You are most welcome

Posted on June 16, 2015

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“Karibu!” (you are welcome) is a phrase you hear a lot when arriving in Tanzania. My pigeon Swahili is coming back and it is bringing looks of delight and smiles when I utter a phrase. Immigration was hassle free to get a stamp, I answered a few questions, smiled, exchanged pleasantries and handed over 50 dollars. I’m sure the stamps of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda didn’t go amiss either. Kilimanjaro airport is busy due to the large volume of tourists arriving, but it is not chaotic unlike some of the other countries’ entry points in the continent. Fast in African terms for sure.

My guide Hassan beamed at me holding my name up AASHAAA TAAANA. 

“Close enough,” I thought to myself as I wheeled my luggage out squinting in the bright afternoon sunlight and feeling the heat hit me in a warm wave.

The road into Arusha is about 40km. En route we chatted about family, work, life both here and in the UK. I was quizzed about why I wasn’t married and hadn’t any kids at my ripe old age. I commented that there wasn’t a man with enough (proverbial) cows to make a suitable offer. Hassan assured me I could get at least 50 if I lived here – ha!

   
 The highway has tarmac a sign of development and how well used it is by big trucks, lorries and 4X4 ferrying tourists up and down. It is flanked by fields of maize and tall sunflowers stretching into the blue sky – the flowers are harvested specifically for cooking oil. The magnificent rolling hills in the background don’t seem real, their shapes a blueish tinge. On a clear day I was told that Mt Kilimanjaro can be seen.

We drove to the office where I met Robert, also known as Maasai Guy, because of his roots. He runs and owns the company which was set up three years ago. After a spell at college studying tourism he launched his business and is trying to carve a name for himself in what is an extremely competitive market. My itinerary has changed instead of overnighting in Arusha, I am to drive up towards Lake Manyara and stay there so that it is easy to enter the park tomorrow. Yes it’s a lot of travelling but to be honest I’d rather sleep in the bush listening to African wildlife than be in another city.

I’ve showered, changed and I am waiting to scoff some veggie soup and strong coffee before hitting the road once more.

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