Posts Tagged With: Mwanza

Going Home: Mwanza to Dar es Salaam

I was just kidding about never seeing Agatha again because sure enough, I saw her the very next day.  Let me explain:

After my (un)happy Mother’s Day, mom and I set off for the Mwanza airport with my namesake Tito, the taxi driver.  We packed all this stuff into the car:

That's a lot of stuff!

That’s a lot of stuff!

and then I said goodbye to our Maasai warrior guard.

Goodbye Akwi

Goodbye Akwi

When we got to the airport, mom put me in my cage (which I totally hate, it’s so demeaning) because all the Tanzanians were afraid of me.  We went through security and got to the check-in counter with more than enough time to spare.  But, unsurprisingly, no one knew quite what to do with me.  They said it was impossible for me to fly even though mom had already made arrangements for me with the manager.

So I waited patiently (or not so patiently, I’ll admit I cried a bit) while mom fought for my right to board the airplane.

Waiting...

Waiting…

Everyone ignored her because they just didn’t want to deal with a situation that made them think outside the box.  Eventually, it got too late and the plane simply left without us so we were forced (well, mom was forced, I was happy) to go back to our house for the night.

I was ecstatic when we got home and did leaps of joy around the house.

You know what was the icing on the cake?  When I woke up the next morning, Agatha was there!  Hooray!  Unfortunately, we really needed to leave on Monday since our flight to Amsterdam was leaving that evening from Dar es Salaam.  So, around noon, I said my goodbyes to everyone again.

Saying goodbye to Agatha (again) and Eddie (our gardener)

Saying goodbye to Agatha (again) and Eddie (our gardener)

Once more, we arrived at the Mwanza airport and into my cage I went.

I hate that dumb thing

I hate that dumb thing

This time, the people at the airport were prepared for me and things went much more smoothly.  Mom handed me off to the Tanzanian baggage handlers to be loaded into the luggage part of the plane.  I was not super excited about this, but since I was in my cage there really wasn’t much to be done about the situation.

Eyeing me with skepticism

Eyeing me with skepticism

I was driven out to the airplane on a tractor (without my mom) and loaded onto the little ATR airplane, since all of Precision Air’s Boeings are not working.

I'm in there somewhere!

I’m in there somewhere!

You know where they put me?  In the baggage section like I was nothing special.  Below me there was a bucket of dead fish that I had to smell for the entire flight and above me was one of mom’s massive bags.  I’m lucky that I even survived!

Piled in with all the luggage (if you can even call a bucket of dead fish luggage)

Piled in with all the luggage (if you can even call a bucket of dead fish luggage)

Finally, after an agonizing two hours, we arrived in Dar and reunited with mom’s taxi driver friend Sham.  Since no hotels would allow us to enter, Sham took us to a place called Coco Beach to pass the time until our next flight.

Enjoying the ocean breeze with Sham

Enjoying the ocean breeze with Sham

Here’s where I spent my very last hours in Tanzania, not too shabby if you ask me!

Coco Beach

Coco Beach

But, as I’ve learned in my short life, all good things much come to an end.  So, after the sun had set, mom and I headed back to the airport to continue our marathon journey back to America.

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(Un)Happy Mother’s Day

First, let me clarify:  I love my mom and I always will and I wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, BUT this has got to be one of the worst Mother’s Days ever.

Last night was my last night in Mwanza.

Today is my last day in Mwanza.

Me and Mom on our last night in Mwanza

Me and Mom on our last night in Mwanza

This morning, I woke up and I decided to pick a flower for mom so that maybe, just maybe, she’d change her mind and we could stay in Mwanza forever.

But mom, I picked you a flower...

But mom, I picked you a flower…

But no, her plans were already in motion.  She’d given away all of our things, and packed up the remainder to take home (such a funny word, “home”, I can’t say I exactly know what it means).  The only thing I could do was sit by and watch her pack up our life (and make sure she didn’t leave me behind).  The tickets are purchased, we are leaving.  So here we go, off on a totally new adventure…

Waiting to begin, again

Waiting to begin, again

 

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Ciao Canadian Chicas!

