Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Day 1: Crunch time

The day of days has arrived. I woke for morning prayer and stayed up. I treated myself to fried egg bread n beans and a quality cup of coffee. Then sorted out bits of paperwork. The kids rose for their first day at school so it was uniforms, lunches and breakfast... an old routine I really haven't missed for 6 weeks. I dropped them off, picked up Shaz and headed to her college for her enrolement then Asda for more photos but to no avail, the machine was dead.

I can't believe.. or actually I can. Me and Harune made a last mad dash into town to buy bits from Cotswold outdoors (waterproof bags and energy stuff). We also got money exchanged.

We had to dash back because our bro-in-law Tahir had taken time off work to bid us farewell. That done, I rushed home and finalised packing. Lo, Harunes friend came by around 4pm to pick me up. I bid farewell to my family as they weren't coming over to mumndads. As I got in the car, Ishaaq started his crying. It was heartbreaking to see but we had to go. We filled up with Petrol and checked tyre pressures etc and were off to the parents house.

There all my family awaited us. They weren't too happy about waiting a long tine but hey ho. We said a prayer and said our goodbyes. We were finally on our way... Oh after picking Mo up that is!

Obviously, leaving Birmingham at nearly 5pm meant that it was inevitable that we would get stuck in commuter traffic, but after grinning and bearing it for a while, we were full speed in the direction of Manchester Airport.

We were supposed to be there at 6pm. We got there at 7pm. We met the rest of the team, yes we were last. It was very good to finally put faces to names. Especially Adnaan.

[the rest I have to keep as brief as possible as sooo much happened... if you wanna know more, ask.]

We got through customs fine. Still did last bits of shopping boarded and set off.
Meals on board were great. I had a smoked salmon starter and massive lamb steak. We got to Dubai and went in the hunt for a Maccie D's. We all had a big Mac meal for breakfast.

We also picked up some Monte Christo and Romeo y julieta cigars. Back on track we boarded for Dar es Salaam. It was still Emirates but the plane was slightly older. Our lunch consisted of fish and rice or chicken and rice for Harune. I tried to get as many drinks down me as possible! Water, juice, coffee, tea and more water. Also my hopes for Arabic revision disintegrated as I watched Fast 5, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Greatest Movie Ever Made and some of Toy Story 3. We got to Dar es Salaam and it was amazing. We were finally in Africa! Dar es Salaam is a special one. There was a mad dash for the visas and as much as we planned. We were last in the queue!

We were walking through odd corridors and alley ways. It didn't look anything like an airport. At one point we walked straight into a police interrogation room!

We made our flight on time though. The plane was much much smaller this time on one of Tanzanias own airlines.

We got a can of drink and some cashews but the journey was only an hour or a bit longer.
We arrived in Kilimanjaro airport at night and had Tahseen meet us there. It was more or less a walk through as we didn't need to remove our boots at the check desks like every other time since leaving Manchester. We must have removed our shoes at least 10 times!
The guys at MEM had cars ready. A people carrier and one of their 4x4 safari vehicles. I jumped at the chance of trying one of these out. We got to the hotel and it was very pleasant. Our rooms were clean and massive.

The place is new and modern. But we threw our gear in and jumped back in the cars as we had a meal booked at one of the local restaurants.

I have one work to say... STEAK!

Our meal was meat ball starter, followed by an amazing steak
hat came sizzling and with chips. This was followed by a fruit salad, marble cake and desi cooked tea. We were knocked out.

Back to the hotel, we dipped our toes in the swimming pool and realised it's too cold, then most people retired. Rooni, Sab and Ray were playing blackjack and are now learning speed whilst I sit and update the blog whilst listening to dodgy African music on the television. It's been one long day...

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