We had about a 3-hour drive to our next destination, Tarangire National Park.
I took a few shots of the noisy colobus monkey that resides at Rivertrees Country Inn, but there were other monkeys too – blue monkeys and grey vervet monkeys. I was sad to leave – it seemed our stay here was so short. In my Mindful Travel Journal, I wrote about or drew each place we stayed. My observations about Rivertrees:
At 8:00 a.m., we were on our way. We drove through the city of Arusha, which has a population of about 1,000,000, stretched out along miles of road so that it looks more like a series of small towns, which perhaps it is – this population figure includes the metropolitan area.
This drive was a good chance for taking quick shots of people along the road. As it was Sunday, there were a lot of people dressed up in their best clothes for church. The women wore colorful wraps and the men wore Western style suits and ties. I also saw Muslim women, some covered head to toe, others wearing simple hijabs. About 40% of Tanzanians are Muslims; an equal percentage are Christians.
There were also a lot of markets being held, causing crowds and commotions in that section of the town.
Most of the dwellings we saw were quite poor – simple structures or shacks. There were also Maasai-type dwellings, which are round with thatched roofs.
I took a picture of a group of boys all dressed in black with white designs painted on their faces, who were standing along the side of the road. Before long, I saw more of these groups of boys.
David, our guide, said this is something very unusual to see. These boys are undergoing the Maasai coming-of-age ritual which includes isolation from the rest of the village and circumcision. They paint their faces so that they will not be recognized (supposedly) by others in the village and they live for about three months in huts isolated from the rest of the community. This ritual only takes place once every three years, so these boys range in age from 12 to 15.
Girls apparently do not undergo a similar ritual, and female circumcision is now officially illegal, although some traditional people still practice it.
We stopped at a modern shopping mall, most of which was closed because it was Sunday. Some people wanted to exchange money, so the rest of us either headed for the bathroom, or the supermarket (the only store open), or both. The only people we saw outside the supermarket were workers cleaning the hallways – mopping the floors of the corridors and in the bathrooms.
This is where only 15% of Tanzanians can afford to shop, I thought. Dale and I went into the supermarket and I casually perused the aisles full of neatly stacked merchandise. One aisle had school supplies and I decided to buy colored pencils to draw in my Mindful Travel Journal.
On our way again, we passed more villages, more colorfully dressed Maasai women fetching water, more groups of boys dressed in black, before finally reaching the national park. I thought I would spend at least part of this ride sleeping, but instead was wide awake conversing with the others in the group.
When we got to Tarangire Safari Lodge, we were given our tent assignments. Yes, literally tents! They are thatched structures with canvas walls and zipped screens at the front and back of the tent. There is a vertical zipper and two horizontal zippers.
There are no keys to lock the tent, just a “monkey lock” to keep the monkeys from coming in while guests are out! The monkeys have figured out how to use the zippers, but the lock is slightly too complicated for them: The lock consists of a small block of wood with three drilled holes, two of them connected, with a thick wire attached. The wire has a plug on the end. To lock it, first you loop the wire through the horizontal and vertical zipper tabs; then you insert the wire end into the big hole in the middle and slide it into the smaller hole so it doesn’t come out. Behind the tent itself is an add-on structure containing a bathroom and shower area. Electricity is only on in the morning from 6-10 am and in the evening from 6-11 pm. We have to charge our electronics during those hours in the main building by the bar.
We had only a short time before a drive through the park, after which we had dinner (about 8:45 pm!). We first stopped at the entrance to Tarangire National Park, where there were restroom facilities, a gift shop, artwork, informational signs, a large baobob tree, and a bold hornbill bird!
In Tarangire National Park, there were fewer giraffes, but lots of elephants and impalas. Here are several of the different animals we saw.
Then we saw OUR FIRST LION!! It was a young male lying in tall grass so we could only see the top of his head and his eyes.
This day was more awesome than yesterday – and each day would increase in awesomeness!!
Next: Elephant stories of Tarangire!