Posted by: Suzan | April 6, 2011

What Lurks around the Corner in the Wilds of Tanzania






Driving through remote villages within Tanzania we noticed discos right off the roads crowded with people of all ages in lines waiting to get in. At Christmas this is where the locals go to congregate and groove together on the dance floor to celebrate the holidays. The 18 year old admission requirement is lifted  at this time. Families walk here as few even have a bicycle. In fact, most Tanzanians dream about owning a bicycle or motorcycle some day, and having a car is like winning the lottery.

Women with water buckets on their heads passed us on the sides of roads, and young children walked by alone holding hands. Life centers on doing what one must to care for one another. Extended families generally live together on a plot of land in a bundle of small makeshift homes often with dirt floors. As the children marry they build another home nearby and village life continues.

In this land of immense poverty, many subsist on one meal per day. As our cook insisted we have second and/or third helpings around our campsite for each meal, a part of me wanted to package it up and distribute it to the people in this land. Why stuff my body when so many Tanzanians would be delighted with my scraps? I thought of how I often take the food I eat for granted. I’ve never had to go without a meal.

 Then I reflected on living in a culture where plates in restaurants often resemble “platters.” We have many eateries with endless buffets where people pile small mounds on their “platters” and go back for more. Then there are the cruise ships which cater to the midnight crowd lest anyone go hungry for a few minutes. We then wonder why obesity has become rampant in our country and along with it, explosive heart disease, diabetes and other maladies. When is enough, enough?

 By the end of the day we checked into our bungalow on Lake Victoria situated on a beach. Swimming is condemned due to the hippos in the water and  also, extreme contamination.  We walked the grounds and passed a group of fisherman. I wondered if they knew what lurked in those waters. They laughed at us out walking as a sport in our athletic clothes. They, in turn, have on their Sunday finest every day of the week, even for fishing, and for them, walking is a clear necessity.

 The next day we drove to the Serengeti Wild Animal Reserve entrance to our camp 150 kilometers inside. The park is an astounding 14, 763 square kilometers. A Momma Baboon ran across the road with her baby on its back like it was riding a horse, it even held onto her fuzzy, thick fur as if it were reigns, hitting its little feet into her sides. Giraffes ate leaves around huge thorns and the Secretary Bird passed us in her search for snakes and lizards, his food of choice.

 We spotted our first leopard in the trees which soon scurried down for its hunt. They usually carry their prey back up the tree though we could not keep track of this exquisite animal as he sauntered off into the deep grasses.

Elephants crossed our path with one resting its trunk on the back of another as they moved. Another one uprooted a tree–at 6 tons they are the animal with the largest mass followed by the hippo and then the rhino.

Later on a game drive we drove for hours before a pack of lions caught our eyes. We relished our first glimpse at a male lion with a full mane just like in the Lion King. He had his harem of females around him and one of them chased down a guinea fowl, and they all flew away squawking. To which the lion curled up on the nearest warm rock and placed her paws on her nose, ready for yet another “cat nap.”

 We then saw the partners in air and on land. The vultures with their x-ray eyes and the hyenas with their keen sense of smell are the perfect pair to scavenge together though the ground rule is hyenas get first helpings. We witnessed them eating a fallen wildebeest likely killed by a lion.

  Right about this time a swarm of flies surrounded our truck, and we spent the next hour fending them off. Fortunately they grew tired of us batting our baseball caps at them, and they flew off to find some creatures with less dexterity to pester.

In the Serengeti we camped in a primitive site without any guards. Our guide and cook didn’t possess any weapons so at night we shined the light all around to make sure no animals had joined us for the evening. Just before bed, we pointed the light at the tree near our tent to make sure no leopards awaited us.

 As we left the park on our final day, just around the corner from us sat three young male lions, likely kicked out of their Pride to go out and start their own. Not far from them a large herd of buffalo trotted around, stirring up loads of dust in their path. As we drove away from this expansive land, I felt grateful that we didn’t get to know our neighbors.

 One never knows what is lurking around the corner in the wilds of the Serengeti. Yet it had me think about it as being the fabric of life. There is no certainty. The more we can accept life as it is, the more at peace we can become. What would this be like for you?






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