Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tanzania

Yup, that's where we were. Two weeks, most of them in mobile tented camps. (Less anyone be too impressed with my adventurousness, they were really NICE tents, with good beds and flush toilets for all that they could be packed up and moved depending upon where the animals were.)

There were lions just outside our tents, huffing away (we weren't allowed to walk too far out of camp without the company of a Maasai warrior guard, spear and all.) And the wildebeest, grunting. I knew they were there, I could hear them, but nothing prepared me for driving about a half a kilometer and being smack dab in the middle of thousands and thousands of them, in all directions, the horizon so thick with them it looked like a swarm of ants. Best guess was that in our sight there was about a quarter of a million, though the entire migration is more like a million and a half (not counting the zebras and gazelles!). I've seen photos, I've seen it on tv, I've even seen it on a 360 degree movie screen. Still, I had no idea of what it was really like. Kind of like childbirth.

I loved Tanzania. I'd go back tomorrow, despite the fact that, door to door, it was nearly 40 hours to get home. (I am ALMOST coherent now.) The people were great, the country gorgeous, I have the teensiest crush on our very charming 31-year-old tour manager, and our wonderful fellow travelers were old friends in the space of a day. The hardest critter to find? Leopards - we saw three. The cutest were the baby giraffes, the funniest the warthogs. We saw lions mating. Completely unimpressive stamina - like five seconds - but very impressive recovery time. (They mate something like on the average of every twenty minutes for four days straight!) And plane phobic me got on a 1-propeller plane on a bumpy airstrip that they have to buzz before they land, to scare off the zebras, and flew over an active volcano on my way back to Kilimanjaro airport.

But what I'm really interested in is how many of us having been having adventures lately. Has that streak always been there, and we're only now, with our kids a bit older, able to indulge it? I'm not sure I ever thought of myself as particularly adventurous, however. For me, it's more that the unpredictability of life has been brought home to me in some very forceful ways the past few years, and I feel driven to get out there and LIVE, not knowing what the future will bring.

Unlike Lois, I don't think I'll be climbing any mountains any time soon. But the next trip is booked (my son and I, this time) and I can't wait. And you certainly don't have to travel to expand your life; my husband is chattering about flying lessons, and I'm thinking learning a second language (a huge fat gap in my education) will be soon on the list for me.

So who else is feeling this need to get out there and try something new? What have you all got planned?

Susie

7 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

How cool!

My sister and I take a "girl's trip" every year and we're trying to plan this year's trip. We're thinking maybe just going to the house they inherited from her in-laws waaaaaaaaaay up in northern Minnesota. We could watch chick flicks, fish, relax, read and not have to cook.

Our other option is Vegas and including two other friends to go with us. We're not gamblers so what we want to do is hit the shows and some of the sites out from the city.

And of course there's San Francisco in July. My group is staying an extra 2 days to sightsee. I know we won't see everything but if I ride a cable car, eat seafood at Fisherman's Wharf and see the redwoods, I'll be happy.

Marilyn

Betina Krahn said...

Suz, I checked in this morning early and would have guessed Africa, but I didn't want to kill the suspense. I confess, I sorta cheated: I blew up the photo for a better look and there on Matt's hat was "East Africa."

So, I'm back and I'm thrilled to see you've posted on it! What a trip!

Tents with lions wandering around outside. Massive herds of beasts migrating together. . . baby giraffes. . . how wonderful!!! The trip of a lifetime! I an animal person, so I really envy you the chance to go there and be among them for a while. How utterly cool. What made you decide to do this? And how did you make arrangements?

Details, woman, details!!

Cindy Gerard said...

Susie - what an amazing trip and wonderful opportunity! I want to hear more!! Like - okay, I have this thing that i don't do heat well. HOW HOT WAS IT? And was it a dry heat?:O)

Seriously, how great! My next big trip will be to Spain. I can hear the Spanish guitars playing already.

Barbara Samuel said...

Susie, how fantastic! I would love to go to Tanzania and see lions. Lions! Cool. And I would like to hike Kilimanjaro, actually. I met a man at an airport here who had done it, and he was pretty long in the tooth!

My next big trip is to Australia this summer. Maybe New Zealand, too, if the sort of inlaws stay put.

Maybe we're all traveling now because the kids are grown and there is some post-college disposable income to spend on it. And because, as a generation, we're a pretty vigorous lot.

Prairie Sunshine said...

Methinks Barbara is traveling now because she's not buried under a mountain of galleys and ARCs and novels for a certain column... :-)

And brava to Christie for taking that column on.

Was a joy for me to do for many years until Real Life said uhn-uh...

As for SF, we did it last spring and recommend the harbor cruise, the redwoods, and the F-Wharf restaurant over the little gift shop at the north [?] end. Great for spotting the sea lions.

Your African adventure sounds wondrous, Susie! Brought back memories of our brief adventures at the other end of the continent in Marrakech and Tangier.

~ Sandy Huseby

Susan Kay Law said...

Betina, it was Matt's choice to go. His 50th birthday. He had a friend who took this exact trip years ago for his honeymoon and raved about it and has wanted to go every since. we just booked the same trip with the same company they did.

Cindy, it was a lot less hot than I expected, actually. Cools off quick when the sun goes down, and you're at a bit of altitude much of the time. At night, on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, it's downright chilly - they had little propane heaters in the tent and hot water bottles in the beds for us.

Barbara, we spent the first day hiking around the bottom of Kilimanjaro. Basically the first day's hike. Saw a lot of people coming down, which convinced me that I don't want to go up. They looked wiped. Guess the last day is really tough (you start hiking to the summit in the middle of the night, on very little sleep, and it's HIGH.) OTOH, I'm pretty sure you could make it if you wanted. Our guide said the oldest person he's taken up is 78, and he made it. Said the ones he has the most trouble with our actually really young, fit people, because they go up too fast and don't give themselves time so acclimatize. As he said frequently: "slowly, slowly."

I'd LOVE to go to Morrocco, Sandy! When were you there?

Are there "adventures" that you would never have? I'm pretty sure I'll never jump out of an airplane, for instance. Have no desire to run a marathon. But my "never, no way" list is pretty short.

Susie

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