We raised money to donate a computer lab at a primary school near Moshi. I wrote about that extensively in another post so won’t repeat here.
I’m usually a fanatic about the money I bring when travelling internationally – asking the bank tellers to look at every bill for dates and condition. I double-check again when I get home and have been known to go back to the bank and exchange for other bills. Somehow, this time I missed 3 $100 bills that were in great condition but were printed prior to 2006. They were part of the $4000 I gave to ACTT for the computer lab. ACTT’s bank wouldn’t accept those 3 singles. The money exchange did accept them but gave a slightly lower exchange rate for them.
Late March/early April was a good time to go in terms of having no crowds. We hardly ever saw other cars, even at great animal sightings. We were the only family at Serengeti Wilderness Camp, and one of two groups one night at Kisima Ngeda. We drove for over an hour in the Crater and saw no other cars. At lunch at the hippo pool, there were only 2-3 other vehicles.
Our guide was a careful driver (we never got stuck) and great at spotting animals. He was fun, lively, and very good with the girls and constantly reminded them to drink water. Mostly, he seemed genuinely eager to please. He was good at positioning the car for the best photos.
He engaged in a few behaviors I didn’t like, such as making noises to get the attention of the animals and twice getting animals (an eland and a cheetah) to race so we could see how fast they run. I made subtle indications that I didn’t approve but didn’t say anything directly. That was probably just as well, because the day I said something directly to him about a behavior, he stopped talking to us the rest of the day. Even the girls asked what was wrong. The last 2 days of our trip, I noticed he was on the phone a lot – talking and mostly texting – while driving. I politely said I would prefer he not do that and asked if he could wait until we were stopped to talk or text. We got 1 word answers the rest of the day and a completely different personality. I think he drove off-road in the Serengeti to get close to a group of lions. Another vehicle was there, and I couldn’t get a straight answer from our guide whether it was allowed or not.
I used Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellant all the time and still got 40 insect bites, some on parts of my body that were always covered. In the Serengeti, something bit me that created large welts. Tsetse flies were rampant in Tarangire and Serengeti. I’d always heard that tsetse fly bites hurt and don’t leave any kind of mark. But my guide said the welts were from tsetse flies. I’m not sure. My nieces wore 35% Deet and got some bites even with that. I’ve tried many insect repellants, and bugs just like me, no matter what I wear.
We all took No Jet Lag, a homeopathic pill you take on every take off and landing and every two hours during travel. It was the first time I had used it. Going over, we all seemed to adjust relatively well to the time difference and lack of sleep on the planes. The girls were always exhausted right after dinner, but they were great during the day. Coming home, they had slightly more trouble adjusting to the time difference. I had the best re-entry experience I have ever had when returning from Africa (this was my fourth return).
My lack of jet lag may have been helped by stopping 1 night in Amsterdam, in addition to the No Jet Lag. As we prepared to leave JRO, I had slight regret about stopping in AMS, especially since it was just for 1 day and 1 night. I wondered if we would have been better off just to go home. And, yet, once we got there, I was thrilled to have stopped. AMS is a compact, fun city with lots to see and do. Seeing the Anne Frank House was a special highlight.