So, here we go again...I am sitting at the Dar Airport waiting for my flight to Mbeya with a Serengeti Lager in my hand and an orange Fanta on deck. It's been almost four years since Gabs, Vincent, and my second trip abroad. Hopefully I will be able to document this one in a semi entertaining fashion. And with the added technology of the last four years, there is no telling how much you'll get to see as close to real time as possible!
The trip over wasn't too eventful, so hopefully that means brevity. I started off hugging and kissing the kiddos and wife goodbye. I made sure to get a good "squudge" out of the boys, but a piece of my heart broke off and stayed there in Houston as I could hear John-Paul crying as they went around one corner and I went around another. It was much easier four years ago when he was clueless and two months old, and not the eldest of three.
I tried to make the best of my wait for the flight. I toasted my trip at a restaurant near my gate, but realized quickly that my "one beer" turned out to be a 25 ounce Hopadillo IPA...somehow I still haven't learned that if you don't ask, the bartender will give you the largest size...even if she is a sweet elderly black lady named Beverly who goes out of her way to make sure she doesn't steal tips from waitresses as she turns away impatient customers who approach the bar from their tables. Regardless, I set to ignoring the muted SportsCenter on TV and sent a few emails I was behind on. I finished my drink and walked to the gate, satisfied that I had tied up a few loose ends before leaving the country.
Then I saw a missed call from the office manager at my new job in Katy. Apparently the three previous emails I sent trying to respond to hers went to her spam folder. So, not wanting to leave the country on bad terms, I called back...And there is nothing quite like having a phone conversation with your soon to be kinda boss right after a 25 ounce, 7%ABV IPA while the boarding call for your flight is booming overhead and you are trying to decide how long the conversation can last before interrupting to say you've absolutely got to hang up...
...It ended cordially, and spontaneously, in the tunnel between the gate and the plane, just for the record...it was a miracle.
The flight over was, to sum it up and avoid boredom, a mixture of eating, wine, The Hobbit, more wine, Red 2, and Amarula, followed by some sleeping despite my crumpled up legs. Amsterdam met us as the day started and we landed approaching the rising sun.
The Amsterdam airport was like friggin Mall...shops everywhere, nearly half stereotypical Dutch stuff...cheeses, tulips, wooden shoes, and the like. It was bright and bustling, and after a much needed pit stop in the airport restroom (Thank God for the toilet cleaner ala Bucee's!) and grabbing a drink, it was time to board again for Dar. After 8 hours mostly awake on flight one, flight two was a trip in and out of wakefulness as I finished the end of one movie and slept through probably 3 more, waking only for the food..
Finally we landed in Dar, night falling again...and I was glad to be off the plane as I had just about watched or slept thru every movie I was willing to...I needed to get out and stretch my legs.
...and waiting in the line for ny visa at the Tanzanian airport gave me plenty of opportunity for that. It was rather intimidating....two uniformed officers standing about ten yards from the passport check, asking for your passport, then cash, and then taking both behind a counter where you hoped your name would be called sooner rather than later (though towards the end, having voluntarily handed over my passport to someone I didnt know, I was willing to settle for later, which sounded amazing compared to not at all.). Finally, twenty minutes, fingerprint scanning, and a photo later, I whisked thru passport check and grabbed my bags, glad nobody already had because certainly no one asked me for proof that they were mine.
Quickly I found my taxi driver from the hotel, and another visitor from London and I shared the cab for the 3 minute drive. Though a short ride, I gladly paid for it, as walking thru the uneven, dark, and seemingly sketchy half kilometer would have given me nightmares...After checking into the hotel I didn't need the AM flight to keep me from leaving my safe room with local TV and a mosquito net. I had all the entertainment I had needed for the day. I called home on the surprisingly good wifi, and was content to lull myself to sleep.