Even before S climbed Mt Kilimanjaro last summer, D had always been captivated by it. Once we learned that we would be serving in East Africa, climbing Kili became D’s number one priority. He wanted to go as soon as he got an opportunity to take a long vacation. The problem, of couse, is that as an entry level FSO, long vacations are hard to come by. One has to accrue vacation and even when one has banked enough holiday time, getting away is contingent on other peoples’ schedules. In D’s case, time off requires ambassadorial approval since his work is directly linked to Ambo’s schedule.
Fortunately, Ambo decide to take a long trip to the States, combining business consultations with a family reunion over Thanksgiving. As soon as his plane tickets were booked, we set about booking our own vacation – two and a half glorious weeks in Tanzania that included a 6-day ascent of Mt Kilimanjaro, a few days of safari in the Serengeti and the Ngorngoro crater, and a week on the heavenly beaches of Zanzibar.
Of course, we had the usual hassle with our flights getting cancelled prior to our departure, but this is less trouble than it would have been had we not been expecting it to happen. D asked one of the travel technicians at the Embassy to call up the airline and our flights were re-instated, only to be cancelled again as soon as we left Nairobi. When we attempted to check in for the second leg of our trip, the Precision Air agent at the check-in counter looked in disbelief from his computer screen to the reservations we handed him and absurdly asked whether we had just made the booking and forgot to pay for it. When we pointed out that we had already flown the first leg of the trip, he declared the situation beyond his comprehension and ran out of the airport lounge to find a ticket sales representative.
It turns out that mid-November is not the ideal time for visiting Tanzania, as our trip coincided with the short rains season. Since we were not in a position to be choosy, however, we made the most of it and had a blast. Perhaps most importantly, it was a much-needed relief to put away the BlackBerry, disconnect from the internet, and simply enjoy life. Now that we’re safely back in Nairobi, we look forward to combing through our pictures and sharing our travel tales with you.
Note: vaca means cow in Spanish; however, the phrase a vaca is actually short for a vacación, meaning to be on vacation.