Posts tagged Tanzania

Mar 26, 2011
@ 3:40 pm
10 notes

Mzungu in the House

Jambo rafikis (hello friends) and karibu (welcome) to Tanzania. Of all the languages I’ve encountered while on the road, I think Swahili may be my favorite because it sounds so joyful when spoken. In fact, I think it’s impossible not to smile when greeting someone with Jambo. Jambo kaka (hello brother) is my personal favorite and since I have 2 brothers I’ll be using this one regularly.

One word that we heard repeatedly while in Africa was mzungu (white person) and everywhere we’d go we were addressed as such. By now, I’m pretty used to people staring at me as the pale foreigner, but it definitely takes it to a new level when the staring is accompanied by pointing and the screaming of “WHITE PERSON!” There’s definitely an element of sideshow freakiness happening, but is that really such a bad thing? I think not.

On that note, let’s go ahead and jump right in to this post. I’m sad to say, but it’s time for me to say goodbye to my super fab tent mate, Birgit. She is teacher and is volunteering at a school in a tiny village in Tanzania. We literally dropped Birgit off on the side of the road where her friend was waiting for her.

Tanzania countryside

Tanzania street scene

Karis, our driver, was on the phone with Birgit’s contact trying to pinpoint her exact location, but it was actually pretty easy to spot the mzungu on the side of the road. Goodbye, Birgit, I’m going to miss you! I wish you the best of luck with your volunteering and hope that it is a great experience. I look forward to hearing all about it when you return to an area with cell or Internet service.

After saying goodbye to Birgit we headed on to a Maasai village located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Prior to the grounds being established as a conservation area, the Maasai roamed these lands with their cattle.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

They are no longer allowed to live within the actual crater, but are permitted to live along the rim. As we were making our way to the village we encountered tons of Maasai herding their cattle, immediately noticeable in the distance by their brightly colored clothing dotting the landscape.

Maasai and their cattle, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

The warriors were extremely warm and friendly, greeting us with a traditional song and dance.

Maasai dance

Maasai dance

Maasai dance

Maasai warriors

Maasai footwear

Maasai dance

Maasai warriors

After meeting everyone we were invited inside to get a glimpse of life within in their village.

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai women & children & their home

Maasai jewelry

Maasai women

Maasai adornment

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai village, Tanzania

Maasai mother and child

Maasai village, Tanzania

The men engaged in a jumping contest to demonstrate their prowess. Two men would participate at one time while the semi-circle of men surrounding them would make shrill and high pitched sounds to praise the most impressive jumps.

I can jump higher than you

Maasai jumping

Maasai jumping contest

After watching the men, the women invited us to participate in one of their dances, which involved wearing one of their traditional necklaces and jumping up and down.

Maasai women

Maasai woman

Maasai women

As you can see, the women are adorned with beautiful jewelry, which they make themselves. Body ornamentation denotes one’s position in society so the more blinged out the lady, the higher her status within the village.

bashful Maasai woman

Maasai woman

Maasai elder

Maasai woman

Maasai woman

After jumping our little hearts out it was time to head over to the school to meet the teacher and her students. 

Maasai teacher and students

Maasai school & student

Maasai children's footwear

Maasai child

Maasai child

Maasai children

Maasai child

Maasai teacher

Maasai children

peek a boo

Next we were invited inside a Maasai home. This gentleman invited us inside his house to take a look.

Maasai warrior in front of his house

Maasai kitchen

Maasai bedroom

Everyone was so incredibly warm and friendly, especially the children.

Maasai child

Maasai child

What a privilege to be invited into their homes and get a small glimpse of life in the village. As we were leaving the wind started to kick up and it seemed like rain was imminent. Thankfully everyone had their warm blankets (shuka) to keep warm.

Maasai wrapped up to keep warm


A huge thank you (asanti sana) to the Maasai for welcoming us into their homes. What a special and unforgettable experience.

As if this day hasn’t been fabulous already it’s going to get even better because we are now entering…

the Serengeti! Needless to say we were all ecstatic for our safaris and had our fingers crossed for the big 5: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. Of course our list wasn’t limited to the big 5, but it’s a good place to start.

giraffe watching us watch him

it is on!

from the Serengeti

OK, that’s a nice warm up now how about some big cats?

angry, hissing lioness

And their babies?

lion cub

We had our radio was set to the following station

and put out the leopard vibe by saying it out loud several times. You may think it’s corny, but it appears that the law of attraction worked. Check it out!!!

tree jumping leopard

And now for my most money leopard shot!!!

leopard face shot

Amazing!!! Next on the list of things to see was a kill. I know it sounds gross, but we’ve all seen them on National Geographic and how insane would it be to see one in real life? Like before, we put the vibe out there by chanting kill, kill, kill over and over again in our truck. Yeah, I know how it sounds, but the blood lust just takes over. In fact, we even met this vegan lady at our campsite who claimed that even though she was a vegan and had been for many years, she was also desperate to see a kill. It’s weird and I can’t really explain it, but if you’ve been on safari before I think you know what I mean.  I’m not a psycho…


No, really…

face mask chic

OK, let’s take a little break from the kill patrol and take in some spectacular Serengeti scenery.

