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).

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