Straight From The Source


This blog entry about the events of Sunday, May 09, 2004 was originally posted on May 12, 2004.

DAY 204:  Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest (and the world’s second largest) lake, encompasses over 42,000 square miles (68,800 sq. km.) within the boundaries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.  With the force of gravity, its millions of gallons of freshwater flow northward all the way to the Mediterranean Sea on a mighty river called the Nile.

While my adventures on the Nile would not come for a few more weeks, I was glad that I was able to at least see its source, for Lake Victoria isn’t a destination in a “standard 5-day Serengeti safari.”  The only reason why we were there was because of the special request by Tuscan travelers Francesco and Paola; instead of returning back to Arusha, they would continue northwest towards Kenya.  For me, setting sights on the big body of freshwater kept me content amidst all the arguing between everyone else in safari.

Elia tried to compensate the Italians not with money (of course) but with an arrangement of guide for the day to explore the nearby lake region since they were complaining the night before that they paid for five days, only to get four.  That new guide, Joseph, took us to the nearby fisherman market at a port outside of the village of Lamadi, where fishermen hunted the waters for a latest catch in wooden boats (Hi-Res).  Joseph walked us around the many piles of freshwater sardines on sale for consumption.  Nearby, fishermen displayed their day’s catch of tilapia and nile perch at tables (picture above) or in baskets.  Elia, although on “work hours” couldn’t pass up a deal on some Lake Victoria fish and bought enough to sell back in Arusha.  I reckoned he used the safari gas money because he asked to borrow TSh 10,000 from me in order to get fuel for the long haul back southeast.

“CIAO,” I SAID TO FRANCESCO AND PAOLA, wishing them farewell across the street from the Lamadi minibus stop.  The goodbyes with the Italians were anti-climactic; they were too frustrated with the way the safari panned out, and they had no way to complain to Mr. Jalala in Arusha since they weren’t going back.  They walked across the street without giving Elia or Simon much of a goodbye — or a tip for that matter — and completely ignored the extended services of Joseph.

“The italianos are complicated,” Elia said to me when they were out of earshot.  “They don’t know what they want.”

I wasn’t a mind reader but I think they wanted an enjoyable safari.

FOR MY FIFTH AND FINAL PAID DAY OF SAFARI, all we did was drive by animals on the long way back to Arusha from the source of the Nile.  The safari term for this is a “game drive,” but I was just tired and didn’t see any more fun in the “game.”  Plus, we pretty much drove straight, which was fine by me; I wasn’t too keen on stopping for photos because we didn’t have enough people to push-start the 2x4 in case it stalled again.

The long 9-hour drive back through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro regions wasn’t too exciting.  There was nothing on the way back that I hadn’t seen before more than twice and perhaps I was just bored of seeing the same old thing again.  If you’ve seen one (thousand) wildebeest, you’ve seen them all.  I just spent my time alone in the back of the Land Cruiser staring out the window, sleeping or just standing with my head out the roof to watch the clouds (Hi-Res) and let the wind blow through my hair.  We stopped back at the Naabi Hill visitors center where I used the facilities.  One look in the mirror and I saw the reality of myself:  I looked like shit.

AFTER THE LONG DRIVE through the Serengeti National Park, and then the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and then the Lake Maynara district (where we stopped in town again so Elia could buy more goods to bring back home), we finally arrived back in Arusha around dusk.  Elia had paid me back for the gas money I lent him, but I gave it back to him as a tip.  I knew that it wasn’t his fault that the 2x4 was all dysfunctional, and decided to be nice to him and Simon — although I didn’t tip nearly has high as the suggested percentage.  I couldn’t even go back to Mr. Jalala at the Kilimanjaro Crown Tours office to complain because Elia dropped me right off at the Arusha bus terminal where I immediately caught a crowded 80-minute bus ride through the darkness of evening back to Moshi.

BEFORE LEAVING ON SAFARI FROM ARUSHA, I had e-mailed Moshi resident and expatriate-turned-new-friend Tony if it was okay that I crash his couch for a couple of days so that I could catch up on my writing when I got back from safari (in exchange for taking him and his roommate Ted out for dinner one night).  I didn’t get a response right away, so it was up in the air whether or not he would have me.  I gave it a shot anyway and from the Moshi bus terminal I took a taxi to his flat and rang on the doorbell with crossed fingers.  He opened the door.  “Hey, Erik.  Come in.”

“Hey, did you get my e-mail?” I asked.

“Yeah, did you get my reply?”

“No, I didn’t have time.  So is it cool?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

Ted came to the living room to greet me as I sat on one of the cushioned chairs.  “Wow, you either got a lot of color or you just have a layer of grime on you.”  True, I hadn’t showered in about four days.

A hot shower followed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Four times.  Down the floor of the tub, all the grime built-up on my skin flowed down the drain in streams of grey and brown.  I was clean again after that long drive from the lake region on other side of the country.

People can marvel at the freshwaters of Lake Victoria, but at that moment, I knew the fresh waters coming out of a shower head were the only ones worth mentioning.

Next entry: The Man And The Refrigerator

Previous entry: Migration

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Comments for “Straight From The Source”

  • first again!!! i guess it does pay to be at work so damn early. keep up the good work eric. love all the stories.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  03:25 PM

  • Your positive attitude always amazes me Erik.  Yep, definitely not the guide’s fault. 
    Actually, overall you seem much more upbeat in the last few posts.  You seemed to be a bit frustrated just after the SA fiasco.  Hope you aren’t feeling so blah about blog duties.  We love your blog!

    Posted by Liz  on  05/12  at  05:18 PM

  • “let the wind blow through my hair…” ( i will refrain from commenting on that one…)

    more hi res pics… boats are the new BG!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  06:10 PM

  • “watch the clouds” is my new fav pic! thanks.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  08:20 PM

  • A shower is always nice after a few days of being grimy.
    You are upbeat, as Liz said, and I give you props for that! And for keeping me entertained when I think I should be working!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/13  at  03:41 AM

  • aww, you should have taken a picture of your grimy self for a before and after shot. i bet you looked like the thing from the black lagoon after all that mud fun from the safari tour. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/13  at  05:46 PM

  • I was hoping for a grimy self picture too!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/19  at  05:36 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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