Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kilimanjaro - Day 2

I woke up bright and early on August 26th to make sure I made it to the airport on time.  I got on the first airport shuttle of the day and by 7:20am I was one of very few people at Dulles.  Ethiopian check-in desk didn't open until 8am, so I secured my place in line behind five or so other people and impatiently waited for the check-in process to start.  While waiting I was playing out all different scenarios in my head.  My options were obviously pretty limited: I would get on the Ethiopian flight and all would be good, or I would have to rebook on a different airline (Lufthansa and KLM being the only major airlines flying to Tanzania) or pack up and go back home.  

It took until about 8:30 for me to finally get my turn.  To my relief getting on a plane was not a problem at all - within five minutes of talking to the agent I had a huge grin on my face and boarding passes in hand.  For some unknown reason it took another hour to make sure the bag I checked in a day earlier would make it on the same flights I did.  While I was waiting I decided to check a second bag due to Ethiopian Airlines insane carry-on luggage policy - they literally weight every piece people tried to bring onto the plane and even one pound overage would cause the bag to be checked instead.  Took me good 15 minutes to stuff my oversized hiking boots to my carry-on backpack (I didn't want to check those, in case my luggage got lost) but at about 9:30 I was finally all set and ready to fly.

While waiting for boarding I contacted our Guide to update him on my new arrival time and arrange for transportation from the Kilimanjaro Airport.  At first I decided to take a taxi from the airport to Arusha because it was a lot more affordable than the price our Guide quoted me.  Thankfully our Guide greed to pick me up for the same price as the cost of a taxi ride (which in retrospect was probably the best thing that happened to me that day) so with that all set I could finally relax and start my travels.  Before boarding I quickly updated Nigel on my latest and then set out for my first flight.

Boarding was nice and smooth and I settled in in my 13C isle seat.  A couple minutes later a couple ladies told me I was in their seat.  I quickly double checked my boarding pass and sure enough this was my seat, but they wouldn't budge.  It took good five minutes and a help of a flight attendant to convince them that 13B and 13L are not adjacent seats.  Because the flight was nowhere near full I moved up one row before take off to secure a more comfortable seat.  With that my view for the next 13 hours was secured.

My itinerary was a little different than my original in that I had one extra stop.  The plan was to fly to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.  After a short layover a quick flight to Mombasa, Kenya and then to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania.  I was scheduled to arrive at 2:30pm local time on August 27th (25 hours later than my original plan).  

Flight to Addis Ababa was very uneventful.  I watched every possible movie and TV show on the in-flight entertainment system and ate more food that I'm comfortable to admit (they had "grab all you want" sandwich and soda/beer stations throughout the entire flight - you don't give that kind of option to people who are bored out of their minds!).  After 13 hours I was happy to finally arrive at my first destination of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.  But at this point that was already Day 3.


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