Safari in Tanzania 2015

Day 14 Monday - Tuesday September 21, 2015
Out of Africa

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The actual digital photos have much better resolution than the enlarged photos.

The last morning in paradise was rather leisurely. We were not scheduled to leave for the airport until 10:30. Our group of five would once again be joined by Hannah and Matt on the flight to Mt. Kilimanjaro International Airport by way of Kigoma. Hannah and Matt were scheduled to fly to Nairobi to spend the night before flying back to London. The Sacramento quartet was flying to Kogatende by way of Kigoma. Their flight was scheduled to leave shortly after ours.

Not a single trace of tourist was found in this scat.

No new footprints were discovered in camp in the morning. However, Betty did find a rather large leaving behind her banda. It was identified as day-old leopard scat. So, Greystoke had definitely been visited by a large spotted cat on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The monkeys were still nervous.

Cam's motion-detector camera caught something, but it was difficult to identify because only the top of the head was visible, and only in one or two frames. Cam voted for a bush baby.

I asked Cam about the animal that I had seen the previous evening. I described it as black, about a foot long, with a bushy tail that was as about long as its body. He asked me if it was "about this high off of the ground." He held his hand about eight inches above the table. When I answered in the affirmative, he said that it sounded like a marsh mongoose.

I was a little disappointed to see that the marsh mongoose was already on Betty's list. The one that I saw was much drier and fluffier than the one in this photo. He reminded me of a miniature Giacomo with very short lega.

I made a note of this conversation, and when I returned home I investigated the marsh mongoose on the Internet, and I think that Cam was right. It was not until I looked through my photos that I realized that there was a marshy habitat not far behind the camp. We had hiked near it on Saturday afternoon.

We all ate a hearty breakfast. People also exchanged e-mail addresses.

We had plenty of time to pack up all of our things. This pace definitely suited Sue, who tries to arrange for a late check-out in every hotel in which we stay. The staff carried our duffels down to the dhow for us.

That second flight looked daunting.

I had brought what I thought was a great deal of cash, but I was wrong. After I paid all of the tips, I had exactly one picture of Alexander Hamilton in my wallet.

We boarded the dhow at 10:30. The captain pointed the prow to the north. A rather large boat passed us going south. I took a photo of it. I wrote in my notes that Butati had identified it as one of the two ferries that routinely sailed up and down the lake. One of the ferries was a German vessel formerly called the Graf Goetzen. It was built in 1913! In 2015 it sailed under the name MV Liemba[1] transporting both passengers and cargo. This was one of the boats that had tried to kidnap Big Bird. The other vessel, according to Butati, operated on a much less regular schedule and was much more crowded. This one required twenty-four hours to get from Kigoma to Mpulungu, Zambia. It also had no bathrooms. Don't ask.

Please don't aske me to hold it for twenty-four hours.

At 11:40 we docked at the Kalolwa Airstrip, the same one at which we had landed on Thursday. At the airstrip Butati and Matius provided us with boxed lunches that included a beef pie, veggie sticks, an apple, and bottled water. I threw the apple away and ate the rest. I was not sure where or when we might next see food.

I noticed that everywhere that we went management ate with the tourists, but the staff members almost never did. Even in the picnics with Jackson he had only eaten a little and then left us to ourselves. Ditto for the bush breakfasts. I wonder why that was.

Butati and Betty discussed whether it made sense for the Seahawks to be moved to the National Conference.

We now faced four consecutive flights. The first was very short. It would take less than an hour to reach the refueling stop in Kigoma. The second flight was a three-hour charter from Kigoma to Kili airport. Then our long overnight KLM flight back to Amsterdam with a layover in Kigali, Rwanda. The last leg was Delta from Amsterdam to Boston.

I made very sure to use the bathroom facilities at the airstrip before boarding the plane. Our pilot's name was Xander or maybe Zander.[2]

We were back at the airstrip.

The flight up the coast of Lake Tanganyika was short and uneventful. I had brought the plastic bag with me, but I had no need for it either on this flight or, for that matter, on the much longer flight to Kili.

As soon as we landed at Kigoma, we were ushered to the airport's lounge, which featured a large number of comfortable seats and couches, some soft drink machines, and a television that was playing a telenovela with English subtitles. It was probably Mexican or maybe Brazilian. I did not get up to see if I could tell.

Only a few minutes after we arrived, we were joined by the foursome from Sacramento.

Walking to the lounge at the airport.

