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Tanzania

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)

Tanzania Day 8: Same Animals, Different Day

We were starting to get frustrated. We'd been at Katavi for a couple of days and only had two more days left on safari. We were grateful for the good sightings we had at Ruaha because we weren't getting much at Katavi. So we decided to change tactics. Rather than go out in the early morning and late afternoon, we decided to sleep in and go out later, staying out all day. Of course, sleeping in meant being ready at 7:30a instead of 6:30a.

We had breakfast in camp which consisted of cinnamon rolls, fruit, omelet, sausage, and tomatoes (an English twist).
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While we were eating, the server told us about the python that lives in the roof of the dining area. We'd been eating here for two days, oblivious to the python above.
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That definitely got me checking the roof of our banda when we got back to it!

We left out about 8:15a and started our drive by the river where the birds were out.

Yellow-billed stork
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Gray heron
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Goliath heron
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Martial eagle eating breakfast in a tree
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We saw Charles and Katie with their guide. We talked to them a bit and they weren't seeing much of anything either.
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Palm nut vulture
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Hammerkop
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Fish eagle
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Cape buffalo
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The antelope in the background are the elusive eland. I've only seen them a handful of times and never gotten a good picture. They are always running away.
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By now it was time for lunch so we stopped off to eat our box lunches of scotch egg, veggie sandwich, and fruit.
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We spent most of the afternoon with a herd of elephants. This group looked like four generations together at once.
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This one gave us a demonstration of how they knock berries and fruit off the trees.
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I was sitting in the back row, as usual, with my zebra hair fly swatter.
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We arrived back to camp around 5:30p.
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Our little male bushbuck that lived under our banda was out and about.
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We were no longer the only ones in camp. Some Canadians joined the camp tonight. They'd been driving around Tanzania for several weeks. At this camp, we still ate our dinner separately but did have drinks and popcorn with them around the campfire beforehand.

For dinner, we had veggie soup to start then beef and mushroom pie, fried eggplant, potatoes, and veggies.
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Dessert was an orange meringue pie. Our giggly Masaai guide walked us back to our banda and we were done for the night. Neither of us had the energy to face the scalding hot/freezing cold shower.

Posted by zihuatcat 01:46 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania brenda katavi Comments (0)

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