Update received March 1 at 12:30 PM (CST)
Written by Jeff
After a great buffet breakfast at KIA Lodge, we loaded up 2 vans with all of our luggage. We brought our luggage in on carts and someone started handchecking our carry-ons due to the scanner being out of service. A guy working there asked what we had in all the suitcases and when I told him, he told us to just go through the security check and get our boarding passes–no luggage checks at all!
They were very efficient in getting all our luggage weighed and tagged. In-country flights only allow for one bag at 20kg (44lbs) – so at the end of check-in we had a bill of $450! We went to the lobby to wait – several explored the nearby shops.
After going through security at the check-in gate, we were told that the plane was delayed. Next, we heard that it was because the president was in Mwanza, and finally we heard the whole story – that a plane was taxiing and struck a stationary object or the wheel fell off on landing. No one was injured but they closed the airport to all incoming/outgoing traffic. By noon we were informed that we would not be leaving today. This meant taking all 24 bags back and loading them on yet another van. We were taken to Arusha, 45 minutes away to a huge (by TZ standard) hotel. Not only did they compensate our rooms, but the meals were also included! Our hope is that we will be able to get out tomorrow by noon at the latest.
The hotel is beautiful – tall and quite modern. Many beautiful carvings and native hardwoods everywhere. The rooms are large with enormous bathtubs and a bidet. Unfortunately the place was quite full. They kept giving us rooms with people still in them! We finally all have rooms that have been cleaned!
Since we had the afternoon in Arusha, we hired 2 guides to walk us around town to give us a walking tour. We toured for nearly 3 hours and had several vendors attempt to persuade us to purchase their wares! This is one thing that I remember about Arusha–the street sellers don’t stop at ‘no’! They keep trailing and often move on to the next customer. We saw some wonderful sites and even got some shopping done.
Back home we all met for a buffet dinner and our in-country travel agent met us. Vesna is from Slovakia originally but now is married to a native Tanzanian. Together they run a great travel agency. It is nice to have someone like her to call when there is a problem!
Our last flight update was that we were supposed to meet in the lobby at 9:30 AM for the shuttle back to the airport. Pray that we will make it on this flight as our next option will be Wednesday morning.
Jeff for all