Thursday, March 10, 2016

LAST DAY

We got up in am to another hot day! Luckily, it was a do your own thing day, but whatever one chose, it was  hot! After lunch, our guide called us together and we congregated in the lodge for a "goodbye" with the staff of the lodge and Mau, our main go to guide.  They said we were the best guests ever! I don't know about that, but we were a small group and non complainers! They gave us presents! The ladies got beautiful Tanzania cloth that could be made into the traditionl dress. The guys got beautiful Masai cloth (wool) to wrap on their very white bodies. It was afternoon and steamy heat, but we all put on our gifts and took pictures.
We went to pack and  save time  for one more ride down the Wami and another sundowner party. Because the tide was in and the river was deeper, we went all the way to the Indian Ocean! We saw so many Hippos, birds, and of course "Chairman Mau" the biggest croc the guides had ever seen! Wine and beer, laughter, and singing.....we were hot sweaty happy campers, but more was in store at dinner.
A lone tree in the mouth of the river and Indian Ocean!

We really tried to "dress" a bit for our last dinner on the river...but, everyone was having bad hair, and all our clothes were damp, and we itched...still we joined in the main lodge, and as soon as the main dinner was over...the whole staff came out in a conga line singing a really wild upbeat native chant. It was wild. They were carrying a special cake they made for us, and as they rounded the table, they pulled each one of us into the line. It is amazing how good we danced after all the cocktails. The MOVES! The MOVES!  I cannot describe, and this is a good thing. They gave us the cake and told us after we ate some we had to reciprocate and bring it back into the kitchen with one of our tratidional songs. First we practiced  Auld Lang Syne....but I thought it was bit dated and dull. So "Louie Louie"! Man we brought it down! I was the leader, and  so engrossed in my roll, that I didn't take any pictures.
I hope someone did. But, I can tell you, the staff at Saadani River Lodge will rememeber us!
LOUIE, LOUIE, WE GOTTA GO!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

WINDING DOWN

Our last few nights in Tanzania, and we are staying at such a lovely spot on the Bagamoyo Coast. We went on a very long game drive the second day. This area is just starting to recover from years of hunting, so even though we saw animals...they are skitterish and do not like humans. Not like Ngorongoro or the Serengiti. These guys sayed far away and would even run when they saw our jeep. So it wasn't as big a thrill.  Although a lion and attacked and eaten a man on a bicycle over a year ago. 

The government is working hard to protect the area and increase the animal population.  All the people employed by lodge are local tribal people, being trained for work. I can't say enough about the kindness of the Tanzanians. They are so proud to be "one" . Tanzanians first, then tribe. They are such friendly people and genuinely wanted us to enjoy their county.  All speak Swahili and English, and also a lot of German and of course, their own tribal dialect. 

The day of this game drive we stopped in at a "sister lodge" on the Indian Ocean. Same wonderful vibe, but managed by a crazy Scottish guy and his wife who came for a vacation and never went home! They served us a most excelent captains plate of fresh seafood caught locally. The prawns were to die for! Squid and small crabs and fresh blue tuna. We pigged out!

We ventured back out on the game drivend did manage to see quite a bit. But, it was HOT!  We came back in the late afternoon in time for cold showers and cocktails befor another fabulous dinner of lamb shanks, or chicken, and fresh made rolls.









SUNDOWNERS ON THE WAMI

The evening sunsets are quick here on the Equator. And they are beautiful out on the river, and maybe a few degrees cooler. The First night we  took the skiff and our guides took us birding and animal watching on the Wami River. We are on the Bagamoyo Coast and the river runs into the Indian Ocean. We are very close to the mouth, so we actually get about a 5 ft tide change. It makes a difference in what one sees.  As we got close to sunset the "boys" dropped the anchor and spread a table cloth. So cute. Out came the booze and real crystal. Now, that is NICE out here in the far away places. Even little snacks. Since our refrigerators were stocked with booze, and we drank wine and beer for lunch and dinner, and were oftered small delicious liquors when we came back home from game drives, we were imbibing a lot.  Well, its a vacation! So we toasted our trip and enjoyed some fun talk. The guides were trying to teach us a traditional swahili welcome song, and we joined in with the words we could remember and pronouce...kind of a "kum ba ya" moment except in Africa in Swahili.
We were at Saadani for 3 nights and we did this sundowner fun for 2 of the nights.  We saw lots of birds and one of the biggest Crocodiles anyone had seen on the river. We "christened" the big guy..."Chairman Mau" after our head guide. On the last day, we had choices of things to do. Steve and I went fishing on the Wami with two of the guides. I caught 1 fish, but Steve caught 8! They were cat fish, and we didnt want them, but the boat driver was happy to take them.


Monday, March 7, 2016

SAADANI

We flew in another small plane this am,after breakfast. It was a short flight to Saadani National Park on the shores of the Indian Ocean, and Tanzania's only coastal wildlife reserve. We got into our safari vehicles and started the 2-3 hour drive to the Wami River where our lodge was located. This is a very primative and poor area and the roads were not so great. What else is new! Most of the locals are fishermen or work in salt drying fields.   The last rains had washed out the last few miles of roads, so we got in skiffs on the river and went upstream until we came to Saadani River Lodge.
We arrived before lunch and were met by the manager who explained how thngs work at this ALL inclusive eco lodge. We each were shown to our own stitled house nestled in such privacy, that being  naked became our savng grace! Man! It was hot. The rooms were open, airy and spacious with good fans that whirled 24/7, but it was still hot! We had a wonderful outdoor shower that we used numerous times a day, and never turned on the hot water...not once! We had a small frig, which they generously stocked with any beverage we wanted...so a nice south African white and local beers were brought, along with icey cold bottles of water . All laundry was included, except for "smalls" (Those are ladies undies, and since this is a primarily male staff, the culture of the staff was not permitted to wash them. But they has wonderful washing,bathing, and lotion products, and bug sprays, and other handy items including a small clothes line in each room.


