Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tarangire National Park

We sleep well. I wake up and have a cold shower. It's only after I come out of the washroom that Shawn tells me I need to turn on the hot water switch before I shower....hmmmm.

We have a breakfast of fresh bananas, homemade pineapple juice, bread, crepes, eggs and tea.  We meet our guide, Chochi, put some of our luggage into the jeep, ( the rest we leave at Christina's) and drive to the It Started in Africa offices which are in the centre of Arusha.

The streets are full of activity. Lots of people going about their day to day activities.

Many women carry large items on their heads. They wrap a scarf or something on top of their heads to make a flat base for whatever they are carrying. Balancing things on their heads  is probably why most of the people appear to have really good posture. In North America, we generally have a lot of included. Maybe I should start carrying things on my head.

We are heading to Tarangire National Park which is a couple hours away.
En route we are stopped by more police. Chochi gives them money and we are on our way.

We pass many Masai people, often herding their cattle but sometimes sheep and goats. They wear brightly colored Masai blankets wrapped around their torso and legs and another wrapped around their shoulders. They often carry sticks or spears. I am amazed at how they get large herds of cattle, sheep and some donkeys all travelling in an organized line in the same direction...I can't even get my one dog to come when called.

There are two types of Masai houses; one is made of all mud and the other is mud and grass. The houses are usually round.

Chochi says that out in the smaller villages, the women do 75% of the work. They build the house, take care of the children and do the cooking. The men take care of the herds and do the BBQ. The men get the best cuts of meat. They also drink a mix of cows blood and milk to make them strong. But that is just in the smaller Masai villages.

We pass a handsome young Masai man ( teen) on a bike. He is wearing the Masai blankets and beaded bracelets. Chochi says that he has just returned from being on his own at a Warrior school in the wilderness for three months to a year and is circumcised in a ceremony when he returns. Then he is a Masai warrior.

We eat lunch in the picnic area just inside the gates of the park. beautiful morpho blue starlings are all around the picnic spot. These birds glimmer in the sunlight.

There is a guy on duty to scare off the mischievous velvet monkeys. He throws rocks at them but every now and then they still manage to get on someone's table.

The game drive is awesome. Chochi pops the roof of the jeep open so that we can hang out and take pictures. We see so many animals and birds including Impalas, zebras, elephants, wildebeest, ostrich, dikdik, velvet monkeys, vultures, Maribou stork and  waterbucks.

The highlights are a group of six lionesses and Cubs finishing off a young wildebeest. We are so close to them that we hear them crunching the bones. The male ate his share earlier. For some reason, the females do the hunting but the male gets to eat first then the lionesses and Cubs get the leftovers.

Another highlight is a very low hung elephant....his appendage actually drags on the ground and at one point he appears to scratch himself with it. I can hear the guys in the next car making comments.

We also find a cheetah. Chochi says that he hasn't seen a cheetah in over a year and a half.

And the birds. Chochi points out a stunningly gorgeous blue bird called a Lilac Roller
as well as some adorable spotted birds eating termites called Hoope.

Too soon its time to leave the park. While we are waiting in the jeep for Chochi to sign out of the park, a monkey climbs onto the hood, then up the window and starts putting his hands in the drivers window which was open a crack...he runs back to the bottom of the jeep when we pop out of the roof to take pictures.

On the one hour drive to our campsite at Natures Haven, we watch many of the Masai men and boys bringing in their herds. There is something majestic about them with their confident, upright walk and their staff in hand.

Chochi shows us a village that is inhabited by one Masai man, his 43 wives and his over three hundred children. He is well off cause he owns lots of cattle. His kids used to need to cross the highway to go to school and one day one of them was hit by a car and killed. So that this wouldn't happen again, he built a school in the village and the government funds it.

We are shown to our tents when we arrive. There are beds inside that are already made with fresh linens and a sitting area in front of it with an electric light and socket to charge our devices. Peter, our cook has set a table for us in the dining part of the campground. We snack on some popcorn before being served zucchini soup, fish, roasted potatoes, vegetables and fresh fruit ( very creatively cut). Peter is very careful about my Graham's peanut/ tree nut allergy.

Chochi eats with us and we have a very enjoyable supper together.

The weather is very comfortable, a lot warmer than when we first began our trip in Capetown. We can hear jackals or hyenas in the distance.

I am up early this morning. I realize that I made a gross miscalculation of judgement in Zimbabwe when I traded my hand and body towel for a couple of stone animals and a soap dish. FortunatelyShawn showered last night so I grab his now dry towel.

The shower is warm and I look out over the sink into the trees and I watch some bright yellow birds as I brush my teeth.

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