Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 25th Hour

(Please keep in mind that TIA ((This Is Africa)) when reading this story.)

This story starts with a 4:30AM wake up.  We were scheduled to leave at 5AM (or 5:30- the time changed a couple to times in the course of an hour the night before) to head out to Gilaibomba, a Masai village out in the middle of bum fuck Tanzania (BFT) where there is no power and dust is literally everywhere.  We were leaving before the sun was up (and predicting to be back well after the sun had set), so we had to bundle up in our warmest wind-proof clothes.  I looked like an absolute moron, but I wasn’t too cold (until the ride home).
Scott and I bundled up
We finally got on the road around 6AM and actually headed out of Arusha by 7, only an hour or two behind the original schedule. (TIA moment number 1- running late.)  (We had to stop a couple of times to pick up people that were going to be joining us on this fine journey.)  This was doing relatively well, considering the last time they went out to Gilaibomba, it was after 9 when they actually left Arusha.  So off we went, when somebody figured out that they had left some documents back in Arusha that were necessary for the hunting that was going to be happening while we were out in BFT.  They dropped us by the side of the road to wait.  (TIA moment number 2- forgetting important documents and leaving people at the side of the road to wait while you go get them.)  We only had to wait about 45 minutes or so before they were back and we were back on our way.

Once out of Arusha, there is close to nothing.  It is mostly just dust and some plants here and there- a totally different terrain than what I am used to up here on Mt. Meru where everything is green and lush and there is an abundance of banana trees. The sun had started coming up, providing us an amazing view of the Tanzanian bush.

Tanzania sunrise
To get out to Gilaibomba, you have to turn off the main tarmac road onto a dusty path-like road.  Once you turn off the main road, there is even less around, and if you have to pee, you have to squat behind a bush and hope a random Masai person doesn’t wander upon you.  I also got to experience my first ever dust devil!  They were amazing to see except when we drove through them and I got dust all up in my business. 

Dust Devil!!!

There was also some hunting going on on, and what is hunting without having a few Kilimanjaro beers?  (TIA moment number 3- using weapons while drinking alcohol.)  Watch for my future blog entry entitled Hunting with a Vegetarian for more highlights.

We finally arrived in Gilaibomba around noon, and we were sent out to go see the school that people from Peace Matunda helped construct earlier this year.  Frankly, I could have done without seeing it considering I have seen 17,000 photos of the place, but the walk was nice.  As Scott and I were leaving to go to the school, the others from the group were leaving to go hunting.  There were rumors they would either be back before we were or around 4 (which in Africa time means 5 at the earliest).  After we got back from the walk, we only waited about 3 hours until 5:30 rolled around.  That is when the safari jeep finally pulled up carrying not just the rest of our group, but also a nice sized wildebeest and a couple of gazelles.  (TIA moment number 4- sitting and waiting hours for people to come back, and then when they finally do, the vehicle is full of dead animals and blood.) 

The spoils of the successful hunting trip had to be cut up and divided before we left, and of course some had to be cooked for a pre-going back to Arusha snack.  Wildebeest liver, heart, and kidney were on the snack menu with Safari beers to wash it all down.

We finally got on our way back to Peace Matunda, but on the way out to the main road, we had to stop and hunt some more because they could still get some dik-dik with their hunting permit.  It took us three hours to get from Gilaibomba to the main road.  (TIA moment number 5- taking 3 times longer to get somewhere than it should actually take.) 

Once on the main road, we were flying.  We had to be going at least 100 kilometers an hour, and once we hit the wall of cold, it was well, really cold.  I was glad to be wearing long sleeves and two coats, along with two pairs of pants, shorts and a shuka over my head.  Just outside of Arusha, we get pulled over the police.  I don’t blame them considering the picture: Two mzungus riding on the top of a safari jeep and Bella in the back cuddling with a bunch of dead animals and a gun at 11 at night.  Kind of shady looking, I’d say.  But it was good they pulled us over because we were also out of gas. TIA.

While we sat on top of the safari jeep waiting for someone to come back with some more diesel, Scott said, “If I wasn’t sitting here right now, I never would believe this happened.”  I probably wouldn’t have either, so I am hoping you all believe this story because, well, TIA.  Anything can happen.  And it does.  We continued waiting, and all of a sudden we start to coast.  Scott and I were just sitting on the platform on top of the vehicle, and all of a sudden, we were rolling down the highway.  I think the funniest part was that it didn’t phase us much that were coasting down a main highway while sitting on top of a safari jeep.  TIA.  We actually coasted for quite a distance (just short of 5k or so), but when we finally had to stop (because there were no more diesel fumes left to start the vehicle with) I got out and peed next to a water drain pipe.  (TIA moment number 7- getting pulled over by  the police and having to ask them for help getting to a gas station because you are out of gas and then attempting to coast your way as far as possible on the fumes that you have left and then when you can’t go any further, get out and take a piss wherever you feel like.)

Finally, around 2AM we arrived back at Peace Matunda.  (TIA moment number 8- arriving back a few hours after expected.)  We watched Bella drag in the wildebeest and gazelle meat and put it in the kitchen.  It smelled terrible.  Bella got to go to bed after that, but Scott and I had promised Paul and Kelley we would go to the airport with them at 4, so we didn’t go to bed.  We boiled some water, had some tea and coffee, and road along to the airport.  Both of us were doing ok until the 25th hour came along.  That is when we got kicked in the balls and fell asleep in the minibus leaving the airport.

Sleepy Scott

  Gilaibomba is full of dust, and ergo, so were we.  After bathing my head finally hit the pillow around 7AM, and I was up again at 9 to do my washing.  Despite the absurd TIA moments, I had tons of fun, and I would probably do it again.  I would just remember to take a deck of cards to keep me occupied while waiting for the hunters to come back for us. 

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