Phrase of the day – Hakuna Matata!
We surveyed the damage of last night’s heralding storm of flash floods, no electricity and overflowing tents. I was so exhausted I fell asleep at 8:30 p.m. last night and slept through the latter half of the storm or floated rather! Just kidding. It wasn’t that bad inside the tent. The beds were wet and the floor was covered in water but not Hurricane Harvey water so Hakuna Matata. I will say I absolutely recommend Kühl waterproof pants and jacket as, once again, they kept me high and dry despite the driving rain and flash flooding.
Following our damage assessment, delicious pancakes and an intoxicating sunrise (see featured image), we witnessed a sight not seen since the late 90s we were told! Mt Kilimanjaro was covered in snow. Yes, it is true the very top usually has snow on it but not most of the mountain. The rain storm that doused us below at the foot of the highest mountain in Africa was a snow storm on Kili. And during the early morning hours, the view was clear as bell!
How incredible is this? Well, take a look at the photo above. We got the quintessential photo and video of a family of elephants marching in front of Kilimanjaro across the road in front of our safari van towards the swamp. Quintessential Amboseli shot and despite what you may hear or read….rarer than you would think especially with Kili covered in snow.
Following this we headed to the Tanzanian border to Country 76! I must have said Hakuna Matata a number of times from this point. Small things I witnessed like “you must exchange your money here – better for you” (wink wink). The exchange rate of course is literally half of what it would be anywhere else. And “I got you Red Bull” but it’s 500 Kenyan shillings when locals actually get it for 150 shillings. And if you order chicken then you pay 150 more Kenyan shillings but told us after we ordered. In fact, I had to pay for the above photograph by giving her a pen. She was crafty in this way – the little scammer. It’s a ‘pay me to carry your bag’ – kind of place when you didn’t ask for the person’s assistance. But this I found is just at the border. Once you get to Arusha you will be blown away by the genuine kindness of the Tanzanian people. And the border itself, while a bit of a confusing crossing, it was entertaining nonetheless! They wanted to open my bag. They pulled me aside. A female border agent requested I open it which I did. She removed my make up bag and started laughing as she showed it to the man who had questioned the contents as seen on the x-ray machine. Such laughter became guttural and widespread amongst the remaining border agents when I asked them not to tell anyone I had brought make up with me to Africa. The chief border agent said Hakuna Matata – we will keep this information completely confidential!!
Plus, you must have US dollars when crossing the border into Tanzania in order to purchase a visa. And for Americans you will need more — generally twice the cost as other foreigners ($100 for Tanzania). Hakuna Matata though as I will pay Lola and Mark back upon arrival in Arusha. (My East African Tourist Visa apparently doesn’t cover the EAST African state of Tanzania I learned.)
The worst experience for the day however was the man who sat directly in front of us on the bus to Arusha. In 76 countries thus far, it was the worst smell I had ever smelled! We thought we were going to die. Hakuna Matata…I found a cure…sort of! I’m told I will get used to it as it is prolific in Africa. (I did by the way for the most part! In fact, who knows how often it was me.)
In the end, it was a great day as I had made it successfully across the border, had a Red Bull in hand, was with truly great people and upon arrival in Arusha I went to my hotel – the Goldcrest – and what a hotel it is. The cost was $59/night and is probably one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in my travels except maybe Fairways and Blue Waters in Boracay. Here I got a suite! I did struggle with the POS machines and the payment for days but the staff at Goldcrest are remarkable and patient and were my first introduction to hands down the kindest and most welcoming people in the world – Tanzanian people! And ultimately I was able to get the money I needed from Barclays Bank just down the road.
That’s all for now from Arusha, Tanzania and Country 76.