Monday, March 4 – The team is finally here….

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It has been inordinately hot here for some time and though the big rains have not yet started, it had decided to pour overnight. The air was clear and cool this morning and I had finally caught up with sleep deficit well-earned on the flights over. The mornings here are cool and delightful with a soft breeze, the roosters crowing (not beginning at sunrise, though, as one would imagine, but well before) and the sounds of the surrounding community slowly coming to life. I had set up a meeting this morning at 10 am with some friends for coffee and would then make my way back to the airport to pick up the residents who were all arriving together later this afternoon. We would all be staying with Leonard and Pendo tonight, a tradition that began many years ago with my initial trips and then somehow morphing into having one, then two and now four residents all staying here in their small house. I have offered numerous times to find other arrangements for this large group, but they will have none of it, insisting that they are honored to have us here as their guests and that it is the least they can do for us. It is so special for all of us to have this opportunity. I am part of the Temba family here and have watched their children grow over the last ten years, but for the residents it is a rare opportunity to spend time in a Tanzanian home and to have a glimpse of the life here which is far different than ours at home.

I have mentioned Africa-time so often in my blogs, but it is such an important concept to grasp, for not doing so will only lead to tremendous frustration and angst in one’s day. Life is at a much slower pace here and you must adapt to that fact and plan for it every day. Trying to get out of the house for a meeting can be a lesson real lesson in frustration. If only I had a transporter like the Enterprise that would enable me to suddenly be where I need to be leaving only a split second prior. Now that would be cool. I ended up leaving the house at 9:45 am for a 10 am meeting that was on the other side of an incredibly busy Arusha bustling with traffic. I had to drop Leonard off someplace first on the way and actually made it through town very quickly only to find myself thwarted by a huge “diversion,” or detour, on the other side of the airport where the new bypass is crossing the main road. This is a muddy trail with traffic traveling in both directions and everyone trying their very best to miss the huge muddy pools that are created not by the rain, but by the water trucks constantly wetting it down to avoid dust. I’m not sure which is worse. I eventually made it to my destination some 20 minutes late with my friends totally understanding knowing full well what it had taken to get there.

After their arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport – Daniel, Adys, Jon and Sheena

I made it home just in time to rest a few minutes and then leave for the airport to pick up the residents who would be arriving in a few hours. I had hoped to get there early before their flight landed, but again was waiting for someone to drop off something off for me prior to my  trek to the airport. I once again ended up leaving behind schedule and ended up getting there moments before they landed, but all was well since the trip was uneventful for them. I had asked Jon, though, to bring a duffel over for me that I ended up having to pay customs on which is another story entirely. I was less concerned with having to pay the customs than I was with the amount of time it had taken to get through everything (over an hour) which meant that the others had to sit around waiting for me until I completed the process. The final step was going to the new mobile bank outside to deposit money into the customs account, then go back in and wait for the transaction to show up on their system at which time they would give me my paperwork. It was a major hassle that I cannot recommend to anyone and well worth avoiding at all costs.

Outside the new mobile bank at the airport

Once clear of our delay at customs, we were finally able to get onto the road and make our way back to Arusha. Everyone had made it safely and that’s what really counts. They were all incredibly exhausted as they had spent the prior evening at the Souq Waqif in Doha and gotten up early to catch their flight to Kilimanjaro. It was the beginning of an incredible journey for them and I was so happy to have everyone here together. They are all each such amazingly capable individuals and there has never been a need for me to worry, but they are still my responsibility and having them travel half way around the world is something that I take very seriously.

We arrived back to the Temba’s home where we all be staying tonight and enjoyed an amazing dinner that Pendo had been working on. We relaxed after dinner, but it wasn’t long before everyone looked as though they were going to pass out. Daniel and Adys lasted the longest, but it was only a matter of time before they to found it impossible to remain awake. I continued to work on my blog into the wee hours and eventually made my way to bed. It rained and thundered most of that night, but we all slept deeply with thoughts of arriving to FAME the following day.

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