Tanzania 2014 – Day 1 Feb 21

Preface – I want to take just a moment to preface this blog before I get into the details of my trip.
First, as you read, keep in mind that most of this was written after the end of very long days. I was tired, jet-lagged, and physically exhausted. I’ve only done some light editing after the fact, so if certain parts aren’t up to my normal standard of writing or don’t flow well, you know why.

Second, I want to provide a few quotes from my favorite philosopher, Terence McKenna, before we begin. I didn’t hear these quotes until a week after my trip, but they really struck a chord with me. The first quote is about people who don’t travel, or more generally don’t push their own person boundaries:

“The people who don’t go anywhere are in danger in missing a major point about what is going on.”

People who don’t travel and don’t expand their horizons will always be stuck in the same place. This was a tough trip for me physically and emotionally, and I am now a different person from when I left, which leads me to the next:

“What happened to me in ten days, was more than happened to my friends back home in a year.”

I think it is fair to say this is a very true quote of this trip. Our trip was only ten days, but in those ten days I’ve grown more than most people I know will for the entire year. I saw the bush, the plains, the desert, I jumped with the Maasai, played with orphans, saw endangered rhinos, learned African dances, and was witness to extreme poverty:

“Nothing is as boundary dissolving, except psychedelic compounds, as travel. Travel is really up there, go to these places, there are many many places and they are not to be taken at face value. They are parts of your own psyche, they are syntactical intersections of intentionality and cognition. The fact that you have to fly there on KLM is only incidental. Because what you come up against in these other places is cultural relativity, and the deep coming to awareness of cultural relativity is finally permission to look at who you are, not who they say you should be.”

When we go to these places that our outside our own cultural norms, you really begin to look at not just yourself, but the people you surround yourself with and the culture you have built together. Many people just go a long with the pack, and blame their faults and traits on the culture they were raised in. However, there needs to be an awakening – we are the culture, we create it, everyone has an influence on it:

“A alchemist, Athanasius, said “the highest mountains, the oldest books, the strangest people, there you will find the stone.”

Be forewarned – the first day was not terribly exciting since it was all travel. Now…on with the show.

We started our trip from Columbus International Airport (CMH). We dropped our dog off at the dog sitter’s, went back home, packed up the car, then went to pick up Alana’s brother. We loaded his stuff into the car then took off for the airport. There was some confusion at check in because Alana did not come with me, she dropped us off with our four bins and large bag then went to park the car. The Delta attendant didn’t seem to understand why she wasn’t with me when I started to check in. Jamal and I go our four large bins checked, leaving the dental chair for Alana to check.

A few minutes later, she came and checked in, the clerk asked her if she was checking two bags. Alana didn’t remember what she picked on the self check in and just assumed she said two, so the clerk marked her carry on bag and the large dental chair bag. As we were walked away from the check in counter the woman came calling after us, all flustered. She had marked the dental chair bag to go to Boston, and another man’s bag to go to Tanzania. She disappeared, then a few worried minutes later reappeared and assured us everything was kosher. We gave each other worried looks and went to security. Sure would hate to be the guy going to Boston when he finds out his bag is in Tanzania.

We got through security, with only a minor problem – Jamal had a large bottle of water and got detained for a few minutes. Rookie mistake. Arriving at our gate, we discovered that our flight had been delayed by an hour giving us only 1 hour in Detroit to transfer. Jamal got a big greasy burger from Johnny Rocket’s, Alana got chicken strips (having craved a DQ chicken strip basket earlier), and I got a chicken club salad.

We got to DTW, made our flight, got to Amsterdam, got lunch at BREAD!, then went through security at the gate to meet up with my mom and the rest of our travel buddies.

The flight to Kenya went fine, but was grueling and a little cramped. KLM doesn’t leave quite as much room as Delta. We de-boarded the airplane on the runway, and walked to a VERY crowded and smelly bus. The bus drove us a good ways to the terminal, where we unloaded. We got through customs without any problems, and much quicker than anticipated. After a lot of scrambling and worrying, we rounded up our 37 bins, and headed out.

Leaving the airport was the first and only time I’ve ever truly felt like a minority. A sea of white eyes with black faces met us as we exited the airport, staring us down. We crammed all our crap on the bus, having to forfeit many of the seats to hold equipment, and took off through Nairobi to our hotel. Traffic was crazy, no one seemed to notice that there were lanes painted on the road, people just drove where ever the hell they felt like. We drove down many narrow winding streets in our giant bus, our driver an expert navigator. We checked into our hotel, which was a bit of a wake up call. I’m sure its probably one of the nicer hotels in the area, but is disgusting by US standards. The walls were dingy, the shower gross with all the grout lines covered in mildew/mold, and I don’t think the comforter had ever been washed. On the upside, they did provide toilet paper.

Leave a Comment