Africa Log: Day 10

We awoke after a fitful sleep. We dressed and packed. Mauren brought hot tea. We went to the lounge tent and I tried to confirm our plane tickets, but the wifi timed out. I was also unable to refresh WordPress in hopes of getting my lost entries. I completed the survey card and gave them excellent ratings as we had done at the previous to locations.

We had breakfast in the dining tent. Gui was already there eating. We greeted him and commented that we were all heading out together. He agreed, stating that we were departing at 8:30. We informed him that the departure time was 8:00, and he went to get Irene, who was not planning to have breakfast.

It was a good thing we mentioned it. Steph and I finished our breakfast, including the eggs, which took some time. We waited at the table for a while until Anthony arrived with the vehicle. We chatted briefly with Louis and Jill, who wished us well, and thanked us again for the happy anniversary song at dinner the previous night. Then we waited in the vehicle. Mussa brought us bag lunches as our itinerary did not include lunch. We decided to eat at the hotel when we arrived.

Irene finally arrived, and coffee. Then a smoke, then hugged all the staff. Then said farewells. Then I took a picture of all of them. Then we got on the road. Mussa came as well as he was going back to Arusha.

The drive to the airport was very pleasant. We stopped several times to take pictures of giraffes, some lions, and some other creatures. We arrived at the airstrip about ten minutes before our plane was to arrive. We said our farewells to Anthony and Mussa. Anthony took the make and model of my camera since it took such great pictures. When the plane arrived, we boarded, and I thought our adventure was over.
The flight was OK, though I couldn’t get comfortable. Gui and Irene sat in the row in front of us and she kept showing us pictures from Kenya, where they had been previously. They were on the way to Lake Manyara, which was the only stop on the flight before Arusha. The plane landed for about ten minutes and then took off for Arusha.
When we arrived, porters grabbed our bags from the plane and took them through the crowd to Zal, who was waiting in the parking lot. I had wanted to use the bathroom, but we were on our way post haste for the half hour drive through the city of Arusha to Lake Diluti Lodge for the afternoon.
I noted when we arrived that the lodge was surrounded by a high wall topped with barbed wire. The driveway to the lodge was off a bumpy dirt road somewhere, and guards visually inspected our vehicle before wishing us a good day and opening the gate.

We were met at the car park by a hostess who was either just young or curt. I think her curtness was cultural, but it rubbed us the wrong way. The lodge was billed as:

01 Day at Lake Duluti Lodge including dinner, all drinks (excluding fine wines, champagnes and premium spirits) teas and coffee – available until 18h00.

When we advised her that Zal was picking us up at 5:30, she negotiated with another man and said we could possibly have dinner at 4:00. She also informed is that the drinks in the room were complementary, but anything else was an extra charge, subject to a 6% fee if we used a credit card.

We did not see any other guests, though is was about 1:00 and they may all have been out. They took us down a fairly long path to a detached suite. It looked nice at first, but then things went down hill. For starters, there were unsavory looking men working on the structure the large windows in the main room overlooked. Next, the room was very stuffy, and opening the two windows with screens did not help.

Then, none of the light switches worked in the main room. The desk lamp worked when I plugged it in because there was no switch. Instead there was a poor splicing job on the cord when the switch probably had been. When we finally got the ceiling fan to work, full speed got it to barely move and it did nothing to cool the stuffy room.

Lastly, the complementary drinks in the little refrigerator consisted of two bottles of water, and two bottles of Fanta and one of regular Coke, but no bottle opener.

The room was nice enough. The showers worked, the temperature was adjustable, and there was pressure. And there were outlets with which to charge our devices. We got cleaned up and rearranged our luggage and carry ons for the international flights. And then it was 2:30. We put on the TV and watched CNN, learning about the horrible things that had happened while we were away, and then flipped to an Irish costume drama that looked fun until it was time to go to dinner.

In spite of the room, the dinner was excellent. We had beef and vegetable soup, followed by beef filet with potatoes and creamed spinach, with Swiss rolls for dessert with hot tea. The dining room was very nice, and the staff just as friendly and polite as the staff at the &Beyond locations. It got us thinking that the hostess was new and assigned us to the wrong room by mistake. That’s what we decided to go with. We went back to our room, freshened up, and packed up our things to meet Zal at 5:30.

We returned to the lobby at 5:15 because all the other drivers were early. She wasn’t and called the lodge to relay to us that she was stuck in traffic. She was only a couple of minutes late, and we were on our way. We were hopeful to see Mount Kilimanjaro, but it was obscured by clouds again.

We arrived at the airport about 90 minutes before our flight, and both needed to use the bathroom. The only apparent bathrooms on this side of security were closed for construction, so we resolved to hold it.

While we were waiting in line, another passenger asked how we gas filled out the yellow exit forms. He indicated an unlabeled rack along the outer wall of the terminal that we had not noticed. I went and got the forms while Steph waited to check in and we filled them out while standing in line.

We did not need them to check in. Next we waited in line for passport control. Steph and I went to different officers on opposite sides of the hallway. My officer just looked at my paperwork, scanned my fingerprints and let me pass. Steph got asked some questions and had to scan her fingerprints twice.

Then we joined the line for security. When we got to the front if the line, just before the scanners, we saw that the bathrooms were just down the hall on this side of the scanners, so we left the line and relieved ourselves. Then we joined the security line again. This time they stopped the line to let a bunch of late arrivals for the departing flight through first.

The terminal was very hot. There were a couple of ceiling mounted oscillating fans, but they were ineffective. I was sweating profusely, and I asked an airport employee where I could get some water. I left my things with Steph in line and bought some water. I had to drink it before going through the scanner, so I downed it.

I made it through security with no problems. There was nothing except seats and a bathroom in the waiting area. It was even hotter there, and some of the ceiling fans weren’t working. We sat down at 7:35 and waited for the 8:00 boarding.

The boarding went swiftly. There was no priority boarding nonsense, and they boarded from both the front and back of the plane via stairs from the tarmac. We had the same seats on each leg as we did outbound.

Unlike our inbound flight, however, the first flight had a one hour stopover in Dar Es Salaam, and we had to stay on the plane. It went quickly though. The flight from Dar Es Salaam to Amsterdam was going to be nine hours.

I spent the flight enhancing the Lake Manyara on the iPad. I determined that I had 4699 photos from Lake Manyara, 1066 from Ngorongoro Crater, 1184 from Serengeti, and 17 from Arusha, for a total of 6986 photos uploaded, with the photos from Steph’s camera and the SD card that was still in the camera still to be uploaded. I listened to more of Warbound, by Larry Correia, but only got as far as photo 886 before I fell asleep.

Between periods of unconsciousness,I was awakened for a drink, for a dinner of beef and rice, I watched Cars 2, and I listened to more of Warbound.

Author: joabstieglitz

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