The Sojourn Begins

My mom and I had a 7am pick-up for our ride to SFO. We flew Alaska Air to Seattle (with an irritatingly chirpy flight attendant who insisted upon sharing his painfully corny jokes with passengers), where we had a long walk through the airport for our connection to our Delta flight to Amsterdam. Lemme tell ya, it’s been years since I’ve flown first class. Back in the day, when my dad was still working for American Airlines and I was still flying stand-by — and free! — the spare seats were almost always in first class. That was before the invention of frequent flier miles and upgrades, and even before business class. So I was pretty excited to be flying in the first class cabin! Before my mom and I sat down in our enormous sleeper seats, the flight attendant offered us a beverage. We opted for champagne to celebrate the beginning of our big trip!

When he handed me the extensive dinner menu, I made some crack about usually being served nothing but peanuts and a few minutes later he dropped a little bag of nuts between our seats, saying, “Here’s dinner!” He was hilarious!

Mom and I watched movies and played games and I looked out the window at the full moon as we flew over Baffin Bay, Greenland and Iceland. It was an eerie landscape, blue-white from the moon and stretching for miles…simply stunning. We arrived in Amsterdam at 7am local time and were already feeling disoriented. Our four-hour layover was spent meeting up with my Aunt Loey, browsing through the impressive selection of shops and generally checking out the amazing airport. Oh, and waiting in another security line. Don’t ask me why we needed to go through another security check since we’d already been through one, but apparently in Amsterdam you go through security right at your gate before you board. Our KLM flight left Amsterdam at 11am and a few movies, champagnes and games — and about 11 more hours — we arrived at Kilamanjaro Airport. It was, by that point, the night of the 18th. Yawn!

After collecting our luggage, we were met in the humid night by our driver, who trundled us an hour from Kilamanjaro to Arusha, where we settled into our rooms at The Arusha Coffee Plantation. Exhausted but kind of excited about being in, ya know, Africa, we decided we needed a beer to celebrate! Surprisingly we were just about the only people in the bar, where we ordered a few “Kilamanjaro” premium lagers! After that one round, however, we were ready to pass out.

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