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  Day 132, Wed, Sept 13, 2000 – Since we had to get up early for the flight to Zanzibar, I set the alarm for 5:30 to try to see the sunrise over the Indian Ocean.  I then surprised myself and actually got up.  I went out past the pool to the beach but unfortunately it was very overcast and instead of a bright spot on the horizon there was the gradual change of black to dark blue to gray.  I decided to swim anyway.  The water was just right for a brisk wake up and I swam out to a pontoon platform and got a wonderful look at the beach from there.  Just then it started to rain – it felt great being a part of nature, getting soaked just like the palm trees on shore.

We took a taxi to the nearly empty airport and ran into Richard and Joanna again.  It was pretty funny – they had been staying in Diani Beach south of Mombassa.  The flight was short and we shared a taxi kids10.jpg (146723 bytes)  with them and an Israeli couple into the Stone Town.  We didn't have the heart to talk politics with them since they were on vacation.  The taxi parked and we checked out a few hotels door9.jpg (151458 bytes)in the area (with the help of several local “tourist guides” who gather in town waiting for taxis to arrive) before settling on Blue Ocean Hotel, a small converted house with heavy carved door and wood beam ceilings.  It must be owned by Muslims because there is a sign at reception saying “unmarried guests will not be entertained” and “no alcohol is allowed in the room” (we were guilty on both counts).  Incidentally, Lonely Planet also said that shorts, bare shoulders, bathing suits and kissing in public would be severely frowned upon.  Anyway, we got the best room – on the top floor in a separate building by itself like a little guesthouse.  It had three beds with mosquito nets, eight shuttered windows and a corner converted to a shower that dripped sort-of-hot water.  The views over the stone houses, mosques and alleyways were wonderful.  We changed some money and had stonetown2.jpg (153125 bytes)an excellent fresh seafood lunch at the Dolphin Restaurant, then went exploring.  The narrow crumbling alleyways and twisting roads reminded us of medieval Europe – like Venice without the water.  Every turn was a surprise of beautiful kids in Muslim scarves or hats, vendors with carts of various goods, spice markets, colorfully robed women, tiny gardens surrounded by “coral rag” stone walls, and exotically carved wooden doors.  The doors are a Zanzibar specialty – famed as status symbols for the wealthy. The bigger, brassier, more elaborately carved the door – the more successful and important the resident of the house (not much different from the 21st century).  

door21.jpg (154542 bytes) boatsbeach.jpg (153016 bytes)  door4.jpg (184867 bytes) fortwall.jpg (144734 bytes)  doordetail4.jpg (138805 bytes)  doordetail5.jpg (133693 bytes)    

Unfortunately, much wealth was brought to Zanzibar by the slave trade, as it became the primary supply and departure point for caravans into the interior of the continent and the market for exported churchspires.jpg (140784 bytes)slaves to Arabia and Asia.  English missionaries like Livingston fought the trade on religious and moral grounds while politicians fought it on economic grounds before it was finally abolished in Zanzibar in 1873. We visited the sight of the old slave market, with its dank dungeon (complete with leg chains) where they were kept until led to the auction block. In 1877 the United Mission to Central Africa built a church over the market, with the high altar placed over the site of the “whipping post” used to determine slavestatue3.jpg (144612 bytes)the value of a slave (the more the captive cried out, the lower the price became).  The slave history in Zanzibar is very moving, but what is most important to understand is that slavery is not confined to musty monuments and history books. The trade is unfortunately still alive and well in many parts of the world.  The church also contains a wooden cross made from a branch of the tree under which Livingston’s heart was buried when he died in the bush in Zambia (the rest of his body is buried in Westminster Abbey alongside other British heroes).  Outside the church is a moving statue commemorating the slave market that once stood there.  Our guide, Joseph, was excellent.  He offered the following comments:

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"Education and jobs – we are a very poor country and this is the only way to improve our condition."              

sunsettreedhow.jpg (135946 bytes)As the sun was setting we went to the waterfront on the west side of town.  foodarea2.jpg (169854 bytes)The views of the distinctive triangle-sailed dhows plying the waves against the red sky were evocative of the city’s incredible history.  At night, the area by the fort comes alive with dozens of food vendors grilling seafood and deep-frying potatoes and vegetables over open fires.  We had delicious grilled kingfish skewers for 1,000 shillings (US$1.25).


Day 133, Th, Sept 14, 2000 – Breakfast was pretty good, considering it was included in the $20 room rate.  We decided to try the famed scuba diving on this side of the island.  We took a boat out about 30 minutes, where I dived a small tugboat shipwreck and Naomi snorkeled the shallow reefs above.  jadiving.jpg (157427 bytes)We had lunch of egg rolls and samosas bought on shore, then had a second uneventful reef dive.  We were somewhat disappointed because the dive shop did not provide a guide or lead diver to show us the dive site – naturally we got lost and saw nothing but sand for a while.  Back on shore we took a long walk along the shore to the old dispensary, along creek road with its colorful local markets, to a neighborhood girls basketball game, then back through Stone Town.  The sights are exotic at every turn, from amazing colorful silk dresses to wrought iron balconies, to fragrant spice shops.  By sunset, we made it to the Africa House Hotel for the famous “sundowner” cocktail with every other mzungu (whitey) in town.  It was odd seeing them all together in one place since we saw maybe two pizza7.jpg (143165 bytes)others all day long.  We went down to the seaside for dinner again, but this time I tried the “Zanzibar Pizza” – an apparent specialty of at least six of the food stalls.  It’s made in about ten seconds with smashed down dough, spicy ground beef, sliced vegetables, mayonnaise, butter, and a raw egg, all mixed together before being folded over and thrown on the grill for browning.  We highly recommend it, with some spicy red sauce and salad.

