Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm not in Kansas anymore OR Texting in Tanzania

What a crazy morning. This was one of travel mornings where some how magic is worked and the universal powers conspire together to propel you forward.
Today was my big travel day in to Arusha. The big town I was dreading coming into because of all the bad reports I had gotten. The taxi ride into Arusha from where I was staying is about 45 minutes and costs about $60. That is a lot of money on a backpacker budget. There were very few people staying at the hotel but I was really to see a single traveler at dinner last night and maybe ask them if they wanted to share a taxi into town. However, I slept through dinner. My body clock is all off so I have been sleeping and waking at random hours.
I woke up this morning at around 5am this morning. I was kicking myself for not going to dinner. Besides the expensive taxi ride I just felt a lot better about arriving in town with someone.
So after I woke up I did my morning meditation. Afterwords I just kept trying to visualize finding someone to share that taxi with. I asked at the front desk but she didn't know of anyone. So I went into breakfast feeling kind of sorry for myself and very anxious to just get into town and get it over with. It was 6:30 am so of course I was the only one there. Then in walks this girl by herself. I smiled and said good morning. We made small talk. She said she was there for 5 weeks to volunteer at her cousins orphanage some 3 hours away. I have been exchanging emails with a woman named India, she is a friend of one of the guys who comes on the boat. She runs an orphanage here in Tanzania. I thought about asking the girl if her cousins name was India but then I thought how stupid, what are the chances. So she mentions the cousin again so I asked her if her name was India. She looks at me like I'm crazy and says "Yes it is". GET OUT! I can assure you there is MORE than one orphanage in Tanzania.
So my new friends name is Bridget. We ended up having breakfast together. Turns out her cousin is sending a driver for her and they just happen to be going through Arusha so she offers me a ride. Bridget is 42, single, and a bit of a traveler like myself. We had a lot in common and we totally hit it off. She has been here before so I was running some logistical questions by her like best ways to make phone calls, etc. She tells me the best thing to do is get a prepaid cell phone. And, oh, by the way, she just happens to have a bunch (8 to be exact) of old cell phones with her that she brought for the kids to play with. Tells me I can have one I just have to get the SIM card changed out. OH and she just happens to already be going to the phone store in Arusha. Is this really happening. My life just got a million times easier in a matter of 10 minutes.
So I really feel like today was my first day in Africa. I have been sequestered in that compound of a hotel way out in nowheresville for the last two days. Her ride, Moody, finally gets there and we head into Arusha. It was just like you would picture it. Little boys driving wooden donkey carts, women carrying baskets of stuff on there head, weaving in and out of traffic with about a dozen near misses. Yes, I was definitely in Africa.
On the drive in Moody asks me if I am looking to go on Safari. Looking at tour companies to go on safari just happens to be like the second thing on my list when I get to town. "Why yes I am". Well of course he just happens to "know a guy". I have traveled enough to know all about the "know a guy" thing. I am skeptical but I tell him I will meet his friend anyway.
Once we get to town I had personal escorts to get me to the bank, the phone store, and the tour company. I meet with his friend Mike. It seems to be what I am looking for and the price is right. But it leaves tomorrow and I am skeptical because it just fell into my lap. Arusha is very well known for tour scams so I figured I should check him out before I book. Did some research on them and turns out they are legit sooo off I go tomorrow for my 4 day camping safari to the Serengeti. Yes I am camping in a tent and yes there are lions and cheetahs in the vicinity. I can't wait.
AND I am now the proud owner of a brand new Tanzanian cell phone. I decided it was easier just to buy a brand new one. Bridget and I have already text each other several times today and I have received at least two phone calls. I am in Tanzania and I have my own cell phone! That just cracks me up. I am really glad I got it. Anyplace else it is like $2 a minute to call the States but on my cell phone it is less than 50cents. That is a bargain for a lonely traveler like myself. Just being able to text Bridget today made me feel better. OH YES, and I can RECEIVE calls and texts for FREE. So my number is +255 684 059173. I think that is exactly how you dial it, plus sign and all. So if you decide to call, remember I am 11 hours later than California time and 8 hours later than Michigan time.
OH and by the way, this all happened before noon today!!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's great! Now the fune begins. good thing you engaged Bridget.

    More snow here last night. Really cold too. Am baking cookies for Suzy. This is really boring in comparison. Wish I were there.

    Love You!!! Dad