We're back! It was the trip of a lifetime, and I think we'll never have such a cool vacation again. I mean, Tanzania and Dubai! So here are some of our highlights, with pics, and of course words, because I'm a Babbling Brook (Dr. Chapman, anyone?:).
We arrived in Dar es Salaam on the east coast of Africa, ready to see our friends and explore! The very next day, they whisked us off to a secluded beach to join the retreat of some of their (and our) coworkers. It was kind of hard to swim with all the rocks, but who cared with such a beautiful view?
Safari The next day, we drove 4 hours to Mikumi National Park for a safari! We stayed in these awesome mud-type huts, and rode around late afternoon to check out the wild animals. We saw zebras, hippos, impalas, baboons, a warthog, buffalo, a baby croc, and my favorite, the giraffes! The place we stayed included a delicious dinner (consisting of course of beef!) and after dinner, we played Hand and Foot until the electricity went out. But what was so cool was there was a feeding pond within viewing distance of the cafe where we played cards, and we could hear some animal dying, and then a lion roared! So even though we saw no lions, we did get to hear them! The next morning, before dawn, we went out on a prebreakfast safari, and saw animals as the sun rose over the plains.
Zanzibar After the safari, we went to Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. We shopped in Stonetown, a really cool old town in Zanzibar. The streets were narrow, the alleys were full of shops selling all sorts of things, and the buildings were white with red-painted tin roofs. It was scenic to say the least. That night, they took us to a place to eat, which I'm not calling it a restaurant, because as Brad and Alison said, that would be using the term a bit loosely. In actuality, it was tables and tables of fishermen selling their days' wares. The swordfish, red snapper, baracuda, octopus, squid, lobster, and more, were precooked and on kebabs, and you just walked up to a table, told them what you wanted, and they grilled it for a few minutes. They placed the fish on paper plates and then we sat on a rickety table on the shore a few meters away. Definitely one of the coolest eating experiences of my life! Not to mention the most tasty fish I've ever had. The next day we went to the most beautiful beach I've ever seen. I've been to Hawaii, which is stunning, but overcrowded. Zanzibar is secluded, and just as beautiful. We also got to fly back to Dar es Salaam in a little 12 seater plane!
Dar es Salaam They also took us shopping! There are such cool markets in Africa, where you can find wood carvings, tinga tinga paintings, and more modern things as well. There are many more restaurants to choose from in Dar as well. I loved this city and country, because it had some modern conveniences but seemed untouched by the technicologically booming world around it. With the exception of their fancy cell phones, of course! The people were always smiling and the women still walked around with buckets and baskets on their heads. What a cool place!
Dubai is a booming city in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. Not that we've ever been to Vegas, but it reminded us of that desert city. There are 1.1 million people living in Dubai, and 80% of them are expats looking for a tax free, crime free modern city to live in. Not to mention that these people must be all millionaires, because that city is the richest I've ever been to, and everything costs an arm and a leg. Just check out all the Armani and Gucci and other haute couture shops in the malls! And speaking of the malls, they all seemed to have a theme. One we went to was done in different countries of the world, and done lavishly at that. Another one has a snow-skiing place inside of it, and if they didn't have an official theme, they still had an unofficial theme of We All Have Money. It was insane. We also got to swim in the Persian Gulf, eat a Middle Eastern feast, check out the gold souk, and the best part, go on a Desert Safari.
Desert Safari I was highly nervous of the desert safari, namely because of the dune bashing. The rest of it I was extremely excited about, but unfortunately, I had to endure the dune bashing first. What exactly is dune bashing? you may be thinking. Well I'll tell you. Husband and I picked up at our hotel in a Land Cruiser, complete with rollover bars, which he thought would reassure me, but all I could think of was, so there is a reason to have these? We drove about an hour out of Dubai to the desert, and they deflated our tires before we drove off the road into the dunes. There was a caravan of Land Cruisers, full of crazy people like ourselves, ready to subject themselves to this rollercoaster on sand. We flew over dunes, and slid down them at crazy speeds, bumping all the way. More than once found me yelling, "Omigoshomigoshomigosh" and "We're sideways! We're sideways!", and everytime we stopped to take a pic of the otherwise serene desert, I hoped we were done.
After the dune bashing, they drove us to a bedouin camp where we rode camels, went sand surfing, ate a bbq, and I got henna done. After the bbq, a belly dancer came out, and at one point, pulled husband up on the Persian-carpeted stage, and made him belly dance with her too! I was sad when it was time to leave.