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Posts from the ‘Tanzania’ Category

Zanzibar and Zany Train Travel

The island of Zanzibar has a rich history spanning centuries and a mishmash of cultures from the days when it was a major trading power in wood, ivory, spices and slaves — but most of it was lost on us. Tired after our safari, we flew there and decamped to a pretty hotel on the eastern shore with few ambitions other than to catch up on sleep and school work, and maybe bank a little extra rest for the crazy travel leg ahead. Sure, we rambled up and down the beach a few times (where middens of plastic trash reminded me that my unbelievably dazzling palm fringed white sand paradise was the nearby fishing village’s dump.) We spent one morning very happily traveling by traditional dhow out to a good snorkeling spot and had lunch at the iconic¬†Rock restaurant. ¬†Otherwise we were fairly useless, splashing in the pool and lounging in our shady sitting area so it’s kind of pathetic to report our plan for resting up backfired a bit.

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On Safari

I had been humming that old Toto song (I bless the rains down in Af-ri-caaaa) for weeks as our theme song, until I got here and realized to my disappointment that Mt Kilimanjaro does not only not “rise like Olympus above the Serengeti” it isn’t even remotely visible. All that awkward phrasing for nothing kind of killed the song for me, but that is the only disappointment I’ve suffered. I don’t like to play favorites, I mean, we’ve had some pretty great weeks on this trip. Diving on the Great Barrier Reef? Hiking the Routeburn in New Zealand? Eating all that pizza, pasta and gelato in Rome? Good times! This past week though, has just been spectacular.

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At long last, Africa!

Delirious after a grueling flight, we spent most of our drive from the airport into Dar Es Salaam — which was a long time because the traffic in Dar is really awful — freaking out over the fact that we were actually in Africa. I mean, who watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as a kid and didn’t dream of coming here? I had a fabulous teacher in high school, Dr. Hackett, who had travelled through Africa and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in the 1960’s after doing his doctoral research sailing around the Indian Ocean (he was such a bad ass!) He exhorted us to go and see Africa while there was still something to see. “You can go up the Eiffel Tower in a wheel chair when you’re 80!” he would say, and in the half dozen times I’ve gone up the Eiifel Tower the past 25 years I’ve thought of him and his words with a tinge of regret every single time, but finally I made it. We’re here.

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