- Flat tires: 0 (v. good)
Postcards written: 0 (bad as reach Manyara tomorrow)
Matches required to light propane lamp: 3 (improving)
Carcasses: 2 (ex-flamingo, whatever the jackals were eating)
I wake to somewhat warmer air, and eventually convince myself to move. Outside the tent, I find a very nice breakfast and a nice if somewhat cloudy day. Morning in the crater includes a wide variety of wildlife -- zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, gazelle, hippo, hyena, birds -- all in one place. It's a bit startling this early in the trip, and one begins to realize that there will come a day when catching a brief glimpse of a zebra will not cause exclamations. I find this both encouraging and somewhat sad.
A less encouraging discovery is the jockeying for position common around any moderately rare animal. We first encounter this at a pool where hippos are bathing. At first, there are only a few vehicles spread over a fairly large area, but as time goes on more and larger vans come to join the festivities until the only thing that could possibly add to the confusion is the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. There is a herding behavior instinctive to safari vehicles: they generally prefer to travel in small family groups, but from time to time large gatherings form around items of interest (generally something in the cat family). I suspect the cats would rather enjoy meeting the Weinermobile.
It is also interesting to speculate on the algorithm that determines what merits a gathering, and what does not. (I frequently find myself quoting Seth Green's immortal words from Buffy on the distinctions between a gathering, a shindig, and a hootenanny.) Flamingos are interesting, but only until hippos appear on the scene. At that point, they are completely ignored. Apparently anything that you can see in plastic form on your lawn is not worth bothering with. One hopes this applies equally to gnomes.
Continuing our morning drive, we find our first evidence of the "circle of life" -- an ex-flamingo by the side of the road. True to form, the corpse is ignored even in death. Later evidence includes several jackals, a group of vultures, and a swimming hyena. The latter appears to be attempting a snorkel attack on several flamingos, but gives up due to lack of both snorkel and interest. The jackals and the vultures hold a vigorous debate regarding estate law as it applies to the effects (spec. body) of a deceased wildebeest.
We stop briefly for biologic necessity at a popular picnic spot inhabited by rather daring kites. They dive-bomb balding Germans while we wait in line for toilet facilities distinctly less pleasant than nearby bushes. This will be a theme of our journey, this waiting to use a pit toilet while blatantly ignoring perfectly good trees nearly. One wonders whether the slight appearance of normalcy is worth the inevitable olfactory assault. We move on to a less dangerous picnic spot, choosing vervet monkeys over kites to play the role of larcenous animal.
The afternoon is rather slow, with the exception of Steve's "leopard" spotting. He claims to have seen a leopard in a quite obviously leopard-free bit of grass. I refuse to disillusion him, as it is after all our anniversary. I nod approvingly, but secretly suspect a vision problem (seeing spots can't be good). I make a mental note to ask for a picture of the "leopard" -- if he claims a mysterious developing error, it will be good fun. I'm sure he appreciates my attempts to keep the joy in our marriage.
Back in the camp, Steve and I learn some
swahili words and attempt to grasp basic grammar. We are unable to
find any word for flamingo.