We spent the next day down in the crater. We saw many of the same animals we had seen in the Serengeti, but they were much more abundant and closer together in the crater. It was stunning. The landscape diversity was crazy – there were marshy parts, forested parts, dry parts, and lakes/ponds. We saw flamingos, rhinos, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, ostrich, jackals, hippos, and many more. We got the best look at lions we had on the trip. We saw one pair (male and female) lounging about. They got up and walked right next to our truck, not more than five feet from us. They were beautiful creatures.
We ended our safari around noon and started our trek out of the crater. The road our was even worse than the road in. It was more narrow, in worse shape, and right on the edge of the crater. One wrong move and the truck would plummet over the edge. Our driver was very confident, I’m sure he had done it dozens of times, but the rest of us were white knuckled passengers. The route seemed to be right out of Jurassic Park. We stopped at the final outlook point and snapped a few pictures and went to the restroom.
On the way to the airport we stopped a curio shop and had our box lunches. We did some shopping. Alana and I had a good bit of Tanzanian Shillings we had to get rid of, so we picked out some items. The vendor drove a very hard bargain, however every time we walked away, showing him all that we had, he accepted. After shopping were on our way back to the airport. We arrived at the airport around 630 PM and started the lengthy check in process. We filled out our customs cards, we were given a survey by the customs agent. The line to check in was very very long, and growing by the minute, so we sped through the survey and handed it over. As we started walking towards the line, the customs agent blocked our path and started questioning Alana about the survey. She asked why she didn’t put how many people were traveling in what age groups, if the money spent was for both of us or just one, etc etc. We humored her for a few minutes then just kind of walked away.
We stood in line for some time, the airport getting hotter and more crowded (no AC). Eventually we reached the counter, Jamal went first and had some trouble. They asked to see his itinerary, but he didn’t have it even through we specifically told him to bring it. We gave him ours to try, but the guy said he couldn’t find him in the system and couldn’t do anything since he wasn’t listed on our itinerary. He was sent over to another counter to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, Alana and I checked in with no problems.
We went over to help Jamal at the other counter. The guy said he couldn’t find Jamal in the system and wanted to see the itinerary. Jamal managed to pull it up on his phone. When we were looking at it, it became clear why they couldn’t find him. He had booked a flight for the next day, not the same flight we had. Panic ensued. They weren’t able to move him onto our flight because it was already oversold by 14 people. We tried getting in contact with Holly, but were not able. I went through customs to get Clarence’s phone, the only international phone in the group. We couldn’t get a hold of anyone. We ended up giving Jamal about 400 dollars and then put him in a cab to find a hotel. We went through security and got on the flight, only after Alana shed many tears. We had sent Holly an email through Clarence’s iPhone requesting her help. When we arrived in Dar es Salaam, she had responded back, and so had Jamal. He managed to get to a swanky western hotel in Arusha without any problems. Our driver was going to meet with him for drinks to make sure he was alright. Alana was able to relax.
The rest of our flights went off without any problems. In the Amsterdam airport we got a “fish foot spa” treatment. Little fish eat all the dead skin and grossness off your feet. It was ticklish, but felt quite good after the long flight and the long week of dirt, grime, and working. Our flight to Ohio was delayed by about two hours, which was very frustrating. We Finally arrived home around 730 pm.