Tanzania

Tanzania 6/30/06 - Departure from Tanzania

We woke up at 5 am after a very relaxing sleep. At 5:45, the chef and waiter came to our door and knocked ever so lightly to tell us that tea and coffee were ready. They had offered to make us a full breakfast, but we didn't want them to go through the trouble. It was too early. We had coffee with no milk but lots of sugar.Anticipating the open air vehicle, we were all bundled up and ready to go. We were slightly surprised that Michael showed up to drive us, but it was nice to see him one last time. We expected a cold, slow ride, but we were surprised to find that it was an enclosed vehicle. Michael had the heat blaring. We talked about his 4 month old baby (Claudia) and the health problems she had endured. She and his wife Jen are staying at his sister's house in Arusha, and he was able to see them all last night. It was dark when we started driving , and everything looked much different when there weren't as many people out and about. The stores were starting to open around 6:00. Michael played a tape of Swahili Christian music, after asking if that was ok with us. It was nice to hear some music, and it was quite enjoyable.

We got to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) at around 7. Michael was initially confused about where to park and drop us off, but he got it straightened out. We went through security, and checked in for our Precision Air flight. In all of the commotion of getting into the airport with our luggage, we didn't get to say a proper goodbye to Michael, and before we knew it he was gone. Fortunately, we had said goodbye to him last night, and this morning was just an extra surprise to get to see him at all. After checking in, we went through security again, and then immigration. We were sitting in the shuka-upholstered seats at the gate by 7:30. We went into the shops and they had some nice items for good prices. Prices seem to be a bit cheaper in Tanzania than in Kenya. The plane was a 12 row propeller plane with open seating. We sat in row 10 in what turned out to be the wrong side to get a view of Kilimanjaro. It was a 40 minute flight, and we had some European salesmen behind us who insisted on resting their elbows on our headrests and repeating "thank you" every time the crew said it over the intercom. Craig couldn't resist getting a Kilimanjaro beer as we flew over Kilimanjaro, and I had a Fanta. The cans were weighted on the bottoms. We had never seen this before, and wondered if they were specifically for airplane use to prevent tipping. We got cashews as a snack.

When we landed, we had to enter the Nairobi airport. We were near gates 4 and 5. Nowhere did anything mention a flight to Kigali. The airport had monitors, but none of them seemed operational. There was a flight board, but it only listed about 5 flights. Ours, of course, wasn't on there. Even the gates didn't have a little sign (hand-written would have done the job) saying the destination of the flight. There was a transfer desk where you could ask for information, but the line was at least 100 people long, and very slow, as people were bying tickets there, etc. Walking between corridors we found a small customer service office and asked the man sitting there if he knew where the Kigali gate was. He told us that it should be gate 5 (where we had just come from). So we backtracked to gate 5. There was a flight boarding there, and we asked some of the people in line if they were going to Kigali. Nope, Amsterdam. We asked the woman working the gate if she knew where the Kigali flight was, and she said gate 14. The gate signs only went up as high as 13, so we needed to ask someone else where 14 was. It turned out to be in a separate building connected by a corridor. When we got there the gates were deserted. The only person there was a baggage handler, and we asked him about a Kigali flight. He said that inter-Africa flights usually depart from gates 4 or 5. So, back to 4 and 5 (in the other building) we went. By the time we got back there, our flight had actually shown up on the flight board, and it was listed as boarding at gate 12. Although we had been told that this was a nonstop flight, it apparently had inherited a stop in Bujumbura. We had no idea where that was (Turned out to be Burundi). So we went back to the other building to gate 12. The airport didn't have the best air flow, and we were incredibly hot and sweaty after all this running around. Plus Craig had been carrying the heavy bag of fragile souvenirs. We went through security and found a seat in the gate lounge. It was now 11:16. Our flight had been scheduled to take off at 11:15. The flight was obviously delayed (which was a good thing for us or we probably would have missed it). There were some Asian tourists in the gate playing violin and guitar to pass the time, and it was quite soothing to our frazzled nerves.
Kilimanjaro International Airport

Our PrecisionAir prop

Drinking a Kilimanjaro over Kilimanjaro

We boarded about 45 minutes later. It was a 2-3-2 seating configuration, and we were in the middle section. We chatted with two brothers from Oman. At 12:30 they gave us a quite respectable boxed snack of a tiny chicken sandwich, a "mystery meat" pastry, and corn bread. After an hour and 20 minutes, we landed in Bujumbura, Burundi. We were told to remain onboard while other passengers disembarked and embarked, and we would be back in the air in 45 minutes. Well, we ended up sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours. It was stiflingly hot (the air conditioning wasn't running). And it wasn't just us sheltered Americans who felt this way. The locals and the brothers from Oman were sweating it out as well, using any available piece of paper as a fan. There was an "ugly American" in front of us who had had his feet up on the seat in front of him for the entire flight. He was underlining a library book. When we landed in Burundi he spread out across 3 seats and fell asleep, snoring very loudly. Craig read "I Robot" and I read "Of Love and Dust." I got about 60 pages in before we finally took off.
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