Good world news today:  the previous “deadline” the Palestinians had for unilaterally declaring their nation came and went yesterday.  They have apparently had second thoughts about the reaction they would get from the world community.  I suppose there is a glimmer of hope left for peace. 


Day 134, Fri, Sept 15, 2000Today we joined the famous (so says the proprietor) “Mr. Muti’s Original Spice Tour”.  We wanted to see a bit more of the island and learn something in the process palms2.jpg (130398 bytes)      and we were not disappointed.  We started at the ruins of the Omani Sultan’s pleasure palace of Maruhubi.  Our guide, Raj, told us about the 99 “wives” in the Sultan’s harem.  He frolicked beside them here with swimming pools, baths and massages - all with the blessing of his “official” wife as long as all of his children from the others were kept as slaves too.  Raj explained the two derivations of the name Zanzibar – “island of black people in chains” (Arabic) and “bowl of fruit and spices” (local).  We stopped at an incredible palm tree that grew in a corkscrew after being struck by lightning, then continued to the interior where we stopped several times to learn about the local plant sources of some of thepalmtwist.jpg (110515 bytes) common spices and ingredients we take for granted when bought at the supermarket: cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, sesame, pepper, cardamom, and curry.   Medicine was also well represented as we were shown the natural treatments for cold, flu, rashes, headache, toothache, and malaria (quinine). Ironically, the same papaya seeds cure diarrhea when dried and constipation when wet (or is it the other way around?).  We also saw natural aloe, makeup, clothes dye, rope, basket materials and the all-important clove (Zanzibar controls 75% of the world market).  Then came the fruits: banana, pineapple, cassava, sweet lime, star apple, papaya, jackfruit, durian, avocado, and mandarin.  Raj showed us the odd paradoxes of the cocoa tree, which produces a bitter bean used to make a sweet drink (after roasting and adding sugar) and the coffee bean which is sweet canoebeach2.jpg (169454 bytes)and used to make a bitter drink (after roasting and grinding).  The amount of information was overwhelming, but was entertaining at the same time – especially with the taste samples.  Anyone interested in cooking or eating (as we are) would be amazed.  After the tour we had a delicious lunch prepared on the spice farm which included many of the ingredients we had just learned about.  We then headed for the coast through beautiful palm plantations and visited a coral cave that some say housed slaves prior to their auction, and relaxed on the beach at Mungapwani for an hour.  I traded some shells with two local boys fishing off the rocks.  They were talking to me, but I suspect they were more interested in the girls in swimsuits nearby which they don’t get to see very often.

On the drive back, the mud and stick houses and scrap wood shacks were much like those in the Kenyan countryside.  We saw a group of kids playing modified soccer with a coconut.  girls.jpg (140634 bytes)Back in Stone Town, we bought our tickets to Arusha, cancelled tomorrow’s scuba dive and watched the sun set from the porch swing at the ritzy Serena Hotel (the prices here – room and food – are ridiculous, so e “smuggled” in some ice cream from the new Italian gelato restaurant up the street.  It was great, but not quite as good as Italy).  We had great grilled fish on the seafront again, this time washed down with the local sugarcane concoction.  They take long womensea.jpg (138365 bytes)green canes, beat them with a stick and press it over and over through hand-cranked rollers as the white frothy juice trickles into a bucket below.  They yell something like “juicia mua” at the crowd, then a strainer and a twist of lemon later it is a delicious fresh sweet refresher.  Afterward we followed the advertising flyers to the “beach party” at Pichy’s Restaurant hoping to hear some good reggae or African music.  Unfortunately only 5 people were there and they didn’t seem to be music fans.  That was fine since we get more local atmosphere at the waterfront anyway.


Day 135, Sat, Sept 16, 2000Since we cancelled the dive trip, we had the whole day to wander around getting lost in the historic sights and exotic corners of Stone Town.  We went in the old Arab Fort that previously guarded the port and the lucrative trading center.  There was a great art gallery full of batik, oil and watercolor paintings.  We liked many of the pieces, but did not want to travel with them (or spend any more money).  We talked to the manager (and artist), Japonen who said:

 japonon.jpg (123965 bytes)"To be together and to find time to solve problems for all, not just for one.  It is difficult in Africa now because some have and some have not, and it is easy for those that have not to see the others.  Technology should be used to benefit all, not just put people out of work."


Next to the fort is the old Sultan’s palace, the “House of Wonders”.  It was the first building in East Africa with electricity and modern plumbing.  It also had the most elaborate carved doors in town that included phrases from the Koran.  Outside was an impressive craft market where Naomi looked around while I interviewed some of the vendors:

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Salem: "To help other people in life – Africans, white people, it doesn’t matter."


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Mahud: "To be healthy and successful in our life and to reduce the level of apathy in the world."

We continued through the town to the history museum.  It is small and somewhat musty, but it contains fascinating exhibits on the colonial period, the slave trade, the clove industry   and thebeachsoccer.jpg (116589 bytes) European explorers.  It even has some of Livingston’s letters and his actual medicine chest.  After lunch with our friend James Taylor (a different one), I wrote for a bit, then we watched kids playing beach soccer at sunset.  We went to one of the (surprisingly) many internet cafes to check email and surf a bit.  Apparently, Gore is still ahead in the polls and the USA is ahead in medals at the Olympics in Sydney. 