Mom says I have to start practicing saying goodbye since we’re leaving Africa for good in a little less than 3 weeks (I’m freaking out about this on the inside).  So, I was able to obey her by saying goodbye to my pretty Canadian friends Shannon and Susan.

Shannon and Susan

Shannon and Susan

Susan and Shannon came to Mwanza as part of the African Probiotic Yogurt Network.  Shannon is a microbiologist and Susan is a business intern with the project that helps to distribute probiotic yogurt to rural women in Northern Tanzania.

Before Shannon and Susan came along, mom and I were all alone in Mwanza, so when these girls showed up it changed our world!  As you can tell from the photo above, they were super happy, super fun, and they also loved me like you wouldn’t believe (I mean, who doesn’t, other than Turkish Air?)  Shannon and Susan made the most of their time in Mwanza by hosting the Mama-Q and traveling to Dubai with mom for Easter.

In order to celebrate their departure from Mwanza, we decided to go hiking in Capri Point to witness the beauty of the sunset over Lake Victoria.  I did this hike way back in January 2012 when I first arrived in Mwanza (and it’s also where I took the photo that heads this whole blog, clearly it’s a special place).  Because I’m so experienced, I led the way through the rocks and out to the overlook point where we could have a bird’s-eye view of Mwanza and the lake.

Look over here!

Look over here!

This way, girls!

This way, girls!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got to take photos for the last time in Africa with my ladies in a setting that matched their beauty.  I’m hoping they’ll print them out and frame them so they’ll be sure to never forget me.

Goodbye Shannon!

Goodbye Shannon!

Goodbye Susan!

Goodbye Susan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we were preparing to hike back out, some local children came along and were excited to see us.  It always fascinates me how people live, perched up between the rocks.  At first the children were afraid of me, as most Tanzanians are.  But mom bribed them to come and pet me.  I was a bit uncomfortable with this situation at first (who knows where those hands have been), but the children were very gentle and seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me.  They even smiled at the camera as I took photos with them (a rarity in Tanzania).

Continuing my Mpende Mbwa mission in Mwanza

Continuing my Mpende Mbwa mission in Mwanza

With this, we headed back down for one last dinner at Tilapia.  See you on the other side of the world, girls!

I'll make sure my mom takes me to see you real soon!

I’ll make sure my mom takes me to see you real soon!

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A Doxie-Pin in Northwestern Tanzania: Quantitative and Qualitative Results

My mom has been hogging the computer for over a week now working on a poster for the Experimental Biology Conference in Boston.  Her title is, “Cryptosporidium spp. infection in breastfeeding mothers and their HIV-exposed or unexposed infants in a peri-urban community in northwestern Tanzania”.  BOOOORING!!

I decided to show mom how it’s done and make my own poster for EB.  Guess how long it took me?  30 minutes!  Boo-ya!

 

Slide1

And that’s how you make a scientific poster.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!

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A Love Letter to My Brother-from-Another-Mother

Dear Twiga,

Where do I start?  You are my brother, my best friend, and my partner in crime and now you are gone.  Mom tells me that I’ll see you in just 2 months time, but that is ages in our animal lives.

You came to me in August on Nane Nane Day in Tanzania.  I will forever remember you as my Nane Nane Twiga (and it’s also extra special since eight is mom’s favorite number, clearly we were meant to be).  When you arrived, I was the first to find you and boy were you ugly!  But I loved you anyway.

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

I’ve had your back since the very first day and you’ve had mine as well, that’s why we make such a good team.

And you've got mine

And you’ve got mine

I've got your back

I’ve got your back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We do everything together, and you’ve taught me how to share.  We’ve shared food:

Sharing is caring

Sharing is caring

Are you going to eat that?

Are you going to eat that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve shared a bed:

But, then I really liked it

But, then I really liked it

At first I was skeptical...

