June 28, 2012

Our Adventure: Tanzania 2012

Day 3     6/11/12

This morning was awesome.  Bill was amazing enough to take Owen after I'd fed him and gotten him dressed so I got some great alone time.  I walked the property admiring the beautiful landscaping and taking pics.  My fav. <3 
After breakfast we got things ready and headed out for Safari. 

On the way we spotted something wild!  Can you see what we saw? 
We stopped for lunch - a gourmet boxed lunch provided by Wild at Heart Safaris (Mary & Peter's safari company - and let me tell you it was excellent!)  Here's just a peek at what we had -
 Gourmet chicken, mango and a ton of other yummy things - stuffed into a fresh pita...  and this amazing salad (below) that had a flower in it even - and yes I ate the flower!  And Owen very much so appreciated the raspberries :)  There was also a yummy juice box, cheesecake with papaya, a couple chocolate treats and a souvenir Maasai napkin and wooden spoon. 
 Next up we walked across to the Snake Park & Maasai Museum.
At the snake park a guide took us through and showed us all the different types of snakes indigenous to Africa, it was interesting to see all the different varieties - there was even one passed around for holding.  I declined because I had my hands full of camera - but I got a good one of Aimmee :)
They also had some tortoises - Owen had a blast saying 'tuh-tuh' over and over again every time he saw them.  It was cute to see him so observant of the larger animals he could see like the crocs, the eagle and the monkey.
 After that we went over to the Museum.  I didn't photograph it because it was very dark, hot and extremely close quarters in there.  Plus, I figured I'd photograph the real thing at the end of our trip when we camped out with the Maasai.
I did learn a lot from the Maasai man that guided us through the museum though.  We saw how they build their houses, using sticks for the frame, then filling in with a mix of mud, sand, ash and cow dung.  The women are in charge of doing all the building of the houses because the men are out herding the cows and goats.  It takes about 4 to 5 days to make one home, they have no windows only a chimney hole.
The men are polygamists so the women & children sleep together in one section of the hut and the man sleeps alone - except for 'special occasions' the guide told us. 
{{ WARNING - The next part is rated over PG-13, parent's cautioned! (Seriously!) }}
We also learned that around 15-16 years old the boys are circumcised.  They sit on the ground leaning against another mans chest while he's bracing him.  No pain med.s or anesthetics are used and the boy must not cry.  He can choose to keep his eyes open or closed, but he can't change his mind in the middle of the procedure.  Once it is over the boys wear all black and paint designs in bright white paint on their faces, they also get a headband with ostrich feathers on it - all to signify they've 'become a man'.  However, if the boy cries at all during the procedure, the ostrich feathers are cut down, so everyone knows he cried.  They wear this same outfit for about 2 months.
The girls also get circumcised, but at age 10.  They are allowed to cry.  This practice has been outlawed by the government, but the Maasai guide told his that some tribes still practice it due to the strong cultural heritage. 
{{ End of Cautioned Content }}
The Maasai also always carry a stick.  They use it for walking, herding, dealing with snakes, fighting, etc.  They are also known for drinking cow's blood.  They mix it with cow's milk to prevent clotting and claim it's very nutritious.  The guide asked us (very seriously) if we had ever tried it.  When we all said, 'No', he said, "You should try some, it is very good for you."  He was dead serious. 
After the museum we took camel rides around a big open field that overlooked a Maasai meat market.  I wish I'd have taken my camera up on the camel with us because the meat market was quite the sight, but I left my camera with someone on the team so they could get pics of Owen's (& Bill's) first camel ride!

Owen loved the camel ride, he thought it was so neat!  He actually fussed a bit when we got off, but calmed down when I let him see the camel's face close up. :)
 Next we headed to our first lodge for the night, on the way we saw a Maasai market in full-swing.

That 'van' on the left is called a "dala-dala" (just like a tro-tro to you fellow Ghanain's!) - they cram at least 30 people in there and taxi them around.  C.razy.  With a capital C.  Our driver, Eric, stopped abruptly in a little town outside of Arusha and came back to the car with these:
Red bananas.  They are shorter and fatter than the yellow bananas we get in America, and have a slightly pink hue to them on the inside.  And they are the bees knees.  I mean, once you eat one, you don't want to ever have a yellow one again.  That's how fresh, sweet and amazing they are.  ::drool::

We arrived at our lodge just before sun-down.  It was just a little back-packers camp with tents and a few buildings.  I forgot to get pics of this place because we were busy getting settled and rushing to make dinner on time, but it was very basic.  Our room was in a one-story building with about 4 rooms in a row.  Concrete walls and floors, a wet-bathroom (open shower, so everything gets wet, there's a drain in the floor) with running water and toilet and a sink.  For dinner we had rice, boiled potatoes, sauteed veggies, avocado salad, 'beef' stew (I'm pretty sure it was goat) and papaya for dessert.  All was served buffet style outside under a grass-topped canopy.  It was pretty good.  We are heading to bed early since we are getting up at 4:30 to get to the Ngorongoro crater before sun-up for our first game drive!