Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Africa...Travel and Arusha

Hi everyone! I've made it back home safe and sound. I'm pretty much wiped out from all of the flying and travel but seeing my beautiful family was like being injected with a pure dose of happiness so life is good.

Over the next couple of weeks, my intent is to post on this blog my journal entries in full for the most part. Keep in mind that this is my personal journal so there will be things typed that you may feel fall into the "too much information" category. If you aren't interested in that stuff, skip the typing and check out the photo's. Those of you that know me know that I am a guy that keeps my heart on my sleeve. What you see is what you get. There were times during this trip that I was frightened. I am not too macho a guy to admit this and I talk about it in detail at times. There will be a lot of references to bathrooms and other things that again fall into the category of too much information. Those of you that know me will also know that I can be a bit long-winded. There will be no exceptions to this during these blog posts I'm afraid. At times I jump from random thought to random thought and may not make a lot of sense. Just go with it OK? :) It is my hope that I can paint an accurate, detailed description of what it is like to be on Safari and to travel to the amazing country of Tanzania. Bear in mind that this trip represents the first stamp on my passport so culture shock was inevitable.

Every other day I will type the journal entry from the day in Africa with photo's from that day accompanying it. I took thousands of photo's and am going to do my very best to limit it to 15-20 pics per day. Please do not copy, distribute or use these photo's in any way shape or form without asking me first. All of these photo's will be available to purchase prints of and I will post more details about that later. If there is something you see that you would like to purchase before I post those details, please email me ( and I will be glad to help you out. Please share this link with your email buddies as I would love to get many readers here. I appreciate comments on the blog very much as well, so if you see something you like, please let me know. Without further ado....

Journal entry 1..Travel and Arusha (I am combining the first 3 days journal post into this one as I didn't take any photo's during my time traveling.)

July 9, 2008: The first day is finally here! I'm sitting on the plane in Seattle right now ready to take off for San Francisco. It's leaving more than an hour late which gives me a short time to transport to the International gates to depart for London. My fingers are crossed.

Yesterday, before I went in for a massage, Steve and Sherry came by during Steve's lunchbreak from Boeing to say a prayer. Wow can they pray! It was like getting a shot in the arm and I feel so confident that God is with me on this trip.

This morning when I went online, one of the daily news headlines was "45 year old man works himself to death!" I do not want that headline to be about me...ever. This was sign #1.

When Lea returned from the gym I went outside to greet her and Sophie. A bald Eagle was flying overhead. This was sign #2.

The girls drove me to the airport and Savannah was so sweet. She wouldn't let go of my hand until we arrived. Upon check-in we got the best ticket agent ever (United Airlines). My travel plans are complex and she did all she could to make sure all t's were crossed and i's dotted. She then said were were her "customer of the day" and issued gate passes to Lea and the girls so they could escort me to the terminal. It was tough saying goodbye but that will make "hello again" even sweeter.

July 10: I am sitting on the floor in the Nairobi Airport in Kenya. The flight from London was better than the flight to London. I was able to sleep a bit which was nice. My TV didn't work so I snoozed instead. Definitely was much needed. The airport here is a bit intimidating. The culture shock has already set in. My flight to Tanzania doesn't leave for another 4 hours. I'm less than enthused about the wait as I am eager to see Arusha and a bed! Flying into Kenya was amazing. The first hint of light began an explosion of color. Bright red, orange, blue and yellow. It was astonishing. The girl in the seat next to me was from London and was flying to an African Country to live for 3 months to work. She is a Barister and I'm so glad I gave some thought to that before asking why she would move to Africa to brew coffee. Barister...not Barista!

The wait in Kenya seemed to go on forever. The airport has a very dark, seedy feel to it. I was thrilled they allowed both carry-ons so I never had to check in any camera equipment and risk losing it.

ARUSHA!...The flight from Kenya to Tanzania was just 45 minutes or so. A 5 hour wait for a 45 minute flight? Flying into Tanzania I could tell it was going to be an amazing adventure. It appears much greener and more tropical than Kenya. Mt. Kilimanjaro is an awesome sight to behold too.

The Tanzanian (Kilimanjaro) airport is much nicer than Nairobi's. Ours was the only flight arriving so getting through customs was a breeze. I was thrilled to find that the tent and my 1 bag had arrived. Pretty amazing...4 flights, 3 different airlines, over 30 hours. There was a long line of people from my flight at the "lost luggage" counter so I really feel fortunate.

