|Mo, Joe and Elder Wheatley|
The Rift Valley, view from the road to our lodge.
Our first sighting of elephants - a whole her of them on the hillside right by the road.
Impala - beautiful animals and lots of them all over Tanzania.
Many monkeys, and hundreds of baboons along the way.
A typical, breathtaking view of this part of Africa!
One of the first giraffes we saw - they were in all sizes and varied slightly in color.
Another African scene with Cape Buffalo and Impala.
Leopard - very solitary animals who drag their prey up into the tree and eat it.
Hippopatamus who look like just big grey rocks and we almost didn't see them! Elder Wheatley has an eagle eye and he yelled as our guide to stop!
One of the first lions we saw, resting under a tree with another large male, right next to the road.
We then went to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and stayed in a beautiful lodge on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world's largest intact volcanic caldera. Inside the crater there is forest, swamps, lakes and springs, open grassland and sandy dunes. We saw a group of lions eating a recent kill and then some of them came over to the several safari vehicles on the road and rested in the shade of the vehicles so they couldn't move or they would run over them. One lion came and rubbed against our vehicle and without thinking, I leaned out the open window and could have touched her, but wasn't going to, and our guide quickly yelled at me to get my head back inside. Our vehicle was a Toyota safari jeep with a top that opened so we could stand and take pictures and everyone had a window seat. There were just the 4 of us and our guide, Mo. We saw the elusive rhinoserus (only one because they are dwindling rapidly) in the distance, thousands of pink flamingos on a shallow lake, hyena, wildebeest, zebra and many other animals like warthogs.
|Simba! King of the Jungle|
Next we went to Tarangire National Park, traveling through highlands and the Karatu district, where there are wheat plains and coffee plantations. We saw hundreds of elephants and cape buffalo, many giraffe and more birds. On the way back to Arusha we drove through the Maasai Steppe, and then transferred to the Kilimanjaro Airport Lodge. We were able to view Mt. Kilimanjaro from the lodge and talk to several people also staying there who had climbed, or attempted to climb the mountain.
Maasai Men - they always wear a blanket/shawl that is usually red but sometimes blue, and have a stick.
Maasi women, who do most of the work, except hearding the cattle or goats. They do a lot of beadwork to sell to tourists and for their own jewelry. I bought some beaded stacking baskets from one of them.
This young man said he was 18 and was home in his village during a school break. He took us into this, his brother's house and talked to us and answered our questions. He said he wants to become a doctor some day. He said they eat 3 things: blood, meat and milk. They are nomadic and move when there is no more food for their animals.
This is Mt. Kilimanjaro - but my camera didn't take very good pictures of it. I will post a picture from Trudy when I get one.
I have included only a few pictures, since this experience was not mission related. The young elders asked us why they don't get to go on a safari and we told them that when they have raised their families and are as old as we are, they can go on as many safaris as they want. And, they can go anytime they want to after they go home from their missions - a great reason to return to Africa!
Here is a letter about our trip that we sent to our families, with a day to day record of what we saw and did:
African Safari, February 2013
The long awaited trip to go on Safari has arrived. A lot of worry leading up to the trip:
· Who will guard our home?
· How will we get out of the Cartier without being noticed – we don’t want people to know we are gone?
An additional problem arises when we receive an email telling us we are to attend a Couples’ Conference in Kinshasa and we will only have one day at home in between trips. This means we have to take care of needs for the Elders before we leave, since we will be gone for over two weeks (almost 3 weeks total).
· How will we get passports into Democratic Republic of Congo, especially since we need our passports to leave on safari?
o On the Monday before we leave on Friday of the same week, we give our passports to Toby, the man in the branch who does this for the mission whenever missionaries are transferred between countries. We are told we will have them back on Wednesday. Wednesday came and went and no passports. We call Toby and he isn’t worried, he says that, “Maybe on Friday” and we say, that doesn’t work for us, since we are leaving at 6 A.M. on Friday. He made some phone calls and all day Thursday, we wait. Finally at about 7:30 P.M. Thursday evening, he called and said he was at the airport waiting for their arrival (they must use a courier service). We drive to the airport and Toby runs over to our truck and hands us our passports.
· We give them their support money (soutien) the day in between trips.
