Arriving in Africa

After a few day delay, we left Greece and had a layover in Istanbul. The flight from Athens to Istanbul was uneventful, although we did get a full meal on a 1.5 hour flight- pretty cool! We had a few hours in Istanbul and boarded our Turkish Airways flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

A layover in Istanbul means you get to try Turkish Delights at all the Duty Free shops! I was not impressed...

Not long after the flight took off, the Turkish Airways captain made an announcement: ‘Ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking. We left Istanbul a half hour ago and are still in Turkish airspace. Our flight will take us over Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and finally into Tanzainian airspace if everything goes as planned (long pause) we will land at two thirty in the morning.’

I’m pretty sure his script was supposed to read: ‘Ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking. We left Istanbul a half hour ago and are still in Turkish airspace. Our flight will take us over Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and finally into Tanzainian airspace. If everything goes as planned, we will land at two thirty in the morning.’ I’m not the grammar police, but punctuation placement means a lot. After the hilarious announcement, this ended up being the most miserable flight we had been on. It was probably 80 degrees (no joke- there was no A/C), and even though it was fairly empty and everyone seemed to have their own row to themselves, the flight attendants were pouring drinks freely. A group of guys sitting behind us spent the whole red-eye flight in a belligerent state and didn’t allow the rest of us to sleep. While going through Tanzanian immigration, one of the drunk guys had to hold on to a wall in order to stay upright. Good times.

Anyway, we arrived safely, if sleep deprived, to Africa!!!! We spent 2 days in Dar es Salaam. I had a great birthday in Dar. We got to catch up with my friend Divina, whom I met when spent a summer in Tanzania in 2009. For those of you interested in my 2009 experience (or are just that bored at work), I found out that my old blog is still online! Click here to relive my college days.

 My birthday sunset in Dar!

My birthday sunset in Dar!

The day after my birthday, we woke up early and headed to the busy Ubungu bus station in Dar es Salaam to travel to Moshi- and Mount Kilimanjaro! Here's a quick refresher on East African geography. Point B is Moshi, and Point C is Kilimanjaro.

View Tanzania in a full screen map

Mzungu (Swahli word for white person) guide to surviving an African bus station:

-Arrive with a friendly taxi driver, but no pre-purchased bus tickets

-Keep a death grip on all belongings

-Blindly follow a random man (running) through hundreds of buses because he says that he will take you to the bus that you want

-Arrive to the bus that you want to take, only to be told that the 7am is full and you have to wait 3 hours for the next bus

-Make a game time decision to buy tickets for the slightly shadier looking bus next to the ‘luxury’ bus you wanted to board because it supposedly leaves soon. Note: ‘luxury’ means it has A/C.

-Store luggage under bus and find assigned seats.

-Find out that the bus ticket dude sold your seats two or three times over, but just get moved to different seats.

-Cara pops Dramamine like it’s going out of style (this stuff is seriously my lifeline on bus rides)

-Get told that you have to pay extra for the 2 bags you stored under bus. Ask if you are paying extra because you are white. Give man ~$17 for bags. Never got an answer on the ‘mzungu price’ question….

-Bus leaves 30 minutes after it is supposed to, but makes a slow lap around the crowded bus station trying to sell the rest of the empty seats.

-We finally leave 45 minutes later, once a few more seats are sold.

-Commence 10 hour bus ride with 1 lunch stop, full of African music videos, poor Swahili soap operas. They did play the movie ’13 Hours’ which was a very strange action movie choice for a bus ride…

We finally made it to Moshi 10 hours later!!!!! And the bus ride was not as bad as I made it sound. (Read above: Dramamine).

 Our view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from More Than a Drop B&B! by the time you read this, we will be on our way to the top!

Our view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from More Than a Drop B&B! by the time you read this, we will be on our way to the top!

-Cara