Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

December 25, 2006, Serengeti, Tanzania

Ho! Ho! Ho!

That is not Santa. It is a chorus of evil African Ho gods, laughing at us. Dancing in glee. Our campsite is awash, and we have been awake half the night. As the sky changes from pitch black to dull soggy grey, the rain continues. But this is not just rain. It is an ark-building, life-raft-launching, deluge. That has been pounding us since 2:30 am.

Breakfast is out of the question. We huddle in our tents, hungry and wet, trying to read soggy paperbacks, while one of our over-worked guides goes to check the level of the nearest river.There are three swollen rivers we will have to cross to get out of the northern Serengeti.

"Do you want jujubes or licorice allsorts for breakfast?" asks B, digging through his candy stash.

Suddenly D and A's tent collapses. We don't see them crawl out, so we run over to help. Turns out they were... um, ahem, naked, and are now frantically trying to find clothes. You gotta admire that. In the circumstances.

By 10:30 am. the decision is made to evacuate camp. If we can get out. We are 4 or 5 kilometres off the "main" road. Even then, we have nowhere to stay; It is Christmas day, and we were supposed to camp here tonight. Lodges have been booked up for months. But we cannot stay here, in places the water is over our ankles.

Almost three hours later we reach the road, having pushed the vehicles several times out of muck. Our driver/guides Lyimo and Wellking alternately dug us out and made wild dashes through new lakes that have appeared overnight.

Muddy, soaked, and stinky, (except for A, who was always fresh and chic when the rest of us looked and smelled like refugees from Planet Pig Pen) we pull in half an hour later to a very classy, expensive lodge. We can't stay there, it is full. Anyway, it costs almost $400 bucks a night. But they do offer us use of a couple of rooms to shower and change, and we can eat lunch in the fancy dining room. In dry clothes, with hot food and cold beer in front of us, our spirits climb. Quietly, L begins singing:

"Oh, you better watch out, you better not cry,"
and we join in;

"You better not pout, I'm telling you why"...

By the end of the song we are singing with gusto, and earn a round of applause from the well-heeled lodge guests.

But we still have three engorged rivers to cross, nowhere to stay, and the Ho gods are not finished dancing.


Dreama said...

Glad to hear you were able to dry off. How long does rainy season last there? I am hoping to make my way there this fall.

Diana said...

Yes, you've really got to respect passing the time in nakedness when it seems a dead cert that at least someone's tent will collapse in all the deluge. I'm thankful your camera (and the photos) survived.

Voyager said...

Hi Sky, welcome!
So you are off to Africa too. (I peeked at your web site. Feel free to e-mail me (there's a link on the blog) if you have any questions. I could have saved you time with the visa issue, we went thru the same process.
Actually, when we were there the "short rains" of November/ early Dec., which are usually nothing to speak of, should have been virtually over. Some years the short rains do not arrive at all. The main rainy season is April through June.

Hi Diana. I sat in the tent with my camera bag swaddled in a blanket on my lap!


Jocelyn said...

Your post has left me breathless. I love it! And it shows how travel can be so revealing--we never know how much we'd pay to we warm, showered, and well fed until we leave our usual daily lives, eh?

Voyager said...

Hi Jocelyn.
All of us on the trip (a group of friends from Canada) agreed it was the most unfogetable, adventurous Christmas Day ever.

Glad you stopped in. One of the best things about getting comments is finding great blogs like yours. I think I would like to look into the castle education thing!