Serengeti plains



Does anyone know the name of this bird?

secretary bird

It’s called a secretary bird because the black feathers on its head make it appear as though it has quill pens behind its ears.

Since we’re on a trivia roll here, can anyone tell me what the following animal is called in Greek?

roaring hippo

hippo yawning

Answer me!!!

hippo's open mouth

If you said river horse, you are correct! Apparently it means the same thing in German as well.

Now for more of that gorgeous scenery.

rays of sunshine, Serengeti

sun bursting through the clouds, Serengeti

rays of sunshine over the Serengeti

rays of sunshine, Serengeti

Acacia tree

elephants under an acacia tree

The leopard channel definitely hooked it up because we saw another leopard. 2 in one day…not too shabby!

This lil’ guy is posing for the camera.


Our kill chanting didn’t yield any results today and do you want to know what I think about that?

That’s OK though because we ended the day with some great sightings of my favorite animal

elephant babies

mommy and baby elephant

wise soul

and a beautiful sunset.

sunset Serengeti


Time to head back to camp for some dinner.

The next morning we were up at the crack, but it’s not really a sacrifice when you can see a sunrise like this.

Sunrise over the Serengeti

Within minutes we had our 3rd leopard sighting and it was our best yet.

prowling leopard

Why was it so great, you ask? Can you say babies?

How about we get a look from another angle?

leopard and her cub

mommy leopard and her cub

This mama didn’t like us looking at her baby.

enraged leopard

furious leopard

Correction, make that babies. Aww…

leopard cubs

leopard cub

I have to take a moment to give props to our safari driver, James. He was the bomb, leading the pack and always getting the prime angle for shots. Not only was he a hawk, spotting things that looked like rocks to the rest of us, but turned out to be cheetahs, but he was also courteous, moving our truck from the super mack daddy location to allow other trucks to get a piece of the action as well. Unfortunately not all trucks were so respectful, but ours was so I want to give a huge shout out to James and the rest of my truck buddies: Janet, Line, Rami, Yvonne and Caroline. I loved riding with you guys. Kill, kill, kill…

where's the beef?

Not exactly what I had in mind, but still a good lion sighting.

old, male lion

sleeping lion

It looks like we’re not the only ones eager to get in on the kill…


birds of prey

How about some more trivia and fun facts? Does anyone know the name of this animal?

Red Hartebeest

It’s the Red Hartebeest and according to legend this social animal was too busy yapping it up with its friends instead of getting a prime place in line when God was handing out attributes so it ended up with ugly fur (I actually think it’s pretty) and unimpressive horns. One thing it does have going for it though is that it’s super fast and in Africa I think I’d rather have speed on my side than good looks.

I’m on a roll now with the fun facts and since I know you love them so much I’ll keep ‘em coming. What is different about these two ostriches aside from the color of their plumage?

If you noticed the reddish color of the male’s legs nice going. Now can you tell me why his legs are red?

ostrich mating dance

If you think it has something to do with attracting the attention of the ladies you are quite the animal expert! It’s a mating ritual and this guy is pulling out all the stops here.

ostrich with red legs, macking it up for the ladies

Janet was telling us that a man in love in South Africa is said to have red legs so keep that in mind, guys, when making your wardrobe selections.

OK, back to the wildlife.


giraffe's piercing stare

Apparently this isn’t interesting enough for the king of the jungle.

snoozing lion

I know you didn't just wake me up

Maybe we should spice it up a bit with some fetish action?

OK, so I didn’t quite capture it with my camera, but this lion goes on to lick his lady’s urine. Kinky? Actually…no. Apparently the male lion is able to tell if his lady is ripe for mating from the smell and taste of her urine.

It seems like this guy liked what he smelled and tasted.

lovestruck lion

OK, enough of those lions.  James shot us around the rock to check on the rest of the pride. What did I say about James being a hawk?

roaring lion


open and say ahhhh

lion with serious gingivitis

smiling lion

OK, so another day without a kill, but we did get a rainbow at camp, which happened to be on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. I’ll take it!

