Today has been the most exiting day of the trip so far. We went into the Serengeti! But before that, we went to visit the Masaai village. I was a little scared at first. They looked terrifying walking alongside the road. But it was a great experience. First when we arrived, they performed some kind of dance to welcome us. All of the women were wearing blue, and all of the men were wearing red. Then we went in and they did a jumping ceremony. The village was tiny, with probably about 25 houses. The houses were made completely out of mud and sticks. They were dome-shaped with a little door on the side, like igloos. I got to go inside one of the houses and see what it was like. I had to crouch down to walk in. You couldn't even walk around, it was so tiny. It was also completely dark, with just one window big enough to fit my fist through. There was a little fire inside to cook, so the tiny room was filled with smoke. It was a million times worse with living conditions than the African town I visited yesterday
. At the end of the Masaai village, they were selling handmade jewelry. There was a necklace I wanted to get, and I asked the price. The Masaai guy told me $20. I only had $6. "Can I get it for $6? That's all I have.." I told him. He kept saying over and over again: "but $20...but it $20" and some other stuff to me I couldn't understand. He thought I was trying to bargain. Another guy came over and started whispering to him. He said "I will give it to you for $15."
"But I only have $6. That's ok if I can't get it."
"How about $8?" he said. Didn't he hear me??
"I don't have $8. Just $6." He took a while to understand this, and he kept saying things like "but why not $8?"
Finally, he said "Ok, six is fine." Phew!
I gave him the six dollars, a five and a one. He looked at the $5. He said "I need other five." In Tanzania, they use shillings and USD, but only very recent US dollars. I didn't have any other fives. They said they could maybe use it, but my mom had to pay them some of her shillings to take the risk. She gave them 2,000 shillings, equal to about $1.30. So in the end I payed $7.30 (would've been $6) for a necklace that was really $20. After the Masaai village, we went to the Serengeti
! It was amazing. We were only there for about half a day, but we saw 14 lions and 2 leopards! The biggest group of lions we saw was 8, all female. We saw 2 pairs of males and females, and they were both mating. We learned from Moses that lions only mate once a year (all of them mate at the same time), and it lasts for 7 days. I guess we were here just in time then! There was also a wildfire going on all day, which only happens every few years. We are also here just in time to see the great migration! We haven't yet, but probably will tomorrow. Just in time for everything! It was great to see the leopards. They were both in trees. I guess Moses was right when he said the Serengeti was the main course. All of the other animals we saw were just the usual. Elephants, baboons, warthogs, zebra, impala...
In the first 5 minutes of driving today, we saw a lion lounging up on a rock and 5 hyenas chewing on a dead carcass. Today in total we saw 8 lions (6 male and 2 female), 6 hyenas and just one leopard. I didn't see any lions mating today. Maybe their 7 days are up. That would be great, because they don't eat during that period and now they will be hungry. Our goal now is to find a cheetah, it is about the only thing we haven't seen yet. We also saw a huge hippo pool today, overflowing with about (I would guess) 70 hippos! They were snorting and splashing around, stinking up the water
. There was a pair of hippos that were mating, and there was also a brief fight. We also saw the great migration! We had to go out of the park to see it, but it was amazing. There were thousands of zebra and tens of thousands of wildebeest, exactly like what you would see on TV. Coming back from the migration, our jeep broke down. The axle completely broke in half, and the wheel was sideways. So we hitched a ride with a couple of other guys for the rest of the day. Camping has gotten a little...tiring. I'm glad this is the last night. I just don't want to have to worry about wild animals attacking us when we go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There are already baboons that roam around camp in broad daylight. And the rats scurrying under tables as you are eating your food, then once you leave the table they jump up and eat the remains off your plate. The good news is, I'm getting used to peeing behind the jeep when we are in the middle of game driving. But you have to stay in a very open place and make sure there are people with you, in case of the lions. We just have to watch out for other jeeps. And I'm pretty much comfortable with going to the bathroom in one of those hole-in-the-ground toilets. But I can tell not everyone is with the constant puddles on the floor.
So today we saw: 8 more lions, a zebra carcass, and..oh yeah, 2 cheetahs kill a wildebeest!!!
! First of all, I was almost positive we weren't going to see any cheetahs. But we saw 2. And then they got up and hunted a wildebeest too!! It was so exciting. Moses got really excited because he had never seen or even heard of cheetahs hunting something as big as a wildebeest. They always hunt smaller, weaker things like impalas or baby zebras. The funny thing was, the cheetahs and the zebras just stared at each other for a while, and the zebras didn't seem to be bothered by the cheetahs. Moses said the zebras already have their escape planned out, and the cheetahs know that. The cheetahs have their target long picked out. So instead, they go for a big, dumb wildebeest way off in the distance. The wildebeest can't do anything but run, so of course the cheetah is going to catch it. One cheetah caught it, and both helped to suffocate it. Achmed (base camp owner) said that only about one in every 20 tours get to see a kill, or even an attempt, so we were lucky. About halfway into the day, we left to head to the Ngorongoro Crater, where instead of camping, we will be staying at a very luxurious Sopa Lodge. On the way, we picked up other base camp people because their jeep broke down. We made a friend named Libby, who we learned actually lives very close to us!