I felt no need to use the toilet in the passenger lounge. That was a mistake. There were no toilets on bush flights, and three hours could be a long time between toilets in Tanzania. It turned out to be longer than three hours.

The lounge at the Kigora Airport.

We finally landed at Mt. Kilimanjaro airport. There was only one plane on the ground there, an Ethiopian Airlines jet. The staff at the airport did not seem to know what to do with us. We were all asking for the toilet. We were told that we had to go through the domestic side of the building, exit, and then come back in on the international side. There were no toilets inside on the domestic side, but there was one on the outside. As preposterous as this sounded to us, we had little choice but to follow directions. We also had to tote our own bags. Fortunately, baggage carts were readily available.

The guy in the reflective vest directed us to the domestic side of the terminal, ...

... which was dark, locked, and toilet-free.

We pushed our gear over to the domestic side, which appeared to be pretty much deserted. Believe it or not, the exit door was locked. That is correct; we were locked in this large room with no toilet after a three-hour flight on a bush plane. After some minutes a man with a ring containing a few hundred keys unlocked the door after a few failed attempts. We were allowed to escape.

I don't remember every detail about who did what and what happened to the luggage, but we all headed straight for the toilets. My experience there was the lowest point of the entire trip for me. I will spare the details. At that point I really had had enough, and I just wanted to quit traveling forever despite the incredible treasure trove of memories that the past two weeks had generated.

The Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport was a really classy place.

The next few hours did nothing to change my mind. The international side of the airport was nearly as bizarre as the domestic side. We had to go through security before entering the airport. Somehow we lost our luggage cart during this transition. We only had a few more yards to tote the bags, but for some reason this fact really upset Sue, and I, as I indicated, was already distraught.

The KLM desk was not open when we got there. We filled out our customs declarations and then stood in line for at least a half hour. I was not feeling too good, and I was quite worried about feeling worse at any minute.

We finally got through all of the paperwork and had our boarding passes. We still had a couple of hours to kill. I sat alone and tried to convince myself that I would not be sick again. Sue disappeared. I could have sworn that she went down to the ladies' toilet and never came up, but she must have slipped by when I was distracted. She went shopping. While she was so engaged, I had the privilege of sitting next to some guys from Texas who had obviously come to Africa to hunt big game. I spent my time staring at the sign that said that the bar and restaurant upstairs "is closed for renovation."

The airport was full of young athletic people. Many of them were going back to Europe after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, something I had considered attempting twenty years earlier when I was in pretty good shape. Many wore tee shirts that proclaimed "Just Done It," a takeoff on the Nike motto. They made me feel old and decrepit, and I hated them.

I climbed this Kilimanjaro a few times.

Tom was thrilled that he had cellular service in the airport. He texted messages to his kids. Sue and Betty sat in the little café and had some food and drink. I was not going to consume any more of anything in Tanzania. I would wait for the airplane. Unless I was sorely mistaken, we would be served at least two prepackaged meals on the long flight.

At one point there was a short power failure in the airport. No one seemed to take the problem seriously, and the lights came back on shortly.

I used the men's room without incident. It was by far the most poorly designed such facility that I have ever seen. If two overweight men tried to use it at the same time, they might be stuck forever. It was that tight.

The announcement was finally made to board the plane. We all departed the terminal in a big mob, walked across the tarmac, and climbed the portable stairs into the plane. We took off on time. The one good thing about this airport was that the probability of having to wait for other planes was minuscule.

I was seated between a young British lady and the aisle. Sue was across the aisle. I ordinarily bring ten things to do on flights, but this time I just ate the meals, slept a little, and used the toilet twice. I concentrated on doing nothing that would offend my digestive system. By the time that we landed in Amsterdam, I was exhausted, but I was happy to have completed the flight without any problems or embarrassments.

I could not avoid overhearing the conversation of the two men seated in front of me. One of them was a young tech executive who had just finished climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The other was a professor at UMass who had been gathering climate data in the mountain's crater.

Sue at the Lost & Found desk.

Sue somehow found KLM's Lost and Found window in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The lady was very nice and entered something on her computer. She said that she got ten hits when she put in the description of the camera that I had lost there two weeks earlier. I was convinced that this was a waste of time, but we had at least an hour or two to spare, and so I let the two of them converse for a few minutes. Sue left with the URL of a website on which she could check the status of her request.

In Amsterdam Tom downloaded software to his iPad so that he could view his pictures. Sue also signed on to the Internet. I am not sure what she was doing.

