Group 2 safari members: car 1 with Lesikar (the old folks car): Dr. Shriner, Jody Casserly, Mickey Singer, Sally Eastman, Cheryl Arteaga. car 2 with Pasqual (the fun car): Dr. Wafaa Alrashid, Dr. Christa Chandy, Cheryl Prigodich (aka Mama Fisi), Gyonyver Sovago (aka Mama Picture), Susie Icaza

Ok. First things first. Safari was amazing. If you haven’t gone, you should, because my words cannot begin to describe. Second… not only was it a Safari, but it was an adventure. We began Monday morning with a long and arduous trip to Lesikar’s (our driver) Masai Village in Ngorongoro Crater. I say long and arduous because it took us 3 hours longer than expected…but once we were there, I decided that it was worth the wait. We visited with his family and took tons of pictures, but the best was giving the children in the village M&M’s…(note: in Tanzania, M&M’s melt ON YOUR FACE not “in your mouth”). After that Group 2 made the long trek (about 6 more hours) out through the Serengeti to Ndutu camp where we lodged for the night. Along the way we had an amazing time with sightings that include (but by no means limited to): wildebeast, zebra, giraffe’s, hyenas (aka Fisi in Swahili… which by the way, my nickname has become Mama Fisi…explanation later), Maribu storks, vultures, warthogs, etc. We get to camp, and wouldn’t you know it but it starts to POUR. POUR POUR POUR like you couldn’t have imagined… now with the heavy rains that have already insued in the area, we were not too optimistic for the next days safari. but anway, they fed us well and we had a great time at the camp despite the fact that the lightning was soooo bright that it woke me up through my eyelids. So the next morning, just as Wafaa the meterologist predicted, the rain cleared up by 815am and we were off on what would become the craziest adventure we could imagine. It all started when we came up upon a pack of Fisi (hyenas) feeding on a Zebra that a lionness had killed. Now, being that i LOVE Fisi (i blame whoopi goldberg from the lion king) we had to stop and take a bunch of pictures. All was great…but the fisi were kind of far from the road and unlike my old, rich safari compatriots, i can’t afford a great big lens for my camera…so needless to say, i was not satisfied with my pictures. So a few yards down the road, i spy a lone fisi next to the road. “SIMAMA!” i yell to pasqual our driver (“stop” for all of you english speakers) “I need a picture of this fisi!” Pasqual obliged and i took my pictures… and then we tried to move… and we tried to move… and the wheels were spinning and the mud was splattering and WE WERE STUCK… our back tire was COMPLETELY sunken in the mud… and all because i needed a picture of THAT FISI! so…an hour later and with the help of a canadian safari group with their chains and jack’s, and me with my new nickname, Mama Fisi, we were on our way. But not for long. After a few lion and cheetah sightings, the rain started again…and before you knew it, we were stuck again. But this time Lesika (the driver of Group 2′s second vehicle) was able to simply (not really) push us out with his land rover. Ok. so, by this point it’s time to start heading back to Ngorongoro crater where we were to spend the night. We’re driving along, about to leave the Serengeti, when FLASH FLOOD! we can’t get past the newly created river. So we’re stuck in a line of about 40 or so other safari cars waiting for the water to go down so we can cross. Well… our drivers are way too smart to wait, so we drive on down to a different part of the “river” where they think we can cross… but when we get there, it doesnt look all that promising… the white water is flowing, and FAST. so we stand outside and contemplate what to do. Then, as luck would have it, we watch a few daring souls cross the river successfully in their rovers… great, we can do it! eh..not so fast. just as we’re loading up to head across, one car gets stuck and the engine stalls… boo… luckily the Masai were there to make a human chain, tie the stalled car up to another rover on land with a chain and pull it out… but now what do we do? well… Lesikar thinks we can make it. Ok..we all know how to swim…let’s try. So i willingly jump on in the rover and my younger safari-mates happily jump along in beside me for an adventure. We crossed successully… but not without a good scare…the water was up past window level and we got stuck on a few rocks for a few seconds…but no worries… So Lesikar drops us off on that side of the river and heads back across to make a second trip for the second half of the group (wait… didn’t we have 2 cars, you ask??? yes, but one was without “snorkle” so we couldn’t safely make it across without the threat of stalling). So, he goes back for the second group and again, makes it safely across. So now there are 10 of us, 2 drivers, and one car on one side of the river and another car all by itself on the other. What to do? So all 10 of us load up…and by load i mean SMOOSH…into one car with Pasqual driving, and we head on to the lodge, leaving Lesikar behind to figure out how to get the car. But the adventure doesn’t stop there. We get to the crater entrance at 1930 hours… too bad the park closes and the gates lock at 1800… so we’re stuck at a locked gate with no one in sight. wonderful…now the 10 of us will spend the night smooshed into one landrover. not to worry! pasqual finds a gatekeeper and convinces him to let us through (amazingly, no bribe involved). Homefree… not. 2 hours of being smooshed together and we finally pull onto the road to the lodge… too bad it’s soooo mudly that the car is slipping and sliding everywhere and can’t make it up. great. the lodge is 10km away…and it’s 9 o’clock… what to do??? so we call Lyn back home and get the number for the lodoge…we call on up… good, they’ll send a car that can actually make it down for us (note: people who pop out of bushes in the middle of the night in Tanzania are actually helpful…. ask if you want details). So, after 2 trips up the road to the lodge (scariest car ride of my life, by the way…and i think i speak for everyone when i say that) everyone is safe… but by now it’s 10pm and we haven’t had dinner…and you all know how Jody can get when she hasn’t eaten… but surprisingly we’re all still in good spirits and can’t help but laugh at our adventurous day. So what happened to Leskiar you ask? well, we didn’t find out until the next morning, but turns out he was able to get somoene to give him a ride back across the river, which he was finally able to cross at about 10pm… but at this point it’s too late to drive to the lodge, so he stayed the night at the local Masai village (how fortunate he is Masai and speaks the language) and then he drove to the lodge the next morning. Well… I’ve already written a book… so, i’ll make the rest short. The next 2 days were amazing and not nearly as adventurous (thank the lord). The crater was absolutely gorgeous and we were lucky enough to see some rhino’s. we spent the next night at a beautiful lodge in Tarangerie park and then today we finished up our safari adventure driving around Tarangerie and getting charged by elephants (not nearly as scary as it sounds, unless you ask Wafaa). And i’ll leave you all with these final words:

“Ne natchukia inzi sana” “i hate flies very much”

For all of you who have been on safari, you understand what i’m talking about…