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October 24, 2001
Karatu: improvisation, African style (Russell)

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The red, red dust of Karatu

One of the reasons that our schedule always included a morning tour on driving days, was so that Christopher and Mr. So could pack up all of the gear and set it up again at the next destination before we arrived.  We felt sorry for the two men, who continuously have to transport many, many large boxes -- and themselves -- on public buses, suupply trucks, or whatever transportation they can get (we once saw one of the public buses, about the size of an American minivan, carrying two dozen people inside).

The schedule for October 24th called for us to leave Lake Eyasi and return to Karatu (yes, the red, dusty, unpaved road again), so we first spent the morning taking a sightseeing drive out to the edge of the lake.  Other than a few fisherman and some pelicans, there is not a lot to see or do at the lake itself.  The beach is full of "sinking sand" covered by a hard crust; and the water itself is full of mineral soda, so you can't enter it.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed going there.  Half of the fun was finding a route that was safe to drive.  There were no roads through the barren chaparral, and we had to backtrack several times in order to avoid getting stuck in the sand.  At the shore itself, the boys had a lot of fun collecting bird feathers and running around in the intense wind.

Russell's cold has slowly been passing from person to person, so just about everyone (except Russell) had a headache on the two-and-a-half hour drive back to Karatu.  Unable to do anything else, we amused ourselves by playing "Twenty Questions" to guess which animal someone was thinking of.  We arrived back at Kudu Campsite well past lunchtime.  On the way out, Kudu and Karatu had seemed like they were out in the middle of nowhere.  Having now come back from Lake Eyasi, Karatu seemed like a return to populous civilization.

Tom was surprised to find that Christopher and Mr. So had not arrived yet.  We unloaded our bags and settled into the same garden chairs that we had occupied for several hours three days ago.  We would occupy them for several hours again today.  Tom told us to grab lunch in the restaurant, then he set out in the truck again to find out what had become of his two helpers.  Unfortunately, when we tried going to the restaurant, they told us they were too busy preparing dinner for a party of 30 other people, and would not be able to help us.

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Waiting in the garden of Kudu Camp

By the time Tom returned several hours later, our helpers had still not arrived.  In the absence of food, tents, or any other comforts, Tom arranged for us to stay in two of the lodge cabins on the camp grounds.  We knew that he was paying for this out of his own pocket, so we volunteered to stay in one single cabin instead.  We had just moved all of our bags into the cabin when Christopher and Mr. So finally arrived.  They were safe and sound, but their original transportation had suffered a flat tire (we have observed that this happens a lot).  They had been forced to wait for several hours until they could hitch a ride on another truck that was going in the same direction.  (In Tanzania, you hitchhike by extending your hand with the palm up.  And all this time, we thought the Maasai were asking for handouts!)

By now it was late afternoon, so we decided to forego lunch, stay in the lodge cabin so that we could all shower, and have an early dinner of minestrone soup and Spaghetti Bolognese (Chris' soups are fantastic and of restaurant quality -- we have enjoyed leek, carrot, cucumber, onion, pumpkin, and many other amazing cream soups).  Russell and Cameron were able to use the PC for the first time in days, Joss was able to practice his bow and arrow, and Gail was able to relax.

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A cabin... at last!

Kudu Camp is wonderfully landscaped with flower gardens in bloom all around.  We had electricity, flush toilets, padded garden chairs, bug spray, and no flies (there was also supposed to be hot water after a ten-minute delay, but we let the taps run for more than half an hour and never got any).  As we sat at dinner admiring the sunset, Cameron remarked that if he had three more things, this would be a perfect place:

  1. a playground,
  2. fireflies, and
  3. a panorama view

As it was, he was very sorry that we would only be here for one night.

 

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