I’ve been home for one week today, exactly and I’m just starting to feel like myself. Between the ten airplanes, Malarone, culture shock and wicked jet lag I’ve been a hot mess the entire time. Last night was the first night I haven’t woken up in a panic. Perhaps I’m on the mend!
It hasn’t all been bad, through it all I’ve switched over my summer clothes AND rearranged my bedroom so that’s something. Thanks Malarone! It’s an anti malarial drug that’s supposed to be the least likely to mess with one’s head but it’s still making me slightly wonky. And highly efficient.
It’s all good! I’m grateful to be home! I’m grateful for the trip. I’m covered in bruises, bug bites and full of experiences,stories and recipes that I cant wait to share.
Kinda. Sorta. It’s the strangest thing.
This past week has been not only a week of recovery but one of reverence. I’m almost afraid to set it all outside of myself in case doing so alters my memory of the experience or changes it in some way. I don’t want to lose any of it, as it is, inside my head!
The experience was intensely beautiful and because of that, almost surreal. Every day I asked myself: Is this really happening? Is this real life? I worry with the retelling that I won’t do it justice. Hell. Scratch that! I KNOW I won’t do it justice. I have been so inspired by the words of others though, that I shall try. If I should fail know that the fault is mine alone. Tanzania treated me most kindly.
Airplane #1 was a WestJet flight to Montreal at 930am on a Friday morn. Of course I got there 3.5 hours early and of course the agent couldn’t sign me in until 6am sharp. I grabbed a coffee and anxiously waited. I was worried that something would go wrong and that somehow I would be sent home or something. Silly anxiety. My flight was uneventful and I ended up safe and sound in a chic little airport.
Is it possible to fall in love with a place from the air? Is it possible to fall in love with a place because of their airport? Because both of those things happened to me. Oh! That and smoked meat and bagels. Stay tuned for a future visit based solely on those reasons.
I flew out of Montreal on KLM arriving in Amsterdam after a mostly sleepless night.
I didnt care though. I was OUT of Canada and ON MY WAY. Trying to find the location of my next flight on the big boards was most challenging in my state. I found it and after a refreshing wet wipe bath in a washroom..er…toilet…that smelled of urine, I stayed put until my last flight.
Its funny, when I first saw my itinerary I was concerned about all the free time I’d have between flights. Ha! Once you find your gate, go pee and freshen up you have hardly any time at all. I spent the time I had writing furiously in my journal about people in safari clothes and whether or not I had the right gear. Seeing people all decked out in green made me feel all at once excited and ill-equipped. I have no clue why. I had all the right stuff, I think I was just nervous. Plus I stood out in my plum coloured dress and tights.
My last flight was not too bad but it took a bit of effort on my part to stay still. I was getting a wee bit antsy. I was d.o.n.e with flying but still in the honeymoon phase of things so not ready to admit it just then.
My discomfort did not stop me from tearing up upon arrival in Tanzania at Kilimanjaro airport. I was really there! Other people stopped to take photos of the sign, I stopped to inhale the warm air. It smelled like dirt and wood smoke. I wanted to imprint the moment in my brain.Besides there was nothing much to see, we’d arrived at 930 pm and everything was dark!
I’d heard horror stories about slow-moving officials and getting the run around when it came to obtaining a visa but I had no such experience. The gentleman I met asked me a few questions, took my money then directed me off to border control. It was entirely pleasant and I was entirely pleasant in kind, even when I was asked my “favourite” question “Where is your husband?”
Maybe in 2025 a woman travelling alone wont be seen as odd. And just in case you think this is some weird Tanzanian thing, let me tell you this: I was once asked this question on my return to Canada by a female border agent.
I made it through everything else just fine and found my driver in the throng of bodies outside after much squinting at wavering signs. Not only did I find my first driver, I found my second one too! I’d arranged for my hotel to pick me up and my tour company had come to get me too. I was too tired to care who did what and the drivers figured it out amongst themselves. I just went with one of them and somehow I made it to my hotel. I had to laugh because I completely placed my trust in perfect strangers and gave not one rat’s ass about it. I’d either make it safe or not at all. Whatevs. Talk about trusting in the moment. Besides, strange male drivers were not really the danger. Driving itself was.
In the hour and a half drive from the airport to my hotel I was in multiple near miss head on collisions. MULTIPLE. Actually, too many to count because by the third near miss I figured out that these weren’t really almost accidents and stopped counting. You see it seems as if each driver waits until the absolute last SECOND to change lanes when passing and no one freaks out about this, it’s just the way it is. Each driver trusts that the other will exit the lane before hitting the other car and…they do. It was apparent that the whole thing was well orchestrated ( once one got ones heart to stop pound wildly out of ones chest.) I did have to laugh though. We passed a transport truck that was madly belching black smoke and my driver shook his head sternly stating that the condition of said truck was “SO dangerous” Bwah! Sure thing. That`s the thing on this road that`s dangerous.