Jennifer in Africa

01 June 2007

A merging of the blogs

Hello everyone,
My long trips to Tanzania are over, (I hope fingers crossed) at least for the duration of my PhD. Therefore, Brad and I have stared a new blog for the two of us at
So please come join us there and thanks for reading about my African adventures.
Jennifer :)

20 February 2007

The end of an era

Yes, I am back in the States now, after a long plane ride with a head cold (yuck) and as you all know after four trips to Tanzania in just over a year (I am a little tired of the traveling). I'm not sure what the future will hold for my travels to Tanzania (and thus postings on this blog), but I'll let you know :)
In the meantime....I snapped a shot of the garage where I spent so much time with my lovely car (which was working better AFTER I returned it than it was when they gave it to me).
Yes, that is the garage. They work right there (the main road is right behind me), without the normal safety precautions like we have in the States (like goggles or even welding glasses/helmets). And here is good old APA, I'll miss her, but I am glad to be back driving my Echo, it is so much more relaxing.

10 February 2007

Bryan Emmanuel Lyimo

Emmanuel, one of Savannas Forever's field team leaders, has a new baby boy. Bryan was born just over 3 weeks ago while Emmanuel was in the field with the SF team. On Thursday I went to Emmanuel's house to see little Bryan. Here is a picture of father and son.
Here is the mzungu na mtoto.

06 February 2007

White flurries

No, not snow flurries, but butterflies, hundreds of thousands of white butterflies. It was the most amazing thing. From the crater rim all the way to Arusha these butterflies were just flying across the road (for about 200 kilometers). It was really spectacular up on the crater rim because it appeared like they were just pouring out of the crater, up and over the rim and down the hillside. In some areas there were only a few and then I would get to some spots where they were highly concentrated and it was almost like it was snowing. One unlucky butterfly flew in my car and hit the inside windshield (many hit the outside), but it allowed me to take this picture.

So this spectacular event took place yesterday (Monday) and today. Yesterday I left Serengeti with a family who needed a ride (Dad, Mom, baby, and two young kids). It was nice to have some company and (like I mentioned in my previous blog) to have potential help if I got stuck or a flat. But no problems and after interviewing the antipoaching head of the Ngorongoro conservation area authority I dropped the family off in Karatu (to catch a bus somewhere else) and I went to Allen's guest house for a nice warm shower, electricity, and a soft bed. This morning I got up early and headed back to the crater rim to talk to someone in community development. Turns out the person I needed to talk to is in Arusha, but I spoke a little with someone else so it wasn't a total waste. I picked up 2 guys and 2 girls and headed to Arusha. Again, nice to have the company, and we made it back without a problem. However, the travel gods must have been watching because the moment I parked in my driveway and started unpacking my tire went flat. So, with the help of 3 guys from the field team I changed the tire, put on the spare and realized the spare had a slow leak. So rather than relax it was off to the tire place to get the tires fixed. I put a new tube in the flat tire and then they changed out the spare and patched the spare's tube. After about 1.5 hours I was finally able to return and relax after my long journey.

This past weekend

On Friday I went up to Grumeti (the high end lodge and management area of Tutor Jones, a multi-millionaire). The folks who work for their conservation and wildlife management company are fabulous and I had a good talk with them both for my work and in general. They housed me in one of their research “dorms” and paid for my meals. There was hot water (without having to boil it) and 24 hour electricity. Here is a picture from my porch.

A picture of my porch.
Here is the “dorm”.
Here is a picture from my bed when I woke up the next morning.
After a leisure morning of breakfast and e-mail (they have wireless) I headed back to Seronera, with a plan to stop at the photo safari camps in Robanda (3 of them). I picked up some folks about 30 minutes from Robanda. It is common practice here to give a lift to people, and while I would never do it in town, out in the rural villages, it is safe, almost safer than not because if I get stuck or get a flat I then have people to help me. SF actually has a policy to pick people up to maintain and improve good community relations. Anyway, I filled my car with people and we headed to Robanda. At Robanda I let everyone out and told those wanting to go to Seronera that I’d be back, in an hour or so. I popped in at one photo safari place and they were very nice and gracious, especially considering I just randomly stopped in wanting to interview them. The interview went so well I decided I really wanted to find the two other photo safari places so I went back through Robanda, asked where the other places were and headed to one. Along the way I said hi to this guy that had asked me for work when I dropped off everyone the first time and well he kind of invited himself to take me to the next camp. I let him get in the back seat and we continued onward. I quickly started to think that this wasn’t the best idea, esp because I could smell the beer on his breath, but we continued to chat away in Swahili (he is 19, is from Robanda, brother at the University in Dar es Salaam, etc), with me keeping an eye on him in the rearview mirror. After turning off the main road to head towards the camp the path quickly deteriorated and got very muddy. After about 5 minutes I was thoroughly stuck in the mud. The guy jumped out and started digging me out of the mud. We tried and tried, I got out, got all muddy, he then got into the drivers seat and tried to get the car unstuck. I then realize that I’m in the middle of the bush, a drunk (or at least tipsy) teenager is at the wheel and I’m standing outside my car in mud. I mentally prepare myself to run after the car if he breaks free of the mud and doesn’t stop (I know, over active, negative imagination, but what can I say). Well after a few more minutes he was able to free the car from the mud and stopped safely out of the mud. He wanted to continue driving, but I insisted no, and I got back behind the wheel and continued onward off the road in the 4 foot high grass. By this time I’m hot, sweating, muddy, and realize we are in a tse tse fly infested area and the tse tse files are continually swarming around me, trying to bite (somehow I escaped with only 5 bites, though again one got in my shirt, under my bra and bit me, why they seem to like to do that is beyond me!). After another 5-10 minutes we arrived at the campsite only to find it abandoned except for this one old man who tells us that due to the road (the one we couldn’t even drive on), the camp was closed until after the rains. Ugh, all that way for nothing. He tells us the name of a manager/driver who works for the company, speaks English and lives in Robanda so we head back. I decide that it was getting late and I just wanted to get back to Seronera before any afternoon rains came (about a 1-1.5 hour drive). But my drunk friend, who I paid for his help, but insisted he couldn’t buy beer with my money (yea right, but I tried) ran off and found the driver so I talked with him. However, the driver wasn’t knowledgeable enough about the company or English for it to be a worthwhile interview so I packed up everyone who wanted to go to Seronera and we headed off. On the way back we saw this lovely elephant which terrified one passenger and thrilled another. They couldn’t decide if they wanted to sit and watch or get the h#%$ out of there.

31 January 2007

Amani Peace Amani

After my 7.5 hour drive yesterday to Seronera (by myself) I have finally named my car, Amani Peace Amani. The license is T 664 APA so people here in Serengeti refer to their cars by the letters, as I said, mine is APA which I decided in long form is Amani Peace Amani (Amani means peace in Swahili). I decided on this mostly because my ride went fairly smooth and without a hitch. There was twice I had to engage diff lock and go off road around two loris that had become stuck in the mud in the middle of the road. After doing this the first time my car started making clunking noises that got me worried, but I made it here and my car is now in the garage. I also lost a windshield wiper during the downpour (see picture), but considering what could have happened things went really well (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself for the rest of the trip). Here are some pictures:
Armageddon, as I was driving the last hour and a half I saw a storm in front of me and it was the most ominous thing I had ever seen. I saw only one other car as I was driving strait for what was obviously a torrential downpour.