My Trek To Our New School In Tanzania For Room To Read

It's that dark!!!

Don’t you appreciate modern technology these days? Although I was in Spain yesterday, I am now in Tanzania on my way to a school my husband and I funded to build through the Room To Read (RTR) organization. This organization is so fabulous – they build schools and libraries for girls in developing Countries! Something I am certain Malala Yousafzai would be happy to hear!

I blogged from Spain yesterday and now I am blogging from Africa – just outstanding!

It’s been an interesting trek so far. Although we were both invited to come check things out, my husband couldn’t make it, so I jumped on a plane myself and landed about 6 hours ago! I am really excited about seeing the school and meeting some of the students. And it’s already 5:00 am, I am either jet lagged or so hyped up, I cannot sleep!

I’ll start by describing the scene at the airport and our way to the hotel. I landed around 8:00 pm at The Kilamanjaro International Airport in Karibu, Tanzania. It was crowded, however, controlled, no real sign of chaos. I was told to bring loads of small American Dollar bills for ‘tipping’ and people here prefer dollars. My wallet was bulging open especially when I had to pull out $100 for my Visa.

Before too long, I walked out to find not just 1, but 2 signs with my name on it, and instantly my heart sank. There was a misunderstanding with RTR and my husband’s secretary who had also made arrangements for me to be picked up from the airport to bring me safely to the hotel. It creeped me out, and frankly, really upset me as 3 men were haggling over me and my suitcase was being rolled off into a very dark, quiet parking lot. I explained to the other drivers that I was best suited to go with the hotels’ transportation and left, the man with the uniform looked a bit safer and more reliable. I have 3 kids I need to get home to too!

As we drove in complete silence towards the hotel, the moon was lying low in the dark sky, a thin sliver making it hard to make out what I was looking at out the window. It is very dark in Africa. I watched the dark streets filled with people and dark buildings. Residential and Commercial ones, where the lights were al off. The people, you could spot them walking alongside the roads, everywhere. At first I thought they were random bushes or strange shadows, but as the driver approached them the headlights would reveal their position. We’d drive by pods of motorcyclists, youths getting together, and then street light vendors. It was absolutely surreal and seemed so normal. Dust wafting upwards as we drove by, headlights cloudy, then lots of beeping.

The airport is based in a very shady part of town, at least somewhere I did not want to be at that hour.  And of course, the further we drove away, the better things got and lights would start to appear in buildings that were closed for the evening.

We arrived at the hotel, Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam, a good 45 minutes later to come to a stop at a Security point. I felt like I was back in East Berlin when I was an exchange student with Youth For Understanding. The group of American kids I went to Germany with gathered for a group tour to Berlin. We were to visit East Berlin and took a bus to Check Point Charlie. Back then the Officer grabbed his long mirrored security stick and began to search the underbelly of the bus as the RangeRover was being inspected then. There was a heavy drop gate in front and other security officers staring at me. Seriously scary!

I got to my room, plopped down to call my family. My middle child was having a really hard time with me leaving. She got mad at me because she walked in on me watching one of my favorite scary movies – Aliens – and is now experiencing nightmares.

The Malarone (Malaria pills) do a number on my stomach, it’s been bloated all day and keeps hunger at bay. Some say that’s a good thing, but writing in discomfort is not cool. Don’t ask, cuz I won’t tell.

This was my first day on the trek to see our new school. This trip is a once of a life time opportunity and something I will cherish forever! I am signing off for now!




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