Day 136, Sun, Sept 17, 2000  - Took a half-hour boat to Changuu Island, formerly famous as the site of a prison for “recalcitrant” slaves, but now home to a land tortoise sanctuary.  The tortoises originally came from the Seychelles at the turn of the century, but are now endangered and can be found in only a few places in the world.  They are amazing creatures – essentially the same as theynatort3.jpg (189576 bytes) were 180 million years ago (compared to 2 million for humans).  Watching them move their massive bodies (up to 300 kg) and shells (up to a meter long) ever so slowly and purposefully is like stepping back in time (or watching “Jurassic Park”).  We actually fell in love while feeding the gentle giants an apple and some flowers.  Naomi was particularly enamored – and pleasantly surprised because reptiles are not usually her favorites.  Afterward we hiked around the small island and watched local fishermen patrolling the shallows with spears, then went snorkeling in the surrounding coral reefs.  There were some good coral colonies with fish feeding around and some amazingly colorful starfish amongst the anemones, sea urchins and grasses.  We lay in the broken-shell sand for our first real relaxation in a while until the tide came in nearly 20 meters toward our towel.  We looked for some shells, then had to join the crew for the boat ride back.  We had a great lunch back at the Dolphin Restaurant again, where we were the only customers.  They have a mascot parrot, Billy, who speaks English and Swahili – we talked to him a while, although his Swahili is much better than ours. The owner of the restaurant gave us some insight into the odd political structure that requires upcoming votes for presidents of both Tanzania and Zanzibar (Tanzania is actually the hybrid name when mainland Tanganyika was joined with the island as a republic in 1963). We went for another photo-walk around town, acquiring Salnede by accident  as a guide.  He was able to lead us to some of the more interesting doors and views since he now does that for a living (as do many other Zanzibarians).  We continue to be surprised by what may be around each new turn.  We stopped at an internet café, then headed back for seafood grill and taped our friends at the “Zanzibar Pizza” stand.

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 "I don't want to be a big man - just to have a good position so I can provide for my family."



Day 137, Mon, Sept 18, 2000 – Our last day in Zanzibar saddens us.  We went to the bank to get cash jaflag2.jpg (159848 bytes)to settle our bill  - $100 for 5 days (the best deal we’ve had).  We went for a final walk around Stone Town to film the sights, then met another prearranged guide, Mohammed Ali (similar in name only), for our taxi ride to the airport.  The Precision Air flight was delayed, but no announcement was made.  When we asked some uniformed guys at the gate they said the flight had not arrived from Dar es Salaam yet but they only smiled when we asked if there was any chance that it would be cancelled. The prop plane finally arrived and we took off about an hour late – not bad actually.  Arriving in Arusha, we are now in Tanzania proper, or more specifically Tanganyika.  This country has all the poverty, drought, AIDS and economic issues that most of Africa has, but they have thankfully escaped the paralyzing tribalism that handicaps Kenya’s development. This is primarily attributable to their “founding father”, Julius Nyerere, who like Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya preached unity among tribes after independence from Britain in 1961.  For some reason it took in Tanzania, but failed in Kenya.  Nyerere was one of the most Socialist of the new African leaders, experimenting with various forms of command economic measures. Some worked and some didn’t, but Nyerere tolerated no dissent.  According to Lonely Planet, Tanzania’s prisons held more political prisoners than South Africa in 1979.  As in Kenya, corruption and repression caused donors to withdraw funds in the 1980’s until multiparty elections were held.  The next election is scheduled for October 29 and is heating up as this is the first time the opposition might actually have a chance to unseat the ruling party, CCM, which has been in control since independence.  They have taken heart from Mexico’s ability to throw out the only ruling party they had this century, but have a severe uphill battle.  In desperation, their presidential candidate in Zanzibar recently warned of bloodshed if he lost.  This did not enamor him with cool-headed voters.  There is also a fairly active independence movement in Zanzibar, arguing that their differing culture and economy warrants a separate nation.  They did have a more difficult fight for independence, including a bloody Afro-Shirazi revolution against the British-supported sultan and the expulsion of many of the island’s Arabs.

Although crowded, Arusha is a pleasant small town.  It is the center of most of the safari companies heading into the parks and acquired recent fame as the site of the signing of a peace agreement between the warring factions in neighboring Burundi.  The much-respected South African Nelson Mandela was the de facto leader of the diplomatic group, but US President Clinton made the biggest splash.  Much to the dismay of locals, his secret service took over the town for the half day he was there.  According to local papers, a convoy of 50 vehicles was flown in from the US, a military helicopter followed the caravan from the airport, the airport was closed, and communications were electronically jammed.  They also bought out many of the businesses attached to the Arusha International Conference Center to set up satellite communications and security teams.  In the press, the US was blamed for 250 journalists getting locked out of the AICC and Tanzanian TV stations could not even broadcast.  Some of the security provisions could be understood since he is “the most powerful man in the world” (and if situations were reversed, most African presidents would probably take the same precautions) but some measures were considered insensitive and insulting, like reshuffling the seating arrangement of other presidents, searching the Tanzanian President’s limo for bombs, and replacing the conference center’s water and soda bottles with a can of Coke flown in from the US.  Anyway, the conference ended with the signing of the accords, but only time will tell if there will be lasting peace, which is a prerequisite for any type of poverty relief in Burundi.