At first I was skeptical…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we’ve shared clothes too:

Rockin' out

Rockin’ out

You were there for me on my First Birthday when mom wasn’t even there.

My Birthday Party

My Birthday Party

You’ve kept me entertained

Adventure Kitty

Adventure Kitty

Climbing kitty

Climbing kitty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And best of all, you taught me how to love someone other than mom.

 

Bath time

Bath time

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Cuddle time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone here already misses you, including Agatha, Eddie, and the Maasai.  The Maasai is super excited to keep this photo of you two since he misses you so much.

You and Akwi, our Maasai friend

You and Akwi, our Maasai friend

 

Oh, and here’s a warning: America is really, really cold.  You can’t even imagine how cold it is, even more cold than when it rains here in Mwanza.  A tip to beat the cold, hide in the oven, but make sure that servant Colin knows you’re in there!

 

The oven is warm

The oven is warm

I miss you Twiga, more than I can put into words (or into barks or meows either).  I’ll be there just as soon as I can and then we’ll conquer America just like we did Tanzania.

Love,

Your Brother-From-Another-Mother Tito

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Guest Blog: Twiga “Coming to America”

"What games do ya'll play in Africa? Chase the monkey?"  Well, actually, yes, we do.

“What games do ya’ll play in Africa? Chase the monkey?” Well, actually, yes, we do.

Hi, I’m Twiga, the Cat (I’m sure you all remember me) and that’s me on the left.  I look like one cool, average American guy, right?  And you know why?  I just came to America – just like Eddie Murphy in “Coming to America“!

Like Eddie, I’m an African prince (all cats are princes, in case you didn’t know) who left my home to see what this America place is all about.  (On the right is my servant Colin, naturally portrayed by Arsenio Hall).

But you’re probably curious how a little ol’ Tanzanian street cat like me made it all the way to the US.  Well, sit right down and let me tell you my tail.  It all started in one of these:

In the cat carrier in my Tanzanian home

In the cat carrier in my Tanzanian home

STILL in the cat carrier at the Mwanza Airport

STILL in the cat carrier at the Mwanza Airport

Yup, you guessed it, still in the cat carrier at the Dar es Salaam Airport

Yup, you guessed it, STILL in the cat carrier at the Dar es Salaam Airport

My temporary home from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam.  As you can see, I tried to make the best of it:

Cat Nap!

Cat Nap!

The best part was no one made me go through security, so I could have smuggled out all the catnip and street mice I wanted.  If only I’d known!

I was kind of enjoying myself, but in Dar I had to say goodbye to my Sarah (who calls herself my mom now).  She made kind of a big deal about it, but I was pretty cool, because I’m one cool cat, remember?

On my next flight, I had my servant Colin stow me under his seat.

Stowed

Stowed (in a tiny black bag)

By the time we got to the Ethiopian airport, I really needed to get out, so servant Colin let me wander around this phone booth for a few minutes.  I wanted to call and let my dogs in America know I was coming, but servant Colin was having none of it (Plus, he said that the charges from Addis Ababa to America would be exorbitant even though I’m a prince).

Chillin' Addis Ababa Phone Booth Style

Chillin’ Addis Ababa Phone Booth Style

Next we had this really, really, really, long flight to Washington, D.C.  Every 5 hours or so, servant Colin took me to the airplane bathroom so I could keep trying to get in the airplane toilet.  I just don’t see why this is such a bad idea.  I needed a bath, plain and simple.

But finally, after 17 hours on the same plane (that’s 119 cat hours, mind you), we arrived in Washington, D.C.  Servant Colin was a little nervous about Customs, but they didn’t even look at my papers.  The joke’s on them!  There’s no telling what I brought with me!  You’ll be reading about it in the papers soon enough, just you wait and see.  I’m looking good now, because I clean up well, but just months ago, I wasn’t looking nearly so fly.

After

After

Before

Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just like that, I became an American citizen and a hero too – like George Washington or Shaquille O’Neal or the American flag!

