Monday, March 27, 2017

Tarangire - Tanzanian home of elephants

The last part of the safari is at Tarangire NP. Amboseli NP is the park most associated with elephants in Kenya. Tarangire is the equivalent in Tanzania.

Tarangire is wooded and there are tse-tse flies there. So we kept our game viewing to mornings and late afternoons when the flies are not as active. There is no insect repellent that works with these flies and they transmit sleeping sickness. Also the bites itch like crazy. We were still plagued by buffalo flies but they don't bite. They just are attracted to eyes, mouth, nose, ears, exposed skin, etc. which is annoying. I found that the scarf I used to keep dust out of my nose and mouth helped a lot with the annoyance of the buffalo flies. It was just a cheap Target scarf which I dampened with water and wrapped around lower face. I washed it every night and it was usually quite dirty from all the trapped dust. I should have taken a dust mask!

 At the entrance to Tarangire, we had to sign in and sign out. So we had a little time to stand around, take photos of signage, and chat up other tourists. We didn't often have that luxury so it was a nice break.
 We stayed at the Tarangire Safari Lodge, which was an experience in itself. We stayed in tents, with a permanently installed bathroom and shower facilities. But electricity was only turned on in the tent area from 6 pm to about 8 am. If you wanted electricity, you had to go to the common areas during the day. Food was also not allowed in the tents due to the primates (baboons mostly) who had figured out how to open zippers and get into food. We had to put monkey locks on the zippers but there was still no food allowed. Our food either stayed in the reception area or in the vehicles.

Tarangire is lowland. The NP is around the Tarangire river, which I will show you in other photos. So it was hot and humid. There were also no fans in the tents. I was able to get one for the night but it quit working the second night. We were also in the lodge in the afternoons due to the tse-tse fly situation. Therefore, this was one lodge where we actually hung around the lodge and spent time with each other as a group outside of meals.

The view above is what greeted us when we got there. it is the view from the patio outside the lounge area. It was too hot to do more when we got there around lunch time.
 But on our way in, we were greeted by the elephants who welcomed us to their home. The elephant above is stripping bark from the tree to eat it. They also bring down branches when they can't reach the higher leaves with their trunks.
 That was one of the tiniest babies we saw.

 And this one posed for a portrait.
On our afternoon safari, we first ran into ostriches. A group of them ran across the road in front of us.
 We crossed a little brook where we saw zebras and antelope.
 At Tarangire, we finally saw some signs of major rain. Previously, clouds appeared and disappeared but now we were starting to see clouds on a more regular basis. And, of course, when one sees clouds, there is always the possibility of light effects.
 Vultures seem to have staked out this tree as a chill zone.
 A baboon strolls along the road by our vehicle.
 This is the sort of cave lionesses and leopards use as dens to birth their cubs.
 Dik-diks drinking water on the patio at the lodge.
 At the river, we saw many animals feeding and drinking. I was fascinated by how hard it is for giraffes to get down to water.
 The evening light lit up these impala and made their coats turn to gold.
 Here, for the first time, we saw baobab trees. These are the trees that are emblematic of sub-Saharan Africa. In the dry season, when they lose their leaves, they look like upside-down trees. But now, in the rainy season, they look pretty normal. They have big trunks though and are a very useful part of the ecosystem.
 This is a termite nest. We saw them everywhere. But this one had some mongooses hanging around. They eat the termites so the dig down into the nests.
 A lilac-crested Roller on a branch. These are some of the most gorgeous birds I've seen. I want to dye some yarn with the colors of the bird one day.
 Two hornbills on a branch. Hornbills mate for life so you always see them in pairs.
 More elephants hanging out by the water's edge. This was a big group that we watched for a long time.
 Warthogs at their burrows. They build burrows in an area where they raise their young. It is communal living. The one with his butt in the air has his head in the burrow. I caught him going in. But it is only my guess that it is a he. Could be a she, also.
 Even giraffes can't get all the way up to the tops of trees without reaching!
 One afternoon, we caught a snake on the ground and watched as it slithered around on the branch and then went up a tree. It can really move fast. In a matter of seconds, it was gone. These were the smaller wildlife we were able to watch due to the increased downtime at the lodge.
 This is a Superb Starling. We saw many of them but I had a difficult time getting a good picture as they are always moving. You'll see this photo again below in a different context.
 Baobab trees often have these holes in them. This one is large enough for a human to sleep in. Poachers often hide out in such holes. Animals also use them for shelter.
 This is the landscape at Tarangire. Lots of trees and pretty flat.
 We came across this lion family enjoying dinner. Dinner was a wildebeest. But we realized part-way through that it was a wildebeest who was either giving birth or close to giving birth. The lion cubs are eating the baby wildebeest. Situations like these were sad to see. We saw many kills over the course of the trip but this one tugged at our heartstrings the most. However, it is the way lions feed themselves. Those two lives (the mother and baby wildebeest) sustained the 3 lives in the lion family - the mother and 2 cubs - plus the hyenas, jackals, vultures, insects and bacteria that would feed on the carcasses after the lions were done. It is part of the ecosystem. The predators keep the prey animals in check and provide food for other animals, birds and insects who feed on carrion. It is the real circle of life.
 And what is better to lift our spirits than a rainbow?
 The next morning - our last, we were rewarded by more dik-diks on the patio at breakfast.

Back at Arusha, before most of our group headed out, we visited a Cultural Heritage Center where artists work and there is a shop of handicrafts. I wasn't very interested in shopping but I found this kitten hanging out among the items for sale. The mother cat was a little suspicious of my photography and was giving me the side-eye as I tried to snap photos of her adorable offspring.

We stayed on an extra night in Arusha. It was cheaper to stay the extra night than to pay for the flights back as they were very pricey on the Saturday night. It rained that last day, a solid rain that was definitely welcome by the animals and the humans. Those of us who remained went to an orphanage. Each of us brought something for the orphans. We took notebooks and some school supplies for older kids. Others brought coloring books, stuffed animals, snacks, etc. We had the joy of taking them and meeting the little kids at the orphanage. We distributed some of the items - toys, coloring books and some snacks - to the kids but kept most of the for the teacher-in-charge to distribute and use as she saw fit. It was uplifting and heart-warming to see the care the children were getting despite insufficient funding. They were clean, well-behaved and were housed in orderly but spare dormitories. The kitchen staff were butchering chickens for lunch when we were there. They have a cow for milk, chickens for eggs and meat and a farm where they grow vegetables.

And with that, we went to the airport and flew home with tons of memories, some new friends, and lots of photographs!

I've been busy on the fiber front, which is why this post is late.

See how the fiber I was spinning mimics the Superb Starling? It hit me as I was sitting there spinning, wondering why the colors in the fiber looked so familiar!
The two bobbins spun up. You can see the skinnier stripes on the second bobbin. Since I divided the second half of the braid into 3 to spin it fractally, the color stripes are much thinner in that half. 
 This is the completed skein. I am in love with it.  The fiber is an alpaca/merino/silk from Into the Whirled. The colorway is called Sentinel and it was a club colorway that I received as a gift.
 I also finished weaving the scarf made of Lorna's Laces Swirl DK. The yarn is now discontinued. I had a multi and a solid that was one of the colors in the multi. So I striped the warp with both and also the weft. I succeeded at using up all the yarn. But I have a very long scarf. I also learned how to carry yarns up the selvedge neatly. The difference between the beginning and the end is dramatic.
I had to try on the scarf to see how it looked on. It is soft but has some structure to it. I think it will soften up more with use. The finishing made a huge difference to the drape.

I am now on to another project which I will describe in more detail next time.

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