Sunday, June 25
Safari Day! We left at 3:15 am for our journey to Dar Es Salaam airport with Ashley, Laura, Tuma, Emma their little son Derrick and Rahema who is their 16 year old housemaid/nanny. Didase drove and the car was packed. Luckily our flight on a small propeller plane was uneventful since it was Rahema's first flight and she was a little nervous. The escalator had been scary enough. Laura distracted her with taking selfies during take off.
Seeing the tallest free standing mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro, was a thrill as we watched out the plane window.
When we landed at tiny Kilimanjaro Airport we jumped in the jeep with our safari guide, Abbas, who drove us to Moshi where Tuma and Emma's families live. We started at Tuma's family compound and met his 112 year old grandmother who was curled up in a bed, trying to be warm.
The climate and environment is completely different than in Bagamoyo. It's jungle like, very lush, wet and cool with tropical plants. There were 5 or 6 different kinds of bananas, avocados and trees with bright red flowers that like giant poinsettias. It was beautiful with fields of sunflowers. Tuma's family served us banana stew from banana that tasted starchy like potatoes. My stomach was not settled today but I had to try it. We also got to try banana beer which was really different and not anything I want to hurry to have again. We didn't stay long before packing up and driving a short way to Emma's parent's home. She also had food for us and I ate the best banana I ever had- tasted just like candy! No wonder our Kenyan student Zura always complained about our tasteless American bananas!
Emma's father spoke beautiful English as he is a retired safari driver. I was grateful to Tuma and Emma for sharing their families and their homes with us.
We said goodbye to Tuma and Emma and their family and we headed out through the Rift Valley to the Rhino Lodge for our safari in Ngorongoro Crater! I was lucky to talk a lot with Abbas about his Muslim religion, Ramadan and EID which is tomorrow. He also is a wealth of information about the Maasai, the Chagga and other groups of people here in this area. One of the greatest thrills was seeing the Maasai people herding their cows along the road side. Most were dressed traditionally with red blankets wrapped around them. Their homes are made of mud and usually round. The environment looked more and more like New Mexico, USA as we drove and with all the goats and sheep and round Maasai huts and red dirt, I really was reminded.
On our way, we stopped to buy Maasai blankets which consisted of pulling over to the side of the road and after a brief conference with Abbas, a man ran to his shop and emerged with an armload of blankets which we passed around in the car and Laura and Ashley chose a few to buy. Better than Amazon!
On our way into Ngorongoro Crater we were so shocked and pleased to run into 3 elephant groups along the entry road. It bodes well for safari tomorrow. I tried so hard to take pictures but my phone just couldn't do it in the dark! We pulled up to Rhino Lodge and front was full of Cape buffalo. Just to make it more magical there was a tiny slice of moon hanging there over the Lodge illuminating the backs of these huge black Cape Buffalo. We were surprised at how cold it was here at the top of the Ngorongoro Crater. After a buffet dinner, we got hot water bottles from the staff covered in Maasai blanket fabric to sleep tucked in our chilly sheets. When we returned to our rooms, the staff had a fire going in the wood stove. What a great day!