My flight on KLM was great. I had no issues at the airport, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with my friends and their climbing friends. About half of the passengers were also Kili climbers. It was clear from the gear and pricey namebrand clothing.
On a side note, each gate had its own security instead of one big security point for everyone. I've never seen that before.
The plane was a very large Boeing 777-200, and the service was fantastic. Lots of food, desserts, beer, and wine (all free of course). They even came around a few times with hot towels. It just seems like a step up from Delta and US Air's intercontinental service. The entertainment system was even a little better than normal with a language course option, among other things.
I watched Summit on the Summit, which is a program about a group of celebrities who climbed Kilimanjaro last year to raise awareness of the global clean water crisis. They took an eight day Lemosho trek, which merges with the route I am taking, Machame, about halfway up the mountain. The program features the celebrities climbing the Barranco wall, which I'll be doing. There is a very narrow ledge that you have to pass, and you must hug the rock wall as you pass sideways to keep from falling. It looks intimidating, but it must not be bad because I didn't tead much about it before the trip. Although, Rich from my Amsterdam flight did ask me if I was nervous about that particular portion of the climb. The celebrities went the first week of January last year and had some terrible weather. Hopefully we'll get luckier and have some clear days.
While on the subject of charity climbs, I'd like to thank all of you who have donated to Shared Hope International. Your support means so much to me and the girls who are helped by it.
I talked with the woman sitting next to me a bit. She is from Iowa and wil be doing missionary work in Tanzania for the next three weeks. She will face some pretty terrible conditions, so I applauded her dedication and compassion. Her husband successfully climbed Kili via a 7-day Machame trek.
I purposely planned to get a window seat for this flight so that I could catch a glimpse of the Sahara from above. We flew over the Alps, which were so beautiful I wanted to cry. Then, we traveled down the east coast of Italy. I used the tracking feature of the entertainment system to figure out exactly when we were going over Soverato, the beach town near where my relatives live. I was amazed at how clearly I could see the boot shape of the land. It was really a treat. Flying over the Sahara was amazing. All I could see were millions of little sand dunes. At one point I could see the Nile curving like a snake. It was all just sand with a thin line of water cutting through it. It was dark when we landed, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see Kilimanjaro!
The airport was hot and chaotic. Three immigration officers were helping all 425 of us. I made friends with Franc, a guy from Germany who is also traveling alone.
The ride to our hotel took about 45 mins. So far, the town reminds me a lot of Jamaica.
My hotel is basic. It is very hot, and I will sleep under a mosquito net to protect myself. I hear a lot of weird animal noises outside. I'm already well out of my comfort zone.
We received bad news about the weather from our driver. He told us that due to global warming, the rainy season that usually ends in December is still going on. We can expect heavy rain and thunderstorms every day. Oh fun. I don't know that it is global warming though-probably just my bad luck.
More on Africa soon. I only have a few hours to sleep before I have to get up.
(posting delayed four hours)