My first impression of the US was this place called Starbucks.  It must be a new thing because I’ve never heard of it.

Still in that darn tiny black carrier

Still in that darn tiny black carrier

My first experience walking around the US was this family airport bathroom.  Naturally, I tried to climb in the toilet again (one wants to be clean to make a good first impression), but servant Colin advised me not to.  Not cool, servant boy.  Not cool.

Stare-down with servant Colin

Stare-down with servant Colin

And after one more short flight, I arrived at my new temporary home – Charlotte, North Carolina.  Though maybe now, it’s a bit more North Catolina!

Now that I’m an American, I’m going to take up some new hobbies.  First of all – I want to call this Miss Cleo lady – she seems really smart.  I need to start eating a lot more fast food and I’ll have to ramp up my gun collection pretty fast.

Of course, some things never change:

Charlotte

Charlotte

Mwanza

Mwanza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I’m sure someone will be interested in this Kenyan birth certificate I have for some guy named Obama.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 6.20.14 PM

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my emigration tail.  Now I must begin my endless pursuit of the American dream – starting right here:

IMG_0864

 

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Security Update

Following on mom’s harrowing mugging experience, we’ve continued to take security at our house even more seriously.  Mom lives in constant fear, which is really hard for me to watch since I love her so much.  It’s funny, here in Tanzania, people are more afraid of me than they are of her.  I mean, I suppose I do have big teeth and four feet with claws, but COME ON people.  Mom weighs like 54kg and I weigh like 8kg.  But, whatever works when it comes to security, right?

So, my friend Colin came to visit last week and he brought us some signs to put on the gate.  I’m pretty proud of these signs because they officially make me a guard of the house!  Look and see what I mean:

English

English

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Swahili

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve got them in English and Swahili and there’s also a picture of me looking really mean just in case the burglar can’t read (Side Note: only about 60% of people in Mwanza can read so this was really smart of Colin to include a picture).

It was a team effort making this Security Improvement.  Colin and the Maasai guard worked together to complete the task:

Colin hanging the Swahili sign

Colin hanging the Swahili sign

The Maasai hanging the English sign

The Maasai hanging the English sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I practiced showing my teeth while the humans hung my signs.  I look really scary, huh?

TEETH (and tongue)

TEETH (and tongue)

So to all you loiterers, thieves, burglars, and other bad guys take a second, look at our signs, and STAY AWAY!

Bad Guys Beware

Bad Guys Beware

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Mwanza Mugging

A week ago, as mom was walking to work, she was jumped by a man with a knife who pushed her to the ground and then stole her bag which contained a laptop, her iPhone, her camera, her wallet, and her house keys.  Mom and I had always presumed Isamilo to be safe during the day, however I guess we were wrong.  The man was hiding behind the wall in the ditch where mom walks several times a day to and from work.  Poor mom, she was so scared and could only watch the man run away with all her things.  If I were with her this NEVER would have happened!

This is where mom was robbed at knife-point

This is where mom was robbed at knife-point

Mom was very shaken by this incident and I did my best to lick away her tears and comfort her when she finally got home from dealing with the police (who did nothing to help the situation, by the way).

So listen up thieves and other criminals of Mwanza, I have teeth and I’m not afraid to use them.  If you hurt my mom, I will hurt you back, and that is a promise!

See these teeth?  I WILL bite you.

See these teeth? I WILL bite you.

Also, we’ve beefed up security, Tanzanian-style, around the house by changing the locks, adding frosted plastic to the gate so you can’t see through, and putting tons of nails on the wall so no one can sit there.  We are SERIOUS about safety because getting robbed is no fun.

Beefed-up security

Beefed-up security

And if you live in Mwanza and happen to see a black HP laptop, an iPhone 4 with a ton of photos of mom and American music, or a red Olympus camera for sale, let me know so we can go reclaim our things!

Be safe out there!

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Reason #4 I’m becoming Tanzanian

I don’t go outside when it rains.

