Elephants

Trip Start Nov 19, 2002
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Trip End Dec 13, 2002


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, November 29, 2002

"Are you sure?"  Dowdi's favorite line, which I didn't understand.

Dowdi cooked some delicious meals on safari.  Traditional African food with a Western twist to accommodate tourists.  He's very cautious about sanitation too:  boiling water, rinsing all the food, protecting it from flies, continually washing his hands and so on.  My sister told me he's the best cook of my safari outfitter.

I tried to finish everything on my plate.  The way I was raised...don't waste food.  Dowdi would always ask if I liked it.  Yes, of course!  "Are you sure?"  Every meal kept getting larger.  At the end of the safari it dawned on me.  African hospitality is to provide wayyy more than needed.  It's hard to let such delicious and healthy food get tossed but that's their culture.

Tarangire is the last stop on safari.  I'm a little sad to see it end.  But it's been a fantastic experience.  Tarangire is a national park known for its many species of birds.  For some reason, I saw very few.  Mostly elephants and giraffe.  But still an interesting learning experience.

In the morning, we saw many elephants brushing against trees.  Millinga said one reason is to remove parasites from their skin.  Also by brushing their tusks, they can remove pressure that builds up at the base near their skull.  It seems to be one of their morning rituals.

Elephants are very family-oriented.  Adults are very protective of the young.  Whenever we drove by, the larger elephants would always "circle the wagons."  The smaller elephants were hidden in the center, away from view.  I was amazed how often we ran across that.  Once, an adult elephant "escorted" us away.

I saw one mid-sized elephant running towards a herd.  The adults chased him off.  The elephant persisted a second and third time before moving on.  Millinga said that young males are usually kicked out because they're too immature.  They're allowed back in when they approach 12 years.  That's apparently when they're more respectful of the adult females and the social order.

Leaving Tarangire, a herd of elephants crossed in front of us.  So we stopped at a safe distance.  One baby stayed on the road until the rest had safely moved on.  It yelled at us.  I found it incredibly funny!  Impulsively, I roared back.  The baby yelled even louder then caught up with the herd.  Provoking animals is one of the safari no-no's.  But somehow I couldn't resist.

Eric
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