As we exited Amboseli, we were accosted once again by the ever present vendors. Having learned how to say no - hapana - was somewhat helpful. But we did pay $1 to take a photo of a woman with long hanging ear lobes, festooned with her beaded work. It is not clear if they truly believe that we take a bit of their spirit with us when we photograph them, but with $1 in the equation, everyone was happy.
The road to the border was bone jarring at every speed - might as well drive fast. We left our Kenyan driver Sam behind and walked to the Kenyan office to check out. Then the luggage was transferred to an air conditioned bus and we walked to another office for Tanzanian medical check in. It appeared that we could have gotten yellow fever vaccinations on the spot. Hygiene and how long it would take to be effective was questionable, but we all had our yellow fever cards, so no shots were given. Then on to the next Tanzanian bureaucrat for admission to the country. Some of us were photographed; others were finger printed. None of us knew why. It was all pretty painless except for the retinue of vendors who followed our every move. Surely our white faces were beacons and everyone has to make a living. All in all it took about 45 minutes. We've seen worse.
The lunch stop was in Arusha at a beautiful spot boasting handicrafts made in a sheltered workshop. It's only when we are in really nice places that we see white faces. It had the best wi-fi we've seen since we left Nairobi. I have no idea what I ate, but have the impression that I was able to get some posts uploaded here. And Ken got to have a Diet Coke with ice! It's been a long time. Arusha is Fred's home town so he much to share. It's in a strategic location midway between Cairo and Capetown, cities that are about 8,000 kilometers apart. He explained that the Masai have been the dominant tribe in both Kenya and Tazania. These fierce, war-like people drove the smaller, weaker tribes into undesirable lands. When the colonial powers arrived with their missionaries and schools, the weak tribes were attracted to this alternate source of power. When the colonial powers left, the weak tribes assumed the positions of power, because they were educated. Today the Masai are playing catch-up, finally sending their children to school, too.
When we turned off the nicely paved road to our lodge, there was no indication where to go. Paths in the sand wound past some small, collections of huts and even when we got to the lodge, we hardly knew we were there. This is our most primitive setting so far. If we flush the toilet, it takes seven minutes to fill. We'll be practicing synchronized flushing. The shower is fed by a young man, who adds water to a bag over our heads while he stands outside. We pull when we need a rinse. There is nowhere to charge our equipment in our tent. Two basins of water outside the tent are for brushing teeth and washing faces. Masai warriors walk us to the tent in the evening since the animals truly live alongside us.
One of the warriors, spear in hand, took us for a walk on the nearby grounds. Piles of scat from all different sorts of animals, made me feel like we were walking through animal Grand Central Station. A few of us shed some blood, getting caught on the massive thorn bushes. Even though we laughed and talked as we walked, we came upon a group of at least five giraffes munching on the vegetation. They warily watched us; we did the same. Finally, we got too close and they bolted. I was glad to see it. Animals should never, ever trust us. That being said, I hope we didn't have any other close encounters in our tent tonight.