It’s me again, your favorite Georgian-gone-Tanzanian! This week we saw SO MANY THINGS.
1. We went on safari in Ngorongoro Crater. I got crazy close to some zebras and some hippos (which were actually quite intimidating). I’ve been on safari before but every time is so different because you never know what you’re going to see. An elephant passed by right in front of our van!!
Later, we went to Ngorongoro Wildlife Camp to stay the night. The campsite is actually inside the crater, and you get to stay in your own personal tent (think glamping though, not camping). We were so close to the wildlife, we actually had to have Maasai guards walk us to and from our tent if we wanted to go visit someone or go to dinner. The bottom of our tent wouldn’t zip, but I didn’t think it was a big deal because the camp was so well guarded. Right as I was getting ready for bed, this Maasai man comes bounding onto our porch and says “Unataka kuona twiga??” (Do you want to see a giraffe?) In my excitement I forgot both my shoes and my glasses and I tuck and rolled out of the tent (quite literally, I didn’t unzip the tent so I just rolled out of the bottom part that was open). The guard walked me around in the darkness for a good ten minutes speaking in hushed tones on his walkie-talkie. I squinted into the shadows, trying to make out the shapes of the trees. Just as I was about to turn back, what I’d perceived as trees in front of me started to MOVE. I looked up and saw this massive creature, towering over me, slowly walking away from the guard’s flashlight. I was speechless. I looked at the guard, eyes wide, and all I could do was hold my arms up to try and indicate how big the giraffe seemed. We followed the giraffe for a bit longer, and even after I found my voice all I could say was “wow” over and over again.
After I returned to my tent, I became slightly more afraid of that gaping hole at the bottom of the canvas. What if some monkeys came crawling in during the night? Needless to say I did not sleep well, and I could almost swear I felt a monkeys tail whisk across my face in the wee hours of the morning.
2. We visited a Maasai tribe. The Maasai people were the first to inhabit Ngorongoro Crater, and are among the most well preserved tribe groups in Tanzania. Maasai are similar to the Native American Reservations in the United States in terms of conserving traditions. They’re also a polygamous people. In the village we visited, the chief had 14 wives. Each night he slept in a different wife’s hut. Imagine not sleeping in the same bed for two weeks at a time. It seems not only exhausting, but an ill use of space in my opinion (among other things). I’ve also visited a Maasai village before, but I learned something new this time. Not every village is open to tourism. There are only specific villages available for tourists, and those are the places that chiefs from different villages send their poorest families to so they can make more revenue. Each family is only allowed to stay for 2 years, but during that time they make jewelry for tourists to buy during their visit and each car that comes for a tour is subject to a $50 entrance fee. Basically they’re making bank off of silly mzungu like me. I think it’s a good system though, because people want to learn about their culture and would be intruding on private villages had the chiefs not come to this resolution.
3. We went to snake park. It’s basically what it sounds like. There were pythons, black mambas, and lots of other snakes of which I can’t remember the names. I even held one! (Nonpoisonous don’t worry mom.)
Only two more days until I’m back in the great states of America! I’ve learned so much on this trip, but I’m excited to be back in my comfort zone of air conditioning and Tostitos hint of lime chips. I think about those crispy wonders more than is probably healthy.