I was met by two guys that Alana from Born Free Safari's had sent to pick me up. "Goodluck" and "Moody" no kdding, that's their names (though I am sure dramatically spelled wrong and for that I apologize). I liked them both instantly and we hit the road. Right outside the gate of the airport I was pummeled with culture shock. Men and women on bicycles, walking with huge bails of hay, or buckets of apples or you name it balanced on their head. There was a dead donkey on the road with it's guts spilling out that people were walking around. Little boys with sticks hitting their livestock to keep them in line. There is a tremendous amount of poverty here it is quite obvious.

We drove past a small community where a group of guys were shouting and appearing to cause some trouble. Moments later, 2 jeeps with men wearing bandana's over their faces had sirens blaring. The flew past us towards the trouble and each jeep had a gigantic machine gun attached to the top.

We continued to drive and saw so many people working incredibly hard in clothing ranging from tattered rags to vibrantly colorful robes. It was a fascinating drive and two hours were gone in the blink of an eye.

We arrived at the Arusha Hotel which stood out. More people were everywhere on the streets. A guard let us in and I dropped my stuff off in the room and immediately went to lunch with Goodluck. He reviewed my itinerary with me and we walked to his office to meet my guide for the week Nixon as well as the owner of the safari company. Everyone was very nice and welcoming. "Jambo!" is the friendly greeting that everyone offers along with a warm handshake and a sincere smile.

Goodluck then took me on a walking tour through Arusha. We came across the public Market that I couldn't believe. Mostly everyone goes here for all of their shopping. Goodluck quickly told me not to take photo's without permission. When I saw someone I wanted to shoot he would ask if it was OK. All of them wanted money to make a photo. Some wanted as much as $15 (to which I said no). Most others only wanted $2 and I usually gave them $3 instead. Goodluck was always on the move. Any time we would stop to take a photo we would immediately become surrounded. At one point a group of women asked me to take their photo then immediately said in English "Money!" I gave the first 1,000 Shillings (about $1) and another the same. Before I knew it there were many people around me with their hands all over me digging for more. It was quite exciting and could could see a great deal of worry on Goodlucks face. Fortunately, I had stashed the bulk of my money in zipped pockets either in my sock or my passport pouch and only had a small sum in my wallet that I was using to pay people with. Many eyes lingered towards my camera in a not so friendly way so we constantly moved.

We made it back to the Hotel and I was in bed by 8:00. I'm finishing this at 4AM as I just woke up out of nowhere and can't get back to sleep. Heading off to Tarangiri at 9:00...I can't wait!

A vendor inside the market.
A large pile of colorful beans.
A woman selling ground coffee inside the market.
A nice young girl selling socks from her head. guide to Arusha.
Isaiah is an artist that was hanging out in front of my hotel. I bought one of his paintings.
The horn was used often.
A very common method of carrying things along the road.
The number of bicycles far outnumber the number of cars.

This appeared to be a common way to transport goods.
The back side of the market.
I loved all the colors on some of the buildings.
A man just hanging out near his home.


Jan Klier said...

Hey Mat,

That sounds like an amazing trip you had, and those are some very strong photos you shared in this post. 60GB of this type of work (plus the experience) - that is worth every penny of the trip.

Look forward to hearing and seeing the next entries.


Anonymous said...

Mat ~ living vicariously through you and it sure is a blast. I love the picture of the bicycles!

Kali Murphy

Anonymous said...

How in the world did you get this one in a lifetime trip? I am jealous. Great photos. Glad you are home safe and did not get hurt by the wildlife.
Photo bug (Deb)

Anonymous said...

Your images are wonderful, I specially love the b&w shots. I look forward to seeing the rest of your trip.


Randy said... sure have some big ones! :)

I can't believe your beautiful wife would want to send you halfway across the world without her. I'm in awe that someone could step outside their comfort zone with such bravado.

I can't imagine the sounds, sights and smells that you've experienced. I hope your trip was everything you wanted it to be.

You mentioned culture shock. I bet the true culture shock was coming back to the reality of your life.

Am on the edge of my proverbial seat...

Mehmet Met Dilsiz - FND Photography said...

Hey Mat,

After seeing your message in the microstock forum, I was curious to see the blog and the pictures...

You have some great, well, AMAZING pictures... I love the dramatic effect of the B&W pictures. And very well done..

Anonymous said...

I am so happy you were able to take this trip and even happier you are home safe...wonderful pics! I love the girl with the sox!
love, mom

benjaminspell said...

cool shots, i really like the coffee one and the bikes. Looks like a great experience.

John said...

Lea said all your friends were calling every day asking for a date while you were gone. I think that was tacky of them. I got Anthony's on Wednesday I was happy. Glad you're back in one piece, now you can go photograph my daughter in a few weeks eh? DON"T FORGET.

Unca John

Mat Hayward said...

Thank you all so much for leaving a comment! I appreciate it very much!

Kali, I don't see where Dan's Giraffe story is at here, maybe a different post...oh brother! :)