· We train Elder Spens and Stevens on how to fill the font since they have baptisms planned.
· The President tells us in advance about transfers.
o We take Elder Davis to get passport photos since he will need them when we send his passport to Brazzaville for a Visa into Cameroon. We take his passport to immigration since it will need renewed while we are gone.
o We show elders Davis and Schmidt where the immigration office is, in case something happens to us and they need to get his passport – all of this while trying not to reveal that he is getting transferred!
· We go to the Post Office to check for mail.
· Leondra (our interpreter) finds an additional guard for us. His name is Malinga. He will work days in 12 hour shifts.
· Patrice, our regular guard, will add hours and work 12 hour shifts and earn more while we are gone. He volunteers to work all night, because he is concerned about that being the most critical time and he wants to ensure it is covered, since we don’t know the new guard.
· We decide to take our suitcases to the Church and store them there in a locked room, while I take the pickup back to our maison, where it will stay while we are gone. We will walk to the road with our carry-on luggage and take a taxi to the Church to get our suitcases, then on to the airport.
We arrive at the airport about 2 ½ hours before boarding, but find out that we can check in. A young man helps us and says he has attended our English class – a miracle for us because
this is our first trip out of Pointe Noire and we had been told it is a difficult process to get out of the airport. His smile and help is so welcome! He even puts us into a line that is for more important travelers, at the request of another person, because we are older and missionaries. This is very interesting, because then a soldier/policemen puts another man in front of us and it ends up taking us longer than if we had stayed in the original line! However, they don’t weigh our carry-on bags, which we were worried about. Another young man with perfect English is headed to Pennsylvania where he attends a community college. He is from Angola and his father works for the government, so he has money to do this. But when he declares his money in response to the question if he has money, as we pass through many required ‘stops’ on the way to the plane, because he is going to the U.S. to school, they want some. It takes him a long time to rejoin the rest of us, and then he tells us that he didn’t give them any…… We didn’t know what to say, so we declared that we had no money to give them and they let us through.
We next saw a young man we have made friends with, who lives in our cartier and who we have given rides to on his way to work at the airport when we see him on our way to go into town to walk along the beach road. He is very nice, speaks English very well, and works for one of the airlines. I had given him a ride earlier in the morning. When we arrive upstairs to the waiting area for international departures, he tells us that we have to move to another seating area because we are in the area for his airline and for South African Air. We are flying Ethiopian Air, which is one of the ‘Star Alliance’ airlines and supposed to be safe.
We and our carry-on luggage are searched, very professionally, as we line up to board the plane, which is fully loaded. There are mostly Filipino, Chinese, and Pakastani travelers. Sister Wheatley stood by a young man in line earlier and when she found out he was Pakastani, she started to worry that he would want to blow us up so that he could go to Paradise……..just another thing to worry about. He said he was going home for a visit and would be back soon. He, as many young men, works in the oil industry and commutes back and forth between Pointe Noire and his home country. We sit by a young Filipino, who has been in Pointe Noire working on a boat that dredges the harbor, for about 6 months. He was on his way home for 2 months. He spoke English very well and said he has a wife and young son. It is a long flight, about 5 hours, but the food is good.
We finally arrive in Ethiopia, at the Addis Ababa International Airport. We step out of the plan onto a metal stairway on the tarmac, and there is a welcome, cool breeze. It hasn’t felt this nice since December 5, 2011! We get on a bus that takes us to a terminal. Sister Wheatley needs a restroom and so the search begins. Ethiopian Airline people are everywhere, giving directions but no one knows where a restroom is. We finally find one hidden under some stairs – and there is a lady caring for it who thankfully has a bucket for flushes, which is interesting in a modern looking facility.
We are directed to another area of the terminal, and pass through a western looking waiting area with soda and food for sale and lots of westerners and easterners sitting around. The flight ticket says we will leave at 22:30 but now we find out it won’t leave until 0015. Another flight is going to Tanzania earlier, but it is going directly to Dar es Salaam, the Capitol. We finally get to board the plane, after passing the time by taking turns walking along the corridors of the airport and talking to other people who were waiting.
