A month ago we embarked on a grand adventure…

WHOA, holy time-flying!  It was a whole month ago that the Husband and I started our journey to Africa (Tanzania, to be exact, since Africa is pretty big and diverse and probably doesn’t like being lumped into that broad of a category) to go on our volunteering-safari honeymoon!

And ohhhhh the things we saw.  I’ve already mentioned this (probably), but our itinerary involved a few days of orientation, four days of volunteering at a local school, and then 6 days of a safari, followed by 3 days in Istanbul.  I’ve already talked about volunteering and how awesome that was, but I figured I should at least mention the safari since it was mind-blowingly amazing in a totally different way.  Well, I guess I did mention the safari kind of but the experience probably deserves a more complete post.

We woke before dawn every day. Some days we were in a tent, other days we were in a tented lodge, sometimes we were in a regular lodge. The days we were in a tent I didn’t even bother changing clothes, I slept in the same clothes I wore all day, every day. We ate a quick breakfast while we were still wiping sleep from our eyes.  We went on a game drive and saw lions, monkeys, giraffes, and elephants.  Animals are so alive in the morning.

monkey

It rained many of the days and it was a cold, drenching rain.  When it wasn’t raining we were swarmed with flies.  Africa is not a comfortable place.  We ate lunch at the hottest part of the day, when the big animals were sleeping off the heat.  Sometimes we had a packed lunch, other times it was freshly made back at camp.  The Husband slept for a few hours and I read ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Just Kids’.  Our second game drive of the day was shorter than the first and just as exciting.  We always saw big cats relaxing and wildebeest grazing and animals at perfect harmony with each other.  I learned the true meaning of what it looks like to coexist and I could have swore I was in the Garden of Eden.

giraffe

We ate dinner with other campers or in a restaurant.  We had our own cook and he made us delicious meals consisting of potatoes and vegetables and fried dough and instant hot chocolate and chai and the Husband had chicken and beef, but never pig.  On Tim’s birthday everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in their own languages: Swahili, Spanish, and Italian (and of course, English).  It was a beautiful moment and one I will never forget!

28th birthday

We went to sleep at around 9 every night, after discussing our favorite sights of the day with our guide.  We listed animal chases, giraffes standing among beautiful scenery, baboons being playful, and everything to do with baby animals.  We slept semi-peacefully, listening to rain on our tent or listening to the sounds of hyenas and lions, or listening to the sound of other campers zipping and unzipping their tents.

serengeti

Africa is an extremely diverse and beautiful place. It’s a place where creatures coexist and live off of one another, but do not cause unnecessary harm.  Different species need each other to survive, and all animals are acutely aware of their predators, prey, and role on the plains.  I wonder what the Earth would look like if humans had such a simple understanding of life and how to live it.

baby leopards

I’ll leave you with a picture of baby leopards – because they are friggen adorable.

 

“No, there won’t be any lions around, just hyenas.”

Remember when I said I would camping on the safari?

Well, it happened.

At least one of us was happy!

At least one of us was happy!

I knew I was in trouble when we got out of the safari vehicle and walked with our guide to the very back of the campground.  I’m not sure why we couldn’t camp with everyone else, but for whatever reason I guess he thought we needed space.  So, he set up our tent separate from everyone else and as far away from the bathroom as you could possibly get.

This is about when my anxiety started.

There are many, many things that make me anxious in life, but not being able to get to a bathroom is one of my top 10 anxiety triggers.  I’m not sure why this is exactly, but I just like knowing that if I need to pee in the middle of the night (which never ever happens) I can get to a bathroom.

Anyway, I ask my guide if there are lions wandering around the campsite at night on a frequent basis, and he assured me that there are no lions, only hyenas.  An hour before this conversation we saw a hyena eating a still-alive wildebeest.  He was dripping with blood.  It was awful and I’m still having nightmares about this weeks later.  But at that moment, standing in the campground, all I could think about was that if I got up in the middle of the night to wander around the campsite to use the restroom, I’d probably get attacked by a pack of hyenas and they wouldn’t kill me, they’d just start eating me piece by piece.

Comforting thought, no?

The guide suggested that we not even attempt to go to the bathroom at night since it was too far, and we should pee outside of our tent instead, should the need arise.  He told us if we bring a flashlight and look around with it first, we would be able to see eyes shining back at us and then the hyenas would run away…. no  big deal!

This is the exact hyena we saw before we got to the campsite.  Nightmares.

This is the exact hyena we saw before we got to the campsite. Nightmares.

OH HELL NO.

Suffice it to say, I had to pee that night around 9pm and there was no way in hell I was going to leave that tent.  Especially since it was raining.  And when I woke up at like 2am (I’m totally making up this time, we had no clocks or watches or cell phones but it felt like 2am) and heard hyenas.  Awesome.  And by awesome I mean it was not a great night as my bladder was threatening to explode and my dumb husband was sleeping peacefully after peeing outside the tent hours earlier.

Longest night ever.  Finally as soon as the first glimpse of the sun came above the horizon, I was sprinting to the bathroom.

… And then we did the whole thing again the next night.  The Husband owes me, big time.

I will say that aside from this discomfort, the safari was the best thing ever.  THE. BEST. THING.

More details to come!