Africa, Destinations

More Animals and Even More Food

January 16, 2009 • By

I left the coffee plantation amply fed as I had pancakes (the huge American kind), eggs, banana muffins, mangos and pineapple. All the goodies were homemade of course.

We left Lake Manyara and headed to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the crater I’ve been dying to see. The crater was actually created about 2 million years ago by volcanoes and a shifting of plates. What I got to see was a huge hole about 5,000 feet above sea level (I was standing at 7,000 on the rim). It was dry other than a few pools of water and quite vast. It’s home to the black rhino which I had to settle on seeing with binoculars but many other species of animals like the buffalo, cheetah, leopard and some elephants.

I had a picnic lunch my myself as my guide picked up 2 friends and the plopped me on some stool and went off chatting in Kiswahili without me for an hour. Why is it when you are literally in a car for 10 hours a day do these safari people feel the need to feed you like a hippo? I mean a sandwich, chicken, apple, cheese, biscuits, juice a chocolate bar and a hard boiled egg is not a boxed lunch. It’s a feast.

>From there, we went to a Maasai village and here’s where it got interesting. I made a donation of about $60. The community chief greeted me (on my crutches) and I was escorted to the village. As I turned the corner, a wall of women on one side and men on the other busted out in some chant-song. The men were jumping up and down. I was told to build muscle but it looked like they were going up for a lay up (check spelling). The women looked old and decrepit. This particular village had 120 people. Many of the women have 7 children and the men 4-8 wives.

After the “performance” was over, the leader took me to a house to learn more about the Maasai. They are nomads so often build dwellings quickly. The women are the builders and the houses cannot be taller than 4 feet and probably about 5×5 in size. The floor is mud, the roof and sides are grass and there are 3 “rooms” in most homes. I found most of the Maasai to be tall so I hope they don’t sleep much. The spot where the husband and wife sleep looked like a puppy’s first bed. The children are in the other room and that was about the same size regardless of the number of kids.
The children are apparently being forced to school by the government but this leader told me when the government comes to check the kids run and hide in the bush.

The entire time I was at this village I wanted to learn but I also wanted to leave. There were flies everywhere. The people have these crazy holes in their ears for decoration. They are filthy and their dwellings would be too small for a midget. Yet, I was fascinated by their existence.

Remember those two “guides” that we picked up? After the Maasai village, my mysterious men and I turned off a barren path which none of the other trucks were taking. I was gravely concerned for my life and kept asking where we were going and why weren’t any other vehicles on this road. I didn’t know what to think as the 3 merry men were going on and on in their native tongue. We were stopping to look at animals which I took as a good indicator I was not about to be kidnapped or raped but I wasn’t entirely sure. My exit plan would not have been effective either since I can’t run and I was in a enormous field with nowhere to hide.

I managed to get an sms through to Jack to tell him I was in a big field in Ngorongoro in case I was never heard from again. And then, my GSM went down and I never got to tell him I was ok. After a tumultuous ride, I arrived at my tented camp in one piece. I immediately took my guide aside and said don’t ever take me somewhere again without telling me where I am going. Secondly, I’m on a continent where you hear everyday about rape and kidnapping and you picked up two people you called guides. I have no idea who to trust (those men later served me dinner. Ooops) and the entire afternoon I felt uncomfortable nauseous and was not able to enjoy the animals. Herman felt very bad so I ended with don’t ever take an American down that path and if a woman is alone you should never pick up any other people. It is not safe and certainly not acceptable.

My GSM went on briefly– I told Patrick and Jack I was fine and I ate another massive potato and meat dinner before retiring to the sound of hungry hyenas and another sleepless night in the bush.