Hi Everyone from Arusha. We ended our safari travels yesterday, and what a safari it was! We spent our last day in the Ngorongoro Crater looking for a black rhino, which we think was the ONLY big animal that we never saw. Highlights of the day were bird watching all the way down into the crater (called a caldera for those of you who are perfectionists) and then following lions and finally getting the MGM yawning lion photo andwatching the ostrich mating dance and culmination. Quite a sight! Yesterday we left Nick at the Tloma Lodge -- great oasis, with lovely gardens and a coffee plantation on the grounds -- and went off for a walk about in thecountry with an Iraqi tribe member, Paoulo. He walked us through part of his village, so we saw brick making, cooking, clothes washing, and into the agricultural lands -- beautiful red earth countryside -- and gave us fresh green peas right off the vine to eat. It being Sunday and hebeing a Pentacostal, we were in for a treat: church service. Singing, dancing, praying, a lesson on spacing children because if you have too many one right after the other how can you get them all to church. A little child walked up to us, turned her back to Mary and pushed herself tobe picked up, so Mary held her for most of the time. The singing voices were fabulous -- beautiful harmony and a lot of swaying to and fro, drums. And then, we were called to the front and introduced for the second time by Paulo, who explained we were from the country of Baba Obama (they clapped) and that we had left Mary's brother back at the lodge to rest because he was tired. Then they asked us to kneel and the very tall pastor in white suit laid his hands on both our heads and he prayed and shouted and everyone else prayed and shouted while he pushed so hard on our heads we thought we might fall over. The one part we understood was that he shouted to the devil to leave us at once. It was really something. After about an hour and a half we whispered to Paulo that Mary's brother would be worrying about us -- we had said we'd be back to get him about 12:30 when we left with David, our guide. So Paulo explained we needed to leave, and we then went back to his house where his wife, Paulina and children served us chai tea and beans and rice and entertained us with a tribal song and another Cristian song while Paulo played on a gourd violin he'd made and the son played drum. It was 2:00 when we got back to Nick (Nickie as everyone fondly calls him now). African time. . . . We ended the day with a quick visit to one of the Maasai villages and saw the school and the kitchen that Mary has helped build.
Today Donna picked us up at 10:00 and took us to her house where we met Abidi, a 26 year old African artist who taught us the process of painting in the TingaTinga style. It was really fun. We sat outside and painted and visited with Abidi all day. Five hours later we've each finished a TingaTinga piece of "art," Mary Ann making a giraffe and Mary a zebra. We're back at our lodge and our stilted bungalow to take a breather and get ready tofly out to Zanzibar tomorrow morning. At one point toward the end of the safari, we felt a little like we were on the Batan march -- so much to see, and at such a pace. But all is well and we shall relax and swim and maybe even write something in our journals in the next three days! Love to everyone, Mary and Mary Ann