Sunday, April 3, 2011
Tanzania, March 2011
Everyone of us enjoyed the visit to Njiapanda Primary School in the village of Karatu. I attempted reading in Swahili, bringing smiles and then laughter. We watched in amazement as the children, lined up in orderly rows, quietly and efficiently received a snack of hot porridge. The older children helped the younger ones and no one complained. One even stopped to tie my shoelaces for me! We ended our visit by teaching a fifth grade class to do the Hokey-Pokey.
I loved seeing so many monkeys! At the entrance to one of the parks the monkeys were so cheeky that someone in my group lost her picnic lunch to one. Rangers tried their best to keep them away from people by throwing rocks at them. They also kept a close eye on us, or I might have gotten myself in trouble. I would gladly have shared my lunch!
There were so many giraffes that when someone in our group said "giraffe, 3 o'clock!", it required some self-control to keep from saying "Sooo?"
Whether solitary or in groups, giraffes looked like extra-terrestrials towering over most trees.
Huge termite mounds dotted the landscape. These offer homes to some of the smaller creatures.
Our accommodations in lodges were beautiful, and dining was informal yet elegant. There were organic vegetable gardens and manicured lawns.
The tropical appearance reminded many of my group of 16 travelers of Hawaii.
I did not care for our tent accommodations in the Serengeti where we spent 4 damp nights. There was a flush (well, some of the time, anyway) toilet and showers were possible (5 gallon buckets of warm water). I think everyone tried showering once, at least...deciding after that one experience that it was too cold, too damp, or just too much trouble.
Everything was comfortable enough, but I just have never been much of a camper! I appreciate comfort! The meals, served in a separate large tent, were amazing, though, and so were the evening views!
Cape Buffalo and elephants were in plain sight of our camp, and we could hear, but not see many others.
While in the Serengeti, we witnessed the wildebeest migration. Our trip leader estimated that over a period of two days, about 800,000 wildebeests had gone through. It is not an ever moving herd, although from a distance it looks somewhat like a moving train. Wildebeests stop and start, grazing and even playing in between moving on. The migrating wildebeests are sporadically flanked by zebras....I was unable to find out why. The zebras did seem to get along well with everyone!
I found the people I encountered in Tanzania to be friendly and helpful. They also had a good sense of humor and plenty of patience.
The roads are narrow and once out of the national parks, very crowded. Cars pass within inches of each other, but I never saw a discourteous or impatient driver. We Americans, by contrast, have many melt-downs. We need some of that "Hakuna Matata" (no worries) spirit.
Our trip leader and drivers
Two days of travel going and again when coming home wasn't nearly as difficult as I had expected. It's a matter of mind-set. Hakuna Matata! Now, I can travel anywhere.