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November 4, 2001
Circumstances beyond our control (Russell)

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The roads: unpaved and rainy

One of the things that we have been most proud of was that after more than three months of traveling, we had never left anything behind, despite constantly packing and moving.  We are not able to make that claim anymore.  When we arrived at Panorama Safari Camp, we discovered that we had left a bag containing the boys' medications and toiletries behind at Seronera Wildlife Lodge.

(To be fair, it was an unusual circumstance.  We had already changed rooms once there, when our first one wasn't ready.  When we discovered that our second set of rooms had no hot water, the staff assigned us yet another room in which to shower and bathe.)

So on November 3rd, we made a stop in the familiar village of Mto Wa Mbu again.  Here, Chris bought us some more toothbrushes, while Tom made a few telephone calls in the hope of getting our toiletry bag sent back to Arusha within the next few days.

Our itinerary for November 3rd called for us to leave Panorama Safari Camp and head northeast up to Lake Natron, where we would primitive camp for two nights and spend some time among the Maasai nomads.  Even on a good day, it would be more than a six-hour drive on very bad roads.  Due to the recent rains, Tom was very wary about making the journey at all.  He checked with one of the lodges in Mto Wa Mbu.  They told him that they had sent a supply truck up that road a few days ago, and it had still not returned.  We made the decision not to try to go to Lake Natron, but to return instead to Panorama Safari Camp for a second night.  We would then drive directly back to Arusha on November 4th.

(Tom related several horror stories about trying to drive on unsafe roads.  A few years back, another guide ignored a warning of flash floods and tried to cross a "safe" bridge.  The truck was swept away, and all of the passengers -- including three children -- perished.)

We did try making a day trip to another "nearby" village in order to visit the Maasai closer to us.  But that was rough going as well.  We ventured so far away from the tourist routes that the children on the side of the road no longer ran up demanding a pen or candy.  We ran out of road and began driving across open terrain.  After an hour, we finally reached a point where the only thing ahead was a series of crevasses in the ground.  We could not go any further without destroying the truck, so we simply turned around and drove back to Panorama.  (Every time we showed up again at Panorama, Mr. Massawe would greet us, beaming "You have come home again!")  The boys were just as happy, as they now had the entire afternoon to relax and play.

Together, the boys "defended" the camp from encroaching baboons.  Joss taught our Tanzanian friend Josephet how to play chess.  (Josephet was very curious about the boys.  He was amazed that Joss knew how to read; and every time the boys did homeschooling, he looked on over their shoulders.)  Later in the afternoon, Joseph the camp manager took us on a walking tour around the nearby cliffs.  (Joss played at the edge.  Gail didn't.)  For his last dinner, Chris fulfilled Gail's longstanding request and cooked us Tanzanian food: beef and bananas.  He also made us a fully frosted cake -- amazing when you consider that he did not have an oven.  The cake was inscribed with red jelly: WELCOME AGAIN TANZANIA.

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Learning to play chess

On November 4th, we bid farewell to Panorama for the last time and drove three hours and 125 kilometres back to Arusha.  One by one, the signs of civilization grew: paved roads, traffic, billboards, permanent buildings.  The town that had looked like a hole in the ground when we left weeks ago, now seemed like a big, busy, crowded city.  And the things that had seemed so foreign to us a short time ago, now seemed very familiar.  We stopped back at the Meserani Snake Park for lunch, where the staff remembered us and greeted us like long lost friends.  We also stopped at the Arusha Air Strip, where our lost bag of medicines had been flown to be returned to us.

Our final destination was the Mezza Luna Hotel in Arusha, where we will spend our last three nights in Tanzania before departing on November 7th.  We have a lot to catch up on, including repacking all of our suitcases in order to board an airplane again.  Joss was most excited to return to Arusha again.  We weren't sure why: there are no wild animals, and he couldn't play with his bow and arrow here.  His explanation?  "I'm excited about going to our next country... Europe!"

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Our last safari dinner with Chris


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