. Bags were taken off the belts and strewn about everywhere. We found our first two quickly but the third took a while…long enough for most everyone to leave and a bit of panic to set in.

After our bags were found, we walked into the lobby and saw a very impatient looking man holding a card with my name on it. I was excited to meet him and practice all of the positive and lengthy hellos that the guidebooks say are typical in Tanzania. Mister Richard (as he introduced himself) was not interested in these formalities and quickly gathered us and another couple also using Good Earth together to transport us to our lodgings. The drive to Arusha was harrowing and pretty much completely silent. Mister Richard was on a mission to deliver us, and there seemed to be no time or opportunity for pleasantries. The other couple was staying at Moivaro Coffee Lodge, and it was beautiful. I knew that we would not find similar aesthetics at the New Arusha Hotel, so I must admit that I was a bit jealous. There was nothing wrong with the Arusha Hotel; it just didn’t really feel like we were in Africa. It might be nice to stay in a place with a more exotic feeling to it the first night in Africa so one doesn’t feel as though she just traveled twenty some odd hours to a Holiday Inn….

Breakfast at the hotel was buffet and perfectly satisfactory. Sitting at breakfast, we began to feel the anticipation of the day’s events, and there were spontaneous smiles all around. Swala Gift Shop in the hotel has lots of nice things at reasonable prices and we took advantage by buying a few trinkets. While shopping, a very nice young man came in and asked if I was Carrie Spivey. He was with Good Earth and had come with our guide, George, to collect us. We were quite relieved to hear that our guide was George (even though we hadn’t met him yet; we were pretty sure he would have to be better than Mister Richard). George is in his early sixties and we felt immediately that we were in good hands. George took us to a local grocery store where we bought cokes and then we were off to safari in Tarangire!!!

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