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kilopascal

A Different Kind of Safari

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kilopascal

The next day we have lectures from a veterinarian on various livestock and zoonotic diseases in Tanzania, and some of the issues with running a veterinary practice here. This doesn’t start until 9:30 so everyone eats breakfast at their leisure. Mvuli Hotel is not really set up for conferences yet, but they graciously cleared out one of the rooms and set up tables for us at no charge. They arranged for us to rent a projector that was compatible with a computer for the lectures. George had some well-deserved time off, until we would need him that evening. The day went well, with a 2 hour break for lunch. That evening we went to the 40-40’s Lounge which is a very nice bar that serves local food, primarily barbecue that is owned by Leah Hunt and her husband (I think he name is Andrew?), who also own Osupuko Camps. George had said she wanted to meet us, so we went and met Leah who is as lovely in person as she was in my email correspondence. This is a very pleasant bar with seating inside or out in a garden area, and is a happening place on this Sunday evening. We would have stayed for dinner, but it is predominantly barbecue here, and 2 of the students are vegetarians. So Leah suggested to George that we just walk down to Picasso for dinner and told us our drinks were on the house. Picasso was an excellent choice. Nice atmosphere and very good food/service. We walked back and said goodnight to Leah and Andrew. The Lounge was really busy now and they said please stay, but the next morning would be an early start for us.

 

On the second day back in Arusha we have an all-day field trip north to Longido area to vaccinate cattle for East Coast Fever. We are to meet the veterinarian and her assistant at a petrol station near our hotel at 7 am and follow them. Mvuli has our lunch packed and ready for an on time departure. The drive takes about 90 minutes as I recall through an area that is completely free of tourists. We are on a tarmac road for the first hour, then off into the boonies on several very dusty dirt roads. George tells us to keep a look out for gerenuks, but we were not fortunate enough to see one. Ultimately we arrive at our first village and George notices the other car’s tire is going flat. He helps change it while the veterinarian is getting the supplies out. The village comes out to help carry the supplies. This involves vaccine, antibiotic that is given with the vaccine, some anthelmintic (dewormer), ear tags to identify the cattle as vaccinated, and rabies vaccine for their dogs. We get to their village and the price negotation for vaccination of the cattle begins. She does not charge anything for vaccinating the dogs. This is done as a public health service as rabies is widespread here. We are told they know what the price will be, but regardless there is always an attempt to get it lower. At this village, the local commissioner is there and he is keen to be seen bargaining for a lower price. But, ultimately, the price is the price. Once the money is paid, the owner of the cattle (the woman you see in the picture) is given the correct number of ear tags. As the vaccine (which is frozen in small glass straws) is thawing in an appropriate temperature water bath, I am given rabies vaccine and told to have the Maasai catch their dogs for us to vaccinate. I quickly check that all the students have been vaccinated for rabies, as is our college policy, and off we go. The dogs at this village are fairly friendly, and there is not much difficulty. That would prove different at subsequent villages. After vaccinating several adult dogs, a man keeps motioning for us to follow him. He takes me into one of the huts. It is very dark and difficult to see, but over in the corner is a litter of very young puppies. Ordinarily we would not vaccinate these yet, as they are a bit too young to have the appropriate immune response to vaccine, but given that they may never see a rabies vaccination again, we do it anyway in hopes it may have some benefit, and the vaccine won’t harm them. We finish up with these puppies and then a child takes my hand and we go over to an area of heavy vegetation. He wanders in and comes out with more puppies!

 

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Negotiating the price

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Me vaccinating dog number 1

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After vaccinating dogs is finished, we are now ready to start with the cattle and the students are each given a job. The vet does the vaccinating and we ear tag, give tetracycline, deworm, etc. George is given the job of documenting it all with the camera. East Coast Fever is a tick-borne disease of cattle caused by a protozoan parasite. The disease has a mortality rate of 80-90%. The immunization uses a live sporozoite form of the protozoal parasite. So to keep this from causing the disease it is given in conjunction with a very specific dose of long-acting tetracycline. Ultimately the animal develops a very mild episode of East Coast Fever and then life-long immunity. They also deworm the calves at the same time as they feel a heavy parasite load blunts the immune response. The cattle at this village are a bit bigger than usual, as they did not vaccinate the previous year.

