Safari in Mikumi National Park
Dar es Salaam Travel Blog› entry 7 of 15 › view all entries
December 29th, 2006 – by: jenn79
We stopped for a morning tea and then went off to explore the few dirt paths that were not flooded shut. We saw a lot of animals very close up and I have enough pictures between all of us to make a nice calendar for everyone! The most amazing sights were watching the lionesses stalk around each other.
I was almost eaten by a crocodile because I was crazy and wanted to get a picture of him. He jumped up 3 feet into the air when I got too close and leaped into the hippo pond with a big splash. All of us including the tour guide ran for our damn lives when he leaped and I thought "What the hell was I thinking getting so close?!" In hindsight since we safely got away, it was exciting and we were giddy with laughter from the adrenaline afterwards.
In hindsight, this was a fairly expensive trip as we traveled almost 4 hours to get from Dar Es Salaam to Mikumi. This park does not furnish jeeps, so whatever you drive up in is what you will be stuck in for the duration of the ride. Some families had open air jeeps, while others had vans with an open second story. We were in a nice SUV, but there were so many people jammed in that 1) not all of us were able to sit by a window and 2) there was only the sunroof access to the outside, and that could only fit one person at a time. I made the additional mistake of insisting that the tour guide sit in the passenger's seat - the best seat for taking pictures. Instead we should have stuck her behind the driver so that someone could have had superb-picture-taking possibilities.
It was during this travel that I learned a lot about Wafaa. I started asking Wafaa questions about the U.N. and what she did and what it was like, as I was really curious to see if I could locate the exact moment that the U.N. transformed the well-intended young adults into these super cool and kind and charismatic and idealistic and amazingly interesting type people.
I didn't realize it at the time, but what my mind was doing was imagining myself working in the U.N. I couldn't help it, the lot of young adults that I met at the wedding that all worked for the U.N. ended up enchanting me with their lives and stories. I have never been so honestly interested in so many people at the same time. Usually in a group, if I'm lucky, one person will be interesting enough to hold my attention and stay in my memory for more than a week.
I heard amazing stories about the fun to be had just from forming friendships, going on shopping excursions after being cooped up in their campus for 6 weeks at a time, and more frightening things like co-workers being pulled out of vans and being kidnapped. The stories were so varied but had this intense, bond-forming outcome that threaded together all the difficult and pleasant situations. I was rather awestruck listening to it all, but at the end of it, I realized I wanted to do it too! And I realize that sounds childish and immature, but it's hard to explain the feeling that it was destined to happen during our conversation.
To this day, whenever I hear the song "Makeda" by Les Nubians, I think of Wafaa. She is the first Nubian I have ever met =) I will always think of her like an older sister.
And it's funny. I remember the night that I met Stefano, he flippantly asked me "So have you fallen in love with Africa yet?" And having only been there for 2 days and still in the midst of sorting out the various degrees of my discomfort and itchiness, I silently chuckled in my head "what is there to fall in love with?" He saw the hesitation on my face and said "You have not seen enough of it to know.." But surely enough, those damn fateful words. Within 3 days, I had fallen under the spell of Africa. Damn him to hell for saying that to me.
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