Thursday 13 July
At breakfast, Pat, Justaz and I had a long conversation about Tanzania, the political, social, economic situation there. He believes education is the key to prosperity, of course! We had our first safari in two vehicles, to visit nearby Lake Natron. We saw the best yet in terms of wildlife. Our guides got us very close to a big herd of giraffes, we think eight mothers and young ones.
We saw ancient human footprints, apparently made in cooling lava many thousands of years ago. Desert winds had blown away the protective sand and archaeologists carefully uncovered an area full of footprints. They are fenced off for protection but we could walk over them and marvel.
The lake water was full of minerals and provided the cows, wildebeest and zebra with alkaline nutrients. The grass there was bright green and the animals grazed and mingled together in harmony. Closer to the edge of the lake, the mud had dried to a crust over a slippery layer of mud which was tricky to walk on. Flamingos were in the shallow water at the edge, thousands of them.
Our two Masai guides, John and Jackson, were well informed about the lake and animals and answered all our questions. They are very thin by Western standards, swathed in wraps of red, checked design. Apparently, this custom dates back to Scottish influence! Men and women wear brightly coloured beaded bracelets and necklaces and pierce their ears till the lobes are stretched, for filigreed silver earrings. Hair is either extremely short or long, braided and beaded. Their sandals are cut from old car tyres. They need to be very tough so the acacia thorns cannot pierce the soles.
In the afternoon, some hardy souls went on a hike to the nearby waterfall. The ground was rocky and they were clambering over boulders at times. I was glad to stay behind, not wishing to injure my knee again. Pat stayed back to recuperate, reading in an ancient wicker chair. The back and seat were of worn cowskin. A couple of others caught up on sleep and washing. I swam laps, what an unexpected luxury. The waterfall hikers returned happy. They had swum in the pool below the falls, one of the few places it was safe to swim without fear of parasites. Our campsite was supplied with water from there.