Tanzania: Getting there is half the fun!

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The route was Los Angeles to Detroit. Detroit to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Nairobi and Nairobi to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Time in transit was over 24 hours. We arrived in Tanzania around 10:30pm.

Our guides from Overseas Adventure Tours were waiting for us after we had gone through Customs and Immigration. They welcome us and say, "it's about an hour to the lodge, so settle back and enjoy the ride." Needless to say, the ride was about an hour andwhen we arrived at the first lodge of the trip all we wanted to do was go to sleep. When asked if we wanted dinner everyone, to a person said, "no, justshow us our rooms. We had room #4. It was a nice clean room with two beds and mosquito netting over each bed. After a quick shower we were sound asleep.

Morning came quickly and I awoke to the tune of roosters crowing, a salat from a nearby mosque and the chattering and general noise-making from Ibis and Crows in the trees on the grounds. Stepping outside I was greeted a to lush green yard, the birds, the prayers andthe general cacophany of a city welcoming a new day. We were back in Africa.

This was the main hall at Olasiti Lodge. Breakfast and dinner were served on the veranda. This first day we met the rest of our group and the three men who would become our best friends over the coming ten days. Anglebert was the group leader. His assistants were Herbie and Salim. Needless to say, we would turn to them with questions throughout the trip.

After a brief introduction Anglebert gave us his ground rules:

1) ride each day with a different driver.
2) couples were encouraged to also split.
3) ask questions.

And so we prepared for our first look Arusha, Tanzania. We would travel by Land Cruiser.

These Toyota Land Cruisers became our second homes.

The first stop was Mama Wilson's Cheese Factory high up the slopes of Mt. Meru. The road to the cheese factory was nothing more than a ravine or gully. A four-wheel drive vehicle is the only way to get up and down and once the rainy season starts, the road is really not vehicle friendly.

Mama Wilson's Cheese Factory is the result of assistance from Heifer International. Mama and her friends, with the help of Heifer International, started out with one cow. They learned to make cheese. Then they expanded to growing coffee. And now they also harvest honey. This was a great place to start our trip because Joan and I have always contributed to Heifer International and it was gratifying to actually see our donations at work.

The ladies showing us how they carry bananas and pound the coffee beans after roasting them.

Mama Wilson teaches me the art of banana carrying and we take a look at a hollowed log that stingless bees haveused to create their hive. Later in the season the honey will be harvested from the log. Throughout the trip I would see these logs hanging on trees in various villages and I knew what they were for.

The next stop was at a local potters studio. This man's dream is to have a studio, complete with kiln, where he can create and sell is work. What's incredible is that
all the equipment he has he's made from scratch. To watch him work was a joy in persistance and talent. I can't imagine a potter in the U.S. turning a potter's wheel with their feet. Yet, here in Arusha, Tanzania, we watched Ndekirwa do just that.

So, the day ended on a positive note for everyone. Tomorrow we would for our real great adventure in the African Bush, or so we thought.

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© 2009 Anthony Galván III

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