We took the shuttle from the tiny airport to a hotel, Arusha By Night, near the central market on a dirt road called Swahili Street.  It was a small local hotel with a soft bed, duct-taped screen windows and a view of the huge Mt. Meru just outside town.  We did some shopping for videotape, water, snacks, and got some dinner at a little samosa joint.  We also picked up an English language paper.  The whining about the increase in petrol prices has reached a fever pitch.  Although the price of raw crude has increased significantly in the past year, OPEC is not taking the blame for a change.  Truckers and farmers have brought European capitals to a standstill demanding reductions in energy taxes, which make up the majority of the pump price.  The French protesters were particularly effective gaining them tax breaks from the government (maybe since the last time French (textile) workers protested they poured sulphuric acid into a river and threatened to blow up the factory they were laid off from).  Maybe this will be the final wake-up call before the West finally stirs and dedicates resources to improve the viability of alternative means of energy.  If the current crisis does not convince you, then how about this:  The greenhouse effect caused by burning of fossil fuels has raised the average temperature in the arctic by 4 degrees Celsius and the thickness of arctic ice has reduced 40% in the last 20 years.  At this rate, truckers in island nations like the UK will have to switch to boats soon enough.  Also in the news the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took a huge step backward in religious tolerance by issuing a statement that followers of other religions were in a “gravely deficient situation” spiritually.  This was not received warmly by non-Catholics, at least not in Tanzania.

After a cold bath and a search and kill exercise that nabbed nine mosquitoes, we turned in to the sounds of market voices and the barking of neighborhood stray dogs.


Day 138, Tues, Sept 19, 2000 – Had a great quick breakfast at Dolly’s Patisserie and waited for the Gametrackers truck to pick us up.  The typical morning bustle was engulfing the town as we sat on the porch of the hotel.  The truck was late, so we decided to call the office.  I asked for a public telephone and was led through a maze of booths and makeshift stalls in the rain-muddied market.  Like some other countries, there are certain phones and certain calling cards for certain purposes so wgir4.jpg (133469 bytes)e had to look a while to find a card seller that had cards for both the local phones and the international phones in case we needed to call the Nairobi office.  By the time we did, the truck was pulling up.  For this trip we are the only two people going – as if it was a private safari.  We were disappointed because part of the fun last time was interacting with the other participants.  It does   make the truck a lot more comfortable, but it also reduces the number of eyes spotting game.  Our driver’s name is Paul again and the cook is Henry.  We drove for three hours on reasonable roads to Lake Manyara.  When we pitched tents in the grassy Jambo Campground we discovered they were a lot smaller than the ones we had in Kenya.  Henry made ham sandwiches and fries before we went into the park.  On the drive wegirface.jpg (100728 bytes) saw impala, gazelle, zebra, baboon, dik dik, a giraffe with so many markings it looked black, and a baby elephant that was very skinny from lack of milk from its mother.  We missed out on any of the famous tree-climbing Manyara lions.  Back at camp, we had carrot soup and chicken and rice.  The camp had a troupe of dancers and musicians who put on a show – it was actually better than expected (although I’m not sure how traditional the acrobat portion of the show was).  Unlike Kenya, this camp is far from the reserve so there is no risk (fun) of wild animals in the camp at night.  We are looking forward to a good sleep. 


Day 139, Wed, Sept 20, 2000 – I got up early to surprise Naomi in the tent with some of the local wildflowers (and other gifts) for her birthday.  We each slept great, although I continued with the freaky Larium dreams.  We had a (surprise) hot shower and a breakfast of eggs, crepes, sausage and toast, then started the drive to Olduvai Gorge.  On the way out we saw dozens of kids with their tools headed out to work in the fields – I was reminded of myself at their age headed to the corn fields before the sun rose.  When we got to the gorge, we heard a lecture on the history of the archeological finds in the area and toured the museum dedicated to the work of the pioneering Leakeys.  In this gorge they found the first example of Homo Habilis, the ancestor of Homo Sapiens from 1.8 million years ago.  In nearby Laetoli they uncovered footprints of an early family of   ancestors made in fresh volcanic ash that hardened and remained covered for 3.5 million years.  The placement of the big toe and the arch proved that the makers walked upright.  In this gorge the cliché “cradle of civilization” is actually true; we have all descended from the beings found here.  It took millions of years, but scientists have now determined that all humans share 99.9% of the same genetic material, DNA.  It is the 0.1% of differences that make the world interesting, but it’s the overwhelming similarities that should keep us from self-destruction.

The drive to Serengeti was cold and cloudy and when we arrived at the gate we had a delay babboonmom2.jpg (145629 bytes)since Paul is Kenyan and the guard claimed he did not have the appropriate work visa for Tanzania.  We killed time by taking the nature hike and talking to the lizards.  We finally got in the park and saw giraffes, antelopes, warthogs, ostrich, buffalo, waterbuck, topi, zebra, hippo, dik dik, hyrax, and sunrisegir2.jpg (128505 bytes)hyena on the way to the campsite.  We pitched our tent in soil so rocky it was hard to get the spikes in and watched another brilliant sunset glowing through sausage and acacia trees.  During spaghetti dinner, another camper (a rather nervous Englishman) rushed over having seen some eyes glowing in the surrounding bush. sunset10.jpg (131426 bytes) The camp watchman said it was only a bunch of hyenas.  Old news to us Kenya veterans, but we wanted to see for ourselves, so we walked around the perimeter and saw at least eight pairs of yellow eyes reflected in the flashlight beam.  Nothing to worry about, but then the Serengeti game warden stopped by in his truck to tell us a pride of lions was heading our way tonight.  We decided not to tell the English guy because he was nervous enough already.


