Arusha to Tarangire NP; Saturday Nov 10
The three Toyota Land Cruisers were packed with our gear and ready to go. Our guide, Godliving, had shown us a map on Northern Tanzania and the regions we would be traveling in; Tarangire and Serengeti National Park, Oldupai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater. First, was Tarangire which is southwest of Arusha. It is famous for the elephants and other animals.
Before leaving Arusha, we walked around the corner to the evangelical church to observe their Saturday service. The singing and chanting had been going on for an hour. We politely entered the church with other arrivals.
We stood to the side and at the back. Men, women, children stood moving with the music; hypnotic energy. For the half hour that I was inside, there was only singing and moving with the energy; some people seemed entranced.
When we left there were still more people arriving. “It will be a full day of happening.”
Two more guide/drivers had joined us and now our three Land Cruisers drove out of the compound, turned the corner beside the singing church and proceeded up the road. Saturday Market made the dirt business strips fuller and busier than what we had seen on Friday. Onto the main road and west we drove out of town. Dwellings and businesses of Arusha thinned and then disappeared. Scattered clusters of round Maasai homes with straw conical roofs appeared on the flat landscape.
We stopped the vans to look at an acacia tree with cylindrical honey hives hanging from the branches. Quickly two very little kids came running up the embankment to look at us. We waved and they looked puzzled.
“Jambo! Hello!” said Godliving and they waved hello but kept the puzzled look. A few kilometers down the road a tall black robed teenager stood on the roadside. He wore a headdress of two very long black ostrich plums. Four others sat under an acacia in the shade. “Learning and Discovery” said Godliving. He stopped and parked on the road shoulder followed by the other two vans.
They are in training to be a warrior. They must go through a training period and endure an emorata, circumcision without anesthesia. To become a warrior, they must demonstrate courage and demonstrate the ability to withstand pain. During this training period, they must wear black robes and white face markings. They live apart from the village, perform no herding or hunting duties, and are taught the culture by elders. “Often they stand by the road to make some money from the tourists.” said Godliving. It took awhile but he was successful in getting the boys to loosen up and enjoy the encounter with us.
Godliving thanked the boys in Swahili and gave them some “L&D” money. “They’ll use it to buy some more sandals at the Saturday market.” He informed us that it was now illegal for the girls to have circumcision. “Traditions are hard to change but too many girls were bleeding to death when they gave birth to their child.”
At a road junction with a sign for Tarangire, there was a village. We slowed and turned off the main road A104 into the village street. The road became dirt and we were at the beginning of the “African massage”. Ruts and humps and bumps and dips and rockygravel. “It gets bad when it rains.” Off on the horizon a rain cloud lowered a black veil of rain. “That’s where we are headed.” Just inside the Tarangire NP gate the warm rain began. When we stopped at the visitor center, we quickly took our box lunches to a roofed shelter to eat and watch the rain drops.