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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Arrival in Arusha.

Blog entry by Matthew Hackett

Wow, that was a really long flight. The one hour drive from the Kilimanjaro Airport after the flight after staying awake as long as I could before arrival prepared me for some rest that I truly needed. The ride to the lodge was interesting to say the least. The air was filled with wonderful smells of fresh food cooking mixed with the aroma of burning garbage. The dark night concealed the fields of sunflowers and coffee that followed the highway between each small village. When the Land Cruiser we traveled in took the right turn off of the highway, I got a little bit nervous. The dirt trail had shanty houses and shops on both sides of the ally. Dirty stray dogs barked at us, and un-fammillure faces stared at our trucks as we passed. I was instantly reminded of my first trip to Iraq in 2003. At first I felt like I had returned without my security team. But, then I noticed the smiles from the strangers and we all started yelling “JAMBO” out of the windows as we drove slowly past. Still, the poverty here in comparison to the life we are all fammillure with became obvious. As the gate opened to our lodge, I was relieved that I was not condemned to sleeping on a foam pad in a bug infested mud hut. The lodge was literally a diamond in the rough. The compound was surrounded by a cement wall over 10 feet tall with a large steel gate at the entrance. The grounds were meticulously maintained.  The stone walkways and floors throughout the entire place gave it serious style. Cathedral ceilings of stained hardwood, hanging lights made of brass and leather. It was amazing in comparison to the life outside of the wall. After an amazing late dinner, we all settled in for our rest for the adventure that was about to begin. 

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