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Preparing the vaccine

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Catching the last few

We finish here (100 cattle or so) and then it is time for Maasai tea. This is tea steeped in very hot milk with spices added. It is delicious, at least that’s my opinion. Students did not find it as tasty but they politely sipped it, and then when no one was looking kept handing it off to me or George. No problem. It does occur to me that finding a place to privately “check the tires” might be a problem however. After tea we pack up and move on to village number 2. More of the same here but no tea! It is very warm out, but thankfully it was overcast the entire day. Otherwise I think this would have been a little less fun.

 

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Gathering up the cattle at village #225997594100_ca2c2be877_b.jpg

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George declines the ear piercing

We drive on to village number 3 and park in the shade to have our lunch. Now the students are used to the “box lunch”, but these are particularly intriguing as Mvuli is less of a tourist hotel. Some very interesting things. The standard boiled egg and fried chicken, but also packages of things resembling Chinese noodles, bags of peanuts in the shell, some hard candy, etc. There is a lot of food and they ultimately share some with children. As the villagers arrive to check us out, George announces it is time for him to sell the girls and make some money. There is a Maasai gentleman who has been hitting the local brew a bit hard and is clearly having a good time. George asks him which of the women he would like. Instead of picking one of the blondes, which the local vet tells us would be most likely, he is clearly smitten by the one with nearly black hair. And he will have no other. She is the one for him. This man does speak Kiswahili and not just the local Maa, so he and George have a lively conversation. At one point I tell George to tell him I am the Mama and he must pay a very good price. George tells him this and he immediately grabs my face and kisses me on each cheek. A couple of women are watching this all and laughing. There are some great pictures of us finally sealing the deal, but I have promised they are only for the eyes of the participants.

 

Finally we gather up our supplies and walk a ways into the village for the last herd of cattle. These are a bit smaller and easier. The dogs however, prove a bit tougher. They are difficult to catch even for the Maasai, and not used to being handled so we have to be very careful. One young girl clearly has the touch. Unlike the boys, she knows not to chase after them and is much more successful at catching them.

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Our best helper

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At this village, it is determined by the students that George needs to get in on the action. So he is instructed in the art of deworming and gets to take part. This is ever after known as “George goes to veterinary school” and he appears to really be enjoying himself. At the end of it all I ask George what he thinks and he says “to be honest, that was very fun!” Indeed it was.

 

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By now it is about 4 o’clock and time to be going. We head back to Arusha and get cleaned up and go out for dinner but I don’t recall the name of the restaurant. The following day is a morning of more lectures, then we check out and get ready to drive to Moshi.

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anthracosaur

@@kilopascal Really interesting and different trip report. I'm enjoying the it tremendously. The more you show the more tempted I am to explore doing something like this with some of my student. Did any of your students take offense at the joke of being 'sold off?'

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kilopascal

Hi @@anthracosaur. Not at all. By this time they had made life long friends of George. He is an incredibly respectful and generous man. Believe me, the teasing went both directions!

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kilopascal

The final installment. Thanks to all of you for your comments and you continued participation in Safaritalk. I love reading this forum.

 

As we are driving out George asks us if we would like to meet his family. The students tell him they would love to, so we drive to his house toward which is nicely situated at the top of a hill on the western edge of Arusha. It is surround by a wall and gate and he calls the house and a teenage boy that is staying with his family comes to open the gate. We are introduced to his wife Mina, his son Mike who is still home on Christmas break, his house girl Navo, his mother, who is visiting, and his youngest son Goodluck who is only 3 weeks old. Godwin, who is almost 4 and apparently the family entertainment, is at school. The young man who opened the gate is from the village where George grew up and is staying has come to Arusha to take an exam for admittance to a technical college. George serves us all mango juice, claiming that he “just squeezed it himself” but we he bought this 5 minutes ago. We talk for a bit with Mina and Mike, his mother only speaks Kiswahili, and then pose for a group picture. Then we go outside to check out his dog Fido, his chickens, and all the trees and flowers he has planted. We say goodbye to his family and go on our way. The road from his house passes right by the primary school where his wife is a teacher. As we are driving, several very small children neighbor children wave and we ask George if it’s okay to give them lollies. He said yes. So we stop and George tells them ‘moja’ meaning only 1. We give them one each and they go away jumping up and down, truly delighted. We drive to Moshi, stopping along the way for lunch.

