Day Four

Trip Start Nov 02, 2008
Trip End Nov 16, 2008

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Day Four - After listening to the rain all night, we awoke to a light drizzle which made Gibbs Farm look and feel like a rain forest - beautiful trees and flowers everywhere surrounded in a humid fog.  We had another great breakfast with the group and then departed for Lake Manyara where we planned to visit the "hippo pool."
As we left the farm, we soon realized that the rain had basically turned our road to town into a giant mud puddle. Our Land Rovers slid down the muddy hills like cars on an icy road (I laughed the whole way, Jenn looked scared out of her mind).  It was like playing "dodge the pedestrian" in what felt more like a boat than a car.
When we finally did reach the lake park, we started down the path and encountered more elephants.  The difference is that these, an adult male, female, and a very young elephant were about 6 feet from the car.  They were eating everything in site and did not bother to even look at us.  A little further down the road, we say a family of baboons.  They are not shy, as we learned at the park entrance when we stopped for a restroom break.  As we stood there waiting (a tree had fallen over on the road and the park rangers were clearing it) about fifteen baboons came running down the muddy drive, playing and completely oblivious to our presence.
The baboons in the park were all paired up, picking insects off of each other.  One was lying on his back while his buddy picked bugs off his belly... his eyes were closed, tongue was hanging out, and his feet were straight up in the air.  I couldn't help but think of Brutus.  Some of the young baboons were play-fighting.  One threw a sucker punch at another and then retreated behind his father and was screeching at the other.  I laughed and laughed... it reminded me of my brother and I as kids.
We drove on past dozens more hanging out in the trees and then stumbled upon what had to be 200 of them in a clearing and in the middle of the road.  They were all eating, playing and carrying on.  Our guide, Patrick, kept laughing... the baboons are his favorite animals because of how "human" they are and how funny they behave.
I was getting antsy.  We were 3 kilometers from the hippo pool and I was ready.  Finally, we arrived and I bolted out of the car.  To my dismay, they had constructed a single beam fence to keep us back at a safe distance.  Safe!  I would have signed any waiver as I just wanted to get to the edge of the pool (and jump in) to take some close-ups.  Mean or not, those things are ginormous and just seem really funny to me.
So we stayed back at the "safe" distance and took a bunch of pics.  There were about 70 hippos, many sleeping on the far edge of the pond in the mud, resembling whale seals.  They make the loudest and funniest noises; they almost sound like huge pigs.  Many were swimming around and occasionally one or two would get up and wander around.  A pair got out and the smaller one proceeded to lie down.  This suited the bigger one just fine as he actually sat on the smaller one's head - they sat there for about ten minutes that way... simply hilarious.  We were told we would see more in the ngorongoro crater so I was somewhat relieved.
We drove back through the park and spotted a lone wildebeest in the middle of a huge field... Jenn was sad because it was alone.  I knew that it would make a nice dinner for a lion. We saw four different kinds of eagles on the way out and were able to snap a few pictures which came out rather nice.
We returned to Gibbs farm and had another great and filling lunch.  Their deserts are really tasty - Jenn took a liking to the pineapple upside cake.  I tried all five.  The afternoon was supposed to be "activities" at the farm but it was raining so my mountain biking was out and Jenn didn't feel like visiting the monthly market in Karatu, a nearby village.  Instead, she took a nice nap and I read out on the deck over looking the plantation enjoying a little Tusker beer, a nice cigar and my book.
Another nice dinner with the group and we headed back to the room to pack.  Of the twelve of us, seven currently live in the bay area, two are moving there in January and Jenn and I may end up there at some point... it was decided at dinner that if/when we all live there we will have a reunion party.  It was also decided that I would do the cooking -not sure how that happened.  Another nice coincidence is that there are many cyclists in the group so we have had lots to talk about outside the politics and current US macro economic environment... there has, however, been a great deal of that!  I will write more about the guides and our travel companions in a future blog.  Outside of the similarities listed above, it's really a diverse group.
We were able to finally get some pics posted - Jenn figured out how to scale them down so they would upload.  Hope you all enjoy them as much as we have.  Also, thanks to those who have posted on the blog site.  It is incredible to get messages from friends and family when you are 8,000 miles away.
Off to the Crater tomorrow - can't wait!
BJ & Jenn
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