We had a delicious  first meal,and realized right then that the cook was a phenomonem , and we werein store  for some fabulous food. EVERYTHING was made on premises, including the breads. 
Coffee was made fresh in a French Press for each guest, and the wine flowed like the river.  We were given a nice water bottle with our names on them, and we could fill them at will from the chilled water in the lobby. So nice to see the restriction of plastic water bottles!





Sunday, March 6, 2016

SPICE ISLANDS

We continued our exploration of Zannzibar, which is actually a group of islands, which used to be called "The Spice Islands". A great deal of our spices come from this area, so we ventured to a government owned farm and walked around all morning looking at spice plants and trees and seeing the what the finished   product was. Our guide was sort of a plant medicine man, and almost everthing grown on this farm also had medicinal uses, beside flavoring. Then some small "start up" businesses had made soaps, creams, and perfumes out of many of the plants. So , of course, we had to help the local economy. They thanked us by making us head wreathes and woven baskets and even a tie and a frog necklace out of leaves...maybe hokey...but still was fun!
It was hot! Of course. We are almost on the equator...sunny all the time. We went back to the hotel and had the whole afternoon to do what we wanted, but all we wanted was to cool off, so we went to the pool, sat in the shade! Drank beer, and swam a bit.  Steve wanted to actually swim  in the Indian ocean, so he did that and swam in the pool. In the late afternoon, many many young men come to the  beach and start playing soccer in the sand.  They really have fun, and are loud. They Usually end up diving in the clear warm water after soccer.  Two other couples we have gotten to know, wanted to go have a happy hour  before dinner, so we all went to the local beach bar and tried a whole array of Zanzibar and Tanzanian beer! We finished off the evening by listening to Tarrub music before dinner.

We enjoyed our A/C for the last time. Tomorrow we were venturing to Saadani on the Wami River...Equator hot, humid and no A/C! Can't even imagine surviving!




Saturday, March 5, 2016

SLAVES AND SPICE

We are staying in Stone Town. Very old part of Zanzibar. It is so hot, we are melting,,yet I see people all over covered from head to toe in black scarves and robes. ,many men in white. Our guide is one of the few Christians on this island, but says it is no big deal. Zanzibarias, all desended from different tribes all over Africa, are proud of their intermingling, and have even turned down requests to test DNA to see where people have originated. They are pround to be Zanzibarians, and peaceful and happy people. Jambo jambo, they call at  us..Hakuna Matata..and all that.

We arrived in a torrential downpour and actually waited about 45 min in the airport garage area until it stopped enough to bolt to the car. By the time we arrived at our hotel on the beach....sunny and hot!
So we had a late lunch then went to see the old slave quarters.....very disturbing as you can imagine. In the heat and humidity we went under the ground to view the areas where they held black people for up to 3-4 days before they were sold. There were 8 of us and I could hardly breath in the dark, hot hole. But the slave traders would pack 75 people including little babies and kids in the same hole. It was really depressing. 
The chains on the statues are the original chains found at these slave chambers. 

The rest of the time we walked around the hot food market. While Zanzibarians have plenty of good and freash water available.....they don't have much refrigeration. Most shop daily, so the markets stay busy with everything needed to cook the day's food.  By the time we walked back to our airconditioned rooms....my feet were ballons and I was toast! A glass of wine and Benedryl...and I got thru the evening!






Friday, March 4, 2016

ZANZIBAR

Zanzibar is hot...humid, flat and beautiful. I am suffering terribly with tsetse fly bites I got in Serengeti.The Africans pronounce them as "say-say flies". Whatever. They are annoying as hell, and pesky. Sometimes when going thru an infested area, we would roll all the windows in the jeep and completely cover our bodies with 98%'Deet. We still got bit. But, I am the only one who has had such a bad reaction, and got the most bites. both my feet are so swollen that I cannot wear shoes. Suffering in hot humid weather with fat swollen itchy feet, and one hand.

Moving right along....Zanzibar has such an interesting history. It was populated by Arab traders who captured Africans all over Africa and brought them to Zanzibar to sell them to other countries who needed slaves. So ethnically, the people are Africans who all speak Swahili, but are Muslims. 99 %. Arabic is not spoken here very much. Zanzibar is a peacefull island, poor. But pretty safe. They are tolerant of the tourists code of dress, especially in the hotels, but once out on the city, it is better to be covered...only for women though!
Our hotel,is right on the beach and fun to watch muslim women in the full hijab with head cover having "beachboot camp". Also they are swimming completely clothed and with a cap and some with scarves. I saw some men meet their wives on the beach with robes and head covers immediately after they got out of the water. Lots of great fishing skiffs go by, and beach soccer in the afternoon gets very loud and energetic.