Friday, March 9, 2012
At first, it sounded like we would enjoy a leisurely day today. In the morning we had the choice of visiting one of the bomas (houses) in the village or staying in camp to finish packing. I declined the boma tour having "been there, done that" when my daughter was in the Peace Corps in Zambia a few years back. Instead I opted for a quiet morning and an opportunity to breathe, stretch, and reflect on my experience these past two weeks...to commit it to memory. After lunch, we would be heading out to Tarangire National Park on safari.
|packing up and moving out|
It was a perfect morning... comfortably warm and dry, under a cloudless sky with a light breeze. A good day to see the sights.
Where ever I travel, I am amazed at how quickly we are able to connect with people of all ages from cultures of every description. Even in Lobosoit where tribal customs and traditions are still observed, where the mannerisms, dress, and language were so foreign to us, a fundamental and mutual bond existed even before we arrived. This is the connection I spoke about at the beginning of this blog...the willingness to help and to be helped. To teach and to be taught. To love and to be loved.
While we may have harbored some misgivings when we first arrived, they evaporated as we went about our work. And if the villagers were fearful of us at first, before long we were laughing together and embracing one another. By the time we left, we were talking about plans for the future...for building upon what we started here...for strengthening our partnership with one another. For giving and receiving...materially, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Admittedly, what we accomplished in our short time here may have been little more than a drop in the proverbial leaky bucket...but at least it's our drop to claim.
After lunch, we boarded the safari vehicles that would transport us to the game park. This is a three hour trek if you stick to the main roads...but our guides decided it would be okay (meaning the roads should be passable) for us to take the "back way"... through the bush. Don't ask me to describe the joys of following rough, rocky, rutted roads through the wilderness for SEVEN HOURS...except to say that I now know what popcorn must feel like!
RULES OF THE ROAD
- If the bridge is out, use the river bed.
- If the rocks are too big to get around, drive over them.
- Don't worry about how deep the mud is. When in doubt, gun it.
- Before you gun it...make sure the windows are closed.
- Always carry food and water.
One advantage of taking the back roads was that we gained an appreciation for the vast African wilderness...vista upon vista as far as our imaginations could take us. Then, just when we started to think we'd never see civilization again, we would come across a boma...
We also saw a fair number of elephants, giraffes, and impala long before we entered the game park.
One of the most impressive sights, to me, were the ancient boabab trees.
You almost expect to see an elf peeking out of a door at the base of these huge trees.
In this part of Tanzania, the long, low hills resemble the drumlins of Central Pennsylvania except that they go on forever. The horizon is punctuated by mountains that rise as sharp and symmetrical as pyramids. From the ridge we drove along, the valley that led to the game park looked exactly like a never-ending championship golf course, studded with flowering bushes, acacia trees and baobabs that grew in perfusion.
We were so excited about seeing the animals in the wild that we had to hurry to make it to the game park gate before it closed for the night. It was still another hour or more until we pulled into the River Camp in Tarangire National Park http://mbalimbali.com/camps/tarangire_river_camp.php .
When we learned this is a "tent camp" our spirits fell...until we saw what kind of tents we were staying in:
"The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort."
One more day of fun and adventure before...culture shock!