Part 1, the Horse Safari
By John L. Fuhring
As we rode along the wind seemed to increase in strength which was OK because it kept us from feeling too hot. In the late afternoon we made our final camp. Because of the high winds that struck us that afternoon and night, I'm calling it "Hurricane Camp." Hurricane Camp site has a magnificent view of volcanic Mt. Meru and it would have been a great site but for the wind.
Jan and the crew had set up the camp and had started a fire as usual, but the wind was so strong that the fire was more like a blast furnace. I'm sure the wind was blowing at least 25 to 30 Knots that evening. It became clear that supper couldn't be served out in the open as it normally was, so the big truck was moved in to act as a wind break. This afforded us the protection we needed and we ate supper around or in the back of the truck. Later we returned to the fire, sat around it and talked for a while out in the wind. It was not a cool wind so it was not uncomfortable to be out in it. Naturally there were no showers that evening, but what the heck - we would be back in the comfort of the farm sometime the next day.
One thing I was thinking about as I watched the fire: out here in California you wouldn't dare make a big camp fire out in this kind of wind for fear that the sparks would set the sagebrush on fire. Out where we were there wasn't much of anything to burn and besides the brush didn't seem to be nearly as flammable as our chaparral is back home.
The crew that put up the tents did a good job and so even in the high winds none of the tents blew down. Later on I hit the sack and the tent flapped in the wind all night long. Near the ground there was a lot of dust blowing around, so I wrapped up my camera as best I could and zippered the flap as tightly as I could. Slept pretty well and woke up at first light. The wind was still blowing at gale force as I stepped out of the tent.
The view of Mt. Meru was beautiful and I took some photographs with my digital camera just at dawn. Just as the sun came up, the wind quickly died down. By the time breakfast was served all we had was a pleasant breeze. To tell the truth, I was really surprised by how fast the wind disappeared, but, believe me, I wasn't complaining.
Sunrise at Hurricane Camp
That morning my spirits were high even if I was a bit dusty and needed a bath. We were on our way back to the farm and we knew we only had two pleasant stages of riding before we got there. As we rode away from Hurricane Camp and toward our last lunch camp, the land remained incredibly dry with almost nothing green out there. We started to see more and more evidence of people and even some (what looked like) missionary school buildings and churches. They were unoccupied and almost abandoned looking (maybe they were). The thorny brush was pretty thick in places and we were riding where we could see deep washes where erosion had eaten deeply into the land, erosion without doubt caused by severe overgrazing over a long period of time.
Right when expected, we rendezvous with the Land Rover for lunch. Again, it was just great to get off the horses for a while and sit around for a nice lunch and a drink. Soon we noticed a bunch of Masai kids come by to see what the Bwanas and Bwanaetts were up to. Actually, the female equivalent of Bwana (Mister or Sir) is - believe it or not - Momma. I'm not kidding, the honorific term used to address females in Swahili is Momma. You know, like in "what's happenen' Momma" and "Haaaay Momma, U lookin' good" and "Hey bro', how'se yo Momma?" (ain't I a stinker?)
Anyway, these kids came by and they were very curious about us, but also very wary and suspicious. They wouldn't let us come too close before running away. At first I thought they were just acting coy, but no - they really were very scared of direct contact with us. I'll tell you how I know in just a bit. Before I go on, I just want to say that we couldn't have been the first whites they had ever had contact with. Why were they so suspicious of us? I think it was the fact that we were riding strange beasts (horses) and they might have thought these strange horsemen were some kind of authorities come to snatch them away for not being in school. That's my crackpot theory anyway.
Mary very generously gave one of the kids a nice watch in trade for some little necklace or something, John gave a rather nice Swiss Army Knife for another worthless trinket (worthless in monetary, terms that is) and Charlie gave a gold necklace in trade for a bead one. Some of those kids made out like bandits. Too bad we didn't have something for them all (like candy). The kids started to warm up to us a bit and put on a little show of tribal singing. These little kids made the most incredible sounds in a "Basso Profundo" voice and danced a little "line dance." Not to be outdone, John finally opened up and started to sing a show tune and made a rush to join the kids.
I'm sure John thought it was all in fun, but I could see that he had seriously "violated their space" and the kids were scared. I saw one of the kids draw his short Masai sword (like a long Bowie Knife) and then quickly replaced it when John moved away from him. I asked John about it afterwards and learned that he was totally unaware that any kid made any such move. These kids were not mean or vicious, but they didn't fully trust us for reasons best known to themselves and I'm sure they would not have hurt John unless he would have grabbed one. No way that was going to happen, so he never was in any real danger even when the blade was out (in my opinion).
Since writing the above, I've learned that there is a wide spread belief in rural Africa that Europeans and especially Americans are roaming the countryside looking to kidnap native children. People believe that the kidnapped kids are being taken away for body parts in fiendish medical transplant operations. As crazy as this sounds to our ears, it is fervently believed by the natives living in the outback and grows each time it's retold. When you think about it, these "backwards" people there in Africa aren't so different from so many of our own people right here at home. Consider the outlandish views regarding UFO's, the UN's "black helicopters," the Y2K craziness, and that foolishness regarding the coming of "The Antichrist" to name just a few crazy ideas circulating around in our "civilized and enlightened" nation. When you think about it, those "crazy Africans" aren't nearly as goofy and ignorant as many of our own people. Anyway, back to the story.