The gate number on the list of flights in Amsterdam was a phony number. We were required to go to a special counter for our flight. There employees wearing Delta uniforms asked us security questions such as "Did you pack your own bags?" They entered something into computer screens. Then they told us what our real departure gate was. I never learned what this was all about.

The flight to Boston was very full, but at least this one was not dominated by as many young and athletic mountain climbers. Hardly anyone was as old as I was, but at least there was a little diversity.

They served a pasta dish for lunch, and I was able to taste it. It was not too bad. The only bizarre incident occurred when I needed to use the toilet. A German guy blocked my way, and I had difficulty persuading him to move.

The flight was fine, and we landed in Boston on time. A new system of kiosks had been implemented to speed up the passport processing. This was a vast improvement over the previous approach that had been implemented during the paranoid panic following 9/11. However, if Sue and I really looked like our photos, we should never have been allowed back into the country.

We got our luggage, found Tom's sister, Carol, and said good-bye to Jeff. We were all so groggy by that time that our exchanges may not have made sense.

The drive back to Enfield was uneventful. The last and most important part of the trip was the location of my cat, Giacomo. I found him in the back yard almost immediately. I carried him through the house to show him to Sue, who was about to enter through the door by the driveway. Something about Sue's appearance completely spooked the poor cat. He squirmed out of my arms and ran away. It was more than twenty-four hours before he made up with Sue.

Postscript: I have concluded that most of my physical problems could have been due to the Malarone pills that I took every day. Both nausea and diarrhea are listed as common symptoms. The only defensible alternative explanation is that I repeatedly encountered food problems that I have never before experienced. William of Ockham votes for the Malarone.

I think that permethrin was the key reason that I fared so well with the insects. Some of the people in our party had never heard of it. I should have mentioned it at our pre-trip meetings.

Tom informed me later that he had suffered from a toothache almost every afternoon. His dentist told him that he should have taken ibuprofen for it. I said that I would have been glad to give him some. He said that he had some Advil, but he did not take it.

This was the first trip on which I felt really old. At first this feeling made me want to avoid strenuous travel altogether, but my opinion has subsequently changed 180 degrees. I want to travel as much as I can while I still can. The pain is fleeting, and the wonderful memories linger, especially if you undertake something like this journal to keep them fresh.

Here is Betty's list of birds and other animals:

