A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Amazing Weekend

Well I just returned to Dar yesterday (Tuesday) after a great time in the north of Tanzania.

I met up with my friends Tony and Justin at about 4 on Friday, after spending the day wandering around Arusha. They came up with my friend Moses whose dad owns a safari company. By 5 o'clock Friday I was all of a sudden headed out west to visit Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. The drive out of Arusha was very beautiful and the road(paid for and paved by the Japanese government a few years ago) was very nice. Got some cool pictures of the sun setting on Mt. Meru which overlooks Arusha and is Tanzania's second highest mountain. It was about a 2 hour drive to a place which translates to english as "The River of Mosquitoes" which is about 30 km west of Ngorongoro National Park. It was cool there, and the town name proved not to be true. Learned how to play Eucher, which is quite an enjoyable game.

Saturday we left early and headed toward Ngorongoro Crater, which is one of the world's largest Calderas(sunken volcanoes) and home to a wide variety of animals. Coming up the side of the crater is beautiful. It is a lush forest that goes on for ages. After about 20 minutes climbing up the slope, we got our first glimpse of the Crater. It is absolutely gigantic, and it is hard to make out any details of what lies on the floor of the crater. Im not sure how high up we were, but it was high.

Ngorongoro National Park is the home base for the Masaai people. Probably one of Africa's most recognizable groups of people. They were booted out of Serengeti earlier in the 20th Century and are now allowed use of Ngorongoro to graze their cattle. They are a traditional society that is based on cattle grazing and livestock is the sole factor in status among the community. My friend Kate and I talked to this really nice older man who had spent 1971 in Oregon. He has 2 wives and 10 children in Tanzania...and also a daughter in the US, the result of his time there. It is really cool to be living in the US but your father is roaming around Tanzania with his cattle and 2 wives. Really nice man, who spoke great english.

Anyways we made our descent in to the crater and quickly we saw lots of animals. There is all sorts of different little self contained eco-systems, from jungles, to salt flats, and just plain grassland. Its so beautiful and the crater walls are all around you. We saw lots of zebras, wildebeests(Mufasa Killers, for those familiar with The Lion King) monkeys, baboons, elephants in the jungle portion, lots of hippos, hyenas, a Rhino, a cheetah. It was an awesome start to the trip.

We left Ngorongoro in the afternoon, and headed to Serengeti. We stopped at a Masaai village and talked to the people there for a while. The road to Serengeti is terrible and is all rocky. It was fun though and it is impossible to explain the views as you come down the outside slope of the crater in to the vast stretch of land that makes up the western Ngorongoro conservation area and the start of the Serengeti. Unfortunately it is not the time of year for the wildebeest migration which is generally considered the coolest time of year to be here, but that having been said we had an amazing time.

About 20 minutes after paying our park fees to enter Serengeti, from our sweet Land Rover with flip up roofs that allowed us to stand and look out the top, so cool I spotted 2 Lions playing about 100 yards away. We stopped and were the only car in sight and could look for miles and miles in any direction. 2 other Lions were quickly spotted and they began moving closer to our Land Rover. Before we knew it, the Lions, all female were drinking water right next to the road and about 20 feet away from us. It was basically the coolest thing ever. A few minutes later the male Lion approached, and to top off an already mind-boggling 20 minutes, he passed right in front of our car and looked at us for a bit, but basicalyl paid no attention to us. This all took place right as we had entered the Serengeti. It was an insane day. We ended up staying in a guesthouse. It had bugs in the room but we shooed them out. We got up early Sunday and embarked on another day of safari.

I will post the details of Sunday and Monday tommorow. But a preview includes tons of giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, looking for 50 miles, endless plain(which is what Siringet means in Masaai) me eating an entire Goat Leg, absolutely delicious. Also a pregnant lion sighting and grunting, baboons, monkeys, crazy looking lizards, a 9 hour bus ride, strange bus rules, Tanzanian pool, hilarious 1980's music videos, including that Bryan Adams song from Robin Hood, rural hookers, eggs, a hot shower, the best damn pizza in Africa again, fun, beautiful scenery, and great company. Check back tommorow. One of the best weekends of my life, easily.

Back to shule.

Here is the lyrics to the Toto song "Africa" its geography is not great, but its cool.

I hear the drums echoing tonight But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation She's coming in twelve-thirty flight Her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation I stopped an old man along the way Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies He turned to me as if to say: "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you" [Chorus:] It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do I bless the rains down in Africa Gonna take some time to do the things we never had The wild dogs cry out in the night As they grow restless longing for some solitary company I know that I must do what's right Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become [Repeat chorus]