Ok, it’s two in the morning, or one guesses it’s two in the morning and BANG! Head lifts, body slower and then BANG again. It’s dark and one realizes where one is. It is a pretty scary thought. You hear a tribal language and then you hear the what’s and why’s in English. A wild boar has come to the perimeter and to scare him away the guard shoots his gun into the sky. Deep breaths, all that adrenaline, deep breaths, oh my god. I always thought that it times of trouble or times of need I would always be the one in control, the one who saves the weak. Well, I can tell you that I sat there frozen, no movement, no control. In the dark your ears take over & you use your backlog of pictures and feelings to figure out what in the heck is happening. When most of the commotion ended I slowly unzipped my tent. The men had finally decided that this was the time to stand around and talk about how brave they are and how the would have shot the boar and eaten it, ha, ha. Ok, let’s all go back to sleep and we’ll have boar bacon in the morning. I quietly mumbled that I would prefer Jim stew!
I wake up a little later that next morning and the guides are already packing up, they have left a plate for me along with some cold coffee. Our trip is almost over, it’s Friday. Today we will drive back to Manyara. This was the town in which I arrived two days late and started my wonder with the land. Gebra says that this will be the finest place that we have stayed. All the terminology is exactly that, terminal. The guides know that there is not that much time left and they are ready to go back to their homes and families. I try and block these references out. I am not finished with Africa yet. I haven’t found my purpose in life. I haven’t seen the world through my new eyes and I certainly don’t have a plan for my future.
For most of the drive back Gebra and I play cards. He likes poker and I get the gist that he has played more than he is letting on. The cards continue to fall off of his briefcase and hit the floor of the truck, he doesn’t seem to mind and I am getting weary of playing. I tell him “last game” and he acts like he doesn’t hear me. After his three kings magically appear I tell him that he has beaten me to bad and that he can keep the cards until we play again. He smiles, little did I know but you never ask an African tour guide to keep something for you until next time. The word keep means keep after all.
We arrive at Kirumuru tented lodge. When we pull up there are men to help with the baggage and Gebra has to sign us all in. The building stands all by itself in a gold field. I’m thinking that they are going through an awful lot of trouble just to let us pitch our tents here. People are smiling but it is the smile of the valet or the waiter, the smile that lets you know that they are only being nice because they are getting paid. After all of our bags are off of the truck a Maasai man gathered my bags and motioned me to walk behind him. He had keys to my tent, keys to my tent? We walk down a long path and I see the cutest, most romantic little structure in all of Africa. It is a permanent tent and it is very large. The front porch has a wooden chair on it and there is a door, well not a door like you are thinking, it’s a zipper with a lock on it but you can walk into it no bending down or anything. The room is the color of a forest. The dark green of the tented material and the beautiful wooden floors make it stunning. There is an area in the back with a shower and a toilet, not a hole in the ground a real live commode. The bed is a queen size and has sheets and pillows! I am so in awe that I almost miss him standing there waiting. What do I do, am I supposed to tip? I don’t know where my money would be if I was supposed to. My brain comes back to reality and I put my finger up into a hold on type gesture. I could have been telling him that a huge storm was coming, I didn’t know. My eyes search my stuff and I realize where my money is and I give him a dollar. He is not confused by my actions so I must be supposed to tip him. I can’t wait for him to leave and I can lie in the bed and then take a big dump in my new toilet. It has been several days for me. It really is hard to get comfortable and relaxed enough to take a poo in a campsite hole where your butt is feet above where the hole is. I am smiling, smiling so much that I start to sing and dream about coming back here on my honeymoon. You may not be able to grasp the concept of taking a dump and your honeymoon in the same thought but both seem equally enjoyable to me at this point. I find my book and take off all of my clothes. I am walking around like a princess in my new habitat. After a much needed removal of debris I get my stuff ready to take a shower. Toothbrush here, comb there, shampoo, conditioner and razor in the stall. The water is hot and my shower lasts at least a half an hour. I don’t even realize that the outside exists for two more hours. Then I walk out to my front porch to hang my newly washed shirt. The wind is strong enough to blow through my wet hair but gentle enough to ask me to come outside and sit with it. The sun is going down out of my eyes reach but I know it is saying goodbye to me.
A Maasai walks up and tells me that the others are taking a walk through the countryside and asks would I like to join in. I would love to take a walk and learn about this area. When I meet the others at a flat spot in the middle of the tented camp they are also in awe of their tents, they tell me that dinner is at 5:30. Our walk is going to show us to different views of Lake Manyara. On the way two young girls walk past us with a heavy load of sticks and brush on their heads. I motion to my arm muscle and show that they are very strong. Then I pick up one tiny stick and show them that that is all that I can carry. They are giggling and are following us. From our left you can hear a goat and this goat will not shut up. I mimic the goat and the children start to do the same. The goat follows us also but at a greater distance. We must appear to be a wild pack of knuckleheads.
At dinner we had place settings and waiters and candles. Eating in the open air is never over rated. The conversation is of course on this being our last night together. The other Americans are staying one more night but I am heading to my flight sometime the next day. Dinner is enjoyable and filling.