Updates throughout the day today as I’m just sitting on a minibus with time on my hands … added to the blog en masse when we get WiFi later
Midday update: the plan was good … breakfast at 7.30, on the road at 8.30 meaning we should be at our next hotel by 6pm if we had a bad run … a long day, but manageable. Then at 7.10 Fred came to see me … the money he needed for the next few days had not been transferred from Kenya to Dodoma the night before so he would need to get to the bank when it opened at 9.00 to complete the transfer and withdraw the money … Ok … it would delay things … but these things happen … and as I have said a number of times, it is Africa … you can’t expect things to run to time, particularly in Tanzania … so it meant a more measured, slower start at 9.30 … so all rooms checked, all suitcases and bags outside ready, students prepared for their day … 9.30 came … and went … no sign of Fred … 10.00 came and the students are quoting ‘me’ back to me … “well it was 9.30ish” which I have used a number of times with them … 10.25 came and still no Fred … so I called the hotel manager who had given him a lift to see what was going on and was told “we should be heading back in another 10 minutes!” … the minibuses had arrived by this time at least … so we set to loading them … 10.55 … still no Fred … no wait … here he is on the back of a picky picky (Swahili for motorbike) … no sign of Alfa (hotel manager) … which is a problem … Alfa has the passports in the safe and he knew he needed to give them to us before we left the hotel … and so ensued negotiations over the phone with him so that Fred could get the safe opened and we could be on out way … 11.10 … two hours and forty minutes after our original departure time … so we will see what that does to the schedule …
1pm update: following a conversation where I asked how the lunch arrangements had changed with the later start as we won’t be in Morogoro (our planned lunch stop) until about 4 … we paused in a town to see if we could find food as there is nowhere they know of between here and Moro … it is a town I have often noticed on this journey, a big truck stop, busy and colourful and particularly well cared for … limited litter, plastics all collected, paths swept … only a couple of hours outside Dodoma … however, Patrick the safari company owner has decided there is nowhere suitable for us to eat so he has bought us all a packet of biscuits and a drink to tide us over until Moro … making the best of the situation which I can appreciate, but again it demonstrates the African mentality … they are used to either one meal a day or meals at odd intervals so it didn’t occur to anyone that having an early breakfast and then nothing until 4 was a problem … which I guess it shouldn’t be but our bodies and our minds are programmed to expect food at regular intervals … so onward to Moro … nice biscuits by the way 🙂
5pm update: I wasn’t far off, we got to Morogoro just after 4 … stopped at a hotel for some nice food, bought a few souvenirs and now we are off and heading for Mikumi … on a road I haven’t travelled before … the road to Iringa.
7pm update: entered Mikumi national park at 6.20 … already seen, baboon, impala and warthogs … and then a herd of elephants crossed the road ahead of us, four or five adults and a number of calves (magnificent, but when we were close enough for photos they were just into the bush and the iPad couldn’t distinguish them into the setting sun so you’ll have to look hard at the photo for the one I caught … it’s hard to imagine them being camouflaged when you see them iPad the West Midlands Safari park … but it’s very effective)… we saw a good few zebra, herds of lmpala, more elephants and quite a few giraffe but the light was failing so we couldn’t see them well … “and this is just the drive to the hotel” to quote a student!
8pm update: at hotel … arrived much earlier than we had been led to believe considering the late start … just about to go for food straight away … hotel is fabulous … lots of happy students … there are even toilet seats! Grace H and Molly have just grabbed me to come and see their room … over excited or what! They have the honeymoon suite with a round bed! Suffice it to say, after a long day sat down they probably need to expend some energy … and at the moment it is coming out as excitement … even the restaurant is fantastic … outside, in a national style with a thatched roof …
21.30 and final update: food was great … we have just discussed tomorrow morning … breakfast at 6am and on the road by 6.30 so we can catch the sunrise … followed by a conversation about shrieking! We set the rules for the day … respect the wildness of the animals, see them in their natural environment without affecting them as much as possible, so no shrieking, no litter, no feeding the animals or showing them food … we are in four jeeps, everyone has a window seat in an open top vehicle with cover … if today was anything to go by it’s going to be great … but I don’t want to jinx it … so good night from Vamos hotel, Mikumi.