July 4, 2013
We were worn out and slept well in our tents. The tents are called nyumba, the Swahili word for home. “Jambo Jambo” (the wake-up call) happened at 7:00 AM. Hot showers were delivered to our tent, and we had breakfast at the main tent at 7:30 and headed out to view wildlife. The kids had their own car again today, and Greg and I were in our own car with Simon, while the other two couples rode together with Hasheem. We drove all through the Tarangire National Park viewing wildlife.
We checked the lion off our list of the Big Five today. He was a lazy fellow laying under a tree. He never raised his head. We had a very close encounter with an elephant. He was a large male, and he strode right up to our car. Our guide told us not to worry. The elephant was relaxed in his demeanor and exhibiting no signs of aggressive behavior. He just seemed curious. It was as if he were looking into the car to see if he recognized anyone. It was exciting beyond words. You could smell the musky scent of him. You could hear him chewing. I swear I could almost smell his breath. The temptation was strong to reach my arm out, but that would have been a mistake. He passed by and crossed the road directly in front of our car.
Simon is a pleasant guide. He is knowledgeable on many subjects but is not afraid to let some time pass in companionable silence. He has visited America more than once. He went to Florida and San Diego. He thinks he may come to Texas one day. He told me that he ate enchiladas in San Diego and loved them. He thinks Spanish is the most romantic sounding language, so Greg has been obliging him with a few words. We asked Simon if he could identify different tribe members by sight, much as Americans can sometimes recognize someone of Italian or Irish heritage. Simon said that it was possible. According to him, the Masaai are very distinctive. Many of them remove a front tooth so that they can spit. Other tribes mark their faces in particular ways.
We had lunch at the Tarangire Safari Lodge. There was a gorgeous view of the valley below. We could see elephant, zebra, impala: all were marching toward the river for water. We took a swim after lunch. The water was freezing. Genene went in first. Greg and I had to follow. A bunch of German tourists went in, each screaming as they hit the water. Eventually all of “our” kids got in the water. It was a nice diversion.
We viewed more game in Tarangire on the way back, and towards the end we stopped to see a herd of zebra. We were attacked by tsetse flies! They filled the car in moments. It was like the moment in “The African Queen” when Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn were swarmed by mosquitoes. Suddenly we were under attack, slapping ourselves. The flies bite, just like a horsefly. It hurts a bit and is very annoying. Simon did not stop to close the top but just started driving like a bat out of hell. When we got to the camp, the kids greeted us with their own stories of the attack.
We washed up at the tent and headed out for a kitchen tour. I am amazed at what the chefs can do out in the bush. They have a propane tank for cooking, a big box for cooking bread, a charcoal cooker for grilling, and one refrigerator and deep freeze run by a generator. The vegetables are kept in racks. The boiler is very simple by design and makes the hot water for the tents and the laundry. One of the workers at the tent approached Greg and asked him for help. He had $20 worth of small bills that were torn and marked. He asked if Greg would be willing to take them for a crisp $20 bill. The Tanzanian shilling is apparently volatile, so American dollars are welcomed, even preferred, in many places. We had been told to bring unmarked new bills and had followed instruction. We were happy to make the trade, as the crinkled bills spend just as good in the US. The man was very happy, and we had excellent attentive service for the rest of our stay at Tarangire.
We had another delicious meal: pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, pineapple dessert. Tomorrow we leave the Tarangire nyumba and head for Gibbs Farm and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Our close encounter with “tembo”:
The view from Tarangire Safari Lodge. You probably cannot tell from this landscape, but animals were everywhere.
Postscript: I am uploading this on the 6th, so I am already days behind on my blogging and we leave the wifi area tomorrow. I will take good notes and do what I can!