We arrive in Tanzania at about 3:00 A.M. Our flight is on a propeller plane and we have a bumpy ride. We can see one of the motors from our cabin window, but it is dark so we don’t get to see anything else, and we really wanted to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. We pass through a couple of time zones along the way. The landing gear is attached under the motor. They have lights on this area. I decide I will watch the tires hit the tarmac – a bad mistake. A huge bounce and the plane swerves to the right. Fortunately, the pilot doesn’t lose control. The airport is small and all the doors are open and the lights on are – and the insects are loving it! We had to wear mission clothing while traveling and Sister Wheatley is paying the price on her legs and arms as the mosquitoes discover her. We have to complete the always required paperwork (we should have our passport numbers memorized by now) and then purchase a Tanzanian Visa. On the government website it said we had to have a certain size of photo attached to our application, so we had taken the time to get them and didn’t need. We paid $100 U.S. dollars each, now have Visas good for Tanzania, and went to the line for entry. We go to another part of the airport and there is our person from the Arusha Coffee Lodge, to pick us up. We thought there would be others traveling to this lodge from the airplane, but we were the only ones. The young man had a bright red cloth wrapped around much of his body, over his clothes, and we later learn that this means he is Maasi. As we prepare to get into the van, he suggests that we use the washroom because it takes about an hour and a half to drive to the lodge! Sister Wheatley is becoming more and more nervous about driving out into an unknown land with a stranger, and no one else with us, for such a long time, over unkown territory, in the middle of the night. However, once in the van, with the doors locked and seeing that the roads are not back country, dirt roads with bandits everywhere, she relaxes a little and peppers him with questions, to ensure he stays awake as we drive off into the darkness. We find out that the people grow a lot of coffee and bananas. She tells him we don’t drink coffee, which leads to who we are. He tells us he is a Christian. His brother is a pastor (in Africa, everyone has a brother who is a pastor). We drive on very nice roads, down a clean, two lane, two way highway, through lots of little areas of closed storefronts. There are speed bumps all along the way, to prevent speeding, so he is constantly slowing down for them. We even pass some people, who are walking along the road and we can’t decide if they are out really late or up really early!
We finally arrive at our accommodations and find them to be very comfortable. It is now about 5 A.M. and we go to bed. We are in a little ‘house’ that has another unit on the other side. It has a couch and chair area, a porch with furniture, lots of windows, then up a couple of steps is our bed, surrounded with mosquito netting and a large bathroom with tub and shower and most importantly, a flush toilet. There is even a lovely chocolate for each of us on the bedside tables. It is the custom, we discover, for hotels to have someone go into each room in the evening to turn back the bedcovers, spray for insects, and pull the netting around the bed. We sleep well – the bed is very comfortable. We didn’t notice there was also a fan, which we used the 2nd night we were there. We got up at what we estimate is 11 A.M. we can see there are coffee plants around our lodges. Since we slept past breakfast, which was paid for, we pay for a lunch buffet. The restaurant seating is either inside the main lodge, or outside in a wonderful area with umbrelled areas spaced between grassy areas, up on raised platforms. There were beautiful flowers and trees everywhere. We have a wide selection of salads such as cucumber and tomato, pasta, and cabbage, and then breads, fish, chicken or beef, potatoes, vegetables, etc. There is also a dessert buffet, with mangos, watermelon, fresh pineapple, bread pudding, cake, brownies, etc. It was very delicious. Our waitress wants something religious from us, since we are missionaries, so we give her one of the two English Books of Mormon we brought. Everyone speaks English, yeah! Another employee, a young man named Joel, says he has seen our missionaries in town. We tell them we have only one book to give, and if they want more, they can please track down our missionaries.
An older lady from London (who says she is Irish), who works for Catholic Services in Tanzania, engaged us. We invited her to come and sit at our table. She said she lives close to the Coffee Lodge and comes here every Saturday to sit in the beautiful setting and have lunch and read. She shared a lot of information about the country and the work she does. She told an interesting story about a faith healer from the Lutheran Church. He set up shop in a village in the mountains outside of Arusha. He had the people drink a solution he had concocted. If, after drinking the drink, the people resorted to their previous medications, the cure would not work. People within the Lutheran Church recognized the problems he started to create, but refused to say anything. People began to flock to the village. Some, when they didn’t get better, resorted to asking for medical care, and overtaxed the services available. Many who were on medication for diabetes and aids, died almost immediately. There was no way of refrigerating dead bodies. Freezers had to be brought in to put bodies in. People without money had no way of returning home. In some situations, clinics in surrounding areas lost their funding because people were going to the faith healer and not using their services. Donors didn’t want to fund unused services. This went on for a year and a half before people finally stopped using his services. Another end result is that the faith healer has a nice home and several nice cars. This lady also told us of some of her adventures flying into the bush to check on the Catholic Hospitals and clinics, in a small plane which lands wherever it can. One experience was with a new pilot who discovered oil coming out of the engine onto the windows, so he turned the plane around and as they landed, nuns and priests came running to find out what was wrong, holding their beads and praying like crazy. The pilot discovered he had forgotten to put the cap back on the oil pan!