I really wanted a picture of those kids, but when I took my camera out they started making signs that they didn't want their picture taken. My little digital has a rather nice liquid crystal display in its rear and you can review pictures. I thought to myself that if they saw pictures I had taken and then pointed to them and then to the little screen they would be more receptive to having their pictures taken. It worked beyond my wildest hopes. They were absolutely enthralled with the thought of seeing themselves. When I took a couple of pictures and then showed them the little screen, they crowded around me with obvious delight. There was no longer any problem with "violating space." Man, what I could have done to advance relationships and trusts between our two worlds if I had only brought a little Polaroid instant camera and had given them photos of themselves.
After lunch I had to use the "loo" so I hiked a discreet distance from the camp and made sure none of the Masai kids were following me (yes, we white asses do it the same way). That horrible thorn brush was very thick around here. I knew I had to be very careful to avoid it and I thought I was being very careful. I wasn't careful enough. Before I could button up my pants, somehow an arm got caught in a twig. I carefully reached over to unhook myself when I got my other arm in the stuff. Oh Geeeeez-Us, I was caught and it was getting worse!! The thorns were scratching me painfully, my pants were down and I dared not call out for help - Oh Lord, I was on the verge of panic! I didn't care if my clothes got torn, I had to pull myself free! By main strength I went forward and somehow other branches got pulled my way and took off my safari hat. After I lost my hat a branch brushed across my forehead and blood started running down my face. But, at last I was free of that horrible stuff. Oh thank God nobody saw me!!
Our final trek took us near a "main" road connecting the village of Oldoinyo Sambu and other villages to the east. From what I could see, this "road" was so rocky and difficult that it is impassable to any motorized vehicle bigger than an off road motorcycle. No truck or even a Land Rover could negotiate this road, I'm sure. Since it was Sunday and Market Day in Oldoinyo Sambu, this road was full of hordes of people and donkeys going in both directions. Oh how I wish I could have or would have taken pictures! Unless you have been a movie extra in Cecil B. DeMille's filming of The Ten Commandments or something very similar, you have never seen such a sight. The women were dressed in the most beautiful and colorful costumes. The men were dressed in everything from bright red Masai robes to - believe it or not - business suits. Everybody was carrying all kinds of stuff - especially the women. Donkeys were everywhere and were loaded up with food, wood, clothes and everything needed by a culture that knows not of electricity or mechanization. What a sight - this has to be one of the few places on earth you can see something like that.
Naturally, we attracted a lot of attention as we rode by. As usual the kids loved us and the older people pretty much ignored us, but my smiles and waves to the young women were usually returned with smiles and a wave back. I didn't see or hear anything that could be in any way construed as hostile.
In the afternoon we
made it back to the Farm.
I bid Cougar and Queen goodbye as the horses were put up and then we
to the guest houses to have a well appreciated bath and to put on fresh
clothes for a grand supper in the beautiful dining room of the main
We had to miss Judith's company for dinner because she had to make a
that evening at the Nairobi Airport. We arrived back at the
way too late for her to catch the Danavu Shuttle, so Jan took her the
or so miles to the airport in the Land Rover and didn't return until
that evening. Although (as said before) "socially challenged"
feel bad about seeing the last of my safari comrades. They
fine bunch riders and I just wish they were all members of my hunt club
Our journey over, one last gathering before resuming our separate lives.
From right to left: Charlie, Eva, Mary, John, Lise, Becca, Judith, Kelsey and an old fat guy
Next morning I rode with John as we were taken into Arusha. John to see his doctor about the arm and me to get a cheap hotel and sign up for a Jeep and tent safari which will be the subject of my next story - so stay tuned to this Web Page for more exciting details.
In case Eva gets to see this, I want to tell her that the Nation of Denmark is a beautiful country and all of it is like the very best parts of my own beloved Country. Sure the taxes are high there and because of that and other things, the cost of living is very high. On the other hand, any place that is beautiful to live in is expensive. That's why we Americans call the best parts of town "The High Rent District." "You get what you pay for." Don't let Jan tell you any different.
I think by now you must realize that I consider the safari I've just written about to have been a wonderful experience and well worth my time and money. I'm glad I went even though it was after the dry season and before the first rains. To make the conditions even worse, a horrific drought has plagued East Africa for some years now. Dryness of the landscape was the only downside to the trip. I knew it was going to be dry and I had considered waiting until just after the rainy season, when it would be much nicer. I didn't want to wait - a good friend of mine (and younger too) had a mild heart attack recently, many people I worked with have dropped over dead and I just didn't want to wait until I find out it's too late for me too. Dry or wet, if you want adventure, for God's sake go on something like this.
Was this trip perfect? No, "Nothing is perfect but Allah." Would I go again? Yes, I'd love to see Tanzania two weeks after the end of a very productive rainy season.
That's about it for this story. I've enjoyed telling it and will be working off and on to clean it up a bit and flesh out some of it, but it's about done for now. It is my sincere desire that you have enjoyed my story and have been entertained by it. If you have found any of it rude, lewd or crude, or overly offensive let me know and I'll see what I can do to clean it up.
Thank you for your attention.
THE ENDNow that you have finished this story, I would appreciate reading your comments
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If you would like to read about another African adventure, you can return to the
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There is a lot more on my website,
Please checkout my home page.
As stated before, simply connecting the camps and stops does not indicate the actual route we took as we wended our way across country.
When you have read as much as you like and before you leave, I would appreciate reading your comments
Please sign my guestbook before leaving.
If you would like to read another African adventure, you can return to the
Africa Adventures selection page.
There is a lot more on my website,
Please checkout my home page.