Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dar Es Salaam

Everyone there was excited about Obama. It was a great conversation starter.

Dad and I were both curious about what it looked like inside an African mall. It was pretty much like a normal American mall except that some of the shops looked like they didn't have any electricity even though they were open. After I took this picture a security guard with an uzi walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to go outside with him to see the sign that said 'no cameras'. I said "gulp, that's fine, I'll just put the camera away" and put it away faster than you can say "Michael Fay".

City Bus Classic. Stencils, baby!

This is a ride.  I never saw anybody on it, but I think it's operated by a guy riding the bike at the bottom. Where's Lance, I wanna fly!

Daladala city bus - more personality than NYC cabs.

It's hard to tell, but this ketchup is pink.

This is a buddhist temple. Note the swastikas.


This picture was taken in a Indian Paan shoppe. Paan is a small snack eaten in a single bite which contains around a dozen ingredients. It's also mildly narcotic. The customers in front of me were two Indian women visiting from Zanzibar. They said they come to this paan shoppe every time they travel to the mainland, buying about 40 or 50 of these little treats which last them about 2 weeks. I got to watch this man lay out 50 fresh leaves and meticulously add pinch after pinch of countless mystery spices, herbs, and compotes. During this time, a couple of older disheveled 'paan heads' would come up and just grab a leaf, wipe some of the goo on it, and gobble it up right there. It didn't seem to bother anybody, but it was strange. 

Here's my dad at Sea Cliff Village where we stayed shaking hands with a Massai porter. The Massai are struggling to hold on to their heritage, but like the American Indians, are being quickly gentrified out of existence. The lucky ones are able to make a living posing for tourist photographs, like this one.

Child is the Father of the Man is the Son of the Child

The Cape Buffalo - Not for the queasy!

This is the cape buffalo (in swahili, "nyati mbogo") that my father killed. It took five bullets and a lot of help to end this animal's life.

We had followed a herd of buffalo all day, having tracked them from where we first spotted them the evening before. Our trackers Anton and Alan did an incredible job, following invisible hoofprints and patient intuition through miles and miles of forests and bush. It was late afternoon by the time we finally found the herd, crossing the river at the other end of a large valley. Whether or not the mbogo knew they were entering an area we legally couldn't hunt didn't matter: there were no bulls in the group. 

Resting under a thorn bush in the valley, we drank the rest of the water we had packed and prepared to call Lema on the walkie-talkie to pick us up in the truck. It was getting close to sunset and we had had a long day. But then a smaller herd of buffalo emerged from our side of the vally, half-a-mile away.

As Anton, Paul, and my father left the shade to get a closer look at the unexpected herd, I waited with Alan and Tollo, expecting there to be no bulls, as per usual.

Just then a shot rang out in the valley. I felt like I could see the sound bounce back and forth between the ridge of the hill and the distant forest for the three or four seconds it took to completely decay. It had been three days since any of us had heard a sound that size, to such contrast that it seemed like there had only been silence in between. We all sprang to our feet. Another shot cracked the air and we started to run. Then another shot. And another. What was going on? We were too far away to see anything, and for some reason I assumed that the wounded buffalo had charged my father and he was frantically trying to defend his life.

Of course that wasn't the case, it just takes a lot of bullets to kill something the size of a European car. By the time I finally reached the buffalo, I was completely winded from having sprinted half a mile. In exhausted awe, I watched the buffalo take it's final breaths.

Since our location was inaccessible to the truck, we skinned the buffalo there, working as quickly as possible as to beat the oncoming darkness. Alan cut down a small tree over which the animal's head was hung so two men could carry it out of the valley. We climbed the final hill in twilight, Alan and Tollo struggling to find their footing while carrying a 200-pound trophy, me following behind, my mind completey blown away by everything that had just happened as I held a severed leg in each hand, and my father walking behind us all, holding his head high. 

When we got to the truck we didn't leave right away. We sat under the stars and drank carbonated things. It was too dark to see each other's smiling faces. We told jokes in different languages. My father and I reminisced about the days when we lived together and he would put on Graceland and I would fall in love.


Africa's Highest Mountain

Is There Life On Earth?



This bug was about a foot long.

Monitor lizard. At one point we saw a Black Mamba snake in a tree and all the Africans freaked out. Dad and I had not idea that if you get bitten by one, you die in five minutes. Paul told us a story of a Black Mamba that he had to grab and fling from the truck one time after it fell out of a tree. He said that as they drove away, the snake chased them.   

Zapruder-style buffalo. Unlike the Serengeti, the Selous is not known for it's photo opportunities. I think that's why the Selous is seen as more of a challenging hunting destination.




This is a buffalo tooth.

This is a lion claw that I bought from an intimidating man in the back of a hut after a sweaty and intense bargaining session. I came out of the hut with a bracelet made from elephant tail hair as well. Someone compared me to a slave trader for buying these probably illegal things. What do you think?

I packaged this stuff up with my father's trophies to be sent to the US. It's a bunch of shells, petrified wood, a vulture feather, a porcupine quill, and an African toothpick. I will probably never see these things again.

One day at lunch we collected a bunch of these seeds. They're called 'bomba kofi' and are used as playing pieces in some sort of African board game.

Eland skull

This is a elephant tusk we fount deep in the forest. Tollo, the park ranger, had to carry it for a couple of hours, taking it back to camp for anti-poaching purposes.

Porcupine quill

Paul had some Tanzanite. On the entire earth, Tanzanite is only found in a single mountain range in Tanzania, where Paul once worked with his brother. Dozens of miners die there every year.

National Geographic

One time as we were driving, Alan lit a piece of a cardboard box on fire and just threw it from the truck into a field of grass.

They called these trees 'Sausage' Trees.

This is the famous baobab tree.

This was the closest butte to our camp; it's name is Nkuti.