Day 9 – Last Day of Safari (Lake Manyara/Arusha/Kilimanjaro)

And so it is…last morning in Africa! Great night sleep and it’s so chilly in the tent, neither Rich or I wanted to get up. Breakfast and goodbyes at 7:30 and we’re in route to Arusha by 8:00am. It’s cool here this morning so the tops are still on the jeep. Driving out I’ve come to terms with leaving and looking forward to a little shopping along the way.

Stopped by a t-shirt shop and another souvenir shop – pretty much got all we were looking for with the exception of that special gift Rich was looking for for Linda. Rich and I both dressed for the long flight home, completely forgetting we had one last driveq through Lake Manyara National Park (a much smaller park) on the way. Ally took the tops back off so we could enjoy our last drive. Park here is much greener because it has under water springs. But that also means it is very wooded so a little more difficult to see the animals.

Lots of monkeys (which are so adorable) and the normal grazing animals. Ally said though there ARE lions here, he hasn’t seen them in 2 years…and I can see why. We stopped by a lunch area there in the park to eat before continuing our drive in to Arusha. What’s in our lunch boxes everyday is always a surprise…Edward sent us left over farewell cake for our last lunch!

MSafari, the security guard that works the gate at the Mt. Meru hotel was there when we drove through today. It was good to see him again and he remembered to ask for his photo I promised to send him. I’ll have it framed and sent through Dawn at ADS. Martius and Timan were waiting at the front of the hotel as we pulled in. I appreciate them both so much for what they did to get me a camera. Both went way beyond for me.

As we all sat and talked about the week it was time to settle up with Ally and say our goodbyes. I thought I was ok until I hugged him good-bye. I don’t know if he fully understands how much this trip has meant to me and how big of a part he played in it being so memorable. Rich and I will never forget you Ally! God bless you and your family.

We had a day room there at the hotel for a few hours; to freshen up and get some lunch before we leave for the airport. Did a little more shopping there in the gift shop and waited for Martius and Timan to pick us back up. Have to admit that on our drive, we actually saw Mt. Kilimanjaro for the first time. The mountain we took pictures of day 1 (which we thought was Kilimanjaro) was actually Mt. Meru. It’s difficult to see it because the peak is normally in the clouds, but we caught just the right angle so the highest peak was visible. Was able to get photos of the snow on the peaks, which was amazing.

They got us to the airport 2.5 hours early, but that’s ok. Allowed us to get through customs, etc. with time to spare. Rich was able to find that special gift for Linda and I picked up a few more things. Good thing we decided to check our luggage this time. Our souvenir bag is getting heavy! Funny story is that they made Rich fill out some declaration form to get through customs, but not me? Not sure why. Rich said it was because I batted my eyes…LOL! I think it was because the customs officer I had didn’t want to mess with it. Who knows. I was also pretty sure Rich was going to have to completely uncloth to get through security…LOL. Provided a great deal of entertainment for not only me, but a few others in the waiting area…LOL! Sorry Rich, it was funny.

1st flight went to Del Sar which is South of Arusha. That one stop added two hours to our already lengthy flight to Amsterdam. So 9.5 hours later we arrived in Amsterdam. Three hour layover there allowed us to see parts of the airport we didn’t get to see when we came through the first time. At that airport, each gate has their own security check point verse one area for the entire airport. Also allowed me to pick up some flower bulbs (Tulips are famous in Amsterdam). Thought if I plant them, every year when they bloom, I will be reminded of this adventure. Rich and I both slept off and on, watched a couple of movies (including Born Free…:)), taught Rich how to play Sudoku and counted down the hours until we would be home. Once we started the journey I couldn’t wait to get there.

Quick stop through Detroit and a short 1-hour flight home. We were in the last seat on the plane so the last people off. Dave picked us up and we were at moms by 5:00. Had to stop by to see my boy and take him his goodies. His favorite gift was the two small pieces of lava rock I picked up at the park before we left (sorry Ally, I know I wasn’t supposed to do that). He said “cool MiMi…thanks”. He had his Tanzania bracelet (like mine) around his ankle. Not sure what he ended up taking to school today for show and tell but I’m sure he took something. Plenty of hot water and water pressure here at home. I actually lost 4lbs during the week, which is unbelievable since all I felt like we did was eat, but I’ll take it. Once last funny story is about my step counter on my phone. Mid way through the 2nd day of our Safari, my achievement sound went off letting me know I had reached my goal of 10,000 steps. Walked 5.23 miles…lol! I guess the jarring of the jeep counted as steps for me. Plus climbing up and down looking out the top must have counted for something.

Crawled into bed, missing my hot water bottle…LOL! Sure could have used it last night. I’m not sure how I slept. Dave said I woke up a couple times, looked around like I wasn’t sure where I was and laid back down. Up at 6:30 which would be 3:30pm in Africa. Not sure how long it will take me to get back on track. Atleast I’m home.

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