Monday, March 1, 2010

In Transit from Tanzania and Ethiopia to Egypt

Feb 28, 2010
Hot, with low clouds. Rain and thunderstorms last night.
I gave up on this miles traveled thing.

I’m on a plane from Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia before going to Cairo. We’re stopping in Mombasa, Kenya, before going to Ethiopia and it is one of those super short flights where you’ve landed before you even have a chance to open the airline magazine. I haven’t been writing much lately because the last two days have been mostly free and I have been working on catching up on the homework from the classes. The three classes often have a lower priority than eating and sleeping and functioning when we’re traveling so much.
Even though we were staying right near Mt. Kilimanjaro, I never got a very good look at it. This past week has had intermittent rain and a lot of very low puffy clouds that have obscured the view of the famous mountain. I’m sad to be leaving Tanzania, I definitely want to come back here to visit the chimpanzees at Gombe and go on another safari. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. The land we’re flying over right is fire-engine red from all the volcanic activity in this area, with sparse vegetation. But when you drive around, there are small, unexpected pockets of rainforests. I don’t really know what to expect from Egypt. The guidebook said that Egypt does not identify as an Arabic or African nation, but rather has a very independent cultural identity.
Yesterday, we ate lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Arusha. I thought there would be many Tanzanian restaurants, but we didn’t once eat Tanzanian food. Most of the restaurants we saw were cafes or Italian. The food was pretty good though – I had a tasty vegetable calzone for lunch today.
As we travel around, I really enjoy observing the different security measures at the airports in the different countries. In Tanzania, you walk directly out of the terminal onto the tarmac and point out your baggage to airline officials, who then put it on the plane. They want to make sure each bag is matched to a passenger. Yet the amount of freedom you have to move around the tarmac is amazing – people weren’t used to it so they stayed as close to the officials as possible. There were two entrances to the plane, one in front and one in back. There were no airport officials in the front, and so everyone gathered and formed a huge line at the back. I timidly walked towards the front entrance to avoid the line, thinking that at any moment I would be sniped by guards watching for wayward boarders. Despite my discomfort, I eventually walked straight to my seat without waiting in line. I felt like a sheep needing to be with the rest of the group.
I miss home right now. I’m still not ready to come back, despite how difficult the last two weeks were. But I keep thinking about all of my friends and family and wish I could have a gigantic group hug with all the people I care about in my life, just for five minutes. One of the girls on our trip is Kenyan and spent the last two days in Nairobi, visiting her family after not seeing them for five years. I couldn’t imagine. She said that her mother just stared at her in disbelief.
I never want to go five years without seeing my family. Three months is hard enough. I love you guys

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