A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: zihuatcat

Doha Layover 2: Day in Doha

We arrived into Doha around midnight after our six hour flight from Dar.
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Rather than immediately get on another flight, I booked two nights in a hotel in Doha so we could shower, sleep, and see a little of the city. Otherwise, the long journey back is way too arduous. A taxi brought us to Hotel Al Bidda where we checked into our room and crashed.
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We were feeling a little more rested by morning and we had breakfast at the hotel. They had a huge buffet.
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Just around the corner from the hotel was the famous Souq shopping area. This is a huge area with stalls selling clothes, food, animals (unfortunately), and all manner of everything. We ventured out and walked around a bit but we couldn't take it very long. Even before noon, the temperature was so hot it was almost unbearable and I was sweating just from walking around. At least the gold stores were air conditioned so after buying a necklace/earrings, we went back to the hotel to cool off.
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On recommendation of the hotel and because it was air conditioned, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of Qatar. It was quite a ways away but conveniently for us, Uber was available. The outside of the museum was incredibly beautiful.
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The exhibits inside were pretty nice as well.
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We stopped at the museum cafe for a drink afterwards. I thought this water installation looked cool.
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We tried to take an Uber back to the hotel but after picking us up, the driver claimed not to know where the hotel was. I was able to remember an area very near so we just had him drop us off there and we walked back. The streets of Doha are cleaner than you can imagine. Not only is there no trash but there also seems to be no dust or dirt. I saw why as we were walking back to the hotel. This guy was literally mopping the sidewalk!
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Time to rest again...the heat just sucked every ounce of energy out of us. As it was getting dark, we walked around the corner to the camel enclosure where the police camels live. This was the area directly around our hotel.
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They camel enclosure was closed to the public but they allowed us to come in and meet and feed the camels for a few minutes.
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I think they were having a conversation.
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After leaving the camels, we wanted to walk to the waterfront and go on a dhow boat ride around the harbor. To get there, we needed to cross a very busy street. I knew there was a tunnel that ran underneath but we couldn't figure out how to get there. A man was walking by at the time so I asked him for directions to the tunnel. Of course, he offered to show us. I was leery at first but there were tons of people around so we said ok. He said that he was from Egypt but currently living in Doha. We followed him through the tunnel and when we reached the other side, thanked him, and parted ways.

At the entrance to the harbor is a giant pearl monument. It pays tribute to Qatar's early days of pearl hunting before the more lucrative discovery of oil.
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We found a dhow offering rides around the harbor and boarded. It looked like we were the only people on board what was in no way a luxury boat.
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At the last second pulling away from shore, the Eqyptian guy who gave us directions jumped from shore on board. My heart stopped. He came and sat next to us. He was aggressive and harassing even after I told him I was married (I am not). We went upstairs to the roof in order to get away from him and try to enjoy the scenery.
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Brenda and I were discussing what we would do when the boat docked and how we would get away from this guy without him following us. Suddenly he appeared on the roof. By now, I was getting very uncomfortable so we went downstairs and I tried to communicate with the boat captain (who spoke little English) what was happening and that this guy was scaring us. The boat captain, who was small and young, maybe even a kid, came to our defense. He said something to the guy in Arabic and when we docked, the guy immediately jumped off the boat. I had already called an Uber and it was waiting for us so we could hop in immediately and not be followed. But first, I gave the boat captain a huge tip. It was so much that he ran after me telling me we overpaid. I tried to explain to him how much he helped us and how thankful we were.

We were shaken but hungry so we went on to dinner at Al Shurfa, across the road from our hotel. We ate on the patio overlooking the square.
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We both kept a lookout for the Eqyptian guy but thankfully never saw him again. We walked back to the hotel after dinner and spent the rest of the evening packing and preparing for our last, long flight at 8a the next day. Although we had that scary experience, we did really enjoy our time in Doha and we arrived home safely the next day.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:26 Archived in Qatar Tagged tanzania doha brenda Comments (1)

Tanzania Days 15-16: Just One Night (Last Time)

It was the last time we'd hear the 4a call to worship. We were leaving this afternoon. We both wanted to get one more snorkel trip in before we left so our favorite guide, Issa, took us out in the morning. As we were loading up, he purchased these fish from a fisherman and said he'd cook them for us for lunch after our trip.
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We didn't go too far from Chole.

Scorpionfish
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Issa fish
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Partway through the snorkel, he guided Brenda back to the boat. I didn't know what was happening. I thought Brenda was having mask problems. Turns out, Issa wanted her back on the boat so we could snorkel together. Seems he had a little crush. I felt really bad that Brenda's last snorkel was cut short once I found out.

