Monday, February 25, 2008

WC: Roughing it in Tanzania

Well, at some point we will indeed be roughing it--but we sure haven't reached that point yet. The two hotels we've stayed in have been gorgeous, with hot water and good food, and internet access, albeit v-e-r-y s-l-o-w.

However, while waiting for the computer to load this morning (it took me 5 full minutes to get to this site), I watched a baby vervet monkey gamboling in a tree about 20 feet from me, bush hyrax scurrying across the ground and in bushes, and many birds flying by that anyone else on this trip but me could identify immediately.

At breakfast today, a buffet, they had four fruit juices (orange, mango, pineapple, and lichi), fruit (watermelon, pineapple, mango, passion fruit, peaches, pears), pancakes (really a cross between pancakes and crepes), omelettes made to order, ham, back bacon, pork sausages, beef sausages, baked beans, potatoes, white and wheat bread, a few different sorts of yummy rolls, and more.

The people who work here all wear loose-fitting uniforms in bright green and yellow or blue and white large squares. The light squares have lighter versions of the dark squares in them, again in a checkerboard pattern. I don't know if the uniforms are done in a known native pattern or if it's something invented for this hotel, but they're quite pretty and certainly don't match the image of "uniform" in the west.

When it's someone's birthday at a meal, they turn out all the lights, come into the large dining area with a flaming torch, chant and dance, and then sing Happy Birthday.

Our room are quite nice--very high ceilings, stucco walls, big reasonably comfy beds with carved headboards. Since we're in the middle of a national park, the electricity is iffy and hot water stops at 9 pm, but there's little other sign of us being in nature.

I don't want to talk about Tanzanians as some group I know anything about, since obviously I don't, but I must say that the people at this hotel are mostly very good-looking. Masai seem to predominate, and they have over 100 different tribes, if I remember correctly.

Our drivers are Lesika and Joyful. Both have a great deal of knowledge about nature, and they can drive through/on anything. We went off-road yesterday in search of cheetahs, which was bone-jolting but fun. Our waitress last night also had a Joyful sort of name, but I forget which word for happy it was.

Swahilli is a beautiful language. It is far more accessible than I imagined it would be--not that I know more than four words. But the sounds are familiar--there's no unfamiliar tonal variation.

By the way, did you know that elephants have more than 150,000 muscles in their trunks?

Today we're going a place where the lions hang out in trees to avoid tsetse fly bites. Should be interesting.

(Thanks, Holly, for putting the pix up.)

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