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Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Road Again - Tanzania

We took off on Wednesday for a two-week tour of Tanzania with a group of Minnesota and Pennsylvania Lutherans.  Our group leader is the hard-working pastor, Chad Brekke, of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Brooklyn Park.  Pastor Brekke has a connection to Tanzania through both his previous Pennsylvania ministry and his current assignment.  Fortunately, we had a close enough second-hand connection to his operation to be able to tag along.  By the way, you can follow our trip on the official church blog as well as on ours.

The trip to Tanzania on the East coast of Africa is a lengthy one, entailing the usual Minnesotans' 8 hour flight to Amsterdam followed by an eight-hour flight down to Kilamanjaro International Airport.  The JRO airport code was a good conversation starter at Minneapolis International since check-in workers  there were unfamiliar with it.  That final leg of the flight is about three hours longer than our annual flight to Cairo and passes just a bit East of Egypt over Libya.  We were glad to see our final destination pop into view on the Delta flight tracker screen as we crossed the equator.

Yes it's winter here in the southern hemisphere.  The days are a bit shorter but otherwise you wouldn't guess it.  By the time we arrived at 7:30 p.m., we were definitely tired of sitting and glad to get the chance to walk off the plane and onto the tarmac.

Kilimanjaro International has a small terminal and we were processed through customs quite efficiently.  It's another of those countries like Egypt where you can purchase your visa upon arrival although we had pre-purchased ours to help keep up with the group.

As a very pleasant surprise we were greeted by a group of local Masai dancers and given flowers before heading off on the 45-minute trip to our hotel in nearby Moshi.

While we have only been here a single day, Tanzania is proving to be another very pleasant place to visit.  The people are very friendly and helpful.  English is not as commonly spoken as in Egypt but is, of course, spoken fairly widely in the tourist trade.  Our hotel and restaurant accommodations have been more than adequate.
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Well, yes that is a mosquito net hanging above the bed and we are taking daily Malaria pills.  But, at least on our first day, our meals were eaten outside and we spent a good three hours at dinner after dark and outside without anyone spotting one of the evil bugs.  I'll bet no one back in the Twin Cities can make a similar claim for Friday night!

And  lunch today?  Well, no one really wanted to leave this setting at a B&B nestled into a grove of bannana trees and other vegetation.
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