The Heart of Darkness

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We have wifi here but it are reluctant.  I have sent this to some of you as an email but will try to submit a post.

Well, I had planned on doing one more post to catch up on our last day in Amsterdam. But, the hell with Amsterdam; we are in Africa!!!
We arrived just before 9 p.m. on the 7th and from the moment we stepped off the plane, we knew we were in a whole new place. We landed at Kilimanjaro Airport, near Arusha, in Tanzania. It was about 86 degrees fahrenheit and pretty darned humid and mostly black faces. But, shoot, you can get that in Chicago. It was the smell that captured me: Spicy and smokey and I’m not sure what else . . . just wonderful.
Apparently, not all of our group was as enchanted as I: “What’s that smell?” Of course that was before we encountered the pungent pong of the hippo wallow. But a bit about that later.
We met up with our guide, Nigel Kingsley-Heath, and headed to the Kia Lodge where we spent our first night. It was a very nice place but I was unable to sleep, for the second night in a row. Michael’s cold, which isn’t too awful, is just bad enough to cause him to SNORE. Yoiks! This is not a problem I am used to as he tends to be a pretty silent sleeper. But before I venture into the territory of tmi, let me continue with Africa.
We had a charter flight out of Kilimanjaro at 11 a.m. on the 8th, in a twin otter (an 18-seater). Michael had not been looking forward to the flight but, as it happened, he was pretty much okay with it. Slightly reminiscent of our YAK 40 flights in Central Asia, but better. It was only an hour and a half flight and went past several volcanoes, one of which is still active but not on our day. We flew west almost to Lake Victoria and ended up at the Kirawira Lodge for our first two nights.
Oh, my goodness!! Talk about a step back to the times when people camped with a huge retinue of servants and probably 50 elephants to carry all of their paraphenalia. I’ll attach photos because it sort of defies words. Let us just say that it is tented luxury like I’ve never seen or really even imagined. And let us also say that I am glad the costs of this trip aren’t itemized because I think these two nights are costing a bundle.
Of course the bathroom in our tent has two sinks set in marble counters in some sort of walnut cabinetry. Of course you are given little dishes of warmed jumbo cashews to nibble as you sip your gin and tonics on the veranda. Of course your wake up call comes in the form of a lovely gentleman dressed in traditional robes carrying, all the way down to your tent, a tray with coffee, hot milk and muffins. Of course the meals consistof multiples courses that you select off a changing menu . . . grilled parrot fish with dilled cucumber sauce anyone . . . or how about a beetroot mousse (a dessert that you can pretend is a vegetable, I’m in heaven).

Of course, you also have to have an escort to get to and from your tent to the lodge anytime it is dark. After all this is the Serengeti and there are no fences. We have had dik dik and monkeys entertaining us outside of our screens.
Perhaps you get a bit of the picture. Supposedly, we do have WIFI here and I am going to try and post this short message. We have seen so much in the 36 hours we have been here that it is overwhelming but I want to get something off now. More to follow along with photos.

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