Nope, not gonna do it

Nope, not gonna do it

There, I said it.  I know I’m a dog and we’re supposed to enjoy frolicking outside no matter what, but I’ve got standards, and being wet and cold does not fall into those standards.  Yeah, so what if I’m supposed to poop outside.  You know what?  Why don’t you try pooping outside in the pouring rain and then tell me about it.  And even if you did do that, it still wouldn’t change my mind.  I simply won’t go outside when it’s raining, and neither do any Tanzanians.

I know I shouldn’t complain, especially since a month ago I was in the frigid arctic, but I hate rain in Africa.  It’s sort of the rainy season here in Mwanza, but what that means, I’m not exactly sure.  It hasn’t really rained since we arrived over 2 weeks ago, but last night and this morning made up for it all.

I was awoken out of a deep sleep by a frighteningly loud noise (especially since I was deep under the covers in mom’s bed).  It seemed that the sky opened up and dumped all the water in the whole world on us for the next 8 hours.  It was so loud I couldn’t even sleep, and I can sleep through anything!  There were also bright flashes of light, mom calls this lightning, which made me even more scared (which really isn’t saying much because I’m literally scared of everything).

Lightning!

Lightning!

So the rain fell and it fell.  And when the rain comes for that long it makes a big mess here in Mwanza.  You see, our roads are mostly dirt and so they get puddles and holes and sometimes even become rivers themselves.  Sometimes it’s so bad that it’s just not possible to get anywhere because everywhere you look is gushing water.

Roads become rivers

Roads become rivers

 

Normally this is a road...

Normally this is a road…

They have giant gutters on the side of the paved roads to try to help the rain/road situation (in fact, that’s how mom sprained her ankle on her birthday, by falling into one of the giant gutters).  But where we live, there’s no paved road and no gutter and so the rain just flows freely.

These gutters get totally full when it rains

These gutters get totally full when it rains

So here’s what happened this morning, we got up like usual and I was excited to go out and do my business, but the minute mom opened the door, my plans flew out the window and I ran straight back to bed.  Like I said, I DON’T poop in the rain.

Go out there? You crazy!

Go out there? You crazy!

Then mom, like she thinks I’m stupid or something, calls me in her best singsong voice.  But I’m no dummy, I know a trick when I hear one.  So I stayed put there on mom’s bed and didn’t come like the good dog that I am.  But darn it, my mom is persistent.  She came and picked me up and tried to make me go outside, but I struggled and cried and in the end I won (like ALWAYS).  

Nope, still don't want to go out there

Nope, still don’t want to go out there

Get it through your head mom, I DON’T POOP IN THE RAIN.  Look, even Twiga has something to say about it:

Brothers united, We're Not Going Outside!

Brothers united, We’re Not Going Outside!

Oh and in case you forgot, I’m Tanzanian now, and I don’t go out in the rain.

End. Of. Story.

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Charlotte, NC to Mwanza, TZ in 79 Hours

It’s been a week now since mom and I arrived back in Mwanza and it’s taken me that long to get over the stress and anxiety of our trip from, for lack of a better word, HELL.  And before I go any further, I’d just like to say that I seriously considered titling this post, “Turkish Airlines Sucks”, but decided to be a bit more eloquent and explain the situation…so here goes!

Slide1

I’d also like to say that Turkish Air has now supplanted Precision Air for the number one spot on my travel “potty” list.  FYI Turkish Air, you are not a REAL European airline if you are more afraid of a 7 kg dog than an 80 kg drunk, belligerent man, just saying.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Goodbye Charlotte (Mom informs me this is also the name of a whiny rock band)

Goodbye Charlotte! (Mom informs me this is also the name of a whiny rock band)

We left Charlotte, North Carolina on a Wednesday and flew on US Airways to Washington, DC (an airport I may have pooped in, oops).  For the record, US Airways is awesome for doggies.  The flight attendant was super nice and showed me and mom photos of her own little dachshund, who I must say was quite the cutie.  Based on our excellent treatment by all the US Airways people, mom and I had no idea the personal hell we were in for once we transferred to Turkish Air in Washington, DC.

