Irregular Posts; Karatu2, Tanzania

Karatu; Saturday, November 17 – Monday 19th, 2012 Jamba, On Saturday evening, the Tloma Lodge at Karatu welcomed us back to luxury with hot water for a long shower, a work space to load images from the cards, and a large bed.  On Sunday we were to do some “Learning and Discovery” in Karatu.  A morning visit of an Iraqw village and some afternoon market time.  Iraqw is a clan or tribe of Tanzanians that believe they had come from what is now Iraq some three thousand years ago.  Their skin is a tiny bit lighter but if you had not been told, you would not have noticed. The head man Paulo, took us on a tour of his village.  The fifty or so families in the village are brick makers.  Fifty or so micro businesses all doing the same thing with the same resources and using the same labor intensive techniques.  Clay is taken from the hills by the family.  Young strong men then pound it fine, mix with water, form into heavy wet bricks, and turn onto the ground to dry.  Older men take the sundried bricks and stack them in the correct configuration.  A brick kiln is built around them. Women bring the wood and old men tend the kiln fire for a few days.  When the bricks are done the kiln is broken down and the finished bricks are brought to Karatu to be sold to the people of the area. At one of the family’s homes, we talked to a teenage girl who was studying English at school.  She spoke shyly and hesitantly.  Her...

Irregular Posts; Serengeti, Tanzania

Serengeti; Tuesday Nov 13th – Saturday 17th , 2012 JamboJambo! It is about 26 km from Oldupai to the Naabi Gate of Serengeti NP.  The land is flat with rock outcrops, kopies, widely scattered.  Few trees grow on the plain where there are no water sources.  No more Maasai with their cattle; none are allowed in the park.  Now we see wildebeest and zebras grazing together.  The road is gravel and bumpy.  “Real African massage, especially if you in the back seat over the rear wheels.” The vans turn off the main road onto a dirt track that heads towards a collection of kopies.  “Simba.”  Sure enough a dozen lion and some cubs lounged in the shade of the rocks.  Cubs bounded through the high grass, tumbling into one of the reclined females.   Somewhat separate were two males also lounging in rock shade and high grass. Back on the main track, we drove toward the Rongai Hills where our tent camp was located.  The camp is known as Prince Charles Camp since he did stay there during a safari some time ago.  On the way along the single rutted dirt track, we came upon a group of three of jackals trying to get a baby warthog away from a grown pair.  Dodge, dart, chase, nip, run, turn, feint charge, run; the baby stayed between the two adults.  We left with the confrontation unfinished.  We had to get to the tent camp in the daylight so we could move in.  It is not allowed to walk about in the dark un-escorted. The camp had ten tents, a large mess tent,...

Irregular Posts; Ngorongoro Crater and Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania

Tuesday November 13, 2012 Jambo! Back into Karatu town we drove.  Street vendor carts selling souvenirs reflected the locals’ acknowledgement of the USA; one named “Obama is back” and one for “Hilary Clin ton”.  As we drove into the petrol station we were approached by the ubiquitous souvenir vendors; bracelets, necklaces and printed fabrics.  “Hapana asanti.” we said.  Most had now learned not to touch the things they offered.  Soon we were on the way out of town. Ngorongoro Crater appeared beyond the view point on the rim.  Our three OAT vans stopped to view and photography the vast space. The collapsed volcanic crater is about 100 square miles in area with a small lake inside and is easily visited in a day.  TEENY specks, animals, were visible on the floor of the crater, even though you could not identify them very well.  The entrance gate descent road is one way gravel road that parallels a walking track that Maasai herders use.  If they bring their animals into the crater, it is only during daylight hours and they can only use this 1000 ft descent/ascent trail.  About 25,000 large animals inhabit the reserve and few are involved in any of the famed migrations. We drove along the dirt roads noting the lack of water.  It was the beginning of the rainy season and soon there might be more water.  Rain and runoff from the walls collect in the lake and some marginal wetlands.  But over the past decade the climate has been changing and less rain falls.  This will limit the carrying capacity of the crater. An old bull...

Irregular Posts; Heading for Karatu, Tanzania

Monday November 12, 2012 Jambo! Local interaction day!  After a good breakfast, we went to a Maasai village near the Tarangire road junction.  The collection of buildings surrounded the central plaza and corral.  The small buildings were a mix of circular and rectangular dwellings that were gray stucco, with peaked thatched roofs.  Twenty toddlers and two elderly women kindergartened under an acacia as we drove in. Some washed clothes were hung on the corrals thorny acacia branches to dry.  After we parked and got out, we were introduced to the Headman who seemed to be in his late thirties, and then later to his elderly father, the retired Headman.  Soon the ladies of the village danced out from behind one of the houses. They were all dressed in fine blue attire.  (Turns out that it was wedding! finery.)  Ladies dance and sing.  Us guys were the designated photographers.  Meg and the ladies were greeted by a local Maasai lady and then were each draped in appropriate fabric robes and taught to dance. Since it was the beginning of rainy season, building maintenance was scheduled; cow dung-mud mix was to be spread on the exterior walls and dry grass/reeds needed to be laid on the thatched roof.   This is ladies work.  Each one got their hands full of the dung-clay mix and spread it on the exterior walls of the building. When all the “work” had been completed and appropriate photos taken by the guys, it was clean-up time.  Washing of hands and finger nails was done. The Maasai ladies used acacia thorns to clean under the fingernails.  More lady...

Irregular Posts: Tarangire, Tanzania

Tarangire NP; Saturday, Nov 10 + Sunday, Nov 11, 2012 Jambo! “Tarangire?  I never heard of it.  Serengeti yes, but not Tarangire.”   It turns out that it is famous for their elephant herds, baobab trees and diverse hilly landscape.  We turned off the main from Arusha onto a gravel road at the junction village that supported the Tarangire park entrants.  Rain splashed on the road and dimpled the dust.  Soon no dust, and then little puddles appeared.  A vervet monkey, sitting on the entrance sign to the park, seemed to be pointing to the 50 kmh speed sign. We lunched in a shelter while it rained.   When it stopped, we headed back to the vans.  Tarangire is about  1000 square miles; think a rectangle 15 miles by 70 miles.  All the roads are dirt and will give you a good African massage while you are riding. The guides removed the three tops of the van; “I hope it doesn’t begin to rain again.”  Immediately on the park road, we began to see animals; Grant’s gazelle.  Predator cats frequently dine on them. Zebras, giraffes, interesting colored birds, and then a lion appeared for our viewing pleasure.  The female lion was 75 yards away, up on a ridge of the hill, relaxing and watching the road.  There were a couple of small herds of Tarangire elephants browsing the various acacia trees and bushes. The best view was a  Grant’s gazelle draped over a high branch if a tree.  “Leopards kill and hang it in a tree.  They eat it at leisure.”  said the driver guide named Sultan. Eight vans were parked...