June 5, 2007


The next morning we got up relatively early to catch a ferry to Zanzibar! Everything went relatively smoothly. We bought our tickets, wandered around Dar for a little while until we found some peanut butter, then got on the ferry. We splurged a bit - we paid all of maybe three dollars more to ride the ferry first class! It was really nice, and a lot less crowded than the lower floor, and way easier to get off the boat from.

This time, getting to Zanzibar was actually a little less crazy than the last time. Still crazy, for sure, just…less. Almost as soon as you get off the ferry onto Zanzibar, you’re bombarded by people who want to carry your bag (for a tip, of course), get you a taxi, show you were to go, drive you in a taxi…aaaah. We got through customs fairly quickly, and then had this mass of taxi drivers actually following us to a certain point down the road, when Wes stopped to call another peace corps volunteer who works on Zanzibar, and when they kept talking to us and ignoring my repeated “Hapana”’s (No), Wes finally told them all off and said they were being rude. This resulted, finally, in most of them leaving, and we were left in relative peace to organize what we actually wanted to do, which was get a shared taxi to the beach in about an hour.

So we had an hour to spare, and a hotel that was watching our suitcases, to walk around Stone Town. We managed to get absolutely everywhere we wanted to go and back in an hour, even stopping for me to get some kangas and scarves. That’s got to be some sort of record, since Stone Town is pretty much a maze.

We made it to Kendwa (the beach we were going to) with no problems, checked into our hotel, and we were there! We spent the next few days on Kendwa, mainly just enjoying the beach. It was a real vacation. Wes left his cell phone turned off, I couldn’t really do anything with mine if I wanted to, we just enjoyed and relaxed. We swam, laid in hammocks, went snorkeling one day, ate good food…it was a great, relaxing few days.

The last night on Zanzibar, two days before I had to leave, we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous – pinks and oranges covering the sky. We walked up and down the beach for awhile with our shoes off, then as the sun was almost down, Wes pulled me aside to sit in the sand and watch the end of it.

As you might have guessed if you've looked on facebook at all recently, or talked to me, that night, on the beach, before the sun had completely set, Wes proposed.

Of course I said yes… :)

June 4, 2007

Ngorongoro Cont'd

Ngorongoro was…amazing. We went down this really steep path into the crater, and were immediately greeted by herds of zebras…so incredibly cool. We spent the rest of the day in the crater, driving around, seeing monkeys, zebras, a rhino, ostriches, flamingos, hippos… at a few points in time we were actually driving through herds of animals – as in, the herds of animals were across the road, so we would inch towards them until they glanced over at us and wandered off of the road, then inch forward a little bit more until the next animals did the same thing.

Towards the end, the only thing that we hadn’t seen that we’d really wanted to was a lion…it was my second safari in Tanzania and still no lion. We drove around for awhile but couldn’t find any, so finally we decided to give up and go home…as we were driving towards the exit, we saw another car stopped with a person staring towards something. We drove closer and slowed down to see what they were staring at, and…yup, lion! Lions, actually. There were two female lions maybe two feet off the road, just laying down and relaxing…One of them got up to walk further away once it noticed us, and that’s when we noticed the male lion…so cool.

Finally we left, later noticing that some of us, including me, had markedly darker tans on one arm than the other…whoops. No big deal though. Suyenne excercised some brilliant driving skills to navigate the very steep, rocky path out of the crater, and then we went out to eat with Peter. The next day we were on our way home.

Our drive home was more eventful than the drive there…at one point in time, we saw a giraffe! Just on the side of the road, drinking water from a stream. Giraffes look funny when they drink – they have to sort of splay their legs out to the side and dip their neck all the way down to reach the water. We startled it by stopping the car to take pictures, though, so it looked up at us, then around, then decided that it wanted to cross the street – right in front of our car. How cool is that?

A little bit after the giraffe, we saw this line of some sort of fowl crossing the road… about four or five of them went to run across the road, and you could see the last one kind of hesitating towards the back, and you just know he was going “Wait up guys! Wait up!” You saw him hesitate, uncertain as whether or not to go, and then –finally- he decides to cross – right in front of our car. Thump. Oh man.

We stopped in Arusha to see if we could get the radio fixed, again… this time we ended up following a preacher on a motorcycle from one shop to another. It was a hilarious amount of incongruity – he was wearing like, baggy sweats, riding a red motorcycle, with gold “I Love Jesus” stickers on his motorcycle and helmet. Awesome.

We couldn’t find anyone who could fix the radio, but after all of that running around, Wes hit it, and magically, it worked! Amazing. So we had music for the rest of the drive home.

Towards the end of the drive, Suyenne asked me if I would be willing to drive a little, as she’d basically been driving for three days straight. I said okay. Never mind the fact that it was a bigger car than I was used to on the other side of the road. Sure, why not?

