11.29.08

Africa Day 16: Going home

Posted in africa 2008, personal, travel at 12:49 pm by wingerz

Day 16: 3/30/2008, Dar airport, waiting for security

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Our trip has come to its end. Everyone is ready to go home – we miss the comforts and faces though not so much the routine. The students will have lots of fellow Spring break travelers to share their adventures, but I’ll be going back to the office. Have really enjoyed the trip, as every place was incredibly different – the plains and steppe of northern Tanzania; green hills of Rwanda; bustling, hot, humid streets of Dar; and the tropical paradise of Zanzibar. Overall the people have been friendly and welcoming, but not always not helpful.

Traveling with the group has been great. Unfavorable situations are a lot less stressful and downtime is spent chatting rather than getting frustrated. Particularly happy to have company while wandering through crowded markets and being assaulted by aggressive vendors. Driving through Dar yesterday evening seemed a lot less intimidating than on the first morning. The unfamiliarity has faded away, but we still wouldn’t venture out on our own. I will miss my travel companions greatly. And I feel extreme gratitude towards Bob and Abhinav, who strategically selected our destinations, deftly maneuvered through the bureaucracy of the African travel industry, kept 20 travelers happy with activity and meal selections, and always maintained an air of calmness (even after Abhinav realized that he was staying in Rwanda while his bag was heading off to Dar es Salaam).

I’ve been surprised at the pleasantness of the trip. I admit that I assumed the worst when it came to our living conditions and overall comfort level. We didn’t get sick at all, which probably has a lot to do with this. Another part of this was starting out with limited accommodations (no running water, no structures) to a final night in the trendy Millennium Towers. It’s amazing how much you appreciate a simple campsite with electric lighting and running water when you haven’t had them for a few days.

We sent in our deposit check on January 6th after several weeks of discussions. At the time I figured that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as Jen and I would probably never come on our own. The trip has exceeded my high expectations, and I’ve got several thousand pictures and several thousand words to help me remember it all. Our hope is to return to Africa some day because we only scratched the surface of the beautiful, exotic continent during our two week trek. Maybe we can get Bobhinav to plan a reunion trip for us.

In a bitterly ironic turn of events, I left my camera bag on the taxi after we got dropped off at home. Thankfully the Meeses (who shared the cab) picked it up for me.

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