A few weeks ago, I had never set foot in Nairobi, Kenya. Now, I’m not sure I can say that entirely….. though I have yet to leave the airport! I have, however, been through the airport already 3 times in about 2 weeks – first on the way to & from Cameroon, and then on my way down to Tanzania. Always, the flight times between Djibouti and Nairobi are brutal, always either landing or departing between 2-4am. But this last trip was definitely special…. why you ask? Well, I’ll tell you in one word:
I arrived in Nairobi at 6am, having departed Djibouti at 2am, with a short stopover in Addis Ababa (where, thankfully, I did not have to deplane). I was so tired when I got onto my 8am flight to Kilimanjaro that I fell asleep while contemplating the fact that we would be taxing a long ways down the runway before takeoff. I was dead to the world before we were even in the air. I slept through when the flight attendant came down the aisle with breakfast, but when he came back through with drinks I woke up, and he took pity on me and brought me a breakfast box. It wasn’t a very long flight, and shortly after finishing my yogurt & granola cup, the pilot announced that Kilimanjaro would be coming up on the left side of the plane. I, of course, had a window seat on the right, and could see nothing but big white fluffy clouds, so I was doubtful about whether or not you could even spot Kili on the other side. Luckily, the plane was more than 1/2 empty, and I could easily scoot across the aisle to an empty seat and take a peek out the window. Boy was I wrong. Not only could you easily see Kili, but it was STUNNING! I’m sure it would have been even more impressive if I could have seen the whole thing without the ring of clouds hiding the base, and preventing me from seeing the whole mountain in its full glory, but it was plenty beautiful even just seeing the top. Shutterbug that I am, I took no less than 23 pictures out of the window of the plane! Don’t worry, I’m not going to include them all in this post!! Only the best will make the cut here. Like this one….
After seeing the beauty and wonder of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tone had been set for my week of vacation. I was excited and ready to begin my adventure in Tanzania!! I got off of the plane, and went through customs at this small airport. I regretted that I didn’t have the time to climb this beautiful mountain on this visit, as it takes anywhere between 7-10 days to climb Kili, and I wouldn’t have long enough to devote to that type of activity on this visit. Plus, I was visiting during rainy season, when generally it is discouraged to attempt the climb as weather conditions can make it unpleasant to downright treacherous. So, satisfied to gaze in wonder at this snow-capped (at least for now, as some estimates say that due to global warming the snow on top of Kili will disappear by 2020) mountain, I settled into my vacation.
After getting my passport stamped, and collecting my bags, I looked for the driver my friends had sent for me. Not seeing him right away, I stopped at the little shop and picked up a prepaid cell phone SIM card and bought some credit. Before I had a chance to call anyone, though, the driver came and picked me up and we started the 1 hour trip to D & E’s house in Arusha. We chatted a bit along the way, and he told me a little bit about where he was from (neighboring city Moshi, which will appear in a later post) and about the region. After calling D&E to figure out exactly where their new house was, as like many parts of Africa, there aren’t really any official road names or house numbers to guide you in finding a particular address, we met up with E, who led us to the house. We had some breakfast, and then I took a nap, to get myself ready for a wonderful Tanzanian vacation!