Saturday morning we all piled in the Landcruiser with Ibrahim one last time.  In the middle of nowhere, he abrubtly stopped the car and said, “I have to go see a friend.”  He got out of the car and we all looked at each other and around the car – there wasn’t a soul in sight.  Who in the world could he need to see?  Then as Ibrahim walked behind a bush it became apparent that he just needed to relieve himself.  We laughed even harder when he came back to the car and told us, “He wasn’t there.”

Ibrahim dropped us off at the small Arusha airport, where Steve, Angela and I munched on French fries and Joey devoured a cheeseburger.   We all had a few beers and some Dramamine in anticipation of our flight.  Soon the gate agent collected us from the bar and took us through the small security area and out to the tarmac.  We walked to our itty-bitty, 12-passenger, propeller plane and I said a Hail Mary.

Walking to our plane. Oh God.
The pilot turned around and asked all the passengers to please not take pictures during take-off and landing because he had been hit in the head with a camera too many times.  Then he turned on his Garmin.  I said another.

The air in the cabin was stuffy and hot and once the wheels were up it felt as flimsy as a paper airplane.  Luckily the beer and the Dramamine knocked me out before a full-blown anxiety attack kicked in, and I woke up over the electric blue of the Indian Ocean.  It got even hotter in the plane before we landed in Zanzibar, but we landed so I didn't care that I'd almost soaked my shirt and my thighs were chaffing like crazy. 

Bargaining.  It's his new favorite sport.
A different representative from the safari company picked us up from the Zanzibar airport and drove us to Stone Town.  At first glance Stone Town is dirty, dilapidated, and oppressively hot and humid, but the warmth of the people and the eclectic Arab, Persian and Indian architecture quickly charms its visitors.  We spent the next two days wandering the little alleyways, visiting the markets and the famous Forodhani Gardens for fresh-caught seafood, admiring the impressively carved doors, eating some truly delectable meals and delighting in marvelous sunsets (both for the colors and the reprieve from the staggering heat).   Angela and I bonded over pedicures, we shopped and Joey entertained himself by bargaining for everything we bought.  One shopkeeper got so frustrated with my husband he threw his calculator across the alley.  Another asked him, “How long have you been in Stone Town?”  When Joey replied that he lived in Nigeria, the shopkeeper replied with an understanding, “Ooooooh.”  

Here's the link for all of my Stone Town pictures.

Monday morning we met our tour guide again for our transfer to the beach and stopped for a tour of a spice plantation along the way.  The young boy who climbed a fifty-foot coconut tree with his feet tied together and a knife in his mouth yet somehow managed to sing all the way was definitely the highlight.  Our guide told us all Zanzibarians learn how to climb the coconut trees, but once they turn 26 they may not climb anymore.  He also told us that Zanzibarian men may not eat nutmeg because they believe it makes them more prone to father daughters than sons.  And then he told us that he had always really wanted to marry a white woman, so he found his wife on the internet.  But not until he'd "dated" 180 white women from the internet first.  Many women flew to Zanzibar to meet him, but he sent them all away, especially the one with the club foot.  He saw her from afar and told his driver to tell her he was out of the country.  #youcan'tmakethisshitup.  

Here are all my Spice Tour photos.

We parted with Angela and Steve since we had separate beach accommodations and settled into a lazy and relaxing routine of not doing a whole lot of anything for the next five days.  The drastically changing tides, brazen red monkeys and many a book kept us entertained.  The seaweed and coral that surrounded our beach made it a little difficult to wander, but at low tide we were able to find our own tiny island paradise at a sand bank in the dazzling aquamarine waters.  Our last morning we commissioned a local fisherman named Captain Roger to take us out on his tiny little sailboat.  What a wonderful week.  

Only a few hours after our morning sail in the Indian Ocean we had dinner in Addis Ababa.  We tried a different traditional restaurant and chowed on the vegetarian sampler platter with lamb tibs.  The next morning it was back to real life when we boarded our flight to Abuja.

And of course, for the last of our pictures from Zanzibar and Addis, just click on their names.   

our last day of safari

We began our last day of safari on Friday with a long, jostling drive full of hairpin turns to the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater.   The cold mist that surrounded us only contributed to the ethereal feeling inside the caldera.  It felt like we had driven into The Land Before Time.  We passed herds of buffalo and wildebeest and zebra and elephant.  We watched while hyenas and lions hunted and saw two rare black rhinos in the distance.  We even faced an elephant on the road!  He was very clearly not going to yield, so we did.  As our car slowly reversed through the bush, the elephant steadily stomped toward us, and it was so.  cool.

Staring down another vehicle

We drove back up to the rim of the crater for a walk along a muddy with an armed ranger who pointed out different flowers and plants and explained their uses.  I trudged through the buffalo-poop-covered trail and lamented to Joey that my nature quota had been filled about two days earlier and all I wanted to do was go shopping.  He reminded me with a smile that I was the one who planned the trip. 

We returned to our lovely room at the Ngorongoro Farm House for one more night, where we took advantage of the fireplace in our room and built a huge, roaring, romantic fire. 

For pictures from the last day of our safari, click here.

safari day 4

After the thunderstorms outside our tent lulled us to sleep, we woke to a gloomy morning.   Thursday, our fourth day of safari, we headed back from where we came, all the way back through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Areas.  Along our route we stopped at a boma, or miniature village, of one of the Masai tribes that live in the area.

We were greeted with the traditional song and dance of the Masai; the men stand apart from the women, but the harmony they create with their voices together is both beautiful and haunting.  Then a member of the tribe, the son of the chief (who can have up to 20 wives, so sorry dude, not really such a huge honor), took us into the village and one of the grassy, mud huts where they sleep.  He explained that their diet consists entirely of the cows and goats they raise, including the blood, which they drink with the milk.  Apparently the excess intake of iron is why their teeth look like this:

Sidenote: After much thought, I’ve decided to go ahead and post my pictures of these people.  Not only are they beautiful photos from a noteworthy experience, but we also paid a significant fee to tour the boma and were given explicit permission to take photographs.   I found it rather awkward to even take the photos at first, but when I showed my subjects their images they always responded with big, toothy smiles.  Therefore, I believe the privilege to take pictures for which we paid also extends to the privilege to post the same photos to my blog.  Additionally, there is no other personally identifiable information and if you think you’ll be able to find these semi-nomadic people in the middle of the Tanzanian bush based off a photo, good luck.

Anyway, after the tour, we were given the opportunity to ask questions and shop the jewelry made by the women of the tribe.  I found a bracelet for me and a necklace for O.  Joey bought an ebony club after learning that is what the Masai warriors use to kill the lions which attack their herds.

After a long day in the car and a minor accident (Ibrahim accidentally careened the vehicle into the embankment – it was rainy and he was going a little too fast, but we’re all fine.  Joey says he broke his toe but I’m pretty sure he’s fine), we checked into our last safari lodge.  Another beautiful property, the Ngorongoro Farm House is located on a working coffee plantation and has the best coffee I’ve ever tasted in my life.  The views were almost as good as the coffee.

Click here for all of my pictures from Day 4 of our safari