We awake at 6:30 A.M. and prepare for the day. We wonder which room Joe and Trudy are in. We inquire at the front desk. Every indication from them is that they didn’t make it. Finally, someone figures out where they are and that they did, indeed, arrive, and that someone had been at the airport to pick them up during the night. We meet them and have a wonderful reunion – it has been about 8 years since Joe and Keith have seen each other. We have a light breakfast in the restaurant and then go for a walk on the road outside the lodge. We are surrounded by coffee plantation and it is very beautiful, with lots of trees planted to shade the plants, and many beautiful flowers. The road is very busy, with buses and cars and people. As we walk closer to town, we see some schools and businesses. Then we return to the lodge, finish packing our suitcases, and have a buffet lunch outside, as we wait for our safari guide to pick us up.
We meet our guide, who asks us to call him Mo. He is a mature man, who looks like we envisioned a guide, complete with a safari hat. Our vehicle is a Toyota safari vehicle, with window seats for 7 plus the guide, and a top that raises so we can stand and see better and take pictures. Finally, we are on our way. We are surprised at the landscape – low, rolling hills, gardens of corn (maize) and cultivated fields. This terrain gives way to a less vegetated plain where we see lots of cattle and goats. We start to see Massi villages. The men always wear a large red piece of cloth draped around their shoulders and carry a long stick. The stick is a form of protection, to herd their cattle with, and our guide says to beat their wives with. Mo tells us that all Maasi females and males are circumcised, the girls at the young age of about 6 and the males between 13-16. We see young boys along the way that are dressed in black and have white paint on their faces. Mo says they were recently circumcised and after the operation, they live on their own while they heal. No Maasi will marry someone who is not circumcised and they do not marry outside their tribe. After traveling for some time, we ask Mo to stop and see how much 3 young boys would charge for us to take their picture. They ask for $5,000 U.S.D. Trudy says to offer a $5 bill and they accept it. We get out and take a few pictures and they try to sell us their bracelets. We see what we think are camels, and our guide says they are dromedaries because they have only one hump. The highway is very good, although we do hit some road construction. We pass through terrain that looks and feels a lot like the Navajo reservation, with small groups of houses, overgrazed terrain, and small shrubs – and no water. We see areas where artificial catch basins have been made to preserve water for the cattle and goats. We see lots of large termite hills.
We pass through a town where they have built large drainage ditches. There are many small shops, much like in Congo, only more are made of cement instead of random pieces of wood and painted colorfully, with cleaner streets. There are a lot of motorcycles, which people rent for transport, and 3 wheeled vehicles, also for transport rental. We see banana groves and we are surprised to see rice paddies. We see fruit and vegetable vendors all along the roads.
We arrive at the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge after a steep climb up a large hill, that provides us with a view of the majestic valley and Lake Manyara. We passed the entrance to the first National Park we will visit in the morning, at the beginning of the hill. It is early afternoon. We are on a ridge overlooking the Great Rift Valley. There are lots of trees. We are told it is a soda lake and that it is receding. We check in and rest and visit while we wait for dinner. At every lodge where we stay, we are greeting by smiling employees, happy greetings, a cold drink of fruit juice, and warm, wet washcloths to clean our dusty faces and hands with. Every lodge has a beautiful main building with the check in counter, restaurant, bar area, areas to sit and visit or play cards, areas for WiFi access, etc. and a beautiful pool area. There are employees everywhere waiting to take your luggage, get you drinks, or answer your questions. They always take us to our rooms and show us how to use the safes, the lights, etc. This afternoon, there is a football (soccer) game on TV in one area – Manchester United vs. Liverpool. As we peek at it, the power goes out. When the generator kicks in, they don’t turn the TV back on and no one knows if BYU won or lost their last basketball game!
