May 20, 2010

A Teaser.

I was recently dispatched to Iringa from CARE's country office headquarters in Dar es Salaam via Morogoro. This was a noteworthy trip for many reasons, but chief among them, the road that connects Morogoro to Iringa cuts straight through Mikumi National Park, Tanzania's fourth-largest park, which  is notably part of a much larger ecosystem connected to the well known and highly revered Selous Game Reserve - its neighbor to the South.

Upon entering the park, you are greeted with a rather ominous sign reading, "Danger, Wild Animals, Drive with Caution." A poignant reminder that you are in fact in Africa. This cautionary message seemed to be lost on our bus driver, who drove at breakneck speed through the park (my thoughts on having a national highway intersect a national park merit another blog post altogether). Nevertheless, I was flooded with great anticipation and excitement, like a little kid at the zoo, oh wait, poor choice of words, lest I remind myself I was experiencing the real thing, wild animals in their native habitat.

As I actively scanned my surroundings, I initially felt like there was a desert-like mirage effect. Is that a giraffe? No, no, that is just a tall, skinny tree. Oh my, could that be an elephant? No, no, that is just a large rock off in the distance...It seems my excitement got ahead of me.

Until, I saw the real thing. Without even officially entering the park, nor even leaving the tarmac road, I was able to see from my bus window giraffes, elephants, wildebeest, antelope, gazelles and baboons galore. As I watched, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, my neighbors in the bus paid little to no attention. Instead, they were consumed with interest in the Nigerian film playing on the bus about native African peoples in the African bush. Yes, the irony was almost too much to swallow, watching a video on the African bush instead of appreciating the actual surroundings of the African bush while driving through a national park and conservation area. Some people around me even hung kangas in their window as we drove through the park to block out the sun. Alone in my excitement, I suspect that this was merely a teaser for the grand adventure we have planned at the end of August, a 3 day game drive safari through some of Tanzania's most spectacular national parks. For those who plan to join us, I have no doubt it will be amazing.

References and Photo Credits:

No comments:

Post a Comment