Yes. I landed in the Kilimanjaro airport and made my way to Arusha, Tanzania, a jumping off point for big game safaris. That’s a pretty big sentence. Kilimanjaro! Safaris! It’s all here! I had to recalibrate all of my senses to Africa. The grasses have that golden brush feel to them, the trees all linger in sparse canopies, and the tribal men and women walk the streets in their brightly colored garb.
The Tanzanian Schilling has an impossible conversion rate. 1 dollar is 1,620 schillings or so. What? The streets are less paved than many other countries I’ve been to, but there’s a lot less trash (less being the operative word, not zero). Obviously, instead of Indians, Chinese, or Thai people roaming the streets, it’s all black people –I now stick out even more than I have before. Also, everyone constantly tells you how dangerous Arusha and several other cities are, with violence as soon as the lights go down. Yikes!
You can feel the excitement of safari in the air. African tribal music blasts from the colorful markets selling secondhand safari gear. Tour companies are constantly pulling you over. People unironically say “Jambo!” and I almost died when the first person called me Rafiki, which means friend and is also the baboon from The Lion King.
I spent my first day in Arusha just recovering from the trip over here, figuring out the cheapest option for safaris, and buying a few things I would need for the Kilimanjaro hike. A low key day of just absorbing all of the newness and gearing up for some big thrills.