Friday, August 08, 2008

Kenya-Arusha (6-7 August)

This is going to be a catchup, hopefully, of the last few days, but it'll be blurred and all over the place, I fear. *

Tues-Weds - We were on a plane. And then another plane. For hours. Very grateful for TC's insistence on getting visas before we arrived, as the queues in Nairobi were horrendous. We picked up the luggage - scattered here there and everywhere, not on the belts, weirdly, but gratefully we observered that our sleeping bags and tent remained attached to the rucksacks. We went out into a sea of taxi drivers, but, fortunately, there was Philip with our names on the card. I've rarely been so pleased to see anyone. Then, over to the Sarova Panafric - not cheap, but so so so nice and welcome after two days stuck in a plane.

Thurs am - of course, we hadn't booked a bus to Arusha, but fortunately for us, the people - Pennah and Kizito - at the Panafric saved us the hassle and got us there, no problem. From there, it was a five hour ride over to Arusha. Although we were both exhausted, neither of us could sleep - far too excited. And all the awesome coffee and unbelievably great breakfast at the Panafric - seriously, I cannot recommend that place enough. Mostly because they had baked beans, obviously...

Thurs pm - we're in Arusha! We arrived at the Mezza Luna hotel, having been cramped into a minibus with about 30 other people, including four spanish young women who literally did not stop talking the whole way, or sighing "madre mia" about the "ghetto" bus we were on - I'm guessing (hoping?) they didn't know we understood them. Annoying when you've had about 10 hours' sleep in three days, believe me. Our bus was surrounded by "flycatchers" - local parlance for the guys who want you to go on their safari or hiking trip. That's been a fairly common theme these last few days... still, more on that later. We ended up taking the same bus up to our hotel, which was a haven after a day on the bus - a kidney-shaped blue pool, a nice looking bar, huts, herons... and then we were across the road in a definitely more backpackery place, but lovely nonetheless.

Arusha itself was gorgeous - more on that tomorrow, but Mt. Meru utterly dominated our part of town, looming over us and framed beautifully by the street's lush greenery. It was COLD, however - we hadn't really thought about it, but should have done - with Kilimanjaro and Meru nearby, it's probably not that warm. Duh. And that pool there looked so inviting...

After wandering down to get cash from Barclays, we said hi to every kid in Arusha, it seemed, who wanted to practice some English. Then it was time for a spot of reading, beer, food, and some much much much needed sleep before the ICTR the next day. We also showered, which is noteworthy as it's not happening much these days, to be honest with you all. A little too much honesty? Hmm.

Basically: we're here, we're well, we're mostly happy, and it's so exciting it's hard to think about much else.

*Nowhere near enough time for that, so I'm going to divide it into chunks, I think.

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