Ngorongoro Serengeti Katavi Katavi night drive Mahale
  Tue 09/08 Wed 09/09 Thu - Sun
Mon - Wed
  Thur - Sun
African Cuckoo     X      
African Firefinch           X
African Fish Eagle X     X   X
African Grey Flycatcher     X      
African Hawk-Eagle     X X** X  
African Jacana X          
African Open-billed Stork       X    
African Paradise-flycatcher           X
African Pied Wagtail   X       X
African Spoonbill X          
African Wattled Lapwing X   X X    
African White-backed Vulture   X X X X  
Augur Buzzard   X        
Bare-faced Go-away-bird     X X    
Black Crake X          
Black Egret X          
Black Kite     X X   X
Black-crowned Night-Heron       X    
Black-headed Heron     X      
Black-shouldered Kite     X X    
Blacksmith Lapwing X   X      
Blue-capped Cordon-blue X          
Blue-naped Mousebird       X    
Broad-billed Roller           X
Bronze Mannikin           X
Brown Snake-Eagle       X    
Brown-crowned Tchagra     X      
Capped Wheatear       X    
Cattle Egret     X X   X
Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark   X        
Chin-spot Batis            
Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting     X      
Collared Palm-Thrush       X    
Collared Pranticole X          
Collared Sunbird       X    
Common Bulbul X          
Common Fiscal X          
Common Moorhen X          
Common Ostrich   X X      
Common Ringed Plover            
Common Sandpiper     X X    
Common Squacco Heron X          
Coqui Francolin x   X      
Crested Barbet       X    
Crowned Lapwing   X X X    
Egyptian Goose X X X X    
Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove       X    
Fischer's Sparrow-Lark   X        
Fork-tailed Drongo       X    
Giant Kingfisher           X
Goliath Heron       X    
Grassland Pipit     X      
Great Egret X     X    
Great White Pelican X     X   Big Bird
Greater Blue-eared Starling       X    
Greater Flamingo X          
Greater Honeyguide       X    
Green Wood-hoopoe       X    
Green-backed Twinspot           X
Grey Crowned Crane   X        
Grey Heron X   X X   X
Grey Kestrel     X X    
Grey-backed Camaroptera     X audio only      
Grey-backed Fiscal     X X    
Grey-headed Kingfisher     X      
Hadada Ibis X     X X  
Hammerkop     X X    
Helmeted Guineafowl   X X X    
Hildebrandt's Francolin   X   X    
House Sparrow X          
Kori Bustard   X        
Lappet-faced Vulture     X      
Laughing Dove     X      
Leaf-love           X
Lesser Flamingo X          
Lesser Grey Shrike            
Lesser Striped Swallow       X    
Lilac-breasted Roller X , I think   X X    
Little Bee-eater X X X X    
Little Egret X   X      
Little Swift     X      
Long-tailed Cormorant X         X
Magpie Shrike     X X    
Malachite Kingfisher X          
Marabou Stork X   X X X  
Marsh Sandpiper       X    
Martial Eagle     X      
Northern Anteater Chat   X        
Northern White-crowned Shrike     X X    
Palm-nut Vulture           X
Pied Crow X          
Pied Kingfisher     X      
Pink-backed Pelican       X, and flying in V    
Plain-backed Pipit     X      
Purple Grenadier     X      
Purple-crested Turaco X          
Pygmy Falcon     X camp      
Rattling Cisticola     X      
Red-and-yellow Barbet X   X      
Red-billed Hornbill       X*    
Red-billed Oxpecker X     X    
Red-capped Robin Chat           X
Red-cheeked Cordon-blue       X    
Red-eyed Dove     X      
Red-faced Crombec       X    
Red-necked Spurfowl     X X    
Ring-necked Dove X   X X X  
Rufous-napped Lark   X X      
Rufous-tailed Weaver   X        
Ruppell's Griffon Vulture     X X?    
Sacred Ibis X   X      
Saddle-billed Stork       X    
Secretary Bird     X      
Slat-colored Boubou       X    
Sooty Chat     X      
Southern Ground-hornbill     X X    
Speckled Mousebird   X   X    
Speckle-fronted Weaver     X      
Spotted Morning-Thrush     X camp      
Spotted Thick-knee       X    
Spur-winged Goose       X X  
Spur-winged Lapwing   X X X    
Steppe Eagle     X      
Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike            
Superb Starling X   X      
Tambourine Dove           X
Tawny Eagle     X      
Temminck's Courser     X      
Three-banded Plover     X      
Tropical Boubou       X    
Variable Sunbird   X        
Violet-backed Starling X     X    
Violet-breasted Roller     X   X    
Vitelline Masked Weaver     X camp      
Wahlberg's Eagle       X    
Wattled Starling     X      
White-bellied Go-away-bird   X X      
White-browed Coucal     X      
White-creasted Helmet-shrike       X    
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver   X X      
White-headed Vulture   X        
Wood Sandpiper     X      
Yellow-billed Oxpecker X     X?    
Yellow-billed Stork x 1000's   X X    
Yellow-throated Longclaw     X      
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse            
African Civit         X  
African Hare         X  
African Wild Dog     X      
baboon, olive X X X      
baboon, yellow           X
Bat, yellow-winged       X    
bushbaby/galago, greater           X (heard only)
bushbaby/galago, lesser         X  
bushbuck   X X X    
cape buffalo X X X X X  
cheetah     X      
chimpanzee           X
crocodile     X X   X
dik dik X          
duiker         X X
eland     X      
elephant X X X X X  
elephant shrew           X (heard only)
fox, bat-eared     X      
gazelle, Grant's   X X      
gazelle, Thompson's X X X   X  
genet         X  
giraffe X X X X    
hartebeest   X ?      
hippo X          X X X  
hyena, spotted   X        
hyrax, rock     X      
hyrax, tree   X        
impala X X X X X  
jackal, Black-backed   X X      
klipspringer     X      
leopard     X   X  
lion   X X      
mice     X      
mongoose, banded     X X X  
mongoose, dwarf     X      
mongoose, marsh/water         X  
mongoose, white-tailed         X  
monkey, blue           X (heard only)
monkey, red colobus           X
monkey, red-tailed           X
monkey, vervet   ? X X X X
oribi     X      
porcupine         X  
rhino, black   X        
topi     X X    
warthogs   X X X    
waterbuck   X X      
waterbuck, Defassa's     X X    
wildebeest X X X      
zebra X X X X    
fish           X
skink     X      
monitor lizard     X X    
rock python       X    
frogs X          
candleabra tree   X X      
bataline trees     X      

[1]  Liemba was Dr. Livingston's name for this part of Africa.

[2]  The only character that I have ever encountered with this name was the wine expert on Parks and Recreation.