Arrived yesterday in Moshi, Tanzania which is located near the base of Mount Kilimanjero and is easily seen from our hotel. We had been delivered there by our safari driver. On the way I was explaining to Kasenya that worrying is seldom helpful. Later in the day, I was really hoping that no one had wasted a moment worrying about us as the events of the last week had unfolded. We were still basking in the warmth of our amazing safari experience and were oblivious to what has been going on in the world.
In Moshi we hoped to meet up with Anna McEachern (Dave used to teach with her mother). She would be starting her Kilimanjaro climb the following day. She had left a note at the hotel where we were supposed to be, but ended up not staying at, (one more hotel story for our collection) and Dave tried to call her on her cell phone but reception was horrible. He hoped she had heard the name of the new hotel so we could meet there.
A couple of hours later while they were walking around, Anna’s friend (who she is travelling with) spotted a kid in a wheelchair at an outdoor restaurant and sure enough it was us! During the course of our visit, Anna asked if we were in Kampala, Uganda at the time of the bombing. We had been completely cut off from the outside world while we were on safari and blissfully unaware of the bombing that apparently killed over 60 people. As near as we could determine, the bombing had taken place the evening of the day we flew out of Kampala. But lets pick up where we left off at the hospital ...
We were in Kampala mostly to visit an organization called Kulika and they were amazing hosts. Not only did they get us to the clinic and hospital but Elijah, who is the Executive Director, came to see Devin and Dave late in the evening on the day Devin was admitted. I had returned to the hotel where Lacey and Kasenya had been waiting. By that time, Devin was feeling quite fine and Dave decided that they would ask to be discharged since all the tests had come back negative and Devin had been rehydrated. This was when the fun began.
The hospital had to redo the bill several times before it was close to accurate and Dave would agree to pay it. Dave and Devin were delivered to the hotel at about 1 am by Elijah. We were exhausted but relieved that we could fly to Arusha, Tanzania to start our safari the next day. Devin continued on antibiotics and has been fine since.
Its one thing to tour medical facilities in a country like Uganda and a totally different thing to have to use them. After almost a week of being on and off sick, we took Devin to a clinic this morning. The International Clinic to be precise. The one designated for expats and Ugandans who have an employee medical insurance plan that will pay for the services.The clinic also has a lab facility and a pharmacy. One stop shopping for those who can afford it and I noticed that the number of patients was small. Only 10 or so in the waiting room.
Even though we are all taking a malaria prophylaxis, the doctor thought Devin had all the symptoms of malaria, so he ordered a blood test. The test came back negative but by late afternoon, Devin was feeling much worse so we took him back.
This time they gave him an IV because they thought he was dehydrated, tested for other things like typhoid and amoebic dysentery then sent him to the International Hospital for a 5 to 6 hour observation period. Even on the way to the hospital, he began to improve.
Once at the hospital he was see by a doctor immediately. After taking his blood pressure and looking in his mouth, she recommended a 24 hour observation period and a repeat of all the tests that had been done at the clinic. Problem is we are supposed to leave Uganda and fly to Tanzania in about 18 hours .... You’ll know from previous entries that rescheduling these flights could be a problem.
Our Safari took us to Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, the Serengetti, Odupai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater and Arusha National Park. We were extremely lucky to see some of the rarer animals such as the black rhinos, cheetah, leopard and colobus monkeys. We also saw lots of hippos (pictured above), elephants, giraffes, warthogs, mongoose, gazelle, baboons, cape buffalo, zebras, hyenas and jackals.
Entering the Serengeti, it is immediately evident that the movie Lion King was set here. Once we pass through the plain, the savannah in the centre of the park is dotted with kopjes much like Pride Rock. We watch a female lion as she sits for long periods of time waiting for a gazelle to stray from the heard. Then her attention turns to the three zebras approaching on the horizon. The zebras have a strategy too and it is like watching a game of chess. Hyenas skulk along looking to steal something from the lions. Wildebeast migrate in herds to the watering holes. A mother and baby elephant pass our vehicle and another safari vehicle has to move so they can cross a stream. A solitary cape buffalo slowly chews its cud as the reddish sun sinks slowly below the horizon behind him.
The sheer numbers of wild life and their accessibility keeps us in awe. We learned that we too are part of the equation. By participating in a safari we help to reduce poaching because the animals become more precious in their live state so the government strongly enforces anti poaching legislation.
As we sit in the campground and eat our supper by the light of a kerosene lamp, our guide tells us what to do if we leave the tent to go the bathroom and see the glow of eyes with our flashlight. The fact that there might only be the canvas of the tent between me and a wild animal only adds to the depth of this experience and my own sense of aliveness. I am disappointed the next morning to learn that I slept through the sound of lions in the night.
Our first stop in Africa was Zanzibar. We landed in Dar es Salaam (the capital of Tanzania) early in the morning, and changed planes without leaving the airport. It was a long day but we were already jet lagged, might as well push through. We settled into our hotel in Stonetown. Everything is within walking distance: a bank, restaurants, coffee, beach and the night market. The island is beautiful.
The night market happens in a beautiful square on the waterfront, that was only completed last year. It even has wheelchair accessible bathrooms and a playground which is full of kids in the evening.
In fact lots of families come down to the night market to eat. Especially after Friday prayers at the nearby mosque. Only food is sold at the night market and there are basically three types of offerings: Zanzibar pizzas (which are more like a folded crepe with various fillings), meat and seafood on a skewer or stalls that sell drinks including freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. We spent a couple of evenings at the night market, once for our full meal and once for desert.
We also spent a whole afternoon trying to get our tickets for our flights to and from Uganda organized. We were going from Zanzibar to Uganda and then returning to Kilimanjero. But we had to make reservations with two different regional airlines in order to do that. You can make the reservations on line, but you have to pay cash for the actual tickets. This was a whole side show that we will tell you about later.
Dave went scuba diving one day and that was the day that Devin and Laverne visited a sewing school and gift shop that not only teaches those skills but promotes harmony between Christians and Muslims. Each class is half and half.
One morning Kasenya and Laverne hired a young man to push Kasenya to a fabulous coffee shop and gift shop near our first hotel. Turned out Rushin is also a tour guide so he also gave us a bit of a tour through the narrow alleys of Stonetown as well as the Central Market.
The highlight of Zanzibar was the Spice Tour. Its kind of a touristy thing to do and we hoped it wouldn’t be to lame. Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island so we didn’t want to miss this. We signed up for a private tour which took us out of Zanzibar Town to a Spice Farm near the research station. There are several spice farms nearby and no doubt much of their income is derived from tourists. But our tour leader was absolutely delightful and very knowledgeable. He would show us a plant and give us some hints. Then we would have to guess what spice it was. The Spice Tour was also nice because it got us out into the countryside and the Spice Farm was kept very much as it would be without the tourists. We followed dirt paths through the farm to see the spices being grown. Several families live on sight. The tour ended with a traditional Zanzibar lunch.
We also toured the ruins of a facility that acted as a refuge for escaped slaves. Although slaves were not taken from Zanzibar, they were shipped through Zanzibar. That same day we took a Dala Dala (a local form of transportation out to visit the slave caves which are rarely visited and quite remote. We had to walk the last km through town and by a beach. This was an awesome way to see some of Zanzibar which is not on the tour.
Next stop Uganda ...