That’s my tent.  Could someone please pinch me…this is so cool!!!

rainbow, Ngorongoro Crater

sunrise over the Ngorongoro Crater

OK, folks, we’re up bright and early again for our game drive through the Ngorongoro Crater so keep your fingers crossed that we see some good stuff.

national bird of Uganda

it's the eye of the zebra, it's the thrill...

Aww, it’s a baby zebra.

baby zebra

Some sickos might call this an easy target or the weakest link…geez, some people.

up in this zebra's grill

Besides a kill, another thing on our list was the extremely endangered rhino. As luck would have it, we happened to spot 3 of them. Sweet!!!

Minutes after seeing the rhino we got word that a kill may be happening so we zoomed over to the supposed kill spot, but it appears we were a bit too late…again.

These hyenas were eager for a piece of the action as well.

And a buffalo makes 5. Big 5…check!

A hippo out of water in the middle of the day…I’ll take it!

Time for a bathroom break. There are a few designated spots where folks are allowed out of their trucks and this just happens to be one of them. Stunning!

Ngorongoro Crater lake

lake, Ngorongoro Crater

It looks like someone is interested in all the commotion.

peek a boo

hippo in water

roaring hippo

OK, bathroom break is over. Time for more game driving and the word on the crater is that 2 lions are getting ready to mate so obviously we were all about it. Apparently mating lions will mate every 20 minutes so even if we missed this round we were guaranteed another show in 20. Boom chicka bow wow.

pensive lion

We took it as a good sign that the lions had zero interest in the zebras.

We waited for about 30 minutes and still no action so I guess these lions weren’t in the mood to get their freak on after all. Oh well. Maybe they wanted some privacy?

Sadly our time in the crater has come to an end. What an amazing experience! Even though this was as close as we came to seeing a kill,

I still had an amazing time. Plus, I still have some game drives in Kenya and Uganda so maybe a kill is still in the cards?  Truth be told, i would probably be quite sad if I saw a kill so I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t happen, but we’ll see how it all shakes out. 

Here are a last few glimpses of the crater. Stunning, isn’t it?

We stopped at some shops along the way and had a farewell lunch with our super fabulous drivers.

art for sale

Maasai shukas

Tanzania cuts for men

Time to head back to Arusha and our camp, which happens to be a snake park as well. No, the snakes aren’t slithering around the campsite. If that had been the case I think I would have made my bed on the truck.

Here’s our crew from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater! You guys were exceptional safari buddies and even though we didn’t see a kill we still saw everything else on our list. All in all, I’d say it was just about perfect.

Our next stop is Kenya and then Uganda for the gorillas!!  Woo hoo!!!  See you soon, rafikis.   

Mar 16, 2011
@ 6:19 pm
2 notes

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

All aboard!  This ferry is headed to Zanzibar so as soon as these peeps get their buns on board we’re off. 

I have heard nothing but great things about Zanzibar so I cannot wait to get there and see for myself. In addition to taking in the spectacular scenery, relaxing on the beach, and mingling with the local people I am counting the minutes until I get to luxuriate on a proper bed! That’s right folks, we’ll be staying in a hotel for the next 4 days in Zanzibar and I’m so excited I can barely stand it.

Our ride to Zanzibar definitely started off on the right note when we learned that Janet got us hooked up with an upgrade to the 1st class section of the ferry, which means air conditioning, baby! Oh yeah, bring it on. I cannot even begin to describe the elation that spread through the group upon the delivery of this truly wonderful news. We were all at our breaking points after the epic journey from Malawi so we were more than ready for some creature comforts and a lil’ luxury. Janet, you are the bomb!

Our first stop in Zanzibar was beautiful and historic Stone Town.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

We immediately headed for our hotel to drop our bags and sloth on our beds until our little hearts were content. After some mega relaxation in the room, Line and I ventured into the town to do a little sight seeing, shopping and of course eating! We met up with our crew at Africa House, which has the most fantastic balcony overlooking the sea, just in time for sunset.

sunset, Zanzibar

sunset, Zanzibar

After enjoying a few frosty beverages and taking in yet another spectacular sunset we headed over to the night market to chow down on some delicious food!

The next morning we were up bright and early to head to Nungwi, which is undeniably one of the most spectacular beaches I have ever visited both for it’s stunning scenery as well as it’s intensely rich culture. I really cannot stop gushing about this place, but before you get to see it for yourselves, we must first visit a spice plantation. I’ve been on a handful of spice tours in my year + on the road, but this is the first tour where we were given grass accessories,

a serenade from the top of a palm tree,

as well as samples of all the tasty fruit. I’m not going to lie, the mango I had here was the best mango I have ever eaten and because I was so enthusiastic about this mango I even got seconds. That’s right, peeps, a little enthusiasm goes a long way. OK, I admit that I don’t really do little in the enthusiasm about food department, but I think we can all agree that gratitude is a good thing.

