Well, I'm home. And Tanzania was AMAZING. We saw and experienced so much, I don't even know how to articulate it all! Seeing such a beautiful place in person really touched me, and the struggles of those in this country really made me realize how blessed I am, and how much I take for granted. I think when a person goes on a trip like this, it changes them. It certainly changed me.
We took well over 1000 pictures, and I will get them up on a share site when I can but for now here are a few shots that will hopefully convey how incredible of an experience it was. Enjoy, and if you want to see a larger view, just click on the photo!
We saw lots of elephants with their babies, and OMG, so cute! Some were too small to even feed on the foliage but they would pick up branches with their trunks and 'pretend.'
This one our guide called an 'Elephant back-scratcher'. We saw ruined trees like this all over the place--I guess the big guys can get quite violent when a tree looks at them the wrong way or they they find an itchy spot they just can't quite reach...
I loved the giraffes. There's something about watching them stride across the plain that is just amazing. Here we were able to get quite close as they noshed on some leaves.
We saw many hippos, and this shot is from Lake Manyara. They are massive creatures, aren't they? The day was overcast, so rather than hide in the water to stay cool, several ventured out to feed.
Note the Hyena skulking behind the herd. The wildebeests and zebras appear unshaken, but you could tell they were very aware of every movement, and ready to bolt at a second's notice.
It took a long, long time for the animals to settle and come down to the water for a drink. This is when the animals are at their most vulnerable, and so they wait and wait, trying to stay alert for any movement. Zebras and Wildebeests will drink only once a day here. In fact, a lion attacked the herd just as they finished.
This is a Baobab tree...some call it the 'upside down tree.' These huge, beautiful trees have many uses for both people and animals. I saw many while in Africa and took lots of shots (you guys know how I love trees). I thought of Becca every time I saw one, because she has a NF PB book that contains info on the Baobab.
My pictures montage wouldn't be complete without a shot of a lion, now would it? This one was not hunting, but rather playing in the grass with her mate and young cub. They were tough to spot and very hard to get close to.
We saw a ton of Baboons. They were everywhere and weren't camera shy at all. One even climbed onto the jeep! They were very cute and playful, especially the young ones.
We also travelled through a village, seeing how people lived. It was a real eye opener. They have very little, and had to work very hard to provide for themselves and their families. Here is a boy making a ball to play with out of plastic bags and twine that he'd carefully collected and saved.
This is a typical dwelling in the village--a stick and mud hut. The materials are relatively inexpensive. One of the dangers here is the rainy season and flooding. It isn't uncommon for families to leave their homes to avoid the flood waters and then come back to repair the damage.
The children in the village were very interested in us, and especially our digital cameras. They would come up to us and high five us, fist pump, etc and then want us to take their picture so they could see themselves on the digital display. Too, our sunglasses were a big hit--all the kids wanted to try them on and they liked to look at themselves in the mirrored reflections. This boy here hopped into my lap the second I sat down and giggled and laughed the whole time. Such a wonderful moment, seeing how simple smiles and actions can bring so much joy. By far this was the best part of the trip for me.
Some of the sights we took in were heartbreaking, like our visit to one of the many, many orphanages. The children there were slow to warm up to us and the weight of their situation was evident on every face. We gave them some gifts and played with them, and a few gave us tentative smiles by the time we had to leave. I have the email address of the teacher there and hope to send down a care parcel of shoes and clothes in the coming months.
This is in Zanzibar...look how blue the water is! We had a wonderful time playing in the waves and searching the white beaches for shells and crabs.
We stayed in a very lovely hut with an ocean view, high enough on the bluff to catch the breeze. This is a shot of the sunrise from our deck. We spent several nights here, relaxing and doing as little as possible. :)
Stone Town awed us, both with its rich history and the carvings on doors and balconies in some areas of the city. The doors were very intricate as you can see, and many were reinforced on one side and had their studs intact, originally embedded in the door to keep lions and elephants out.
Much of Stone Town is actually a warren of tight alleys and bustling shops. It was a lot of fun to tour around and pick up a souvenir or two. A spice island, Zanzibar's wares are known the world over, so I snagged a few good deals on vanilla pods and saffron threads.
As a major site for the slave market, there were many historical areas intact to show just how the slaves were auctioned and where they were kept. It was terrible to see, yet a good way to honor those who had their lives stolen from them by keeping the memory of what happened alive. These are the actual chains used to hold slaves, who were whipped to determine price. Those who were quiet the longest earned a higher price. Horrifying.
I want to leave things on a high note, so here's a view of the harbor. I love water and all it symbolizes...the openness of the ocean is a good reminder of the opportunities awaiting each one of us, and that we must steer our boats toward them. Happy sailing!