Monday, September 3, 2007

Wings to Africa

My British Airways flight departed from London on Saturday, and 10 hours later, after having crossed the dark horizons of Libya, Sudan, and Uganda, the sun rose over Kenya. Pancake clouds sat silhouetted against a red sky like the cliche acacia tree photos on the Serengetti. I was landing near the birthplace of humans, near the great Rift Valley, the mountainous Kilimanjaro, descending toward the Swahili coast over an expansive plain home to the Big Five and the Massai warrior.

My arrival in Dar es Salaam was not without hiccup. Though customs was a breeze, my driver was late on arrival, so I meandered through the barrage of signs and taxi cat calls with the poise of a seasoned traveler. I expected El Salvador or India, but my Tanzanian arrival was not nearly as in-your-face.

The drive to my hotel, the Golden Tulip, passed at high speeds through relatively vacated streets. The occasional street-crosser would dart across our path, and we'd artfully dodge cyclists with teetering cartons of eggs on back. We passed Coco Beach, and the Oyster Bay Hotel en route to my new home.

The Golden Tulip has a breezy, wi-fi lobby, and a gorgeous pool overlooking a teal Indian Ocean. Palms like the walkway, and the veranda has hosted innumerable African leaders and even the former UN Secretary General. It offers a faded elegance, and helpful, if contrived and overstaffed, service.

After a live Cricket match, an ocean-side Safari and Kilimanjaro beer, a night of live music, and an attempt at purchasing a Tanzanian VodaCom SIM card, I fell asleep. The jet lag lingers, but adventure remains its bold, and successful, opponent.

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