Here are some pics from the tour. Does anyone know what this is?

If you said ginger you are correct. And can anyone tell me one of the things ginger is known to enhance?

It’s something that will put a smile on your face.

For those of you with your mind in the gutter, congratulations, you nailed it. According to our guide, ginger is known to enhance “horizontal refreshment” so remember next time you are making dinner for your special someone, add some ginger. You’re welcome.

After the spice tour we powered on to the beach. Not far now…

When we arrived we learned there was some kind of a mess up with our rooms, but the error was in our favor and we ended up in these gorgeous rooms overlooking the sea complete with a balcony and air conditioning. I know I don’t have to tell you, but I will, I was in complete and utter ecstasy.

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Quite a step up from tents, huh? Enough talking, let’s bask in the breath taking beauty of this place.

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

coconuts for sale on the beach, Zanzibar

After doing the happy dance to my favorite booty rap jams,

I busted over to the restaurant

for some lunch and in the process, made a new friend.

With my full belly I headed back to my balcony to drool on myself and take in some more of the gorgeous scenery.

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Don’t you love it?! Literally, everywhere I looked something beautiful or interesting was happening, especially in or on the sea.

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

These women looked so majestic as they dragged the fishing nets through the water.

majestic women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

I just loved seeing the Maasai warriors walk along the beach.

Masaai walking on the beach, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Masaai, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Ebony and Ivory, Nungwi, Zanzibar

a walk on the beach, children, Nungwi

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar,

women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Before I knew it the sun was already setting.

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar at night

What a spectacular day! I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.  Good night, Birgit.

Day 2 in Paradise:

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Fisherman, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sea scenes, Nungwi, Zanzibar

After swimming, lounging and eating I decided to take a walk along the beach and visit some of the Maasai shops along the way. I’m so glad I did too because I met so many wonderfully kind people.

Allow me to introduce you to my first new friend, Barak.

Masaai Warrior, Nungwi, Zanzibar

When he found out I was from the United States he actually let out a scream, enthusiastically clapping his hands and doing the happy dance while telling me that, like our President, his name was Barak (spelled differently) and he loved the US and Barack Obama! Not only did he name his shop after the President

but he also wore an American flag necklace that he made himself along with a Barack Obama yes we can keychain around his neck!

Masaai jewelry, Barack Obama, Nungwi, Zanzibar

It was without a doubt one of my favorite I’m proud to be an American moments I’ve had on this trip. Barak and I chatted it up for a while and even exchanged email addresses.

Believing that personal touches matter and miracles can happen, I forwarded Barak’s email address and pictures to a friend of mine who is no stranger to the White House on the off chance that these pics and the story of one of the President’s most ardent supporters from across the globe might make its way to the right people and somehow Barack might receive a reply from the White House thanking him for his support. It certainly cannot hurt to try, right?  Fingers crossed, friends.

Here is another friend I made who went by the name of Luca Air Conditioned Shop. He was hysterical and so proud of his clearly air conditioned shop.

Masaai Warrior, Nungwi, Zanzibar

I could have continued yapping with these guys until nightfall, but I had to say my goodbyes so I could jump in the shower and make it on time for the beach wedding we were throwing for 2 of our fellow travelers who had recently gotten engaged.

Of course the bride cannot see her groom until she’s walking down the beach so the girls and boys separated to get ourselves into a celebratory mood. 

You remember Line, my skydiving buddy!

These are my German buddies.  The lady to my left is Caroline AKA my secret pal who hooked me up with awesome jewelry for the holidays. 

And here’s our chief, chief, chief…Janet!  Yay Janet!!! 

We even had a mother of the bride,


and a priest?

The vows were exchanged just in time for sunset. These photos are courtesy of Gan.

Woo Hoo!!!

Yay for the happy couple and hooray for another spectacular sunset. I really just can’t get enough of these.

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

After the wedding we headed further down the beach for a BBQ (insert the jingle, I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs…barbeque sauce) and who should go walking by, but my friend, Wendy, who I met on my Egypt and Jordan trip. No way!!!

I knew Wendy was living in Zanzibar, but she was in Stone Town so my hope was to catch up with her tomorrow when we returned to Stone Town. As luck would have it, Wendy was up north with her friends and just happened to be walking along the beach where we were having dinner. What a small world!! I love it. We screamed our faces off for a few minutes, hugged incessantly, and then gained our composure briefly enough to catch up on the past few months before hugging and screaming some more. How wonderful!