After a delicious breakfast buffet, we load up and head into Lake Manyara National Park. We wonder what we will see. Huge, fresh elephant droppings are on the road and then we see them – on a small hill, big elephants, small ones, and in-between sizes. They are eating and spaced out. Then we see lots of baboons. The large ones are quite big and the babies are so cute – especially when they ride on their mom’s backs or tummies. We see other types of monkeys, impalas, zebra, and wildebeest. We then get to see hippopotamus, from a safe distance, in a river area where they look like large rocks until one of them raises its head. Joe and Trudy brought binoculars, so we can really get good looks at animals even when they are far away. As we are looking at a herd of zebra, I notice a large black rock-looking object right next to the vehicle. I wonder if it is a dead hippo, but there is no smell. Then it moves, raises his head out of the water and grass, before anyone can really get good pictures, he turns and swims out further into the swamp. As we move on, we see giraffe – not as close as we would like, but there they stand with their tall necks, majestically outlined against the sky.
We return to the lodge and eat lunch. I think we have to eat way too often! However, it is always a pleasure and everyone enjoys the choices and the beautiful eating areas and the relaxed time to sit and visit.
We now head on toward the Serengeti National Park. As we drive, we are impressed with the farms, the land is a rich soil as a result of volcanic activity. We see fields of beans, maize, and banana trees. We eventually climb up into forest, and then, all of a sudden, we are looking down in to the Ngorongo Crater. Mo tells us we will visit the crater on Wednesday. We realize we are at the top of the crater, and we begin to descend. We drive for about four more hours before we reach our lodgings in the Serengeti National Park. We pass across grassy plains, many Maasi villages, and we see thousands of zebra and hundreds of thousands of wildebeest. They cohabitate the same areas and are perfectly comfortable with each other. Our lodgings here are very nice. We eat a nice supper. Before sleeping, we wash some laundry by hand and decide to also send some shirts and pants to the hotel laundry, which has a reasonable fee.
We are up early, eat breakfast and our guide is ready to go. We leave about 8:00 A.M. and head out into the massive Serengeti National Park. We see animals almost immediately: impala, wildebeest, hartebeest, topi, elephants, cheetahs, a leopard in a tree, hippopotami, wart hogs, monkeys, baboons, and finally, the lions. What an amazing day! What more is there to see? We learn a lot from Mo, and we also watch a movie at the Visitor’s Center in the park.
· The impala, we learn, have a dominant male who will collect a harem of females. The other males will gather together in what is called the impala boys club. The male with the harem will eventually weaken as he spends time watching over his harem instead of eating. In his weakened condition, he will lose his harem to another more aggressive male.
· Only female lions hunt.
· The cheetah runs fast but can only run up to 600 meters before it must rest or collapse. It doens not have enough strength in its jaws to kill its prey immediately.
· Leopards live alone except for when mating or caring for their young.
We leave the Sarengeti today. On the way out we still see the wonders of the park. A large male lion sunbathing on a rock, in all his majestic glory. It is something to behold and very incredible. Later we see several females with their cubs, some of which are bigger than others.