While we were snorkeling, a crab on the boat was having his way with our lunch.
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It was time to go so Issa and I came back to the boat.
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The captain served up a little snack for us.
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We got back to the island and while Brenda and I were cleaning up and packing up, Issa indeed grilled the fish for us. He speared them with a stick and cooked them over a fire. They were quite delicious. The crab didn't eat too much off the end.
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We invited Issa to eat with us but he refused to do so. We got the impression that it was frowned upon to invited the staff to eat with guests. We've come across that a lot in Africa. The owner's daughter seemed especially perturbed that Issa cooked for us. Maybe she had her own crush?

Finally it was time to go and we loaded up into the boat to return to the mainland. We gave everyone hugs and as our boat was pulling away, Issa ran along the beach waving to us. We arrived at the mainland and were driven to the airport where we boarded our 4p flight back to Dar for the night.
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Forty minutes later, we were about to land in Dar.
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We arrived back at Hotel Slipway, the same hotel we'd stayed in for one night before we went on safari. We had some dinner and watched the sunset then called it a night.
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We had several hours the next day before we needed to make our 6p flight to Doha. There was a shopping center built around our hotel so we did our souvenir shopping before leaving. It was perfect. After a late lunch by the waterfront, we bid goodbye to Tanzania one last time.
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Posted by zihuatcat 21:28 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania dar mafia brenda Comments (1)

Tanzania Days 11-14: Chilling on Chole

We spent the next four days in island bliss. Being so remote and shut off from the world was relaxing. Not having electricity was weirdly relaxing. Not having a schedule, though against my very soul, was also relaxing. We had a couple of open air massages which were relaxing. The one thing that was NOT relaxing was the call to worship every morning around 4a or 5a. It came across a megaphone over the whole island.

As mentioned, our little island consisted of our lodge and a neighboring village. No roads, no cars. Only dirt paths through the jungle-like foliage. We made several trips to the village for "shopping" and spent time walking around the accessible areas of the island.

Steps to our treehouse
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If I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, rather than walk to the toilet in the dark or use the bucket, I just came down the stairs and went underneath the treehouse. Quickly. Then right back up those stairs!

There was even a place to wash the sand off our feet next to the stairs.
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The main office where we could charge our phones and camera during certain hours of the day. There was also a little bar inside here where we could get drinks.
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The paths going through the lodge grounds were beautiful and well-manicured.
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View from our treehouse towards the water at sunset
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Shopping in the village. This guy sold paintings he painted himself.
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Example of a house in the village, most all were made this same way.
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We went on several snorkeling trips on the wooden boats owned by the lodge. The snorkeling here was much better than I expected. During certain times of the year (not this one), the whale sharks migrate through.

Some of the coral
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Many of the fish I had never seen before as they aren't found in Caribbean waters.

Moorish idol
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Convict surgeonfish
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Giant clams
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Spotted surgeonfish and convict surgeonfish
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Clown fish and anemone
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Slender squirrelfish
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Lizardfish
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Eel in his hideyhole
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Redlip parrotfish
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I believe this might be the Indian Ocean version of blue tang.
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Brenda with her noodles
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Snorkel selfie
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Our guide, Issa
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Our boat from the water
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Some scenes from our time on the boat.
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The Captain let Brenda man the tiller.
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Parts of our lodge from the water.
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One afternoon, we took a trip to a sandbar for a sunset picnic. When we arrived, the guides set up our sun protection while we walked along the bar.
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The white sand was beautiful.
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And it was home to lots of crabs.
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The guides hung out on the boat so we had the sandbar to ourselves.
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The lodge packed some drinks and snacks for us which we enjoyed while watching the sunset.
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Once we were ready to go, the guides packed everything up for us.
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On another day, we took an excursion to a neighboring island to see the turtles hatching. We were lucky that the timing worked out during our trip. We took a boat over then hiked to the other side of the island in the hot sun for a good 30-45 minutes. It was an interesting walk through villages. We weren't expecting this little hike and were once again, woefully unprepared in our flip flops. Apparently this was a common problem because I can't even count how many discarded flip flops we saw on our trek.
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We finally made it to the other side.
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The group that helps to protect these turtles had already set up a path to the ocean to help the hatchlings arrive there safely.
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Soon the hatching began and baby turtles started making their way towards the sea.
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Sometimes the little guys would get hung up and one of the guides would set him straight.
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The hiking in wet shoes for so long gave me a pretty good blister on my toe. We didn't have any bandages or band aids but we did have our disposable cotton panties. We brought these because there isn't a good way to get underwear laundered on a two-week safari trip. These we could wear once and throw away. Brenda fashioned a panty bandage for my toe from a pair of mine.
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Dinnertime was truly beautiful on Chole (which made up for the mediocre food). Lanterns were set up along the pathways to light your way.
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Each night, they chose a different area of the island to have a candlelight dinner. The first couple of nights, we dined with the other guests and the owner. I guess they didn't like us much because after that, we were set up for private dinners.
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Dinners were not even close to quiet though because of the fruit bats. These guys lived in the surrounding trees.
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They would leave the island during the day and then you could see them returning at sunset.
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They would get settled in the trees and squabble with each other the rest of the night. That was the noise we would fall asleep to each night.
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Posted by zihuatcat 21:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania mafia brenda Comments (2)