About thirty seconds into my driving, we’re stopped by a police blockade. I was sooo nervous. The police asked for basically every little tiny thing they could think of, and still didn’t seem satisfied. Finally, finally they let us go. You could tell they didn’t want to though.

So I’m still shaking a little bit from that, and then I drive through this town, with people and children walking and biking on both sides of the road, trucks coming from both directions, a guy on a bike who decides to bike in front of me, and a curvy, downhill mountain type road where you can’t really see around the corner. Fuunnnnn. It was, um…an interesting experience.

Not too long into it, we saw a gas station, so I pulled in to get some gas, and Suyenne said she’d drive again…it was all I could do not to breathe a sigh of relief and say “Thank God” instead of the “Are you sure?” I actually said. As we started driving again, she mentioned that she thought it was brave of me to drive and that if someone had asked her in my position, she would have said ‘hell no.’ I’m sitting here thinking, “NOW you tell me!”

So Suyenne and Alice were going back to Morogoro, but Wes and I were trying to get to Dar that night to catch a ferry to Zanzibar the next morning. We stopped at a town towards the crossroads towards Dar and Morogoro, and managed to make it just as there was a bus loading up to go to Dar. Wes ran over to ask if there was room for us on the bus, we said goodbye to Suyenne and Alice, and we were on our way! We made it to Dar in one piece and checked into the YMCA. (Hehe, yes, I’ve actually stayed in a YMCA, I swear. It’s a hostel in Dar).

June 2, 2007

Ngorongoro Crater

The trip to Ngorongoro went much smoother than the quest to leave for that trip. We left early Sunday morning, after I got the chance to watch the sun rise over the Uruguru Mountains just in front of Wes’s house. The light in a sunrise is somehow different then the light in a sunset, just as pretty, but softer somehow. It’s a day beginning instead of ending.

The radio in Suyenne’s car didn’t work, so we spent some time running around Morogoro trying to find a store that was open that might be able to fix it or sell us portable speakers that we’d actually be able to hear…since it was still early though, and on a Sunday, no luck. We did manage to borrow a portable radio from Albert (one of the other peace corps volunteers), so finally we gave up our quest for something we could play an ipod on and left.

We drove basically all day…we were stopped by the police at one point in time for speeding, at which point the policeman said “You were speeding, you must pay a fine of 10,000 shillings (a bit under $10), and the other policeman kind of coughed, “20,000,” and the first said, “Yes, yes, you must pay a fine of 20,000 shillings.” We tried to argue the fact that the fine changed mid-sentence, but, not wanting to give them reason to hold us or cause trouble, didn’t argue too much. We paid and were on our way again.

Towards the end of the ride we stopped in Arusha, a large town a few hours away from Ngorongoro…Arusha was crazy. It had everything. Including a giant Shoprite, and a place called Steers that’s sort of like a McDonald’s…it was weird entering those places and realizing that we were still in Tanzania. Meanwhile, though, it still had the regular more Tanzanian type stores…Arusha was a funny blending of Africa and the western world.

We made it to Peter (another peace corps volunteer)’s site without much trouble. Drove up a fairly rocky road to the school that he works at and parked where we were told the car wouldn’t be disturbed and that someone would keep an eye on it, then went to Peter’s house to sleep. He was a nice guy – he had dinner made for us already, and the next morning he made coffee. We didn’t stay up late, since we were all pretty exhausted, so went to bed early. (Sleeping on couch cushions on the floor is somewhat awkward, especially when some of the cushions are different sizes. I was tired, though, so slept well anyway).

The next morning we woke up early to go to Ngorongoro…drank some coffee, and were on our way. As we walked towards the car, though, we realized something – the area where we had parked was the area that the students all assembled in the morning, and it was a school day. So we walked to the car amidst the stares of basically the entire secondary school, and then had to wait for students to move out of the way (while still staring) as we backed out of the place.

As we drove there, Wes mentioned that he had figured out that he could take out the back window of Suyenne’s car to enjoy the safari better, since it didn’t roll down…Suyenne expressed her uncomfortableness with the idea that baboons could jump into the car, was reassured that there are no baboons in Ngorongoro Crater and, even if there were, they wouldn’t be very likely to jump into the car, and just as we drove down the road into the park, what’s the first thing we’re greeted with? About ten baboons! Just chilling in the road, doing their own thing…they didn’t seem concerned by us in the slightest. Very cool. To be fair, Wes was right, there are no baboons actually in the crater, but it was pretty funny to see them just before we entered the conservation area.

We got a permit to enter the park and drove a little further into a winding mountain road…were greeted by an absolutely gorgeous view of the crater from above. Took a few pictures and continued until finally we were at the gate…you’re technically supposed to take a guide with you, but we really didn’t want to, since we had a map of the crater and we’d have to pay a guide to make the car more crowded…Wes went to talk to some of the guards, and, twenty minutes later, we were in the park, no guide. It’s amazing what some charm and Swahili will do, apparently. We were the only private car in the entire crater.