Day 140, Thur, Sept 21, 2000 We woke to the story of the lions passing right through camp.  One of the cooks shined his flashlight on them as they sauntered through between the tents (right in front of ours!).  Naomi swears she woke seeing the light on our tent – good thing she didn’t unzip to see what the fuss was or my ears would still be ringing.  On the 6:30 game drive we headed toward the river first to check morning kills and saw a group of four lions lounging under a tree grooming themselves and each other.  A hundred meters away a female was sitting on a rock just off the road.  There was also a pride of 10 across the river eyeing herds of zebra and impala.  The animals did not seem to liongaz5.jpg (97082 bytes)notice them since they were all lying down, but the lions never started hunting behavior.  When we left this group we spotted a single lioness carrying a small Tommy gazelle by the head strolling along the river.  It was really awesome seeing her carry it in her muscular jaws without the slightest of strain in her movements.  We had a hodge-podge brunch, then had to find the immigration officer so Paul could make his case for staying (and not being thrown in jail).  I guess it worked somehow and after a siesta break we were allowed another game drive in the afternoon.  We set out to prove the Masai name for the park – siringet - which means “endless plains”.  We went in search of cheetah in the wide flat grasslands of their hunting grounds, but had no luck after a couple hours.  We finally saw some commotion back towards the river and flagtruck.jpg (160507 bytes)followed it to discover a leopard walking in the bush.  Unfortunately he was outnumbered by vans 12 to 1 so he climbed a tree for a snooze sending all of us away.  We saw two more lions sleeping by the river on the way home.  At camp we had the old-fashioned cold splash shower in buckets, then pork chops, beef stew and banana fritters before turning in.  No carnivore spottings tonight.


Day 141, Fri, Sept 22, 2000 - We left Serengeti a little disappointed since it was the most famous park we had been too.  Apparently the migration into Mara had been completed – as we had witnessed zebherd2.jpg (157692 bytes)there – and the drought was taking its toll too.   Like all game viewing, however, it all depends on luck.  Someone can come by ten minutes after you saw nothing and see a kill in process.  Before we left camp we heard others talk about a cheetah family with multiple kills, which is very rare.  C’est la vie.  As we left the park we saw three hyenas finishing off a zebra carcass so close to the truck we could nearly pet the hyenacar2.jpg (187877 bytes)nasty critters if the smell wasn’t so bad.  The video can’t pick up scents, but it did get some serious gnawing sounds.  Outside the park we encountered some Masai teenagers with white-painted faces.  They looked much scarier than the standard ochre coloring masaiwhite3.jpg (114119 bytes)and were apparently on their way to the circumcision ceremonies.  Unlike in the west, the procedure here takes place when the kids are older and fully aware of what is happening.  I’d have a pale face too if I were in their place.

As we climbed higher toward Ngorongoro crater it was freezing – we had all of our layers on for the first time.  It got foggy as we went through the clouds that hug the lip of the crater.  We tried to look down the crater from the road, but it was like looking from a plane window as you enter clouds.  The precipitation makes the slopes along the narrow road very lush and tropical as if you were in Hawaii.  Once you reach the crater floor the abundance of life becomes clear as the herds are   everywhere as advertised.  There are probably more per square kilohogknees.jpg (169009 bytes) here than anywhere else – there is said to be every animal from East Africa represented except giraffe.  From the floor you can see why most animals spend their entire life without leaving the crater area when you view the 600 meter sides of the 20-km crater – we wouldn’t want to walk up those walls.  There’s also more carcasses than anywhere else (in varying degrees of decomposition).  The animals here are very accustomed to humans and trucks as they just stand in the road and have to be practically nudged off with the truck at the last minute.  At the lake in the crater there were hundreds of flamingos and a family of hippos.  We drove around herds of zebra, el5.jpg (169112 bytes)gazelle, buffalo, wildebeest, waterbuck, hartebeest, and a couple of elephants.  Paul said there are no female elephants left in the crater - the poor old males just wander around, eat and shit.  We followed some vans to a very fresh lion kill – the dominant male was still feeding on the insides (the best part apparently) of a buffalo very near the road.  We could hear the breathing and chewing and smell the blood – it was a pretty visceral example of the natural world.  Four females were lounging 20 meters away awaiting their turn and vultures were swinging down to watch with hunched shoulders a little further away.  We went into the rhino area, but found a den of young hyena instead yapping and laughing at each other.  We stopped for lunch at the designated picnic area.  Buffalo and elephant passed nearby to get to the watering hole.  We had to take care as stealthy black kites have a habit of swooping down to steal food.  On the way back we saw an injured older lionhurt14.jpg (166029 bytes)    male lion limping near the road.  He was bleeding from wounds on his back and hindquarters and really dragging his leg.  He must have lost a fight and been kicked out of a pride by a dominant male.  He was now in serious trouble because a lion that cannot hunt cannot eat and will probably not survive.  We watched his labored breathing as he struggled up a rock to rest and look out over the plain.  We left him and found a lioness hiding in the grass near the bank of a river.  She had her eye on a herd of zebra thinking about having a drink.  The zebras did not notice her and soon she started to stalk, crouching and slinking along the bank.  The talk in the trucks fell to a whispered hush as everyone thought a chase was imminent.  As she slowly lionstalking8.jpg (130828 bytes)poked her head out of the bank we noticed that she was very pregnant.  We wandered why she was there alone and thought a run would be very hard on her.  She finally left the bank and crouched down in the grass scooting on her fat belly – by now the zebra had noticed something and started to move slowly away.  It was now or never.  She took one last look and gave up, we assume she thought better of her condition.  As we left, some hippos were standing up from the river.  We headed towards a rolling woodlands area where we saw a huge old elephant with the longest tusks Paul had ever seen.  They must have been three meters – almost meeting at the ends.  jael4.jpg (168826 bytes)The variety of scenery is incredible – the crater was like a small example of every type of environment we had seen in East Africa:  the plains of Serengeti, the savannah of Samburu, the woodlands and grasslands of Tsavo, the swamps of Amboseli, the forest of Manyara, the fresh lake of Baringo, the soda lake of Nakuru, and the river of Masai Mara.  On our way home, we passed the river again and the lioness was now out of the water and passed right by our truck, her huge belly sagging.  She flopped down next to us as if she would give birth any minute.  We waited a while, but she did not cooperate – I imagine she would probably rather have kids alone (or back at the den), so we respected her privacy.  We passed by the injured male and he was now lying down – maybe sleeping, maybe dying.  Within two minutes we had nearly seen the beginning and end of the circle of life for the king of  beasts.  We climbed the edge of the crater, which added another environment, more like rain forest.  Just as we approached the exit gate of the park, the engine started sputtering.  Paul took the cover off the transmission and determined that it was a clogged fuel filter.  Of course we had a spare and were soon on our way for the long drive to the Jambo camp again.  We passed on the dancers this time, but I did have the last of the safari rum after a spaghetti dinner.  In the tent, we had a typical bug scare although Naomi has been pretty good during the trip, as long as we spray the tent with “Doom” before dinner, keep the zippers closed and do an all-out search with the flashlight before turning in.  There was the one time I felt something in my hair but it flew away when I pulled it out to take a look at it – I wonder what that was?


