Day 4: AMS-JRO1 Comment
We woke up early on our last morning in Amsterdam to greet the shuttle that would take the 7 of us and all of our luggage to the airport. We were in the lobby when a stout man entered and asked in a loud Irish brogue, “Patricia Murphy please?” The man’s name was Robbie, and he wanted to know where my ancestors were from. “Your people must be from County Cork?” he asked, and I confirmed that it was true. Then Robbie said he had a house there and spent several months a year in Ireland. We exchanged a few tales before loading up the shuttle and heading to the airport.
The flight on KLM was wonderful. 100% better than our cross-Atlantic Delta flight. We had personal entertainment systems, fish curry for dinner, and a few Heinekens before we drifted off to sleep. The flight was 8 hours and arrived in Arusha at 7:45. The first thing we noticed was that it was pitch black; a darkness that we don’t get to experience in Phoenix. We got off the plane, walked to the arrivals area, skirted the visa station since we already had ours, and we were happy to all find our bags full of gear for the climb.
When we exited I was so happy to finally meet our guide Kapanya. We had exchanged so many emails over the last 5 months, and already Kapanya had charmed me with his warm kindness and clever sense of humor. I was so excited to meet him finally. I scanned the crowd for his unmistakable dreadlocks and big smile. And there he was! He greeted each of us by name and said how happy he was to meet us. But not as happy as we were to meet him! We all agreed that we would have no more anxiety on the trip because Kapanya was now in charge.
We were whisked to our private shuttle where we met 2 more people who would become very good friends: Neema and Nuru. Nuru was the assistant guide who would be a quiet yet strong and calm force on the mountain. Neema was a wisp of a woman: 25 years old and about 90 pounds. We could not have imagined as she helped swing our large duffles into the bus that she would soon become such an important team member during our climb.
The bus took us on a 30 minute drive to the DikDik hotel outside of Arusha. We had a wonderful dinner and a few Kilimanjaro beers before heading back to our individual cabanas. The DikDik grounds were beautiful even in the dark. We were happy to be in beds but it was hard to sleep that night we were so filled with excitement for the days to come.