16 October 2017 Monday - Tarangire National Park, Tanzania ~ Day 7

Oh, man, what a busy day. We were up early, packed, and out the door of the hotel room in Arusha by 7:00am. I took one last photo of our cabin. Say goodbye to Internet for a while, because we’re headed to our first national part in Tanzania, called Tarangire.

Traveling through Arusha and across rural Tanzania, we saw some pretty interesting things. Like this guy transporting his full-sized love seat on his motorcycle! The photo isn’t great; it was taken in haste through the window of the moving bus, but you get the idea. It’s still not as good some of my Vietnam Travelogue photos though.

And this woman carrying an absurd amount of tomatoes and other groceries on her head.

Here’s a funny shot. Kathy happened to snap a photo just as a woman bent down in front of another woman. The optical illusion makes it look like the woman has a head on her butt though. Too funny not to share.

Here’s a guy who must have lost his mule or something:

And here’s a showroom floor for beds:

Before we got into the countryside, Eki stopped at a small market where we could exchange dollars into Tanzanian shillings. They have bigger denominations. I exchanged a 20 dollar bill and got thousands of shillings. We shouldn’t need many shillings, because all our meals are included on the trip, and many shops accept dollars.

Eki showed us a map of northern Tanzania, and the parks we’re going to visit. We’ll see all three big parks: Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and of course, Serengeti.

We found some strange boxes hanging from certain trees. Eki said they were beehives for producing honey. The only problem is: These are the dreaded African Killer Bees. How Do you extract honey from a hive of African Killer Bees? Very carefully.

Out in the countryside, we came across a group of three Maasai boys dressed in black, with black and white face paint.

Naturally, we had to stop the bus, get out, and take photos, in exchange for some money (which our guide provided). That’s accepted practice, I guess. Later in the day, we came across many other groups of boys in similar garb.

The Maasai people are caught between the modern world and their ancient traditions. For example, both Our Masai Mara guide, George, and our Tanzania guide, Eki, said that of all the worldly lures the Maasai have resisted, there’s one they simply could not resist: cell phones. So cell phones are actually quite common (and inexpensive) for the Maasai people. One of these kids had a fancy looking watch.

The oddest thing, though, was the tennis shoes, which looked out of place.

Why were they dressed like that instead of the normal flamboyant red we usually see on the Maasai? George had told us about this. Apparently this is a rite of passage for boys in the Maasai tribe. When they’re 13 years old (I think), boys are ritually circumcised, with no anesthetic. Up to that point, they are given burns and other things to teach them how to endure pain. You could see multiple burn marks on one of the boy’s arms:

It is important that they do not cry, yell, or scream during this circumcision. If they cry, they are basically excommunicated from the tribe. They’re considered outcasts, shunned by society, and thrown out. A harsh reality. This is a rite of passage: In this way, the Maasai tribe separates the warriors from the wimps.

The circumcision is done on multiple boys at a time, and it’s done in public, with multiple tribe members watching. Ouch.

After circumcision, the boys must dress in black and go away from home for a certain period of time, to heal. Without any medicines, antiseptics, or anything.

We noticed that some of the boys had enlarged holes in their ears. That reminded us of our nephew Mike, who did a similar thing, for some strange reason. The Maasai apparently take it to the next level.

We were told that “female circumcision” was now considered mutilation and has been illegal for the past several (20+?) years. God, I hope so. That’s a horrible, horrible thing.

The boys let us take a photo with them.

As we continued to drive across the Tanzanian countryside, the conditions became more and more harsh, dry and desert-like. We saw Maasai people out grazing their cattle. The only problem is: To me, it looked like there was nothing for them to eat. So basically, they’re just taking their cows out for a walk. They were in a bit of a drought, so they needed rain badly to bring back some vegetation.

We saw many traditional mud huts, like this one:

When we got to Tarangire National Park, there were more features. We started seeing those massive Baobab trees.

I took this photo of Kathy because she’s such a tree-hugger. This is a small Baobab tree.

We stopped and ate lunch at a park near the national park entrance with modern bathrooms and such. There were some beautiful pseudo-stained glass pieces made of pretty thick and colorful glass pieces. Each one represented a season. Here is autumn:

Here is summer:

At the park they had some animal skulls. The most interesting, I thought, were the elephant skulls. Apparently, Tarangire is known for its elephants.

We stopped and ate lunch there. A small band of black-faced vervet monkeys hung around and tried to steal food. Two men were posted, chasing them away while we ate our picnic lunches. Still, one of our group (I think it was Jim) had his sandwich stolen by a naughty monkey.

Inside the park, we saw the hanging nests of weaver birds.

More of those superb starlings.

And other birds

We drove to a lake where we saw a bunch of birds, including some Great Blue Herons and goofy-looking spoonbills.

We drove a bit deeper in to the park and came across some giraffes.

The giraffes would reach up to get the highest possible (most tasty?) leaves of the acacia tree. It amazes me that they don’t get pricked with all those thorns.

Then we drove to the river and found a bunch of elephants. At this location, the riverbed was completely dry, but the elephants dug a couple holes deep enough to get at some water.

The baby elephants were cute. They got right down into the hole with mom and sucked up water.

When they went to get water, they had to dig deep, doing a face-plant into the hole.

We sat and watched elephants for a long time.

We said goodbye to the elephants and drove a bit further on. We found this strange antelope I didn’t recognize.

And this strange antelope:

Then, much to our surprise, we spotted a leopard who was in the process of killing a warthog. It was quite a distance away, so kind of hard to see.

The leopard was exhausted from fighting the warthog to the death, so it was tired. It temporarily left its meal and walked up the hillside for a short rest.

There was a group of about a dozen elephants of all sizes nearby, and they did something strange. They formed a circle, with everybody facing outward, and they just stood there. We wondered what the heck they were doing, and why. Then, as we looked closer, we saw a baby elephant. It became obvious. They had formed a circle around the baby to protect it from the leopard. It was like a phalanx.

This photo shows several generations of elephants, with the baby.

We got a pretty good look at an ostrich.

Eventually, we arrived at our new home: It’s a lake-side cabin. There’s only one problem: The lake is completely dry. Not a drop of water. Oh well. The cabins are a healthy walk from the main lodge, and there are predators out there, so we need to be escorted to and from the cabin after dark.

This is what the inside of our cabin looked like.

At night, we saw several dik-diks walking around. They were really skittish, and rightly so. We thought we spotted a predator hunting for one, but it dashed off into the brush before we could get a good look. We probably saved that dik-dik’s life.