August 18, 2016
As I start this, we are driving with Walter, a 5 year veteran of our safaris company from the Kilamanjaro airport to our hotel.
The company is called Safaris-R-Us. I assume they have received the mandatory cease and desist order from Toys-R-Us, but I can tell that the fine folks of Tanzania really do not care. Despite the unoriginal name of our outfitter, we have heard nothing but the best about the team.
Safaris-R-Us was founded by Gemma, an Australian-turned-Tanzanian who loves what she does.
I promised you challenges and tales from our travels. I did not expect to have anything to share before we even left the airport.
It is worth noting that Susie does her homework when we travel. She knows what diseases you can get, the best ways to exchange currency, important local customs and critical travel tips.
For example, when she learned Tanzania requires a visa, she researched the options. The visa is primarily a revenue source for the government, but they wrap it up in a package of bureaucratic legitimacy. In order to get a visa, you have two options. First, you can get it by mail, which includes sending your passport to a Tanzanian embassy. After checking 2 or 3 sites, Susie read multiple examples of passports getting lost during this process. This did not reassure the Wise One. It was time to check out the second option: getting the visa at the airport.
The downside with option 2 is the fact that lines can be very long, especially when a large airplane lands. Since we were flying a large plane, Susie sprung into action and booked the (economy) seats absolutely closest to the exit door. Upon arrivals, she briefed the kids to move quickly as long as they were not rude. Since we had to cover 200 feet of tarmac from the plane to the terminal, we were able to get near the front of the line.
Actually, to be precise I should say “lines”, not ”line”. The process required one line to go for a cashier, one line to authenticate the visas and a final line to clear passport control.
It is worth noting that everyone involved in this bureaucratic morass was faultlessly friendly and positive. I could not even find myself annoyed.
We made it through the lines and were ready to be the first family out of the Kilimanjaro airport. The sweet taste of efficient travel was on our lips.
Our victory was short-lived.
Susie’s bag did not get out of Amsterdam. That is the bag with our probiotics and basis medicines. They are assuring us that we can “probably” get the bag tomorrow before we go into the remote safaris areas. Susie needed to raid the girls’ wardrobe. It is worth noting that there is a little poetic justice here. For the past 2-4 years, the girls have discovered that they and Susie can share a substantial amount of clothing. This exchange has been staggering uni-directional. Susie borrows virtually no Aeropostale clothes from Terrill or Virigina, but every high school dance involves some amount of shoe “sharing”.
Granted, it is not fun to share socks and underwear, but this has become an necessity. So we are 100% OK for tomorrow, assuming the bag arrives. . .
. . . as long as no one has intestinal issues.
Ah, were that true. We already have 1-2 stomach issues. In the spirit of good taste and mercy, I will share no more. I suspect that this is the result of 3 flights and 30 hours of travel., but it does make you long for the Susie bag of magic remedies.
So we are now staying at the Mt Meru Hotel. It is pleasant and comfortable. It reminds me of hotels in the Virgin Islands or Mexico that are “safe but not too nice”. This is not fancy, but it has some amenities. By “amenities”, I mean “elevators”, “Air conditioning” and “bars with bad karaoke”, [Note: we are enjoying 2 of the 3.]
Tomorrow, we become true travelers. We hope you enjoy the tales.
PS The photo is Susie with Walter in the hotel lobby. We are all so accustomed to people having photos perfectly complement the words that accompany. You should lower your expectations.