I was fairly surprised that I slept so well the night before we left. I guess I’d just been so caught up with making sure mom was covered that I hadn’t really been dwelling on the trip.

Allison and I got an early start to Houston to meet up with Carmen and catch our flight. After a quick stop at Target, we caught Super Shuttle to the airport. Once we figured out which counter we were supposed to check in at and made it through security, we stopped for a quick bite of lunch at Lefty’s Passport Grill.

Our waitress seemed frazzled, to say the least. We ended up ordering grilled cheese sandwiches. Even though they weren’t on the menu, they did have cheese and bread, so we assumed . . . yeah, we got grilled cheese on a hamburger bun.

The flight to Amsterdam went well and seemed to go pretty quick. I sat next to a university professor and his wife who go to Kenya each summer to teach for six weeks. They both love the country and the people. I was able to get some sleep, which was the goal for the first leg.

After a short layover in Amsterdam (where, wow, the Euro annihilates the dollar) we went on to Kilimanjaro airport (JRO). I sat next to a nice young married couple who were heading to Dar Es Salaam for their orientation into the Peace Corp. They’d been assigned to Tanzania for the next two years, but didn’t yet know what they’d be doing or exactly where.

I watched a couple movies to kill time because I wanted to stay awake the entire flight since we arrived in Tanzania at 9 pm. (Tuesday night.)

Our flight crossing the equator.

Our guide met us at the airport. We’d been told our names would be on the Thomson sign, but instead it said, “Cult.” Carmen and Allison were ahead of me and saw Abu first. As I walked up, I heard one of them saying, “We’re with Thomson, but we’re not Cult.” I figured out Cult meant the Culture Tour, and we had a pretty good laugh. Hey, it’d been a long 20+ hours in the air.

Eventually we met our travel mates, Pat and Sarah from Milwaukee. They were mother and daughter safariing to celebrate Pat’s 60th birthday. After about a 45 minute drive, we arrived at our first lodge, Kigongoni.

We’d made arrangement to rotate with a double and single room, so each of us would get a night alone every few days. Carmen and I were roomies first. We were glad to shower and pass out. We were scheduled to have breakfast before meeting with our guide at 9 am Wednesday for our trip orientation.