We’re not in Kansas anymore…

Posted on September 25th, 2009 by

After many hours of airtime, several security checkpoints and tasteless airline food we find ourselves far from the rolling hills of corn and soybeans in Southern Minnesota. But I should start at the beginning. On Friday we left in the afternoon with six large duffle bags and two carry-ons from the Minneapolis airport. From there we flew to Amsterdam via Northwest. The fight was long but manageable. In flight movies and a window seat make time fly. We arrived in Amsterdam early in the morning and had a three hour layover until our next flight to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania. For the second leg of the journey we flew KLM, which you should fly if you ever have the option (They have good food and comfy seats). Now although airline food – like school food – has a bad reputation, it really isn’t all that bad. When you’ve been on an enormous hunk of metal flying 30,000 feet up for 5 hours, chicken and pasta eaten with plastic forks and knives can taste really good. And so we arrived in Tanzania at 8.00 pm the next day. The Kilimanjaro airport is an experience in and of itself. There are no boardwalks to the terminals, merely staircases lined up against the aircraft from which you have to walk across the tarmac to the airport. The first thing you notice when you step of the plane is the smell. Africa, or at least Tanzania, has a unique scent. It is musky and smoky yet light and sweet. It is a scent unlike any other that I will always remember. Inside the terminal, you are crammed back together with all the 100+ people you just spent the last eight hours with to get visas and go through customs. (For now we have visitors’ visas but we will be going to Dar es Salaam soon to apply for residential visas.) After we had claimed all six fifty pound bags we headed out to meet whoever was there to greet us. Three people (a lecturer, a secretary and a driver) from the college were there to help us with our baggage and drive us to Mweka. It takes about an hour to get to the Mweka Wildlife College where we will be staying for the next nine months. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see much of the landscape because it was dark, but the drive was good nonetheless and everyone was very nice. By the time we arrived at the college it was late and were tired. The next day we would meet everyone and get oriented. And so, Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. The next nine months will be an interesting adventure indeed. Since we have arrived I have learned that the internet (or intranet as some here say) is iffy. I will be writing regularly, but only publishing as I have connectivity.

 

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