Wow – what a night. So you know how in every group there are always some personality conflicts? Well our group was no different except that EVERYONE got along great EXCEPT 2 people – a couple who started off the trip on day 1 with the husband declaring “I don’t want to go with the group”… not one time but 3 times. We even went out of our way to go pick him up when he missed the ferry to Zanzibar (due to a lack of personal responsibility in looking at the times for his little adventure that was definitely NOT part of our travel plans). Through the entire trip he was abrasive, offensive, and rude to the local people telling them that their homemade wares were “not worth” what they were charging. And you know what – our purchases weren’t about buying something that was “worth” the dollar amount. They were about giving to a community who took the effort to make beautiful hand-made unique wares. The $15 for a bracelet that we could make with safety pins and beads was valuable because that $15 provided food for a family for a few days! UGH! So we get back from an amazing journey through Ngoro and he proceeds to exit the vehicle and verbally bash all the work that was done on the trip because his add-on trip that begins the next day didn’t suit his schedule. He and his wife had us constantly rolling our eyes, walking away out of embarrassment that someone might think WE were his wife, and the best part… his profession is working with companies to help improve their customer service experiences. Basically he was, is, and probably always will be a self-absorbed a$$. Because I’m a good person, I’m not about to say his name but no worries – his business won’t be getting a single referral from my professional network. Mean people should just go away!
So after getting back to the hotel we all took showers after 2 days of safari driving. It took me 3 body washes and 2 hair washes to get the water to run clear I was so filthy. Still 24 hours later I still think I feel dust in my hair. The shower was great and the wine among my new friends was wonderful. We dined, shared memories, exchanged email addresses, and I know that most of us (except self-absorbed couple X) will stay in touch.
|Willie, me, and Joyce at the last stop where I got my ring.|
Today everyone left for his or her respective journeys by 8:30am and it was just I. Joyce, our trusty guide, picked me up from the hotel and took me on a downtown Arusha adventure complete with riding the dali dali (bus), walking all over downtown bargaining for a futbol jersey for John, a Masai Shuka for me, and a Tanzanite ring for my anniversary (Thanks Richard!!).
A guy followed us until I turned around and made eye contact letting him know that I saw him and I wasn’t afraid. He backed off but then the local guys noticed what we were shopping for so they started harassing my guide Joyce. She’s a tough cookie and I was so glad to have her. Arusha was fun but NOT somewhere I would have walked without someone who knew the language and the town. I much prefer Moshi to Arusha.
|Happy 15th anniversary to me!|
We made it to 5 jewelry stores and finally on the 5th one I found the ring I wanted. It is a beautiful Tanzanite band to go under my solitaire in memory of my trip and my 15th wedding anniversary. I love it and since I haven’t bought a fancy piece of jewelry in 15 years this should hold me over for a while.
Well – when I got to the airport in Dar Es Salaam the security guys started giving me a very, very, very hard time about some rough tanzanite I had in my souvenir bag. They said I had to have papers from the Minister of Minerals or something that said it was ok for me to take this out of the country. Seriously? I bought it at a tourist shop taken to by our guide and NO ONE told us we needed papers to ask permissions to take the stones. I was glad that I didn’t buckle – I did my best to convince the guy I was an honest person and had no idea and eventually I asked to talk to someone higher. He came over and at this point I was shaking I so didn’t want to leave my $80 of stones behind. They really weren’t going to let me take them – thankfully I got the guy to agree that if I showed him my receipt for my new ring (which I was NOT wearing) he would let me take the stones. I showed it to him and he started to hesitate.
Then after asking why I was here again I explained that we had gone to hospitals, what Smile Train does they said, “you are good for us”. I was in tears and shaking – partly out of anger, part out of frustration and a little bit of thanks that I didn’t have to leave my stones. I really think these guys were trying to hustle me and because I pushed and pushed and had a receipt for my ring they realized it wasn’t going to work. The funny thing was at the end of the episode one of them told me something along the lines of ‘you can never be too safe. Always ask for a manager because some of these guys are just trying to get money out of you.
Plane ride to Zurich – excellent as was the last flight on Swiss. They have amazing food, amazing customer service, very calm and friendly. Now I’m on a United flight from Zurich to New York and yep, the world is right, the United flight service leaves much to be desired. Sorry. The attendants were very abrupt with the international passengers, not taking the time to make sure they understood the answers to their questions. Just not as nice as they could have been. Then I finally got to Newark airport, so happy to only have 1 flight left to get home. After traveling for 30'ish hours and being awake for the last 40'ish hours I was eager to be in Raleigh. Not so fast... apparently at 9am that morning United had cancelled my 4:15pm flight to Raleigh due to 'weather'. I call foul! They booked me on the next flight leaving at 8am the NEXT DAY! No voucher for a meal, no toothbrush, no t-shirt since all my clothes were filthy, no hotel. They actually told me that I had to spend the night at the airport, it wasn't their problem. NOT how I wanted to end my trip so after lots and lots and lots of tears, I got a hotel room and went to bed.
I made it home Sunday morning at 11am to my happy kids (Roy didn't recognize me for a few hours!) and a happy husband. No place like home!