 

We drive out of town to Kilemakyaro Mountain Lodge where we will stay for our last 2 nights in Tanzania. I am a little nervous going there. When I emailed for a quote, they responded and the price was very reasonable so I asked them to reserve rooms and I would have George go and pay a deposit. They also attached a list of their rates, which I did not open since I was fine with the quote. A couple of days later George drove to Moshi to pay the deposit and the manager asked if we were Tanzanian. Geoge said no and was told that was only the rate for locals. He showed them the quote and said,” well, I am here now to pay so what would you like me to do”. So they took his money and said next time we need to be sure to pay the higher price. I checked my email to make sure I had not led them astray, and although I did not sign my professional address, it said I was bringing university students to Tanzania. Anyway, their non-Tanzanian rates are a little out of our price range so I’m hoping there is not a problem. They honor the quote, however, and all is well. The location is excellent and it’s up and away from town, so it is very pleasant and with nice grounds and a great pool. It’s been around for a long time, so things in the rooms are a bit dated but still a very comfortable lodge

 

Our mission in Moshi is to set up a computer lab at a primary school there. We are working with a Tanzanian social development group called Affordable Computers and Technology for Tanzania. They sell computer products, but they also work with a group from Belgium called Close the Gap to put refurbished computers into schools. We raised about $3600 which was enough to buy 20 computers along with a power stabilizer. The computers are loaded with numerous educational programs and they provide software updates and support free for the next year. The teachers had already taken computer classes that had been offered by ACTT. The director of the company had sent us several choices of schools that were looking for help and we selected Pasua Primary School in Moshi. The government of Tanzania mandates that the schools teach instructional technology but this is often done just by showing pictures of computers. We meet with the director of ACTT later that afternoon and talk about when we will visit the teachers and pupils at Pasua. Then the students head to the pool before dinner. Dinner that evening is set up at tables outside and is very nice. The hotel is completely full and there are many groups either coming back from or heading to hike Kilimanjaro. The conversation at our table centers around the dating in the US, and George is stunned to find out about how young the girls were when they went on their first date (15 or 16). I’m still not sure he believes them. Then it moved onto George and where he met Mina and what could he have possible said to convince her to go out with him, where he took her, etc.

 

George asks the manager about a tour to a local coffee farm. He is told there is a group going up to Mnambe Water Fall and a coffee farm nearby and we could follow them, provided we have our own transportation. So that’s the plan. Next morning we have breakfast. We leave a bit later than the main group as we are waiting for a lunch to be made up. The guides for the other groups give George directions on how to get there. There was a lot of “go right, then left, then up this mountain, then down this one, then through this village” etc. George thinks he has it….or not. We stop several times along the way for directions. The drive up was brilliant, although if you are afraid of heights and single track muddy roads, this might not be for you. George informs us if it starts to rain, we will need to get back. There are lots of small villages and the lush mountain countryside is gorgeous. We go past several banana breweries and consider a stop on the way back. We finally arrive and one of the other guides is waiting for us. The hike and the waterfall is beautiful.

 

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Mnambe Waterfall

After spending some time at the water fall, a young village boy, Kelvin, who is helping the tour guides takes us up to a local coffee farm. He is only 12, but he stops along the way and knows just enough English to point out and name various kinds of plants. It has rained and is quite slippery and one of the girls carrying part of the lunch slips and falls. George says” here, let me take that for you”, then promptly slides halfway down the hill. Ahh. Well. We make sure George is okay before we bust it laughing. We make it to the farm and sit down for the demo. First you grind (saga in Kiswahili) the berries that have already been dried. There is a chant that is sung as this is happening and, of course everyone has a turn at this.

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The young man on the far right is Kelvin

The skins are separated out. The beans are roasted, pounded to a powder and sifted. Then boiled for your coffee.

 

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We have lunch and buy bags of coffee that the woman has for sale. It was very enjoyable and the money is paid directly to the farm. George asked Kelvin if he was part of the family, and he said no, he lived down in the village so we paid Kelvin some money as well. He guided us back down. Again showing us plants, insects, birds and a chameleon. George was kind of impressed and really liked him.