Day 142, Sat, Sept 23, 2000 – Had an incredible Larium-induced dream about three rhinos attacking our truck.  One came from the right and slammed into Naomi’s door, one came through the windshield at Paul and I was fighting one off out the back of the truck – which was kind of weird since the back of the truck is not open, but hey, it was a dream.  I had the video camera in my left hand and the rhino by the horn with my right, kicking with my legs as I woke up.  Yesterday we had jashadel2.jpg (189452 bytes)decided to change the schedule a bit and replace Arusha Park with Tarangire since Paul and Henry said they usually see next to nothing in Arusha (which did make us wonder why it was on the schedule).  Anyway, we headed out after omelets for the two-hour drive.  We pulled into an incredibly dusty and windy camp (due to the lack of rain) and pitched our tent in very soft soil.  Paul     told us his tent actually blew away here last time!  After lunch which included an African bean and corn specialty that was delicious, we drove through the park.  It is more sparse than Ngorongoro, but there were some elephant, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, gazelle and impala.  In addition to the usual acacia, sausage, thorn, ebony, mahogany and palm trees, this park is the home to the famous baobab tree which has been called the “tree of life”.  It is very eerie looking, with a huge thick trunk and funky skewed branches like some tree monster in a Grimm fairy tale – it is our new favorite.  Near the river we saw small reddish reedbuck and big, handsome-faced waterbuck who jerk their head horizontally every few seconds as we drove by.  On the ground we even made out some banded mongoose scurrying along.  There was the cute little dik-dik that always seems nervous – either frozen stiff acting like a fallen branch or jumping away in a panic.  We saw two lions rolling on their backs, spread eagle more like dogs than cats.  As the day ended, we noticed a group of trucks looking in a tree and immediately thought leopard.  When we got there the yellow color gave away liontree2.jpg (165432 bytes)  lionyawn7.jpg (148852 bytes) two lions doing leopard impressions in the branches.  Throughout the day, we had our worst experience yet with the dreaded biting tsetse fly.  The bites hurt more than a mosquito bite – but they don’t particularly itch afterward.  The flies used to transmit the infamous “sleeping sickness” that wiped out entire herds of cattle, devastated some villages and afflicted some Europeans.  According to Paul and Henry, the threat area is now restricted to the South of Tanzania so we have nothing to worry about – gee, we hope they’re right since we were feasting grounds for them.

When we returned to camp we found a group of tents pitched literally two feet from ours when they had the whole site to choose from.  We thought it was very rude, but let it go.  The camp staff heated a huge barrel of water over a fire, then hauled buckets up to the top of the shower stalls to fill the gravity buckets.  It felt great!  Dinner was beef stew with mashed potatoes and veggies and ice cold (!) Coke.  That is one of the great things we’ve found in Africa (besides the people, sights and wildlife) – that you can still get Coke in bottles rather than cans.  There’s something about the taste from the bottle that takes us back to the “good old days” of our youth.  Well, we are now in our tent and Naomi is scratching her many mosquito bites; I’ll sign off now because I’m feeling a bit slee...


Day 143, Sun, Sept 24, 2000 – Well, the good news is we don’t have sleeping sickness, the bad news is our concerns about the proximity and rudeness of our neighbors were confirmed when we were awakened at 4:30 by laughing and talking in German right outside our tent.  We actually had to ask them to tone it down and respect the rest of the campers.  I guess in hindsight we had been pretty lucky with camp-mates until now, but this was (ironically) our last day. 