Enjoying US Airways

Enjoying US Airways

Once in DC, the problems began.  It’s too painful to relive all the terror the Turkish Air people put mom and me through, so I’ll be brief in my description.  More or less, the flight attendants told mom that it was “impossible” (sounds like a Tanzanian talking to me, once again these phrases would not be uttered on a REAL European airline) to bring me on board even though I’m a service dog and have all the appropriate paperwork and even though mom had called and arranged everything with Turkish Air months in advance.

Rejecting a service animal? You should be ashamed of yourself, Turkish Air

Rejecting a service animal? You should be ashamed of yourself, Turkish Air

In the end, I was obviously allowed to fly because here I am writing from Tanzania, but it wasn’t before both me and mom were made to feel incredibly unwelcome on the 10-hour flight to Istanbul.  Luckily our seat mate was great and mom and him complained together about the rudeness of the Turkish Air flight attendants.

Once in Istanbul, me and mom figured everything would be smooth sailing because the people in DC assured us that they had put a special note on our file so we wouldn’t be treated so poorly on the next flight to Dar es Salaam.  But NO, of course this message did nothing to stop the idiocy of this pseudo-European airline.  We were treated even worse on the next flight and were almost kicked off to be stranded in Istanbul.

We finally arrived in Dar es Salaam, tired and nervous at 4:30 in the morning.  We were too late to try to fly to Mwanza so mom took a chance on a taxi driver who turned out to be our savior in this whole bad dream of an experience.  His name was Sham (even I get the irony of this) and he was truly amazing!  He drove us around Dar es Salaam for over an hour looking for a hotel that would accept us because I’m not exactly welcome in Tanzania.  Finally after trying at least 15 different hotels, we were welcomed into the Peacock Hotel and immediately fell onto the bed for an amazing sleep.

Beds are awesome

Beds are awesome

It took mom 2 full days in Dar es Salaam to arrange a way to get to Mwanza.  Because Precision Air is afraid of little dogs like me, I was forced to ride in cargo.  Luckily, I had no idea what this meant until it was actually happening, otherwise I never would have gotten myself into such a situation.

While we were waiting for what I thought was just another routine short flight, mom gave me a little treat, a bitter tasting pill, but I think anything mom gives me is a treat!  Before I knew it I was being shoved into a crate, in a bit of a haze, and was having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

Seriously guys, what's going on?

Seriously guys, what’s going on?

Next thing I know, a Tanzanian man is carrying me away from my teary-eyed mom and then she is gone and I’m alone in my tiny cage.  WHY?  After a while, I’m driven out to the airplane, still in my cage and placed in the bottom of the plane.  What the heck did I do to deserve this?  Luckily, mom came to check on me in the bottom of the plane.  Unfortunately she was just there to say hi and then they closed the hatch and I was all alone.

In cargo, on Precision Air, all alone

In cargo, on Precision Air, all alone

By this point, my eyes were heavy and all I could do was close them and pretend I was with mom in our bed back in Mwanza.  And you know what, it worked!  Next thing I knew, I was reunited with mom and Taxi Tito and we were on our way to our bed in Mwanza!  Hooray!  Best day in a LONG, LONG time!  And then it got better because I was reunited with our awesome house and my best friend Twiga and my girlfriend Miss Piggy.

Reunited with my awesome yard!

Reunited with my awesome yard!

Reunited with Twiga!

Reunited with Twiga!

Reunited with Miss Piggy!

Reunited with Miss Piggy!

Was it worth it?  Sure it was, but it could have been a lot easier.  Mom and I will have to figure out another way back when we head home in May…

An Addendum: Apparently mom and me are not the only travelers to suffer at the hands of Turkish Air.  See the blog post here and all the comments that follow.  Boycott Turkish Air!

http://blog.myletsadopt.com/2010/10/26/turkish-airlines-worlds-worst-airline-for-pets/

Boycott Turkish Air!

Boycott Turkish Air!

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