Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Safari and Maasai: 1st Weekend in Tanzania!

Sorry for the delay on this update. These past two days have been crazy  busy with lessons starting this week, all going extremely well by the way! I've always loved teaching and now it's so exciting to have so many different kids from so many different backgrounds and a good number originally from the Netherlands, some from India, some from Arusha, very few from the States, and some from the UK. Tomorrow another school gets added to the mix and I take my first taxi, not quite ready for a dala dala, though my Swahili is still dramatically improving and I can understand A LOT! I would definitely say I"m already at survival level :)

So the past weekend, our driver is also a trained safari guide and took my housemate, another American who left today (and took some awesome pics, soon to come!), and myself to Tarangere National Park. I'm glad that for Tanzanians it is very affordable (about a dollar), and non-East Africans is $35 entry fee, but so worth it! The first animal we saw was a zebra, which we looked at, fawning over it and taking multiple shots. Saa Nane told us we'd see more and we were disappointed when he drove away. But then next was elephants, which later ended up crossing the road right in front of our car and eating from a tree right on the side (I have a video!) and were HUGE! A baobao tree is a HUGE old tree and the elephant was taller! Then wildabeests, which not to sound mean, but truly are the ugliest animal. Then warthogs (Pumba anyone?) and Thompson gazelles from afar, later to be closer. The animals continued! Impala, dik-dik, baboons including one tiny baby holding onto her mother as she was carried around, giraffes, which looked way different than the zoo, and two lionesses stalking a zebra. The zebra came closer and closer to the napping lions. Two of the three lions woke up and started to watch the zebra, but didn't move. They got into pounce position and just watched the zebra get closer and closer. The zebra went around the backside of the sleeping lion and the heads of the other two lions turned. The lions didn't chase the zebra until it was down by the watering hole, at least 75m away! They missed, but it was really cool to see a scene I've only seen on Animal Planet come to life. Of course as the lion is sneaking up on the zebra, the safari vehicles are sneaking up on the lion. And then after their futile attempt, they decided to go back into the shade, walking by our car to get back there! Incredible. We saw some birds (lovebirds, ad, imm, vultures, and ostriches) and then went to a picnic spot where there were monkeys and we could look out at the vast plateau around us and see the elephants and zebras from up on a bluff. It felt so good to stretch our legs too after sitting in the car for 3 hrs. It was a FANTASTIC first safari. I hope to do Ngorogoro when my parents come, where there are only ten rhinos left in the world!

Then we met Liza's dala dala and headed to a Maasai village called Ol Tukai. Liza's boyfriend who died (RIP Korbitt) made a 200,000 acre conservancy and taught the Maasai about anti-poaching. The Maasai are a pastoral people who only eat cow meat and drink milk and cow blood, yummy. They have many wives and a woman's only purpose is to have babies. Their sandals are made out of motorcycle tires and many had gaged ears and lots of jewelry. Their dances involved which man could jump the highest and running towards the girls...I never said I approved of the symbolism. Their music was interesting. Acapella and very rhythmic (again I have a video) and lasted a long duration. I've learned so much from my Mapuche paper, which btw will be published in the NCUR proceedings in Nov :) Anyway, after paying each one 5000 shiillings (less than 5 dollars), of course eleven show up, we cooked a delicious meal over the fire on animal skulls and looked up at the beautiful starry sky. I love how insignificant I feel, looking up at the southern hemisphere sky and not recognizing any of the constellations. Though Venus was very bright! In the morning, we mainly hung out, and I took a walk down to Lake Manyara. This is clearly the bush, the middle of nowhere, and this space was so vast and such a powerful, beautiful landscape. Gazelle and flamingos played at the water's edge.

Then we went into town after talking to the oldest, richest ( measured by cattle and amount of wives) man and ate Tanzanian bbq of goat and beef meat. The meat is very chewy here so I wasn't a huge fan. I've only eaten meat 4 times now! But I think from now on I'll stick to pork, chicken, and fish. On the way back, we rode camels (for 5 mins), but it was definitely an experience getting up and down! The camel bends his legs down and it takes everything in my power to lean back and not fall off. Camels walk so slowly. No wonder they trotted through the deserts in Arabia. They'd never get anywhere at a normal camel rate-it's probably 1/2 a human step!

Today was really cool because we went to Makumira University that started as a Lutheran theology school and now has many other degree programs (sound familiar, Luther?) including music. To give you an idea of the Tanzanian way of thinking, the school year has been pushed back so that the gov't doesn't have to pay its deadlines. WE met the two directors who run the school and I'm hopefully going to collaborate with one with her girls' choir and my community choir, and we're going to join an African ensemble class when the semester begins! They will be a GREAT resource and I kept thinking of Luther and their j-term class.

Well my eyes are getting heavy and I have Swahili at 9 am followed by teaching so I'm off to bed. Badai (See you later)

1 comment:

  1. wow! :) What an amazing experience so far. I am jealous of your safari. I want to come too!!! I can't wait to see pictures.