We realized it was Sunday from the church choir music from Paul’s portable radio and thought it was fitting to have our safaris end on a day of rest and reflection.  We were in the park before boabsunrise7.jpg (115347 bytes)the sun, watching it rise red through the massive silhouettes of the baobab trees.  Any sunrise is nice, but it’s an especially beautiful feeling to greet the day with your head out the top of a truck, brisk wind in lizhead2.jpg (149454 bytes)your hair, and the anticipation of never knowing what sights may await you.  We were getting very nostalgic about the whole safari experience when we nearly drove right by a lioness next to the road.  Paul put the truck in reverse and came right up to her.  She passed by us to sit on a rock on the other side of the road.  She was proud and stately, almost showing off for us.  Later we saw another tree-lion from a distance and more elephant, giraffe gazelle, reedbuck, waterbuck and dik-dik.  We were looking for a hunt, but only came across three lionesses walking lazily across the grass near the river.  jaomipaulhenry2.jpg (146060 bytes)We sadly said goodbye to game drives and went back to camp for lunch of vegetable curry, rice, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  After packing for the last time, we started the drive back to Arusha.  Paul and Henry dropped us off at Arusha Resort Center.  We booked our shuttle for tomorrow morning – it was a fiasco since it was supposed to be arranged by Gametrackers but was not.  We tried to get cash from the only Visa office in town, but they wanted 25% commission (such is the abusive power of monopoly over competition) so we passed and used some reserve US$.   I went for newspapers in the main clock tower square and was mobbed by newsboys.  I had to turn them away after getting Time Magazine, Nation, and East African.  On the way back I heard the old familiar sounds of a basketball dribbling at the school across the street from the hotel.  I unloaded the newspapers and headed over.  There were three kids shooting around a net-less hoop with a volleyball.  They all spoke English and knew the best NBA players so I nicknamed them Michael, Shaq and Kobe.  We played three-on-one and they were smoking me 9-3.  They were probably more used to shooting a volleyball than I was (of course my horrendous physical condition had nothing to do with it).  Their teacher came out and stopped the massacre by calling them to dinner.  The teacher explained they were boarding students at this former missionary school.  He told of the difficulties in financing and class size (about 60 kids per class) and showed me his living quarters (converted from the priest’s) with a small bed, wash basin and heating coil.  These conditions are still better than the dirt-floor “schools” we saw in the small bush villages.  I had to say goodbye to sundown to get back to the hotel.  We had a small dinner and turned in.


Day 144, Mon, Sept 25, 2000 -  Well, up until now we have been blessed with good health during this trip.  That all changed last night.  We knew it was only a matter of time and wondered when one of us would get hit.  Luckily for Naomi, it was me.  I had felt a little off when we got to Arusha, but we still had dinner and went to bed early due to our early shuttle to Nairobi.  An hour later, my stomach started to grumble in ways that would make the producers of “A Perfect Storm” proud.  Turning and rolling with so much movement I felt like a combination of a 9-month expectant mother and the scientist housing a reptilian space creature in his chest in “Alien”.  I spent the remainder of the evening in the bathroom, involved in various purging activities.  Modesty prevents me from going into details, but suffice to say, it was a very busy and extremely unpleasant evening.  Unfortunately for Naomi, this kept her awake most of the night as well – she was a real angel about it.

We eventually got out of bed in time for the 7:15 shuttle.  I was not looking forward to a 6-hour ride with my insides in very questionable condition.  We were glad that it was a fairly comfortable van, unlike the overstuffed raucous local matatus.  Unfortunately, the road was not a relief.  Although it was technically covered by tarmac (most of the time), it felt more like off-road dirt tracks with constant vibrations, dips, bumps, holes, and huge speed bumps that the driver may or may not slow down for.  We spent the whole time wondering what upcoming jolt would put me over the edge – we had a plastic bag handy just in case.  Reading the Olympics coverage in the Herald Tribune was out of the question and talking was impossible because every word was punctuated by a hiccup and every sentence interrupted by an airborne bounce.  We were once launched so high I hit my head on the top of the van.  Throughout the journey, the grumbling continued but there was a saving toilet break just over the border in Namanga, Kenya – the same place we had stopped on the way to Amboseli.  After that, the Kenyan roads were slightly better than in Tanzania and we amazingly made it to Nairobi without losing any fluids.  We got Wheely Beast at the Intercontinental and moved to the cheaper Ambassadeur Hotel.  The hotel has seen much better days – particularly in the 60’s when it was built.  It has a moldy historic feel to it, with Floridian turquoise and coral colored tile.  The room is huge, but unfortunately, the drought has now affected not only farmers and ranchers, but also hotels.  We have no water in the room, so the staff carries buckets up from somewhere (we were afraid to ask) and dumps them into the tub.  In that respect, it’s kind of like we are still camping.  The room has a view of one of the busiest intersections in Nairobi, with the constant noise of horns filling the street.  We relaxed and watched Olympics for a while – cheering on Cathy Freeman, the Aborigine Australian runner, to a gold medal.  Other than that, the 70s-era Blaupunkt UHF TV only received four channels, two of which had the same “Days of Our Lives” episode from the 80’s.  My mom would have been in heaven as that is her favorite American soap opera.  Although it wasn’t Naomi’s favorite, she somehow knew all the main characters and storylines.

