Getting to Tanzania

For someone who is almost always wearing dress shirts, I have a crazy collection of Tees. Most of them are pop culture references, though some are jokes and others are from bars or concerts I’ve been to. One of my favorites is a science reference. It’s a wanted poster with two cats – one alive and one with Xs over its eyes – that reads “Wanted: Half Dead & Alive” in reference to Schrodinger’s Cat. I don’t know why, but it’s always amused me.

I decided this was the shirt I would wear on our 36 hour trip to Tanzania. However I would not have chosen it had I have known how long I’d end up wearing that shirt.

It was a relatively uneventful flight to Tanzania. On the morning of our trip, I gulped down my second dose of Cholera vaccine (which tasted like fizzy, salty vitamin water), before Ben Delong drove us to the airport. It was a cold and icey Canadian morning as we shuffled our three large black bins (with lids sealed down with zip ties) and single box into the airport. All managed to be under 50 lbs each and were put on the plane without a hitch.

We had our final Tim Hortons while waiting for our flight and then it was 90 minutes to Boston. Being the USA and since we were switching airlines, this proved to be the most difficult part of the trip. We had two hours to walk to our terminal, get our tickets printed, go through security, and make it to our gate. It seemed very doable, but the never-ending lines posed more of a challenge than expected. As I was randomly selected for screening in security, Bethany ran ahead to our gate. I soon followed holding most of my bag in one hand, the rest in the other, and a roll of parceling tape in my mouth. Thanks to Bethany refusing to board and reassuring the gate that I was coming, I made it – out of breath, sweaty, but happy not to have missed my flight!

This flight was with Emirates. The plane was luxurious and we effectively spent the next 12 hours watching movies and having meals brought to us. It reassured me that if I was ever in quarantine, as long as I had movies, I could survive! The Dubai Airport was massive and was the first place that started to feel like we’d left Canada. The next leg was 6 hours – also on Emirates – and despite it being morning our time, we finally slept!

Our first experience of Tanzania was the Dar es Salaam Airport and anyone who knows, knows that it’ll never be a great impression at the Dar es Salaam Airport. Off the plane, we were led along with a hundred others into a long room the width of two wide hallways with desks along the right. It was hot, it was crowded and there were no lines or signs; just people shuffling around hoping to end up at the desk without getting in a fight. It was chaos. I give all credit to Bethany, who got us to the desk for our visas and to the baggage area.

There were two baggage carousels and porters were pulling luggage off them and sitting them in neat rows. Our black bins would stand out – one would think – but somehow were evading us. Eventually a staff person came with a list of names, which we were on, letting us know that our bags had not made it.

For the sake of weight, I had packed my carry-on with heavier items (including – in all of its practicality – a slackline) and lighter items like clothes went in my luggage. So for one full week, I washed my underwear and that cat shirt every night. The shirt always dried, but sometimes the underwear took until late morning. My jeans went from blue to a well-worn brown.

Our luggage finally did come a week later – one day after we had begun to resign ourselves to having lost everything. We went in to sign for it and while the bins and boxes were in pretty rough shape, nothing of importance or cost was damaged. Having spent a week feeling like we were being held back from really “settling in” we could finally make our new house our home.

As we packed some of our extras under the bed for later use (shavers, cables, hoodies, etc.), I included the cat shirt needing a long break before wearing it again. The next morning I looked at my shelf of tops and bottoms, marveling at the variety, and suddenly found myself completely unsure of what to wear!

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