We see a female just lying in the grass out near a herd of zebra, looking for lunch. We are told they hunt in 3s, so 2 other females must be in the grass somewhere in the area. We see our first hyena. We stop at two Maasi villages on the way out. Mo negotiates with the chiefs to an agreement of how much he will pay for us to visit their village and take pictures. We leave the first village because they are asking an unreasonable price. At the 2nd village, a price is agreed upon and Mo sends us on our way to observe the Massi dancers and visit the village. The men line up in 2 lines and chant loudly and jump up and down vertically and run forward. The women are very decorated with beaded earrings and necklaces and they mostly just smile and greet us, and sing a little. A young man, who says he is 18 and on holiday from school, speaks to us in English. The Maasi speak Swahili. He tells us that he leaves the village to attend school, although there is a primary school in the village. He said he would like to become a doctor, because the Maasi are not treated well at the hospitals they have access to. We think by hospitals, he means the clinics, of which many are manned by various church organizations. He tells us that all young men want to become Maasi warriors. This includes circumcism and killing a lion. We wonder where there are enough lions for each young man to kill one, and our guide laughs when we tell him that. The young man tells us that fathers will arrange for a wife from another village and pay cows and/or goats for her, usually between the ages of 18-22 for the male. The Maasi are nomadic and when the land will not feed their animals any longer, they will move on. They leave their villages and no other people will inhabit them, so they can return at some future time. The men develop a very high vertical leap as an important part of their dances. The women are virtually slaves for the men. They do the work, except herding the cattle and goats, which is usually done by young boys. We asked the young man what they eat and he said theyeat 3 things: milk, meat, and blood - period. The men always wear something red, a large cloth that wraps around them and is either plaid or plain or patterned in some way. The men also usually have a missing bottom front tooth, which is a sign of beauty. The women seem to have a missing upper tooth, but we are not sure if that is intentional for beauty. This young man invited us into his brother’s home. The homes are made of mud and sticks and some cardboard or whatever is available. It was very small inside, with two places that were raised and covered with a cowhide, for the family to sleep on, and a very small area for a fire to cook. There was no evidence of a place to keep clothing and there were only a very few cooking things, like a pot. He said that small children live with the parents and sleep with them, but when they get to be about 7 or 8, they go to another house to sleep – the boys in one and the girls in another. After we sat in the home and asked him questions, when we started to leave, he said we owed his brother 10,000 francs for being in his home – we think that is a form of extortion, because our guide already paid for this privilege, but we paid it.
They appear to love jewelry, which they make – lots of earrings which are loops of beaded wire, and lots of necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets which are also made from beads and wire.
Leaving the Serengeti, we travel to Ngorongo National Park, which is an inactive volcanic crater. The area is very beautiful. Our lodge looks down into the valley of the crater.
This morning we drive down into the crater. As we pass from the heavily forested ridge, we drive through many baboons sitting in the road and in the trees, down into green mountainland with pastures, then we eventually drive into a dry plain. The habitat is much the same as we saw in the Serengeti. We see a big pride of lions feasting on a recent kill. The hyenas and other animals are waiting for the leftovers. The lions know they can find shade by our vehicles, so 5 or 6 come large ones amble over and lay down – and now several of the safari vehicles can’t move until the lions do! One lion comes over to our vehicle and brushes against the side and as it stands there, Sister Wheatley leans her head out her window just enough to look down and see that it would be possible to even touch the lion, and Mo yells at her to get her head back in the window! We learn later that there is an Italian man who does reach out and touch a lion and his guide got very upset with him – and counted it to those *#**# Italians. Mo spots a rhino in the distance and although we never get close, we can see it through binoculars and Trudy even tries to get a picture with her more powerful camera. We later see it again fromanother angle, but still a long distance. Mo tells us that there used to be about 120 rhinos in this park, but due mostly to poaching, now it is estimated there are less than 20 scattered around the crater. Next, we drive to a large, shallow lake area, where we see thousands of pink flamingos. It is an incredible sight, and as some take flight, we try to get pictures. There are some wildebeest mothers with calves not far from the road, and on the other side of the road is a hungry hyena. A large male wildebeest stands between them and warns the hyena to stay away by doing a kind of huffing noise, and the hyena stays on the other side of the road for quite some distance, then we pass and hope he loses interest.
About this time, our guide has trouble with the clutch – not good news. We have passed and even helped several times when other vehicles have had flat tires, but this problem could be serious for us. He is finally able to get us going again, and we all agree it is time to leave the crater and try to get back to the lodge. I know we won’t be able to climb out of the crater in 2nd gear. As we approach the incline, another vehicle is in front of us and won’t move over to let us pass without slowing. Even with this obstacle, and lots of prayers in our hearts, Mo is able to get into first gear and we slowly climb back to the rim of the crater and the lodge. We arrive in
time for a late lunch and have the afternoon to relax. We sit on some lounge chairs by the pool and read, use WiFi and take a few catnaps. We are enjoying being with Joe and Trudy so much – they are so friendly with all the staff and make friends wherever we go. Soon the staff is asking us, whenever we appear without them, “Where is Malinga Joe?” which means, where is whiteman Joe?
