Day 5: March 19, evening
This camp is much nicer – it’s an actual campground with fantastic amenities like hot running water and electricity (the generator is turned on in the evening). The shower is amazing, the first running water we’ve had in three nights. It feels luxurious, even though we need to bring our headlamps in to provide light and have to hang everything from two hooks on the back of the door. There’s an outlet with a surge protector, soon there is a long line of camera batteries waiting to be charged. Dinner is the usual starches and stews; the open gathering area is quite nice. The sound of large rain drops hitting our tent wakes us up in the middle of the night.
Karatu is a nice-looking place town – not as well-developed as Dar, but it certainly has a more welcoming feel. It’s the gateway to Ngorongoro Crater, tomorrow’s destination; the Serengeti and the Crater are to the northwest. Built on the tourism industry, internet cafes are plentiful and some of the people are dressed in a more western style. The main highway is busy with safari vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians, with the latter two always coming precariously close to being hit.
(The next day we take up an offer to do a few articles of laundry, and arrive back to find it drying on some bushes. A few of the bushes are thorny, making extrication a tricky process.)
Made it to the Public Garden a few weeks ago to catch my favorite time of year at one of my favorite places in Boston.
Day 5: March 19
We thank the Maasai and leave camp early in the morning. This is our day to ride atop the luggage jeep – it’s got a bench that seats four situated behind the main cabin. Dodging prickly branches is more of a problem because you can’t duck back inside like you can in the other vehicles. Eventually we come to a large grassy clearing; our guides get out to investigate whether we’ll be able to get across the mud. When they come back they have decided to give it a shot with one jeep, probably figuring that there are about 15 young men to extricate the jeep should anything happen. The jeep charges ahead forcefully, kicking up mud chunks before getting stuck about halfway through.
After rescuing the jeep, we alter our plan of going to Tarangire Park and head instead to Lake Manyara. We pass through several villages. The terrain is quite dry. We get caught in a drenching downpour – by the time we get ourselves into the cabin, we’re already soaking wet. The sun comes back out soon and we dry quickly. The seven hour drive flies by.
Lake Manyara rests on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley. The lake occupies 89 square miles, and the surrounding area is home to many animals. We drive along well-marked paths, and we see other people out on safari, finding ourselves behind three other cars at some point. Many of the animals seem accustomed to being watched. Highlights include lots of baboons in the forest, giraffes in the plains, an elephant family (including a baby), and a pool full of hippos.
Had an incredible time at Brian and Tina’s wedding in Philadelphia this past weekend. The ceremony was at the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, and the reception was held on the 33rd floor of the Loews. At the Sunday brunch Brian and Tina, dressed in traditional Korean clothing, performed a bowing ceremony. Really enjoyed meeting and catching up with their families and friends, and, of course, seeing Brian and Tina so happy starting their new life together.
I find it pretty hard to believe that nearly 11 years have passed since we met. We were placed next door to each other freshman year and quickly became good friends. Over the years we’ve shared countless stories, feelings, thoughts, ramblings, and lots of very silly videos. It’s been quite a ride, with lots of Noch’s steak and cheese sandwiches and Charlie’s waffle fries to keep us going. Brian’s got a warm and lighthearted personality, and he’s also got knack for good conversation; keeping in touch has been quite easy since he left Cambridge.
I dug up this picture from almost exactly ten years ago (5/19/1998). Our hair’s gotten shorter, and our faces a bit older, but we’re still the same goofy guys. Somehow we’ve both managed to find great girls willing to marry us.