African safari 2013: Part 5

July 5, 2013

Our peaceful sleep was interrupted last night by the ringing of the cowbell. On our first night at the nyumba, our guides explained the procedures in case of any emergency. Each tent is equipped with a cowbell, and if we had trouble, we were to ring it. They cautioned us that the bell was for emergencies and not for “room service.” We were dead asleep in our tent at about 10:15 when we heard the first “clank-clank” coming from Scott and Jocelyn’s tent. It was not particularly loud. In fact, they were ringing it like the aristocrats at Downton Abbey do when they are calling for tea. Consequently, nothing happened. We wondered what to do but just stayed put in our tent. Maybe it was a false alarm. In a few moments, the second ring came, this one much louder and more persistent. All hell broke loose. You could hear the Africans coming from the main tent, and Swahili words filled the dark night. What was it?? Lion, leopard, hyena? We sat up in the bed but kept our tent light off and listened. Then we heard Scott saying, “There are bugs in our tent!” Oh, hell, I thought and laid back down and went to sleep. The next morning Scott and Jocelyn were both sheepish in their apologies to the group. Their tent was covered in a swarm of gnats, and they had to move to another one in the middle of the night. We teased them a lot about the attack of the killer gnats.

We had our last breakfast at the Tarangerie nyumba, said goodbye to our hosts, handed out the tip envelope to the head man at the tent camp, and hit the road. On the road we saw a beautiful lion and an exciting zebra fight.

Genene with our night watchman at the Tarangire nyumba:
The lion we saw en route:
 Beautiful young zebra:

Zebra fight!

Woo pig sooie!

Delicate fawn:

We passed by Lake Manyara but did not stop. Next time:

We were on our way to Gibb’s Farm for a couple of days in a lodge before heading to the Serengeti. On the way, we stopped at a local wood carver’s shop. Our safari companions did not like the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha because they took Visa and were very “touristy.” They were in search of a more authentic place to buy souvenirs, and so our guides obliged. The carvings were beautiful. The artisans held the wood between their bare feet and carved the ebony with sharp chisel and hammer. They let Genene try to carve some wood, and she thought it was very difficult. We bought several items, and cash on the barrelhead was required.

Children hanging around outside the carver’s shop:

Carving the wood:

We arrived at Gibb’s Farm at lunchtime, and we were starved. Gibb’s Farm used to be a coffee plantation, and they do still grow coffee there. Now it is a luxury lodge where they grow all their own organic foods. We ate farm-to-table meats and vegetables, and it was delicious. I fear I will gain weight on this safari.

After lunch, we toured the vegetable garden and coffee plantation. The beans are turning red and are almost ready for harvest. Genene got to spin the beans in a separator to remove the outer husk before roasting.

Coffee beans:

The coffee plants:

Genene running the separator:

This lady sang beautifully as she worked in the vegetable garden:

I was, of course, interested in the water supply. This is the well and tank:

Planting by hand:

Genene got to try her hand at milking a cow. She had done it once before on a school field trip and thought it would be easy. She didn’t get much milk out. All of us tried, and no one was any good at it. The workers make it seem so simple. They get the better part of a pail filled in just a few minutes. We tugged on the poor cow’s teat until she got annoyed. We also visited the pig pen. The folks from Seattle were gagging and complaining. I had it a little easier since I helped Daddy take care of pigs when I was in high school. Some of you have even mocked a photo of me on Facebook standing with my pigs.

The barnyard census:

Greg gets introduced to a big pig:

Genene tries her hand at milking:

Our room is spectacular, and I wish we never had to leave this place. We have the Writer’s Cottage, and the view off the veranda is magnificent. We have our own fireplace, and it is a necessity during the cold evenings. I wrote a couple of blogs here, while Greg and Genene read their books. Wine was plentiful on the terrace near the main lodge, and I took full advantage.

The view from our veranda:

The Writer’s Cottage:

We had dinner in the main dining hall. We were separated by a few tables from our safari companions but struck up a lively conversation with an older couple from New York City. It was their first safari, and they were positively radiant about their adventures. They were traveling the opposite direction from us and had already been to the Serengeti and the Crater and were headed for Tarangire, where we had just been. We traded safari stories. The food was wonderful. We had soup, salad, tilapia, and chocolate for dessert. After dinner, the staff came to light our fireplace and used a very old-fashioned but effective means to get things going: kerosene. Soon our room was toasty, and we were snug in our beds. Tomorrow we head for the Ngorongoro Crater.

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