A Conversation with Christie and Don

It took nothing short of coercion to get our first and probably only visitors, Matt’s parents, to Tanzania.  We had a blast showing Christie and Don around town, getting them into crazy traffic situations, and helping them negotiate a price for souvenirs that was only slightly below exorbitant.  Then, we conned them into paying arm + leg for a budget safari which included four days of bumping along through the African bush in a vehicle without air conditioner.  Painful?  Yes.  Awesome?  Also yes.   We hope they came away with some good memories, and if not, at least they got to spend some time with Carolyn.

On their last day, we sat down and talked with them about their impressions of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam.  Here are some excerpts from that conversation:

What was your favorite safari moment?

Christie:  Tent camping was really interesting and also seeing the migration of the wildebeests.

Don:  Descending into Ngorongoro Crater where we saw animals for the first time.

Matt:  I liked arriving at the Ngorongoro lodge as the sun was setting.  I wish we had time to enjoy it more.  Also, seeing the three lions under the tree about 20 feet from us.

Mary:  In general, I enjoyed Don’s commentary as we went along.  But also, I loved Don’s version of what our guide was saying since we couldn’t hear our guide in the back.  Somehow, he turned “mosquito river” into “mosskwettoreever.”  And the bird “kori bustard,” he accidentally translated that into an expletive.

Descending into Ngorongoro Crater amid Cape Buffalo

Wildebeest migration

Lioness, plagued with flies

Kori Bustard

What was your favorite meal?

Christie:  The Indian restaurant.  I liked everything I tasted there.

Don [while eating a burrito]: Probably this one right now because my body has a better chance of understanding it.  Also, pizza at the Yacht Club.

And least favorite meal?

Christie:  Ethiopian.  I almost lost my cookies.  It wasn’t actually the taste.  The bread was soft and you’re picking up soft stuff with it.  And I was like, OK, I don’t think I want any more of this.

Don:  Yeah, the bread came rolled up like a washcloth.  That’s the first time I’ve seen Christie react that way.

Christie:  I tried it!

Don:  My worst meal was probably the prawn pasta, “Shrimp Primavera,” I think.  Right on top, there was a big, hairy, ugly shrimp.  They called it a prawn or something.  It had whiskers and many feet.  Mary said “ewww” and I agreed with her.

Matt:  All the lunches we had on safari were bad.  Or maybe the raw chicken that was served at the Serengeti lodge.  And I didn’t know it until I had eaten almost the whole thing.

Don:  I probably would never order another steak or any beef in Tanzania.

Are there any observations you would like to share?

Matt:  Well, Dad, I’m pretty impressed with your ping pong skills.

…regarding Africa.

Don:  I’ve come to terms with the shop keepers and the people selling stuff on the streets.  But what I haven’t come to terms with are the people under the trees.  What’s going on there?  I just don’t know what their life is all about.  Do they get up in the morning and go to the tree?  Do they have lunch at the tree?  Also, the cows that aren’t being tended.  Who do they belong to?

Christie:  I feel like we got to see some of the real Tanzania, like when we came back from the airport and we were driving in the wrong lane and we blocked traffic.

Mary:  That was awesome.  I want to do that again.

Don:  I am surprised that for such a poor country, things are so expensive.

Matt:  You mean western things are expensive.

Don: Yes.  And that Dar es Salaam isn’t more tourist friendly.

What was the most shocking thing about Dar es Salaam?

Christie:  Probably the massive numbers of people walking around Dar.  And it’s not easy to shop.  You don’t just go to the store and get what you need.  You have to bargain.  The the stores aren’t the same as at home.

Don:  The entrepreneurship of Tanzanians.  There are so many stores selling random things.  And also the heat [This is coming from a Floridian].  The most curious thing were the bathrooms at Olduvai Gorge.  There was the old hole, the new hole and the hole with a toilet seat over it.

Mud flaps, beds, used tires

What other moments stood out?

Christie:  Going to the National Museum and seeing their take of the history…what they chose to include.

Don:  The steep road leaving the crater was one of the scariest moments for me.  And I still can’t believe the road we were on was a highway and that it’s the only road to the Serengeti.

Christie:  No one can possibly be prepared for that trip to the Serengeti.  But we did it.  We survived it.

Perhaps what Christie had in mind when she made the comment above regarding the National Museum

More from the National Museum: Tools that were formerly prevalent in Tanzania. Also, tools that are currently prevalent in Tanzania.

First ATM in Tanzania. I imagine this thing was probably broken much of the time.

Don, tell me about the outing you and Matt took.

Christie:  Yeah, you guys went to the driving range/paintball course/thai restaurant?

Don:  We asked the man for a golf tee.  He said, “It is finished,” which I later learned is the African term for “we’re out” or “we don’t have any” or “they are all broken.”  It was a pretty good deal though.  We got two buckets for about $6 each.  There were a ton of balls and I thought, “I don’t want to hit that many balls.  It’s too hot out here.”  And there were two types of balls: a range ball and a yellow ball that goes off like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July when you hit it.

Matt:  I’m going to have to go back and try out the paintball course.

What was your favorite Tanzanian sign?

Christie:  The plaque describing cars driven by the “Farther of the Nation” at the National Museum.

Don:  The sign at the airport from the Ministry of Health urging people to wash their hands after cleaning a baby that has “defected.”

Mary:  Good one.  I kept thinking there was some meaning of the word “defected” that we didn’t know about.

1 of 6 plaques referring to the "Farther of the Nation."

And here is the "Farther" himself, Mwalimu (Teacher) Julius Nyerere, the first President of Tanzania. Just looking at this evokes feelings of claustrophobia, but I think he will surely be unveiled soon.

What was your favorite moment of the trip?  

Christie:  Carolyn giving kisses to Don

Don:  Hanging out at the Yacht club with Carolyn and eating pizza by the bay

Matt:  How much Carolyn enjoyed having her grandparents around

Mary:  I’m seeing a pattern here.  I will diverge and say that my favorite moment was looking at pictures from the last two weeks and realizing how much fun we had.

Thank you Don and Christie for sharing your experiences.  For more safari pictures, including a rare leopard sighting, click on the album below.

Ngorongoro and Serengeti