Yesterday we said farewell to the Tellys and Lauren Kories... just barely! We made a casual, somewhat late arrival at the airport, and JUST got them checked i before the time that Ethiopian Air requires all passengers to arrive. We had yet another adventure at the craft market, for those last items that we needed for gifts. Then a lunch at a local place that took some time, and then a ten minute sprint to fit all the new treasures in their already snug baggage, so when we pulled into the airport, we didn't even get to hug them goodbye! But what a fine time we have had together. And what a true blessing to have such a great team for Rwanda!
I will back up, to describe the few days we had in the game parks. Everyone enjoyed the first night at Tarangire Tented camp. Amy and I had the usual lux tent, with soft comfy beds, warm blankets, and hot tiled showers and flush toilets. But obey the rules and STAY IN YOUR TENT after the lights go out at 10 or 11. We had great proof that wild animals roam near the tents: a scattering of elephant poop right outside our tent door! But because Diane, Ally, and Lauren were three, they had a cottage at the very end of the line of tents, overlooking the cliff and endless plain of the park. The
As usual, all were surprised at the crystal, linens, and great food at the open air dining kibanda.
The Keefes had joined us by then: Elaine, Bill, and Sydney and Meghan, both of whom were students of mine at Central. I quizzed them at dinner one night, overlooking Ngorongoro Crater, and only Meghan, who had me this last year, remembered Plato's Cave! Ah, well, maybe something else stuck. All 5 girls got along well, and so for a few drives, they had one car, and the adults had the other. We got great photos of them standing in the car ahead of us, taking pictures of the wildlife along the way. They are all very pretty, and look like a poster for Park East African tours. And they laughed and stayed up late, playing games and talking, at most of the parks.
There has been less rain this year, so I saw that there were fewer animals in all the parks than I have seen before, and I suspect they had already moved on in search of water and more food. It was very dry, but still very lovely in a golden hazy dry season way. The lake at Ngorongoro Crater, which is alkaline, was pure, bright white, and the clouds dribbled over the edge of the crater as the sun burned them off by noon. My favorite place on earth, I think, other than 98 Old Bethlehem Road.
The Keefes have had a few extra days in Serengeti, and we talked to them this morning by phone, from the Masai Village they were visiting. Meanwhile, Tellys and Lauren and Amy and I came back from Ngorongoro on Thursday, by way of the orphanage near Lake Manyara, and a smaller Masai village along the main road. As usual we paid $20 each to visit the boma, to be greeted by the young warriors, who have passed their circumcision event, and danced and sang for us, flirting with the girls and teaching them to do the jumping that the young men usually do. Lauren held back with her camera, and is taller and looks older, so i think they saw her as an adult, but Amy and Ally joined right in, and each had a marriage proposal. Amy's second, I believe. I happily videotaped the whole dance, or so I thought. Nope... it was on portrait setting. I will kick my self forever for that one!! Got some great portraits, though!
Then back to that great market in Arusha. The girls got a great start on their kanga collections, and we all bought a dozen earrings, for about a dollar a pair. And bags, beads, and lots of fun gifts. On Friday, my payday, I needed to go to an ATM to get more cash, but didn't notice that the electricity was not on. So in goes the card. Not much response, so i pushed more. Still no response. But the card was stuck, and I could touch the edge of it, but not retrieve it. OH, HELP! Another dumb mistake! But our brilliant driver/guide, John, disappeared for a minute while I stood guard, and found a safety pin somewhere, that he bent into a tiny hook. I was happy to see that card! off to Barclays Bank, which fortunately has a generator. Electricity is terrible here, in Arusha, and is only turned on a few hours a day. We have had to time our hot showers carefully, and sometimes have missed!
Yesterday, Friday, the Telly's left, and I went along to the airport with them, but Amy stayed safely at the guest house, sleeping. The strange food? Malaria prevention tablets? Something has been bothering her stomach. We went to the druggist today, who happens to be an expert on the medication she is taking, and told her to take it at a different time of day. She is SO happy to be here, so it is a terrible shame that this stomach think drains her energy every few days. But no fever or other symptoms, so I think we just have to fix diet and medication time. Don't worry, Mom! She is still giggling and greeting everyone in sight in Swahili now, instead of Kinyarwanda, and still wants to stay forever. And I STILL haven't let her on a motorcycle!!! Not for lack of trying... But she will have to do that on your watch.
So here we are, in this lovely, peaceful guest house, relaxing and reading, catching up on journals, having tea in the garden, and reading her summer book aloud: The Once and Future King. Great choice for a magical trip. n>