November 2, 2009


This weekend, we celebrated our one month anniversary, and the end of the first half of our training, by going on a safari! We didn't go to the Serengeti, since that's a few days travel from here, but to Mikumi National Park, which was about 2 hours on a daladala from CCT. We left the CCT on Saturday morning at about 9, arriving in Mikumi around 11:30, where we checked into our hotel (The Genesis), the most "luxurious" hotel in the area at a rate of $25 per night ($30 if you want your own room). After checking in, we all went out in search of food. A few of us stopped at a roadside eatery that featured true Tanzanian cuisine, a.k.a. rice, beans, and mchicha (Tanzanian boiled greens). While everyone else went to the Green Park restaurant, where prices soared to 6,000=/ per plate (approx. 6 USD), we spent only 2,000=/ for our authentic lunch (soda included).

We returned to the hotel to rest for a few hours before we hit the park for the first time. Some of us napped, some of us hung out on our little patios, and others got a drink at the in-hotel bar. At 2:45pm, we geared up for our first trip into Mikumi. We went in twice because we had 24 hour passes, which we could use twice...once in the evening on Saturday, and again in the morning on Sunday. This maximized the time we would get to see animals doing their thing, since they usually are not active during the hottest part of the day. We started our Saturday safari with a lion spotting, which we heard were quite rare at Mikumi. It was a male and a female napping in the shade under a tree. About 3 minutes into our rendezvous with the lions, we witnessed an even rarer occurrence, as they began to have sex! Check the pictures, pretty incredible.

Saturday evening was beautiful, featuring blue sky and lots of cumulus clouds, and an illuminated golden landscape. The trees in Mikumi are very sparse, which makes it look very "Africanesque." It's hard to describe the feeling it evokes, but it made me want to live in the wilderness. That's probably the best way to bring it to light. The park was covered in the fingerprints of God's Hands; animals in their natural setting, huge baobab trees twisting into the sky, and sun-drenched mountains in the background with the shadows of clouds crawling over them. Among the animals we saw both days:
  • giraffes
  • wildebeests
  • warthogs
  • zebras
  • hippos
  • crocodiles
  • monkeys (baboons)
  • impala
  • elephants
  • rhinos
After the first session on Saturday, a few of us went out to dinner to a Swiss restaurant near the Genesis to celebrate and splurge most of our accumulated wealth. Below is a short video of our dinner party. Topics of conversation include Claire's obsession with our waiter's conduct on pouring wine, Zach being the nicest person in the world, and Jack wanting his future kids to come to my theoretical youth group. I have been taking lots of video, so even if I don't get to upload much of it while I'm over here, I will certainly share with everyone when I get back. I'm working on a video of our cooking Saturday last week, which will hopefully go up sometime in the coming week. Enjoy a little slice of our lives in Tanzania!