Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alive in Africa!

So this is my second day in Africa. I arrived late Monday night to Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania. All my flights could not have gone better, except just insanely long travel time. 4 hours to Detroit, 7 hours to Amsterdam, then another 8 hours to Tanzania. Words can not describe how terrified I was to make this trip by myself. For the last two weeks before I left I had brief moments of being excited, but most of the time I just felt this impending sense of doom. Not like I really felt that something bad would happen to me, I guess I just knew that there were aspects of this that were going to be REALLY hard and I was just really afraid of the unknown. And it probably did not help matters when I received an email from a couple who travel over here every year, just days before I was suppose to leave, saying they were nervous for me traveling over here by myself. I pretty much had a melt down. But I got on the plane anyway. As the flight went on I felt less and less scared, probably because I was just more and more tired. When I arrived in Amsterdam for my final flight to Tanzania I had to walk way down to the very end of the terminal to find my flight. I had this picture in my head that I was going to be the only white face down there. Silly I know, but I was really afraid of standing out. I got down there to see that the crowd looked pretty much like any other international flight, just a mixed bag. There were plenty of folks who looked just like me. People coming to do a safari or climb Kilimanjaro. I stood in line with a girl from Alaska. Her brother lives in Arusha and she was coming to meet him. The flight was pretty uneventful. When we started to land I got pretty choked up. I was finally here, this place I have dreamed about for so long. The airport was just like other small time developing country airports I have been in. No fancy terminal, just walk out of the plane, down the stairs and on to the tarmac. It was night time but I could see the sign "Kilimanjaro International Airport". Now I was really choked up.
I had prebooked a hotel, the only hotel close to the airport. The guy was there to pick me up as promised. I shared the van with a nice Dutch couple. She actually runs an orphanage and a lodge someplace north of here. They gave me their contact information in case I make it up that way.
The hotel is really beautiful (and expensive). But the price of knowing I had a ride from the airport, in this situation, was - priceless. The hotel consists of about 40 individual thatched roof bungalows. The hotel grounds are very lush and tropical with those bushes with the tiny pink flowers (can't remember the name) everywhere. Everything seems more vibrant here. The colors of the flowers seem brighter, the variety and color of the birds, even the green of the plants. And the birds are definitely more vocal in the morning. There is a little hill top pool area. If you go up there you can see the surrounding countryside. The hotel is about 40 minutes from the closest town so it feels pretty remote. Right now I am sitting in a little building with a thatched roof. It is actually the gift shop with one lonely computer off in the corner. A major thunder storm just started. The windows are open. The wind is whipping up and the rain is pouring down. It is actually really beautiful.
I have been here not even 48 hours and I have been pretty much an emotional roller coaster. There are not many guests here. Today I was the only one at lunch. I have some pretty lonely moments. Tomorrow I leave to go into Arusha. Arusha is about 45 minutes from here and it is the town where all of the climbing and safari guide services are. I am nervous. People have warned me not to take the bus or walk alone at night. People get pick pocketed and occasionally purses get snatched. I am scared. But I made the first step and I got on the plane. Now I guess this is just the next step. My plan is to go there to find maybe a 5 day safari up and around the Serengeti National Park and maybe stop at some other National Parks along the way. I have heard it is MUCH cheaper (like thousands of dollars) to just go there and book it yourself. I have read up on reviews of a lot of the tour companies so on that end I feel pretty well prepared. I will just pick out a hotel and have a taxi take me straight there so I don't have to do a lot of walking around with my backpack. I am scared but it is just too desolate around here and I need to start meeting people.
The thunder storm is passing now. I will try to post some pictures if I can figure out how.
All for now. Amanda


  1. After reading your blog, I am reminded of "Eat, Pray, Love"- where loneliness finds her in Italy. Better lonely in Africa than in a room full of people I say. You'll meet people, & good things will happen... just for having the courage to be doing what you're doing. Peace, girl.

  2. I am so proud of you and just give me all your blogs and I will put the book together =)