Monday, 19 December 2011

... Tanzania: And The Prize Goes To...

Nairobi International Airport is listed in the top 10 WORST airports in the World. If memory serves me right it is in the top 3. Oh what fun! We landed just after 7am local time and I had a 3.5 hour layover. I figured that was at least better than the 7 hour layover I have on my return journey back to Amsterdam. As I disembarked the plane I was met with blandness, heat and a strong smell of naphthalene. For a moment I wondered if I had strolled into an old folks home instead. The airport is basically one long corridor with a slight curve and the same shop repeats itself every 3rd shop with not very much on offer. So as you can see I was set to have a riveting time. Of course here I was dressed for winter including a ski jacket and hiking boots. I did the best thing I could do under the circumstances, found a secluded spot on the hard tiled floor, set my alarm so I wouldn't be late for my next flight, pulled my ski jacket over my head and went to sleep with my backpack as a pillow. It's amazing that when you're absolutely exhausted you will sleep anywhere no matter how hard the surface. I awoke to discover time had moved painfully slow and that in my exhaustion I'd set the alarm an hour too early. It was time to get a few more Angry Birds levels under my belt.

When I finally went to the gate I asked someone official looking to ensure my now-checked-in luggage was at least at this airport. He typed a few things on a keyboard which could've been a Shakespearean sonnet for all I knew and gave an unconvincing "yes." Oh well, not really right much I could do right at that moment in time. All would be revealed in about 90 minutes or so.

I flew from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro Airport with Precision Air who are Tanzanian. It was a quick flight and we only went to a cruising altitude of 17,000 ft. It was very cool flying in between Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru yet of course I was on the wrong side of the plane for Kilimanjaro so had to make do with a somewhat obstructed view from across the aisle and through someone else's window. Even with this Kilimanjaro looked like a force to be reckoned with... And I was going to start climbing it in less than 24 hours. What had I signed myself up for again!?!

Once we had got off the plane and into the actual airport we were asked to show our Yellow Fever certificates. This was even before we'd cleared customs and so I suspect if you didn't have one then the words "sh*t", "creek" "without" & "paddle" might feature quite prominently in your vocabulary. Next up was obtaining your tourist visa to visit the country - payable in cash only ($50USD) and also included your photo being taken. Naturally the photos make you look horrendous. Finally after all the you can clear customs where you also have your fingerprints scanned. With all these measures it was therefore extremely perplexing to watch a couple taking photos of each other as they did all this. In other countries you'd be told to delete them, may be even get your camera confiscated and in some you might even get shot. Perhaps karma paid the guy back when his luggage wasn't on the carousel. Mine, luckily for KLM, was. Unfortunately my North Face windbreaker was not...

Soon I was in the back of a car with two fellow travelers, one of whom would be in my trekking group, heading to Moshi (about an hours drive) and the hotel. It had been a very long two days and the last thing I remembered was my head hitting a pillow on a bed once I had finally had the chance to shower.

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