As if I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy after running into a friend, I took it up a notch with this adorable puppy.

Of course we all had to take turns holding the puppy and then it was time for a little bit of this

and a whole lot of dancing. My night got even better when Luca Air Conditioned shop showed up.  You know we busted some serious moves on the dance floor. What a fun New Year’s Eve Eve.

The next morning we headed back down to Stone Town for some more sight seeing and chillaxing before our New Year’s celebration.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Jaws Corner, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Jaws Corner, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar, Jaws Corner

Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Can anyone tell me which famous and larger than life singer was from Stone Town?  Here’s a little clue for you. 

If you said Freddie Mercury, you are correct and should raise your arms in triumph while singing We Are the Champions.

There is also a bar named after him where Line, Birgit and I enjoyed some lunch before continuing our sight seeing extravaganza.

Stone Town is a wonderful place, but it has a history that makes one shudder.

It is estimated that slaves were sold in Zanzibar between 1830-1873. How horrifying to think that this was ever considered an option or even remotely acceptable in any way, shape or form.

slavery, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Many of the homes near the slave market had holding cells in the basement. Hideous!

former holding cell for slaves, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Today, Stone Town is beautiful with narrow alleys, interesting architecture, colorful markets, and warm and friendly people.

Fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

woman shopping, fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

local market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’ve never seen this many dried octopuses or octopode in one place.  Yes, I had to look up the plural of octopus.  There seems to be quite a bit of rage surrounding the incorrect use of octopi so if you’ve been throwing that word around cut it out because it apparently drives people nuts. 

 dried octopus

How about a closer look at these octopode. 

Did you know that an octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate?  Here’s a story that supports that fun fact.  My brother, Rob, did an internship in Bermuda and one of his many duties involved studying the octopus’ ability to solve puzzles.  Rob’s octopus was a bit crotchety in her old age, and to the extent possible for an octopus, conveyed with every fiber of her being her extreme distaste for these stupid and humiliating puzzles.  She would confine herself to the corner of her container refusing to even consider such a demeaning endeavor and then out of boredom or pity for my poor brother would nonchalantly make her way towards the puzzle and solve it in about 2 seconds flat. 

In addition to being a bit cranky, she was also notoriously cunning, making several attempts to secure her freedom.  Armed with this knowledge, Rob dutifully ensured that the lid was affixed securely each night, but apparently we humans are no match for a determined, angry, and crafty octopus.  Rob arrived at work one morning and discovered that his octopus had escaped.  They searched the grounds extensively, but never found a body.  There was a drain that led to sea not far from her enclosure so the assumed outcome is that the octopus is now enjoying her freedom back in the sea. Crazy, huh?  Who knew octopuses were so smart?  I guess we do now. 

Where were we?  Oh yes, Stone Town. 

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

It’s an easy place to be and time just seems to disappear. Before I knew it, the sun was beginning to set

and the countdown to 2011 was underway. We had a delicious dinner complete with fire dancers and snake charmers, but what made my night even better was another unexpected reunion with a friend.

Yep, it’s Amar! Woo Hoo! I knew Amar and I were going to be in Tanzania at the same time, but we had already done the math and realized that we’d miss each other in Zanzibar by one day so you can imagine my surprise when I heard someone call my name and turned around and saw Amar standing there. Wow! Of all the bars in Zanzibar we just happened to be at the same one. As it turns out Amar’s tour leader got the group to agree to a punishing day of travel so that they could celebrate the new year in Zanzibar instead of Dar es Salaam. Obviously the group was fully supportive of an extra day in Zanzibar, especially NYE. Two unexpected reunions in two days….what a small, small world. I love it!

Amar and I spent the next few hours catching up on our African adventures and rang in the new year with a toast on the beach. Goodbye 2010 and thank you for a truly unforgettable year. I am filled with an overwhelming gratitude for the many gifts I have received during this wonderful, eye opening, and awe inspiring journey. While I’ve still got a long way to go, I can tell that some healing has taken place because I can actually refer to myself as someone who feels grateful, lucky, and appreciative again. After my mom’s passing I had a very difficult time with these words because I definitely didn’t feel any of those things and while I obviously don’t feel any of them with respect to losing my mother, I can see the rays of sunshine again and truly believe that the future is going to be a bright one.

A huge thank you to my friends and family who have stayed in touch and been my champions along the way. My world is a better place because of you and I wish you all health, happiness, inspiration, and love in the new year.

Here’s to you!

Next stop is the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater so get fired up for some serious wildlife action, friends!

Big 5 or bust!!!