Monday, February 25, 2008

WC: Tarangire


That's how you greet people here. (If I repeat myself, forgive me. I've only 30 minutes on a slow computer, so I don't want to take time to check what I already wrote.)

Up at 5 this morning, on the road at 6. It's now 2:35 in the afternoon here, and we're back at the lodge for a break from the heat. I'm dirty and sweaty from the road, but I wanted to grab this opportunity to post.

It's magnificent here. The area we're in today has vast swaths of green with trees dotting the landscape--acacia, baobob, the occasional palm, sausage trees, etc. We drive on dirt roads, often standing in our vehicle (the top pops) so that we can see as much as possible. It often feels like an amusement park ride.

It's funny how the rules of "civilization" fall away. For instance, seat belts? Feh. They slow you down when there's something to see. And there's always something to see.

We've seen dozens of amazing birds, in all sizes and shapes and colors--especially colors. The "trash bird" at the area where we stopped for lunch, the equivalent of a pigeon or sea gull in looking for human leftovers, is a Superb Startling. It's partially irridescent blue, with some red I think, black rings around the eyes, truly thrilling to behold. I'd post a picture, but this computer is sloooooow, and it would never work. (If any of my co-bloggers would like to find a picture and post it, that would be lovely.) We saw herons, 5 different types of eagles, egrets, starlings, strikes, widow birds, go-away birds, and on and on. There was one called a violet-breasted something-or-other, and it's pastel--gorgeous.

And we saw elephants. All over the place. Clumps of them under trees, enjoying the midday shade--and avoiding the midday heat. Two bathing together in a little pool of water, looking like they were having a great time and really enjoying each other's company. Babies that look like they're only two feet high, although a woman I'm traveling with says they're twice that size--she used to volunteer at a zoo and knows her elephants. We saw two young males butting each other. We saw one male so close that Andrea and I decided that we were the equivalent of 10th row center. And close enough that there was no doubt it was a male. Another male trotted across the road right in front of us. And we saw a baby breast-feeding, which was very cool.

We also saw impala, dik-diks, warthogs, and birds. Did I mention birds? The people I'm traveling with are bird crazy. They look for birds while we're waiting in line for the bathroom. They look for birds while we're eating dinner. One woman has seen over 1700 distinct species of birds!

I should probably go take a shower before we go out in search of lions.

I wish I could begin to do justice to just how amazing and magical it is to be here. It's such a different place from anywhere I've ever been, particularly in the Tarangire Park where we spent the day. The world seems to go on forever, the sky seems to go on forever. We go hours without seeing other people. The animals are just out there, living their lives.

And we have mosquito nets when we sleep, which feels very Tennessee Williams.

Lala salom. That means good night or goodbye, I forget which.

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