 

We drive back down the hill but a different way. Maybe it’s one way up and one way down? This route seemed a bit faster but there were a couple sections where you would go up and over a hill and couldn’t really see over the hood of the car what was in front of you.

 

We got back early in the afternoon and it was more pool time. That evening the students told George they were going to take him dancing so rest up. We went into Moshi around 7, had some pizza then off to a club or two but it’s midweek and a bit early so the clubs were not really hopping yet. The gate to Kilemakyaro closed at 10, so we had to head back.

 

Our final morning in Tanzania we head to the ACTT office and meet the director and the other employees. They had spent the previous day taking the computers to the school and making sure they were set up. About 10 am we arrived at the school and were greeted by the head teacher and a group of students.

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We then toured the lab and helped some students to start using the programs on the computers. I was actually more impressed than I was prepared to be with the instructional programs on the computers which varied from math, to geography, to English lessons. ACTT has an employee who goes to the school twice a week now to help the teachers use the programs in the classroom.

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Ian started working at ACTT when he was still in secondary school, now he is at university in Nairobi in computer science. He installed all the software on the computers.

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Teachers of Pasua Primary with their students

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There were the mandatory speeches which were shorter than what I expected followed by some tea. My students asked if they could visit a classroom with young children and they said of course. Well, that meant we visited every classroom. One of the local dignitaries that was there for the event told me that you can’t just go to one classroom, that you need to see them all because all the students will want to go home and tell their families.

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After the tour, there is lunch with the director of ACTT, then the time finally comes for us to make our way to the airport but George asks if he can stop at the bank. Sure George. While we wait in the car several people want to sell us things. One young man has paintings on banana leaves and says the price was $10. Little did he know the final price would be $2, an ACTT calendar, and a stick of gum.

 

THE END

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ZaminOz

@@kilopascal

Some wonderful photos!

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xelas

A safari of a different type ... and the type I would surely enjoy to participate. Not so much with veterinary part but more when visiting local farms. That coffee taste and smell delicious even from my screen!

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pomkiwi

@@kilopascal Thank-you for this report, really interesting and a lucky group of students. The photos are superb and I particularly enjoyed the fact that so many were of animals in motion.

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Atravelynn

Your photos are great and the student stories are right up there with them. Love the rankings by teeth brushing. How funny. Your students asked questions I had wondered about, but did not ask. Thanks for the info in a round about way. George crying in boarding school is almost as funny as the thought of George in prison. I wonder if he was relieved or disappointed there was no dancing.

 

The laughs and the learning never stopped on this trip!

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pault

Really was different and very good! Thanks for that.

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optig

@@kilopascal It is lovely to see the reaction of a first time safari goer. It's very important that your students are learning that African National Parks as well as the adjacent area are the worlds best classrooms. This is something Africans need to increasingly feel.Where else could your students have such an exciting hands on experience? They are also learning to appreciate African culture.

Edited by optig

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Kitsafari

Thank you for taking the time to share your trip and taking us along on an entertaining and learning experience. It's so admirable that you took time to organise the trip for the students, and so admirable for the students to join in the spirit of the safari.

 

Lovely photos. love the puppies!

Edited by Kitsafari

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Marks

Excellent stuff. The veterinary escapades were especially interesting.

Thanks for showing us something a little different!

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FlyTraveler

Great safari and photos, @@kilopascal! Thanks for sharing this TR with us! Did you encounter the wildebeest migration either in Seronera or in Ndutu area on this trip?

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optig

I also have to say that i have learned on safari to appreciate the African people regardless of race,nationality,ethnic origin, tribe,religion, social class or anything else. I feel that the interaction with the people is an essential part of the experience of going on safari. There is much more to it than the obligatory visit to a Masai Village.

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kilopascal

@@FlyTraveler thanks for the comments. Yes, we did encounter reasonable size hers of wildebeest in Ndutu. Nothing like would be there 2 or 3 weeks later.

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FlyTraveler

@@FlyTraveler thanks for the comments. Yes, we did encounter reasonable size hers of wildebeest in Ndutu. Nothing like would be there 2 or 3 weeks later.

 

Thanks for the reply!

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AmyT

@kilopascal

I love re-reading this trip report.  Wish I could like it all over again!

 

Edited by AmyT

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