To wrap up my posts on our trip to Africa, I will say that it was by far the best trip I have ever been on. The pain of the mountain climbing was awful, but the reward to stand at the top was well worth the pain. The safari was one of the coolest things I will probably do in my life. The entire trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I close the book on this incredible adventure with my Africa top 10 that I wrote in my journal during my two weeks in Tanzania:
- Language is not a barrier here. Seems like almost everyone speaks English.
- It is HHHHOOOOOTTTTTT here. (I have to comment on this. It was written the day we got to Africa and were in the smallest airport ever with no fans and about 100 people. Africa wasn't exactly cold by any means, it was certainly hot during the day. However when we were on the safari, I noticed it was VERY cool in the mornings and at night. Overall, weather wasn't too bad).
- The local currency here is shillings. Today, 1,400 shillings = 1 US dollar. This currency changes everyday so purchasing something at a store one day will not be the same price the previous day or the next day. The changes are small but they account for exchange rate in all the stores. Most of them have signs by the registers that say the Shillings to Dollar rate for the day. Stuff here is so cheap! At the hotel, we get a 1.5 Liter of bottled water for $1 and we get a 16 oz. bottled coke for $1 too. At least our dollar is superior to something!
- You drive on the left side of the road here. This is actually something I expected to see in Amsterdam, but it wasn't the case there. I would truly suck at driving here. There are little circles (similar to the ones at Patton Creek for those of you that live in BHM) you have to drive around and I would so turn the wrong way.
- I've learned quite a bit of Swahili since I've been here. Our hotel guide, Anderson, taught us to say "no thank you " in Swahili, which is "hapana asante". We also learned "jambo", which means hello, "hakuna matata", meaning "no troubles" and so many others. Our guides that were with us on the mountain taught us a lot as did our safari guide, Stephen.
- The cooking on the mountain is superb, except for the weird brand names of stuff here. Instead of "butter", we had "blue band" on the mountain. And the hot chocolate mix isn't called "hot chocolate", it's called "Milo". Strange.
- Number 7 is probably going to be TMI for most of you, so skip it if you must.....It is absolutely 100% impossible to go 7 days without pooping. And pooping in a hole at this altitude is incredibly challenging.
- People here are obsessed with Obama. It's the strangest thing. I mean, I understand it because of the obvious reasons, but there's so many Obama shirts, and Obama's picture is on EVERYTHING including billboards and tour buses. I would be pissed if I were Tanzania's president. Some of our porters had Obama clothing and umbrellas and kept saying "yes we can". Oh if they only knew...
- I'm fairly confident that at a very young age, all Africans are required to take a class on how to balance large and heavy items on their heads without having to hold them.
- Overall, everyone here is incredibly friendly. People always say "hello" to you and everyone we've been with has gone over and beyond to make us feel welcome and to make sure we have a good African experience.
Oh yeah....I did get my amazing Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese that I was daydreaming about for so long. Our flight from Kilimanjaro to Amsterdam got in at 9am. Justin and I immediately headed to the food court and got some McDonalds. I'm not a big fast food person. I only eat it on the rarest of occasions and it's usually while I'm traveling and don't really have a choice. However, I felt absolutely no remorse for digging into some McDonalds. It was the best meal I'd had in two weeks. When all was said and done, I'd lost five pounds while in Africa. Talk about a vacation :)