Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 – Saturday, 31 January 2009

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work” Mark Twain

We got an early start from Pommern. Edward came by to give us all a big hug, and he wasn’t exaggerating. We said sad farewells to him, Mama Tony, and Lemda and took off in the van for Iringa Town. Once there, we did a little shopping, ate lunch at Lulu’s (great milkshakes but bad hamburgers!) and left for the Ruaha Hilltop Lodge. We made record time and arrived about 4 o’clock. After settling in to our bungalows and trying out the hot water, we lounged in the lodge overlook until dinner. Dinner was delicious, lots of fresh bread, meat and a banana dessert.

Wednesday morning we were off early on safari. Mary, Joe, Don and I had one vehicle and Sharon, Matt, Joana, Erin and Ha were in the other, which promptly broke down and had to be replaced with one without an open roof. While we waited for them at the park entrance we saw a lot of storks, crocodiles and hippos.

Finally, all together again, we entered the park and began our adventure. We saw a great number of animals and got some terrific photos of the ordinary and the extraordinary. After lunch we switched vehicles so the other group could enjoy the thrill of standing up to see the animals from a less restricted vantage point.

We returned to the lodge in the late afternoon and again relaxed until dinner. The food was superb and the banana “talt” was especially good.

Thursday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and returned to Iringa Town. We did more shopping in the afternoon and Sharon, Ha and Mary had an adventure while in pursuit of a beer. They met an old lady whose daughter brought them to entertain her. They were led back to the Guest House by some neighborhood boys and overall had quite and exciting time.

Friday morning we left very early, even by Mzungu time, and drove to Dar. Near Morogoro Mohamed had a difference of opinion with a traffic policeman. We were escorted several miles into town to police headquarters, only half joking about spending some time in a Tanzanian jail. Mohamed was vindicated that we had the correct registration for the vehicle and we were allowed to continue the trip. [The young policemen thought that our van should have the white license plate of a commercial vehicle instead of the orange license plate of a private vehicle.

We arrived in Dar to heavy rush hour traffic and eventually got to the Slipway. Our farewell dinner with Haran and Mohamed was both sad and celebratory. We all took turns summing up our stay and thanking Haran, Mohamed and the people of Pommern for our wonderful experience. This has truly been an exceptional team, with all members liking and respecting each other. We go our separate ways: Matt off to Ghana early Saturday, Erin, also off for home Saturday morning, via South Africa. Ha, Sharon Don and I are out Saturday afternoon. Joana will leave Sunday and Joe and Mary will go on another safari and leave for home next Thursday or Friday. Judy and Dave are probably finishing their safari and heading home now, too. What a great group it was!