Today we travel to the Terengire National Park. This park is much lower in altitude, and much warmer. It is home to 4,500 elephants. They are everywhere, as are lots of giraffs and Cape Buffalo. The terrain is low, rolling hills, with lots of trees and shrubs. The park is full of huge baboa trees. We learn that we see no small baboa trees because the elephants uproot them and eat them. They strip the bark off the existing baboa trees because they like the taste and it is good for them. Eventually the trees will die and since they are no new trees growing, they will, it is estimated, within 200 years, disappear from the park.
We see a leopard, thanks to an Australian man who directs us and many other vehicles to it. The guides radio each other, also, when something people would like to see, is found. How anyone spotted this leopard is a mystery. We could only see it with binoculars. We also see aba by lion up in a tree all by itself, although the mother must have been close. We see lots of giraffes and hundreds more elephants.
The staff at this lodge are very friendly and the accommodations are excellent. Saturday morning we leave the park and head for Arusha. We follow the same route we followed when we came into the area. Today is market day, so we see lots of people in the villages selling goods. We see lots of cattle. The land looks over grazed. We are taken to a very nice hotel in Arusha for lunch. We are offered a beautiful buffet with lots of salads, fruit, bread, pasta, fish, chicken and lamb. The dessert buffet has many delicate pastries and cakes and fruit salad with caramel and chocolate sauce to add if wanted. We meet the man who first introduced us to our safari when we arrived in Arusha, and he asks us to do an evaluation. We say goodbye to Mo, take a few pictures and Joe asks for his address so he can send him a hat and an Army pin.
We are generous with our tip to him – the suggested amount is $10 a day per person. This is his only job and it is seasonal. He has 4 or 5 daughters and is fairly recently divorced, he says.
He said one day that he is not interested in re-marrying, unless he is very careful this time!
We are then transported for about 1 ½ hours, back to the area of the airport, to the Kilimanjaro Airport Hotel. We are hoping to be able to see the mountain, although it is currently covered with clouds when we arrive. As the afternoon progressed, the clouds moved and we first saw part of the mountain, then all of it! We took pictures as we shared this excitement with other travelers. We met a man and his wife from Chicago. He is a physician and had spent some years in Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation, about the time we lived in Winslow. They were very friendly and they recognized our badges right away. We all sat around the pool area, where we could view the mountain as much as possible. Joe and Trudy talked with some young people who were French and who had come to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The two young men had not made it to the top due to altitude sickness, but they enjoyed their trip to Tanzania. Our room was, like several of our lodge rooms, in the shape of a round hut, only this time they were scattered among lots of trees and brush, over quite a large area. When Sister Wheatley got to thinking about walking to the main lodge in the middle of the night, to be transported to the airport for our 3:30 A.M. flight, she became worried – at all the other lodges, we weren’t allowed to walk after dark by ourselves, because of animals. Guards were stationed along the paths, to help. So she asked for help, and at about 1:00 a young Maasi, complete with a missing tooth and his red wrap and stick, came knocking at our door. Then I discovered I had forgotten
my glasses in our room and so she had to stand with him out in the brush along the path for about 5 minutes, which seemed much longer to her, as I went to retrieve them. He told her that their government was corrupt and they were not treated well, and she smiled and said she was very sorry about that!
We got through all the red-tape at the airport and had to wait for a while for our flight back to Addis Ababa and then home to Pointe Noire. We met some young women who teach school in Istanbul,Turkey and had come to Kilimanjaro to climb the mountain – and they did! Some of them had also climbed up to Machu Picchu – they are very adventurous! We had to ‘run’ from one plane to another to catch our flight from Addis to Pointe Noire, and just made it in time (no time for a bathroom break). We arrived home in time to get to a Sacrament Meeting in one of the branches, which was great because we missed our meetings the first Sunday. We had found a ward in Arusha, on the first Sunday, but it met in the afternoon, at the same time that we started our Safari.
This was a wonderful trip of a lifetime for us and we are so grateful for Trudy finding such an incredible safari and for all the experiences and fun that we had with Joe and Trudy. They are the best possible travel companions – experienced travelers who love the people and places they go, make friends quickly and are family that we love!
We hope you enjoy reading our experiences and we will send pictures as soon as we can figure out the best way to do that.
Mom and Dad/Keith and Theresa