In the morning, by 6 a.m., we had to have our bags packed for Martin, as he was driving them all back to Arusha for us (limited weight allowances on the bush plane we were taking back). We had breakfast (the first daylight breakfast we had all had together!) and arranged ourselves in one vehicle, with cameras on our laps, and did a short game drive with Godfrey on our way over to the airstrip. We didn't see much on our drive, lots of impalas, elephants in the distance, hippos in the river...I think we had already "checked out" in a way and were just trying to take it all in one last time.
Henry, Mike, Godfrey, Lyle, Gene, Margaret, Martin, myself and Sue! (Thanks, Debra, for the picture, I wish you were in it!)
The airstrip was interesting - a gravel/dirt open area with monkeys running around, who looked like the ground crew! And then in it came, a 15-passenger, twin engine bush plane with an American woman, Rebecca, as the pilot. After we loaded up, Gene asked if he could sit in the co-pilot seat, enamored by the plane, flying, and the pilot, he reminded me of my brother-in-law, Mark, at that moment, happy as a clam!
We made two stops on the way to Arusha, both at tiny little airports, no, not airports, landing strips! It was beautiful to see Africa from 1500 feet! You could see parts of the migration and the landscape change from lush to arid to mountainous near the top of the crater and then the plunging walls of the crater itself. It was spectacular! And hot!
Rebecca had come to Africa, she told us, to volunteer for a year for a medical evacuation service. She had been in Africa for several years now, married to another bush pilot who was flying today with their 2 year old daughter as his co-pilot, carseat and all!
We arrived in Arusha and happily someone greeted us with "are you going to Zanzibar?" Up until then we weren't sure anyone knew our itinerary at all! A quick good-bye to the group, (promising to stay in touch with Lyle & Sue and looking forward to seeing them in the parks this summer, and Henry & Gene mentioned planning a Jackson reunion, which would be a lot of fun!) and they were off in a van to head to their flights home...leaving Mike and I, eating our last box lunch in the tiny Arusha airport!
A couple of hours passed, several planes coming and going and they kept saying "yours is coming"...and eventually someone came to take us to another small building where we waited a bit, and then boarded a severely cramped plane! And we were off! About an hour over land and then an hour over the spectacularly aquamarine waters Indian Ocean! Another tiny airport, miraculously our bag arrived and we found a man outside holding a sign RYANSPTY2 (Ryan's party of 2!)! An air conditioned van ride on paved roads (neither of which we had experienced yet on our trip!) through a terribly poverty- ridden island. Lots of small markets alongside the road, from fish to meats to veggies and tshirts, through small villages and then open spaces (too rocky to plant or build, according to our driver). Lots of bicycles and people walking everywhere! School must've been let out recently as their were lots of kids walking, mostly in uniforms. And carts, pulled by oxen or cows, loaded down with rocks or wood or palm fronds.
About an hour's drive, we turned down a rocky, bumpy dirt road, which led to a gate, which led to paradise. A hutted main lodge/reception area with a strip of huts that were the garden rooms and various individual huts scattered amongst palm trees and acacia trees.
We were led to our hut, a duplex right on the beach - #2! - and then given a tour of the place; the bar, the games area, the pool, the dive shop, the restaurant...really lovely!
While walking through the bar I had noticed a few people on their computers on the internet and it had been awhile since I had been able to do that for any length of time, so we headed up to the bar with my phone and I logged into their wifi to read -
"Harper Jean arrived! 6 lbs. 10 oz. 5:37 a.m. Feb. 27th!"on Allison's Facebook wall!I burst into tears right there at the bar! So sad that I had missed it, but happy she had arrived and was well! The next bit was kind of a blur, searching for any more info...discussing catching the next plane out...! Allison started IM-ing me so I could hear some of the rest of the news, Ashley was fine, Harper was fine, and everything had gone amazingly well!Yay!!!! I'm a Nana! We were in flight over the Indian Ocean when Harper Jean arrived, what a story to tell her!In Swahili, a baby is called a mtoto, whether it is a boy or girl or lion! A grand-daughter is called a mjukuu (mmm-jew-koo)! Welcome to the world my beautiful mjukuu Harper!We wandered the beach a bit, a lovely low tide, ate dinner, a yummy seafood buffet and spent the rest of the evening sitting and staring at each other, both with smiles and tears. Part of me wanted to be home, most of me wanted to be home, but we resigned ourselves to enjoy the calm and peace we felt settling in at Ras Nungwi.
The sand was like light brown sugar...okay, so we can spend a few days here...!