We had to run some errands around town, most importantly to a camera shop.  We were really unlucky with cameras on safari.  The Fuji black and white stopped working altogether, the Olympus would freeze up about 50% of the time, and worst of all, the video lens got chipped and scratched during the game drives.  We didn’t notice when it happened, but we assume it was during one of the rumbling chases through gravel and rocks.  We went to three camera shops, but unfortunately they all said the lens needs replacing.  The only authorized Sony repair shop said it would take a week, so we are out of luck.  We will have to go through Mauritius and Seychelles and try again in Delhi.  The effect is that there is a very noticeable blemish on all of the video beginning sometime in Kenya.  We are very disappointed since these were some of our best shots.  For stills, we may be able to use photo-editing software to correct them, but the video (at 18 frames per second) is impossible to fix. Anyway, we left the two still cameras at a shop for pickup tomorrow, went to Uchumi to get dry crackers for me to try to eat and Wimpy burger for Naomi’s dinner.  I was feverish and felt weak the whole time and was very happy to get back to the hotel.  We just relaxed, watched TV and read the newspaper before turning in early using earplugs for the noise outside.


Day 145, Tues, Sept 26, 2000 – We tried to sleep in, but it was impossible. The matatu and bus drivers are the rudest and most uncivilized we’ve seen.  They lean on their horns from the time they stop until the time they start again five minutes later.  We were told that they are only trying to increase business, as if people who did not want to get in could be coerced into their vehicles with horn blasts.  Apparently, they also used to blast music at concert-level volumes, but that was outlawed – the law obviously did not go far enough.  The good news is, I’m feeling much better, which makes us think it was either food poisoning from the camping trip or some 24-hour flu.  Naomi’s suggested drug cocktail (Imodium, Tylenol, Tums, Pepto Bismol, cold/flu tablets, tea and crackers) also helped.  After breakfast we went shopping for gifts and souvenirs, stopped at the Amex office, checked emails and paid some bills online.  We would have liked to spend the day interviewing people, but we still do not feel safe whipping out the video camera in public – even in daylight.  It’s a pity as this is certainly one of the most interesting places and some people have given some great insight verbally.  We stopped by the Gametrackers office to obtain our refund (since we had to arrange our own transfer from Arusha). We also returned our evaluation questionnaires that included some suggested policy changes to prevent the two problems we had on safari (the lack of contingency funds in Kenya and the immigration issue in Tanzania).  At the camera shop, they had cleaned the Olympus, but the Fuji needed a new switch that would take a few days to repair.  We picked up a whole roasted chicken and chips for dinner and returned to the hotel before dark.  The guy at the front desk told us that Naomi’s surname is also a very popular name in the Bantu tribe – he expected her to be African when we arrived.  We watched the Olympics on TV most of the night.  There was an incredible race today when Ethiopian  Halle Gabresalesse waited almost the entire 10,000 meters to catch and edge ahead of Kenyan Paul Tegat by one step at the wire.  It was the closest long distance races we’d ever seen – and all of Kenya groaned in disappointment.  Not that we could hear it over the traffic noise, but the guys at the hotel told us about the reaction.  The viewing started us reminiscing about our favorite Olympics moments – including the good (energetic Olga Korbut and perfect Nadia Comaneci, dominating Mark Spitz with 7 world records and 7 gold medals, the duels between Brits Coe and Ovett, the amazing Finnish runner Lasse Viren, the young US hockey team’s upset of the mighty and favored veteran Russians, the incredible Japanese gymnast’s courageous dismounting from rings with an already shattered knee, Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair speed skating, the US basketball “Dream Team”, the grunts of the amazing Russian and Turkish weightlifters and Keri Strug sticking the vault landing with a sprained ankle); the bad (Flo-Jo’s outfits, jewellery and fingernails, Carl Lewis’ makeup, Zola Bud’s bare feet tripping Mary Decker, ,the judging in Seoul); and the ugly (the tragic murder of Israeli athletes by terrorists, Tonya Harding hiring a hit man to injure rival Nancy Kerrigan, the bomb in Atlanta, and Ben Johnson’s steroid-enhanced gold medal).  Unfortunately, steroids and other dangerous drugs/methods are now a fact of life in world sports, with most countries having their fair share of scandals, withdrawals, punishments, and shame.  As if we weren’t homesick enough after the Olympics, there was a TV special on the NBA afterward.  We went to bed thinking of Wilt, Bill, Julius, Michael, Magic and Larry.


Day 146, Wed, Sept 27, 2000 – Woke early to pack for the flight since we couldn’t sleep anyway.  Surprisingly enough, I was feeling much better.  The hotel doorman had been very cool since we arrived and he hired a discounted taxi for us (his friend of course).  The ride was only a half hour.  We were sad leaving Africa as this had probably been the most enjoyable, not to mention most intense and educational, part of the trip.  The neighborhoods on the way out were representative of the rest we have seen of Africa. Of course looking in from the outside, it is impossible for us to know what it is like to live here.  What amazes us is the resilience of the human spirit.  We have no illusions about these people being truly happy, but where there is filth and struggle and nearly unbearable poverty, the people somehow do bear it and still smile and laugh as much as possible.  This is especially true of children who don’t yet have a grasp of their condition, but we’ve also met plenty of men bonding with their buds on the corner and women laughing over the latest gossip in the markets.  All things considered, Africa holds more tragedy, mystery, potential, and conflicting emotions and theories than any other place in the world.  It may have the saddest future of anywhere, but it also has the most potential.  We will be watching closely in the hope that it will not be left behind by the developing world.


To Follow us to Mauritius, please click here: Photojournal  September 27 - October 18.

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