Jun 21, 2011

An African Adventure


Looking back at this woefully unupdated blog, I feel shame and regret.  In one of the most profound, satisfying, and interesting eras of my life the only post about Tanzania was about one of the very few things I don't appreciate about this country.  The reality of everyday life here has little to do with mob rule, and everything about fascinating and friendly people, being welcomed into a burgeoning middle class of Tanzanians and expats, spectacular wilderness and satisfying personal exploration.

When we started daydreaming about Tanzania, the only places we'd heard about were in the north, like Mt. Kilimanjaro or the Serengeti, and we quickly realized that we were in the far less touristed southern highlands.   It was disappointing that we'd have to start every trip with a minimum of a ten hour busride, but we figured we would try to make the most of what we could find around us.

That was yet another misconception.  It turns out, our home Iringa is in between largest protected game reserve in Tanzania (Selous) and the largest national park in Africa (Ruaha), and one of Tanzanias newest national parks (Kitulo Plateau).  We saw a dozen wild lions on a daytrip from our apartment, and spent other nights in the park listening to elephants foraging around us.

Because this region is off the beaten path usually we had much of these wilderness areas to ourselves. Well, we weren't technically alone.  I'd never been so close to so many incredible animals, and that includes trips to the zoo.  Although it's almost cliched to say it, but every one of our wilderness safaris has been one of the most magical experiences of my life.  Below is a slideshow of the animals we saw.

But thats just the animals, I'll certainly never forget the flowers!  The Kitulo Plateau alone is a new park, on top of a mountain, with a reputation for a dazzling area of flowers (including 45 varieties of orchids!).

And that's just the wilderness.  I got to party with the Masai, shared Ugali with the locals , substitute taught a 5th grade class and build an industrial scale biodigester at a dairy farm.  We've already spent more time in Africa than Hemmingway ever did (although we've been in two fewer plane crashes which is much appreciated).

There are so many stories to tell, but that's for another time.  Erin and I committed to a full year in east Africa and are proud by what we've accomplished here.  So much so, that we're not ready to leave... we're now about to leave on a journey that, via one of the circuitous routes I'm famous for, will end up with us living in Nairobi, Kenya.  On to more adventures!