Day 14 – The Fog Before Mweka
We awoke early this morning, prior to the rising of the African sun, on a day that seemed like any other day… but today was different. Today was a day filled with bitter happiness. After a classic Dorobo Safari breakfast of porridge, bacon, and fruit we packed our belongings, as today was our final day of camping on the trip. It was today we left the rugged green Land Rover we have called home for two weeks for the dormitory lifestyle and Bushmeat Identification Workshop at the Mweka College of Wildlife Management. Truly bitter sweet.
After breakfast this morning we began our final game drive. From our campsite we drove a few kilometers to the beautiful Lake Manara. We dawdled through the lush green rainforest, which is so green due to underground springs and not rain, until we approached the edge of the lake. At this point we were able to stretch our legs a bit and watch the hippos mozy around. Lucky for us we were able to view several, very loud, hippo skirmishes, a hippo family walking outside the water, and perfect “V” of pelicans. Did we mention that the sun was shining and the clouds just barely splotched the sky? After just a few minutes at the lake we all realized that it was an amazing ending location for our safari.
We completed the game drive at Lake Manara and then returned back to camp for a delicious, final, Dorobo meal and, more importantly, to give our thanks to our beyond amazing guides and now friends. For this final meal we had fantastic grilled cheese with veggies and a spicy vegetable curry. By the time we were ready to leave the tears were running, not in sadness but in laughter because of the all the memories we had created over such a relatively short time. Like the time Gidion said he was going to get firewood and then five minutes later walks back with a piece half his size and already burning. And who could forget the time that Killerai tried to convince Brittney that Gidion enjoyed being tasered. Through the laughter we managed to take dozens of goodbye pictures and give our final goodbyes.
It was now time for our final trek to Mweka, at the base of Mount Kilamanjaro, but not before two last stops. Our first stop was at Dorobo Safaris HQ. While it does not sound like a very spectacular stop the HQ was one of the most lush and beautiful places of the trip; a sort of gem hidden throughout the trees. It took a bit longer then expected but the stop was important as the door for the car had been broken for some time and could not lock, attached by the industrial strength rubber bands. (Hatari for Dr. Vavra) (Note: Hatari means danger) After the fixing of the door we then moved onto our last stop before Mweka. Our final stop was to gladly pick up Lazarus Saruni, Tanapa Official and Park Warden. For those following the blog you may recognize his name from previous blogs as well as the Students of Consequence documentary. And so we picked up Lazarus so that he could also participate in the Bushmeat Identification Workshop at Mweka.
At this point it was beginning to get dark and we were a good distance from Mweka. But of course we trudged through the darkness and depressingly thick fog until we reached the base of Mount Kilamanjaro. We had arrived at Mweka. Jubilee. Now raining, we quickly removed the bags from top of the land rover and set them in the hallway of the dormitory. After ensuring the vehicle empty of our doodads and nicknacks from their familiar places we gave our goodbyes to Killerai; Killerai being our guide for the entirety of the trip. But the word guide does not fully describe what Killerai was on the trip. He was there at every turn, every issue, and every laugh. Killerai was an integral member of the team who truly made the trip a better experience. So, we said our goodbyes, gave our hugs, bear hugs for most, and promised to meet again.
The bags were then organized and placed into our separate rooms. Finally it was time for food. After an overly long break between meals we were able to eat our fill of Mweka cuisine. Following the meal it was time for a quick strategic meeting in order to work out the last few kinks of our workshop. And yes there were a few kinks. One main issue was that we were to have 4 more people then the maximum we had planned for. Due to this issue we then under time and material issues. With the increase in participants it would make every step of the process take longer and therefore put unnecessary pressure on us.
But now is not the time to think about the issues that we are to face. Every workshop has problems but the important thing to remember is that with this workshop we will be able to work with true experts in the field while providing some of the information we have gathered. In the end, the experience of the workshop will be beneficial for all parties. That is what is important.
But now it is time for sleep. Lala salama.