Arriving under the cover of darkness is my favorite way to visit a new place. There are fewer sights, sounds and smells to take in all at once. Aside from the few revelers that are awake, the city is quiet. I stepped off the plane to be greeted by fresh and humid air, a welcomed thing after traveling in the dry, recycled air of the planes. While walking in the tunnel toward my gate, large grasshoppers, attracted to the fluorescent lights, were divebombing back and forth. I closed my eyes, ducked my head and walked on, determined to get my visa. A hundred dollars later, a few fingerprints, and I was on my way. The baggage claim area was literally feet from where I had received my visa. I found my baggage, waived off a porter with at confident but tired "I got this" willing to lug the baggage a bit further than try to negotiate a tip. I had no small bills, don't know that language, and knew I was close to the finish line. After passing through customs, I walked out into what looked like the front of the airport, dazed. I didn't pause to look around, figuring out I'd just keep going until I either saw Doug or found a place to plop down and rest until he came.
Doug caught my eye and we greeted with a warm hug. He brought along a friend, Freddie, a fellow from a nearby Vineyard. We drove through the outskirts of Dar to their house. I couldn't see too much, but it felt alot like my times in Phnom Penh. A large city in a developing nation, dusty and dirty but a sense that there is a lot of soul here. Just the way I like it. No facade.
We stayed up a bit talking and catching up and retired at 4AM. I put the fans on in my room, put in ear plugs, donned an eye blind (both complimentary from the flight(s)) and slept until 10 the next morning. I awoke to find Doug downstairs prepping the message for the Easter service. We ate breakfast together. Eggs and toast, my daily back home, and some coffee. After a quick shower, I heard Lyndi and the boys arrive home after attending a Good Friday service at the boys' school. We greeted with big hugs and more catching up. It was an effortless thing to do with friends whom Jamie and I share so much history. No space issues. No weirdness in coversation. Just a normal visit with family.
Doug and I went to the cafe to eat and get work done. Him, meeting with the worship team and discussing plans for Sunday, planning out his sermon. Me, paying bills online and trying to talk to Jamie and the kids. We managed to text for a bit (thank you Apple!) as she was at a birth back home. We were greeted by the guard at Wamama Kahawa, a Masai man neamed Manyera. I also met the folks on the worship team, the staff at the cafe, and the owners of the property on which the cafe and church are located. Lyndi and the boys showed up a bit later, ready for some pool time, but not before Lyndi tried to broker a deal for Manyera to see if he could procure some cows blood for me to drink. In my quest for all things strange and interesting in the culinary world, I had mentioned to Lyndi that I'd like to try some food culturally unique and common to the region. Cows blood came up, knowing that this is commonly consumed by the Masai. When in Rome...we'll see. She also mentioned a type of soup made of goat knuckles that seems kinda interesting too.
We went to a local resort and let the kids swim while we relaxed with the Miller family and then went ot a local restaurant named Rainbow. Its a favorite of the Buckleys. They serve kitimoto (translated hot seat). See, kitimoto is pork and a no no in Muslim culture. But the power of some good pork has the potential to sway even the most devout, I guess. So when you chose to eat it you are in the hot seat. Amen to that. We ordered three versions of the kitimoto, ranging from very spicy, mildly spicy and a savory version in a sauce. For sides we had chips (fried potato), ugali (corn meal that you break off, knead in your hand and then dip in a savory sauce), fried bananas, and a salad. Oh, and some Tusker; a Kenyan lager perfectly complementing the food and warm weather. It was all so delicious. My groans of pure pleasure while eating the food while mumbling words like GLORY assured my hosts that my experience of Tanzanian food was off to a great start. I even ate some of the greens included with the meal, taking a bit of a risk as it was probably washed in tap water. The pili pili, a small pepper, was quite hot and a few bites let me know I was getting in over my head.
We all turned in early in preparation for the rest of the weekend. I awoke at 3AM, wide awake. I've been up since then. I feel ok, a bit out of my head though. Typical. At some point the excitement will wane a bit and my mind and body will give in. Maybe a nap later if I allow myself. Lyndi, the kids and I plan to step out to the peninsula to go to a store called Oyster Bay to get Doug some twine. Then, who knows. Maybe a stop to the cafe to help Doug prep for tomorrow. I'll close for now, with the sun coming in through the windows, the faint smell of smoke in the air and a tired but super excited for the week ahead. Over and out.