First we want to thank everyone for the comments! We definitely feel the love . . . which reminds me of a Lion King song, which reminds me that we've been constantly thinking about the Lion King . . . here we hope to give a quick update of some juicy stories and interesting moments. We'll give the play by play in a few days from Dar es Salaam, where we will have basically nothing to do but hang out online.
We're here in Zanzibar at last. The past week has been grueling--as Megan so perfectly puts it, "it has been a trip of extremes." We've had some of our best travel experiences and worst travel experiences, and we sometimes have to think that the worst travel experiences will someday be our favorite memories.
An example. Christmas Day was an unusual one. The night before had been bizarre (can't even start that now), and we woke up Christmas morning at roughly five a.m. to the sight of a massive mosquito net and the sound of tropical rain. We joined the portion of our crew that had camped for the night at Miserani Snake Ranch (yes, great advertising for a camp ground . . . and yes, they do have a large collection of venomous African snakes . . . and yes, they remind you that most of those snakes live all around us in Tanzania). The crowd that had been camping was less than cheery, and we were soon ankle deep in mud trying to load vans to head to the Serengeti. Christmas was looking bleak.
But then an omen . . . a wonderful omen . . . our driver to the Serengeti was named Livingstone! We knew that would mean good things awaited us in the future. That was partially true and partially really really wrong.
While I'll get into animals later (yes, saw cheetahs, wildebeest, lions, topi, impala, giraffes, zebra, elephants, warthogs, rhinos, hyenas, jackals, ostrich, baboons, etc., etc., etc.), that night at the campsite was particularly interesting.
We had reached the campsite (which had no fences, barriers, armed guards or other barricade-like things) after braving roads that looked more like rivers, and we were exhausted by time we could attempt to pitch a very musty tent. The campsite had a sign that we initially dismissed: "Caution: Wild Animals May Attach Humans At Campsite." While we thought being attacked would be bad, being "attached" seemed somehow much, much worse.
Anyway, later in the evening, we sipped on a spicy cucumber soup followed by a tasty coconut rice. Then, the ever trusty Livingstone approached to give us some information. Apparently hyenas, jackals, and lions were frequent visitors to the campsite. We later learned that on that same Christmas night a lion made a kill just a hundred meters from a neighboring campsite. We also later learned of a woman who was bitten by a hyena on that very Christmas day.
The news was unfortunate as I had quickly acquired a taste for Kilimanjaro, a Tanzanian beer (say "it's Kili time!" to a local, and you're bound to get an excited response). I decided it would be in my best interest to not drink any more anything and avoid leaving the confines of our canvas shelter for the duration of the evening.
Such would not be my fortune. Around 2:30 in the morning, I hear an urgent request, "Brad, I need to go to the bathroom." My first thought was to deny her request and reason with her about the likelihood of wild beasts biting her bum in the night air. However, her voice contained a certain urgency . . . an urgency nearly every one of us would share in the days to come (and Brad still makes those urgent demands today!). I knew she had to go. I also knew that the sheltered lavatory near the campsite was a vile waste pit, a stinking filthy nasty vomitous cement hole in the ground with no lights. So that meant Megan would be using a bush, and I would be guarding for lions, hyenas and jackals that may be tempted to "attach" us.
Luckily, we were not attached, and we soon returned to our relatively safe shelter for the remainder of the night. Happy honeymoon to us, and a Merry Christmas to all!
In a couple of days, look for stories about the overwhelming popularity of G. Unit and 50 Cent (if you see "fity," tell him that Captain Salem wants him to come to Zanzibar). Maybe we can also give details of yesterday's 16 hour bus trip with no toilet during the journey . . . which involved naked swimming men and nearly being mobbed by a gang wielding machetes.