Thursday, December 31, 2009

AFRICA - LAST SAFARI - Nov. 17th, 2009


Today’s safari at, Lake Manyara, was our last safari in Africa. I left on this safari with mixed emotions. I was very exhausted at this point and feeling quite sad that my trip to Africa would soon be coming to a close. I found it hard to get myself moving. My friend, Betsy reminded me that if I didn’t go I would miss out on seeing more lions.” The magic word kicked in and I remembered how I hated missing my first day on safari due to the Deet mishap. I quickly forgot how tired I was and grabbed my safari hat and said, “Right this is Africa.”

This particular safari was even dearer to me, because I knew it would be my last. Amazingly, I managed to get some of my best close up shots of baboons, giraffes, elephants, and some really pretty birds. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded. Definitely a place for bird watchers! We saw some giraffes that were so dark in coloration that they appeared to be black from a distance. It surprised me that giraffes had different amounts of pigmentation. Lake Manyara is an ideal location for elephants because of the abundance of tree and plant life. The park has Tanzania’s highest population of elephant per square km. Elephants are capable of consuming up to 400kg of food a day. We also saw more wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on the grassy plains.

So much of the lake has dried up that we were unable to get close to the water. That was because the lake was surrounded by soft marshland. However, we could see light pink and darker pink flamingoes that were spread across the entire length of the lakebed. There were literally thousands of pink hued flamingos on their perpetual migration. We saw pelicans, and storks sharing the lakebed as well. Ernest Hemingway was once quoted as saying that Lake Manyara was “the loveliest place I had seen in Africa.”

On our drive back to the lodge everyone in the van was quiet. I think we were all experiencing the “last safari blues.” Lunch helped brighten my spirits and I wish I could eat all meals from those silvered covered dishes, everyday, but I would be as big as a house if I did. I am still working at losing the six pounds I put on since I arrived in Africa. After lunch the plan was to visit a banana plantation and meet the local African workers. It was a very hot day and I was still very tired so I stayed back at the lodge. The truth is the beautiful pool with its vanishing horizon was calling to me.

My friend Betsy told me all about the things she saw at the banana plantation so I didn’t feel like I missed too much by not going. She told me was how surprised she was when she found out that the owner of the plantation was a woman. She was also surprised that her dwelling was so primitive. They walked around the plantation and spoke with some of the workers. They also toured the town and Betsy got some good photo shots of the local people and kids walking home from school.

After dinner will went to the bar and enjoyed the local Maasai as the entertained us. Some of the dances and chants of the Maasai tribe were very sexual in nature. One of the dances demonstrated (in dance) a couple being graphically intimate. Another dance was disturbing because they worked themselves into a trance and spread fire from a torch all over their arms, legs, and chests. Then to top it all off, two Maasai dancers sat down to share a bowl of fire. They actually put the fire in their mouths, down their pants, and rubbed it on top of their heads. These were no parlor tricks friends. I smelled and saw the smoke where one of the Maasai burned the hair on his head. I thought only Haitians did those crazy things. Oh my what would the missionaries who gave them all their Christian names think of that? Tomorrow we will leave this mystical place and head back to Nairobi via Arusha. It grieves me that I may never come back to this place called Africa. A place where the animals own the land, and run free, but because of man are still not safe. MORE TO FOLLOW…

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