Onward to Tanzania
We woke early to catch our morning flight, both feeling well rested and chipper. The ride back to the airport affording our only real view of the city in the daylight. Despite our bags already in queue, we still had to arrival early. To kill time we made laps about the airport so I could get in my three miles of walking. I will try to continue some semblance of my 30 day-30 minute or 3 mile run/walk challenge. We ended at a bakery for breakfast and leisurely awaited our boarding. Hamad International Airport is like a giant mall more than an airport. You could literally arrive with nothing and fully furnish a wardrobe, toiletries, suitcase, and all the Duty Free you can imagine. It was massive and seemingly insane. There were a multitude of dining options too, and I have no complaints about being lured by the smell of fresh bread baking in the food court.
Our final flight was about 6.5 hours. Again it was a relatively empty plane. Melissa and I shared a row this time. She likes aisle seats, so is a perfect match to my window seat ways. Another meal and unlimited drinks, with snacks as we desired. It was awesome to skirt the Arabian Peninsula around the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, across the Gulf of Aden, and over the coastal interior. The massive Arabian Desert below looked like a snow-scape blending into the clouds. The occasional road impossibly straight or burning of a flare stack in the shapeless landscape the only visible evidence of life. It was a grand view for geology. The sweeping desert interior flanked by escarpments along the coasts. A broad mountain-studded plateau revealing black lava beds of long extinct volcanoes, and the many narrow valleys, called wadis, piercing down along its sides. A long narrow coastal plain, betraying its sedimentary deposition in ancient seas. It was beautiful.
Flying into JRO we could see the rising figure of Mount Meru, Kilimanjaro being on the opposite side of the plane. Meru is a dormant stratovolcano, and Tanzania’s second highest peak at about 4,500 m (15,000 ft). I had momentarily considered a Mt Meru trek in addition to Kilimanjaro, but maybe another trip.
We landed and deplaned into a sticky afternoon heat. After clearing customs our driver was waiting for us with a sign holding our names. I have traveled quite a bit in my life, but never have I been the recipient of a welcoming party. It was nice. He drove us the 50 km into Arusha, where we are staying the night at Penda Safari House. Our friendly host, Kip, or Kipepiarey, yet another friendly face in an already great adventure. He showed us to our room, with two matching poster beds, and left us be before supper. I repacked my bag and nestled down for a quick nap. At 7 PM, Melissa and I wandered out and found Kip and his niece setting a table on the porch for us. It was an amazing feast of wali wa nazi (coconut rice), roti (unleavened flatbread), beef Biryani (tender morsels of steak cubes cooked in a thick spicy gravy), sukuma wiki (collard greens style of amaranth greens, or mchicha), vegetable samosas, cubed pineapple, and apple juice. Despite having not done much today, I was ready for a food coma after that. We tried to help clean up and then retired back to our room.
I am reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver right now and read for a while. Melissa and I were nestled down like two dolls in our white meshed beds.