Monday, October 1, 2018 – The residents all arrive safely….

Standard

I awoke early as three of the residents, Lindsay, Amisha, and John, as well as Peter, our medical student, would be arriving on the 9 am flight from Nairobi, the same flight I was on a day earlier. Also, I would have to pick up my bags that had arrived yesterday evening and I had no idea what to expect from that process. The drive to the airport on the main road is along the new four-lane highway for nearly half the distance after which it becomes the more typical two-lane thoroughfare where being stuck behind slow moving trucks is the norm. The new highway, though, has a 50 kph speed limit (just over 30 mph) which is unquestionably slow in anyone’s book and even more so in mine. And if driving that slow on a four-lane highway isn’t depressing enough, there is a 50 kph speed limit as you drive through any village along the way, some marked well and others not so well. Add to that the recent appearance of cameras that detect and record your speed that the traffic police are equipped with and it makes for a very long and sometimes quite exciting drive.

I was running a bit late as Pendo insisted in feeding me before I left the house that morning and it is virtually impossible to say no to her. I had intended to leave the house around 7:30 am as they were arriving at 9 am that morning on the same flight that I had taken the morning before. I was not in a hurry or rushing by any means and was constantly watching my speed as I traveled through the many towns on my journey. It is without question, though, that as hard as I was trying not to speed, that I would undoubtedly drive too fast at some point and draw the attention of the traffic police. As I was flagged over, there was little question in my mind that I had briefly sped and, sure enough, he presented me with a photo of my vehicle and the speed I was driving printed in the lower right-hand corner of the little digital screen. There was little hope of arguing about anything with the officer given the weight of the evidence before me, though I could certainly choose to put myself at their mercy.  What really worked, though, was when he discovered that I didn’t have a Tanzanian driver’s license (I use my PA license along with an International Driver’s License) and given their new system of reporting everything centrally (i.e. collecting no cash), this wouldn’t work very well. Or perhaps it was just my repeated apologies and that the fact that I promised I would be much more attentive going forward. Whichever it was, I was shortly back on my way to the airport.

Amisha, Peter, John and LIndsay after their arrival to Kilimanjaro International Airport

Lindsay, Amisha, John and Peter all arrived on the Precision Air flight and were in the process of getting their visas when I arrived. That all went incredibly smoothly and they whisked through immigration without an issue. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for their luggage. Lindsay had only one of her two checked bags arrive and the one that was missing was her personal gear for the trip meaning that she had no clothes whatsoever other than what she was wearing. The bag that did come was the checked bag with supplies for FAME. John got his personal bag, but his second duffel, the one containing the other half of FAME’s supplies was missing. So, as Yogi Berra was so famously quoted, it was “déjà vu all over again” when I went to stand in the same line I was in yesterday waiting to file for the missing baggage. We were really in no hurry, but the funniest was when John began translating for the Chinese group in front of us who were speaking Mandarin. I don’t think they had really expected that.

Lindsay approving of John’s translating skills in Mandarin

Hannah wasn’t arriving until 1 pm, so we chose to drive to Moshi, a town much smaller than Arusha and at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Leaving the airport, we did catch a glimpse of Kili’s summit which I told John was an omen that he would have to climb the peak after our time with FAME. We parked and walked a few blocks in Moshi, found a coffee house so everyone could get their caffeine fix and we were then back on the road to the airport to find Hannah. We were a bit late, but she had been in line for her visa for some time so we ended up arriving just before she came out with all of her things (missing no bags as she hadn’t flown on Precision Air thankfully) and we were back on the road again heading towards Arusha. It was great to have everyone together and tomorrow we would meet up with Steve Gluckman to complete our Penn contingent which was quite large this go around. We arrived to the Temba’s and unloaded the vehicle after which I met up with Jones at the garage to take care of some last- minute items that needed to be done on the Land Rover before I took it to FAME. Everyone relaxed after their long ordeal of traveling half-way around the world. Regardless of the missing bags, everyone was here safe, though Lindsay was certainly the most affected as she none of her clothes with her. Thankfully, later that night, her bag arrived to Kilimanjaro on a later flight so that we could pick it up first thing in the morning, though that meant another trip to the airport in the morning which was the opposite direction from FAME.

Precision Air’s luggage tags – a bit of an oxymoron

I arrived home from the garage in time for a lovely dinner that Pendo had put together for everyone. I have been staying with the Temba’s for the last eight years along with all of the residents who accompany me and it has really been through their generosity that things have always been so smooth upon our arrival. I couldn’t have done this with them and will always consider that they are an integral part of making all of this work time and time again. We went to sleep that night, three to a room (boys and girls) and fully content and dreaming of the journey ahead for each of us tomorrow.

The Neuro Team having dinner at the Temba’s

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