Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Schaeff did you remember to close our door? This is Africa, we could come back and there be a Rhino in your bed."

I am not a gambling man, but I can bet on one thing for sure. Upon our arrival back to the States you can bet Montclair’s esteemed "Outdoor Store" will be paid an angry visit from Mr. Derek Serpe. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Outdoor Store, formally the Patagonia store is know for its earthy staff, selling over priced wilderness gear, and its convenient location next to the delicious Raymond’s. Being that Derek and I both frequently visit the delicious Raymond’s, it only makes sense that we would acquire at least some of our travel gear from this purveyor of outdoor goods. In particular I am referring to the Patagonia safari shirt. This "safari blue" garment was the unstoppable. Long sleeve, yet crafted out of an extremely breathable lightweight fabric, water resistant, plenty of mesh vents, and most importantly "insect repellent."
As Derek so ingeniously described, our arrival to the Selous Game Reserve was nothing less than Dramatic. We stepped off the plane, both of us in our best Safari gear, Derek obviously better than mine, hence the "safari blue, safari shirt" got in the Land Rover and headed to the lodge. There were many awesome, yet peculiar traits about our lodge. In particular I am referring to the family style dinners, in which the entire lodge met at the bar at 7:30 to have a pre meal drink, then when Moody (the host, who matched his shirt to the table cloth each night) rang the dinner bell, the entire lodge, about 17 people would sit down at to two large tables and feast. The managers, Ricardo and Veronica eat with us, and generally at least half the people at the table did not speak English as there first language. Although initially, dinner was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, it turned out to be lots of fun. One night, Derek, Ricardo, and myself found it quite amusing how much this German guy looked and acted like Anthony Hopkins. Were very tempted to have him say "Hello Clarice".
We later found out the main reason for the family style dinner, was that when we had finished eating Ricardo and Veronica would discuss and arrange each group’s next day adventure. In these informal meetings they would tell us what we needed to bring, but more importantly what not to bring, or wear. This brings me back to Derek’s "safari blue, safari shirt", which made its way back to the hanger almost immediately after Ricardo announced, "Do not wear any dark colors especially blue, because, mosquito’s and flies are extremely attracted to them." While the "safari blue shirt" quickly became retired, Derek’s arsenal of safari gear was merely tested and by no means shut down. He obviously had the shirt in more than one color.
The next day we headed out on Safari, which was quite amazing. We got up close and personal with elephants, giraffes, lions, hippos, crocodiles, wildebeests, buffalo, monkeys, and our guides personal favorite impala. Over the next few days Derek and I learned a lot about the animals, and our surroundings. We conquered many obstacles and made an overly conscious effort to stay covered in bug spray at all times. To me this was the week of phenomenal Derek quotes. One night while we were both lying in our very comfortable mosquito netted beds Derek whispered over to me "Schaeff, you feel that wind? We got a major problem cause its blowing the mosquito nets". Before I could respond, this issue was solved, Derek had successfully tucked his mosquito net into the sides of his bed. At the time I found it a bit ridiculous but then again he wasn’t the guy with a bug bite the size of a golf ball on his wrist. However, my favorite quote of all was what became Derek’s signature line every time we left our bandana. "Schaeff did you remember to close our door? This is Africa, we could come back and there be a Rhino in your bed." End quote.
Before we knew it, it was time to go, and all that was left for us to conquer was trying to drive a 1971 stick, Land Rover Defender 109, and, survive a flight back to Dar as Salaam through a rainstorm. Both obstacles were a bit hairy, but ultimately successful. Tanzania was a huge success.
(PS. We have great pictures, its just very hard to find a strong enough connection to upload pictures on. We will when we can.)

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