Tanzania Day 10: From Bush to Beach

After breakfast at camp, we drove to the air strip for our 11a flight to Mafia Island. It wouldn't be a direct flight but rather five hours with multiple stops across Tanzania. We took our usual goodbye picture with our guides (Romano on the left and Kevin on the right).
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Then they helped to ready the plane.
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At one of our stops, we were able to de-plane and use the facilities.
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Our flight buddies, Charles and Katie, from England.
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Our pilot paying close attention to the flight plan. Ha ha.
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Leaving the bush behind.
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Arriving to the coastal islands.
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We finally arrived at Mafia Island, an island off the coast of Tanzania near Dar es Salaam. We had to wait a bit for our driver but he eventually arrived.
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We drove across the island and had to make a stop to pay our marine park fees in cash. He then drove us to the shore, unloaded our bags, and instructed us to get in a rickety boat. It was at this point I thought "Oh boy, what are we doing? A guy who speaks almost no English picked us up and has told us to get on a rickety boat with several guys who speak no English and we have no idea where we're going or how long it takes to get there." Luckily, it appeared from significant gesturing, that we were only going across the bay.
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A short time later, we could see our hotel from shore. It was located on Chole, a small island off the coast of Mafia Island.
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We were unprepared for the shore arrival which meant we had to wade thru the water. We took off our shoes and found our flip flops in our bag. Unfortunately, Brenda blew out her flip flop and the shore we arrived on was extremely rocky. One of the women who greeted us tried to give Brenda (a size 9 or so) her size really, really small shoes to wear. That didn't work and Brenda had to stumble across the rocks, barefoot, until she could find a place to put her other shoes back on.

The only thing on this island was our hotel and a small village. The hotel consisted of tree houses with no electricity, long drop toilets, and kerosene showers. There was electricity at the office where we could charge our cell phones and camera batteries during certain hours of the day.

Our treehouse bedroom on stilts. At least there was a fan.
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The pictures don't do justice to show how massive the tree was.
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The bathroom was down the stairs (remember our house was on stilts) and down the path. At least it was private.
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Our sink
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Our shower
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After the explanation of how to soak the rag in kerosene and light it in order to get hot water in the shower and the explanation that if we didn't want to walk downstairs and down the path in the dark to the bathroom we could use the bucket in our room, we both looked at each other and laughed in nervous fear. Why did I think this was a good idea?

So we went with it. With alcohol, of course.
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We later joined everyone else for dinner which was held by candlelight, outside, at a long table with the other guests and the owner of the property. The only other guests were a mother and daughter from England. It was dark upon returning to the treehouse after dinner and without electricity or any entertainment, we turned on the fan, climbed into bed, zipped up the mosquito net, and fell asleep listening to the fruit bats and the sounds of the tropics.

Posted by zihuatcat 02:05 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania mafia brenda Comments (0)

Tanzania Day 9: It's the Final Cat-down!

Since it was our last full day on safari, we opted to revert back to our original schedule so we were on the vehicle at 6:30a. It was cold as usual.
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Flock of egrets
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Waterbuck
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Behind the waterbuck, our guides spotted roan antelope. These are pretty uncommon and this was a first sighting for me so very exciting.
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About ten minutes later, we finally saw a couple of lionesses walking in the tall grass off in the distance. These were the first and only lions we would see in Katavi, a park known for its large lion packs. You can barely see the top of her back in the tall grass.
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We stopped for breakfast and while eating our eggs, we found some eggs.
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Back on the road.
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We visited a new hippo pool. The male was standing guard over his hippo harem.
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Our guides got out of the vehicle to do something although I couldn't figure out what.
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Suddenly the head hippo had a challenger.
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We were parked only a few yards away and thought we were about to have front row seats for a heavyweight hippo fight.
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There was a lot of posturing but finally the errant hippo walked away.
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He went off by himself to pout. I felt kind of sorry for him being run out of the hippo pool.
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On our way out, we ran into some elephants crossing the road.
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We returned to camp for lunch and this time, caught our bushbuck's girlfriend. It seems she was shacking up under our banda with him.
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We had our lunch, with dessert, of course.
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After a couple hours of rest, we were back out for our final game drive of the trip. It was the usual suspects at first.
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And then we stumbled upon a leopard and his nap time. We were able to drive right up under the tree and he didn't care at all.
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Brenda really wanted to see a leopard on this trip so we found it just in time. We closed the evening out with more hippos.
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Kevin, our driver
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Brenda doing her own version of hippo.
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We returned to camp and our last dinner was similar to our first.
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We were off to bed to rest up for the next part of our African adventure.

Posted by zihuatcat 01:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (0)

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