The park is big but not the biggest national park in Tanzania. "Size: 3,230 sq km (1,250 sq miles), the fourth-largest park in Tanzania, and part of a much larger ecosystem centered on the uniquely vast Selous Game Reserve." --from the official website of Tanzania's National Parks. We saw all the famous wild animals, and not-so-famous, except for lions. We all really wanted to see lions, and got up early to see them, but they eluded us. We joked that they probably weren't even in the park, but the guides always told tourists at certain points "Oh, we saw five lions here yesterday." How would we know?
Sunrise at Mikumi before our safari tour.
Yellow baboon. They were all over, on the roads, and came close to us maybe expecting food.
Got a close up of an elephant!
Crocodile hanging out in the hippo pond. I'm sure he thought it was the croc pond.
It was hard to get a good one of the hippos above the water. It was midday and they just stay submerged until nightfall, when they roam and graze. They say hippos cause the most deaths of any of the wild animals. They don't even eat meat--just kill you and leave. I was glad to not be camping, as some people do.
We visited two villages around the park and asked them how they felt about the park, and were they compensated for crop losses from elephants and the like. They said at first they liked the park, but the elephants weren't scared of them any more and they wanted to be allowed to kill one so the elephants would be more afraid of them. They said they hadn't killed any, but the Tanzanian student in our group asked them what was the best part of en elephant to eat, one of the elders said the neck meat, making all the villagers laugh, and us once it was translated. I guess you just need to ask the right questions!
Since Mikumi we've had many other field visits, and some classes at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, which has a close relationship with our University. The classes lately have been mind-numbing due to thick accents and poorly put-together and often repetitive lectures. We're all pretty tired and have had some strained relations within the group but I think we all cope by sticking with the people we like and switching groups when it feels right. At least that's been my strategy.
I'm getting used to how they do things here now, but it wasn't an easy adjustment. Everything moves slower, and sometimes it seems like people really try to be as inefficient as possible. I feel also slower, like it's harder to move at the rapid pace I like to walk when I'm in Norway and the US, partly because of the heat and partly because you really have to watch your step on the uneven paths and such. Today I took a group through the market, since I had a really nice introduction to it by our Kenyan student the day before, and now everyone wants to know where we bought the chapati's so I've taken people there 3 times already. People bargain here more, and I'm not good at it, and part of me doesn't like it anyway because people here make between 10 and 20 dollars per month on average, and really a giant avocado for 75 cents is a great deal. Do I really need to have it for 50 or 25 cents? Some people in our group won't pay for anything without bargaining, but the Norwegians don't really bargain and I don't usually, but I have a little, and go some sandals for 18 instead of 19 dollars...I think the guy knew I wanted them.