Finally our day has arrived !
After months of counting the days, reading every trip report on this forum, we now have our bags packed, 1st malarone pill taken, batteries fully loaded , cash in the pocket, we are good to go .
We = Hubby and me, + 4 kids ( 13, 24, 26, 26 )
A few general comments first :
luggage = we tried to keep to a minimum, 1 bag each, I had one seperate bag filled with donations , 200 pens, about 15 footballs
and 3 pumps
safety = the only time we had problems was in Antwerp
trainstation to go to Amsterdam, Hubby nearly got robbed there.
in Stone Town, on our last day , I did have 2 young boys looking at me with unusual interest. It could have been my natural beauty of course, it also could have been my shoulder bag, but nothing happened.
water & food = we only used bottled water, never ice cubes, you can buy cold sodas & and water in a lot of places . Hubby has a health problem, he never once broke the cook ,boil, peel it rule. The rest of us was carefull, I have to admit, the salads looked so good in some lodges, I could not resist having them. Most of us ended up with stomach problems , ( also Hubby ) nothing too bad, we let nature take its course, only took Immodium for the return flight.
toilets = in the parks most of them were better then expected, even paper available, and water for handwashing; we would wash hands, and then use a wet handy wipe, and finish with a disinfectant gel. Also before every meal we would use this gel.
bugs = saw very few bugs, no mossies on the mainland, only in Zanzibar which is normal for a tropical island; lots of tse-tse flies though. We did have nets in all lodges/ tents.
Mum bag = mothers are always prepared, while the rest had to take care of cameras, lenses, etc , I carried my bag with: toilet paper, dettol wipes, fresh hand wipes, little plastic bags, tissues, disinfectant gels, lip balsem, deet creme, suncreme ( high protect factor ! )
money = I took cash USD with me, divided it between all of us, I had changed some to Tsh upon arrival, but all lodges and shops accept $, maybe exchange rate is not so great, but at the end of the day, we are talking about a very small amount, and bargaining
to get bottom , bottom price , I find difficult in a country so poor.
never used Visa cards.
And then we are off , KLM flight from Amsterdam to JRO
We arrive in JRO at 7 PM, from the plane we can just see the top
of the Kilimanjaro peeking through the clouds. I had taken the comfort seats on the plane, which means we are in the front, and among the first passengers to exit the plane. We are walking from the plane on the tarmac to the terminal, which I always find so exciting ! Once inside the terminal, an officer calls us to the right hand side office; We are 6, it takes a bit of time, but we get our visa, I have the correct amount of money handy, but there is no machine for fingerprints of photograph. There was a bit of confusion among the officers, do we need fingerprints taken yes or no, but a big smile really helped, and we were out !
I mmediately I see a sign with my name on it, and that is quite emotional, a lot of money has been transferred to an operator you don't know, everyone has done their research of course, but when that driver is really there, that's when I felt it : I am in Africa !
He helps us with the bags, the kids need a bathroom, and guess what , no toilet paper in JRO airport, ladies, be prepared !
The drive is about 1 hour to Arusha, it is dark outside, but I see lots of hustling and bustling about as we drive along a nice tarmac road. We get of the main road to take us to the l'oasis lodge, and this road is our first sandy bumpy road of many to come. There are 5 pairs of eyes looking at me, wondering : where is Mom taking us ? but we get to the l'oasis, the gates open, we are welcomed the way it only happens in Tanzania, we are shown to our rooms, the kids have rooms on stilts, and they love it ! Kitchen is still open, we have a delicious vegetable soup, and a chicken curry -rice, Hubby and kids try out some of the beers, it was a wonderfull evening; Tomorrow : Arusha