African Laughari

I’m borrowing the title of this post, African Laughari,  from my grandmother, Tillie Battle. In the early 1970’s she traveled to Africa and upon returning composed limericks and painted pictures of the animals that she had seen while on safari with her husband, Tucker Battle. My mom, Helen Heaney, then helped gather the poems and illustrations and arranged to have them published; thus was ‘African Laughari’ born. I thought of my grandmother often while I traveled with my family and in-laws in Tanzania this summer: June 23 – July 5, 2011. I laughed often, and loudly with my kids and Dave as we drove about the desert, sang songs, watched wild animals and enjoyed each others company. We flew to Nairobi, Kenya, spent a night there, and then traveled by mini-van across the border to Tanzania. We were met by our drivers, Idrissa and Salehe, who are employed by Leopard Tours. They were excellent drivers, safari guides and hosts and I would highly recommend Leopard Tours if you plan on traveling in Tanzania. We stayed at some incredible lodges: Mountain Village Lodge in Arusha, Maramboi Tented Camp outside of Tarangire Park, Kirurumu Tented Lodge by Lake Manyara, Serengeti Sopa Lodge in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. Each lodge was different in its geographical area, lodging style and food service, and they were all wonderful. My favorite two were: Maramboi Tented Camp and the Serengeti Sopa Lodge. Both had pools, which were fun to swim in with the kids and read a book by, and both looked out over differing Tanzanian landscape. At the Maramboi Tented Camp I saw my first zebra and giraffes in the wild and it was breath taking to watch them. I kept pinching myself and internally commenting: ‘I am really in Africa, and I’m really seeing these animals in their natural, wild habitat.’ We got to walk out across the plains that evening with a guide, as we walked by herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelles. The next day we drove into Tarangire Park and spotted our first lions in the wild – fantastic. We also saw zebras, gazelle, elephants, and wildebeest that day. We had our adventures along the way: 3 days without luggage (which eventually caught up to us), african massage rides (our drivers humorous way of encouraging us on the very bumpy, dusty roads) a large elephant which began to charge one of our vehicles, eye witnessing and listening to cheetahs eat their kill, watching a family of lions (with cub) eat a wildebeest they had recently killed, along with seeing an elephant parade, hundreds of zebras, numerous hippos, (one happy humping pair) many giraffes, cape buffaloes, leopards in a tree, and many, many varieties of birds. It was really fun to be with my kids and to experience the Serengeti with them. We sang songs we remembered form the Lion King (yes, the topography was like in the movie), the hyenas are just as creepy and the lions are majestic. What an adventure! I will end by quoting a poem composed by my grandmother, Tillie Battle: ‘The reticulated, renowned Giraffe, can make a lot of people laugh. The tourists travel miles to see him drink upon a bended knee and catch a close up photograph.’

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