Tanzania Days 1 and 2 - Getting to Arusha

This blog is the first of many diary entries from my trip to Tanzania. Over the course of 23 days, Charlie and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, did a camping safari, and explored the island of Zanzibar. Below is a video of our trip. Continue reading to hear about our day-to-day adventures.

What a day of anticipation! Charlie and I arrived in NJ at around 2am last night after an 8 hour drive from Bangor. We are flying out of Newark because it is about $600 cheaper per person to fly out of here. The night before our drive was actually pretty interesting. Charlie had a couch surfer from Ohio stay over, and he took Charlie’s car to Acadia National Park the same day we were leaving. Luckily, everything came back in one piece! Charlie got home from work around 5pm, and we got the house all ready for hibernation. The pipe to the toilet actually froze the night before because there was a big draft in the basement from a hole in the ground. Luckily that resolved on its own, and Charlie was able to drain all the pipes just fine.

It was about -1°F when we left Bangor. We dropped the Couch Surfer off in Massachusetts and then made our way down to NJ. Mom was the only person we saw because Rachel (my sister) had work and Dad was in Germany (he was leaving Europe as we were arriving!).

The next day (at my parent’s house) dragged on forever. I didn’t have much to do, and our flight wasn’t until 6pm. I did manage to unpack/repack our suitcase one more time since Charlie forgot to bring extra socks and boxers for our stay in NJ. Not surprised :).

The trip to Newark was pretty uneventful. We stopped at my favorite bagel shop, and I got one last glimpse of U.S. news. This included:

  1. Justin Bieber getting arrested.
  2. The Superbowl at the Meadowlands.
  3. The Winter Olympics in Russia.

Something tells me we are going to miss some interesting things while we are gone.

We eventually made it onto our plane which was surprisingly empty. We each had our own TV screen, and Charlie was able to move into the two-seater in front of us since there was nobody there. The ride was very smooth and was about 8 hours long. Unfortunately, neither of us got much sleep. We arrived in Amsterdam at around 7:30am their time.

 Playing with our food on our flight.

Quote of the day from Charlie (this is as we are flying over a bunch of windmills near Amsterdam): “Did you know that almost 100% of the Netherland’s wind power comes from the wind?

 Mountain view on our flight from Amsterdam to JRO.
 Now we're over the desert on our flight.

The flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro was pretty good. It was 8 hours long, and we arrived at JRO (Kilimanjaro International Airport) at around 9pm. Charlie and I were surprised by the amount of food we got during our flight with KLM. In addition to multiple drinks and snacks, we also had two big meals. They even surprised us with ice cream (I ate Charlie’s). Yum!

 There was so much good food on our KLM flight!

We tried to stay awake the entire flight so that we could fall asleep once we got to our room. We got off the plane right on the runway which was pretty cool. While getting our visas checked at the airport, I met a girl whose brother went to UNH. I swear, every time I wear my UNH shirt I run into somebody!

 Getting off the plane on the runway at JRO.

After getting our luggage we met Andy, the owner of Tumaini Cottage. He drove us to Arusha in his van, and we got to experience the roads of Tanzania for the first time. For starters, they drive on the left side of the road. I also think the driving laws are more like suggestions because there were a lot of cars passing each other and cutting it VERY close. There were a lot of speed bumps on the drive. Andy said they call speed bumps the “sleeping police”.

There were a lot of people out and about this time of night. Almost every house had a group of people sitting on the porch, and there were people constantly on the side of the road walking, even in fairly desolate areas. Andy said the population of Arusha was around 400,000. He couldn’t believe Bangor was only 30,000 and asked, “Do you have birth control there?”

There is one main road that connects Moshi to Arusha. Tumaini Cottage was just off that road, down a dilapidated dirt road. The cottage was surrounded by a gate and walls for privacy, and it was very nice on the inside. Even though we got there late (10-11pm), Andy’s wife was there to greet us with freshly squeezed mango juice. It was delicious! Our room was nice as well, with a wooden bed and mosquito net. Although it was very warm (about 80°F), it sure was nice to have a bed to sleep in!

 Our bed at Tumaini Cottage in Arusha.

At 5'11", Charlie learned that he is almost too big for his bed! This was still worlds better that the planes, and we slept like babies (well, I did at least!). Tomorrow we get to explore Arusha!

 The bed was a little small for Charlie!