Tanzania ‘crazily awesome’

By Ella Hodgson-Pageau

In what country can you find cool wildlife, beautiful beaches, Maasai warriors and snow-capped mountains? I’ll give you a hint; it starts with a T, ends in an A, and has ‘anzani’ in the middle. In other words … Tanzania!

11-year-old Ella Hodgson-Pageau on a boat near Pangani in northern Tanzania. PHOTO: PAUL PAGEAU

11-year-old Ella Hodgson-Pageau on a boat near Pangani in northern Tanzania. PHOTO: PAUL PAGEAU

I would say that the best place for Canadians to go in the winter is the Tanzanian beach. Although that’s just my opinion, I think it would be pretty hard to argue with me. I mean – who could turn down warm sun, sandy beaches, awesome snorkeling and a warm ocean breeze (especially if it’s –40 in Ottawa)? We stayed at a little cottage right on the beach. At dawn each morning, I could step out, and watch the fishermen’s boats cross in front of the giant, golden ball as it rose over the ocean. Another crazily awesome thing about the Tanzanian beach is the ocean itself. By around three in the afternoon, the ocean was like a hot tub. Literally. One day, we came back from snorkeling in the deeper water and boy, were we in for a surprise: the ocean must have been 30 degrees! Pretty crazy, right? Lets just say I wasn’t missing my very cold home much at the beach.

I was missing my home when I was slogging through mud and rain on Mount Meru. It’s a fairly small mountain close to Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. On our first day, we hiked up to a hut in the pouring rain. It was good, but by the time we reached the hut, we were all soaked to the bone. Luckily, I had dry clothes to change into and a warm sleeping bag to climb into after dinner. The next day, when we woke up, the sky had sort of cleared and the rain had stopped. We headed back down, through rainforests, valleys and fields. I liked it better than the first day, because it was prettier, easier, and much, much drier.

A cheetah hanging out on a termite mound in Tanzania. PHOTO: WESLEY HODGSON-PAGEAU

A cheetah hanging out on a termite mound in Tanzania. PHOTO: WESLEY HODGSON-PAGEAU

After our hike, we drove to the Serengeti, a conservation area where we went on safari. We saw lots of cool things, from a lion hunt to cheetahs perched on a termite mound just a few feet away. It was mostly awesome – except that staring at dead gazelle legs dangling from a tree and waiting for a leopard to reappear can get a little boring after a couple of hours. Something that I thought was cool was that male lions didn’t actually hunt – the female lions did. Girl power! I also learned that rhinos aren’t always the most interesting animal (especially not if they’re just a blotch on the horizon). I definitely wouldn’t recommend going on safari to someone who doesn’t have much patience, but to everyone else, I say “go for it!”

As we were driving across the Serengeti, I noticed Maasai villages, dotting the endless plains. The Maasai are a group of people who live in northern Tanzania and Kenya. All the Maasai villages that I saw were surrounded by wooden fences, and had mud or hay houses built in a circle. They’ve got a pretty interesting lifestyle and culture. Something that I found cool was the ear piercing. In Maasai tribes, I bet girls don’t have to beg their moms to get their ears pierced. In fact, they may beg their moms not to pierce their ears! Girls (and boys) put small disks of metal or wood into their ear lobes. As they get older, they put in larger and larger disks to make the holes bigger. After the holes are big enough, they take out the disks and their ears stay all stretched out forever. It’s sort of similar to what lots of teenagers are doing to their ears, back in Canada. Another thing you would see if you spent time in a Maasai village is very little boys herding cows. I saw some that looked as though they were only three or four years old! Living like the Maasai would be cool, but I think I’d rather stay in the Glebe.

I think that Tanzania should be on everyone’s must-see list. From the tallest mountain in Africa to pristine beaches, to regal lions, Tanzania has got it all. It was pretty great and I hope to be back again someday.

Ella Hodgson-Pageau is an 11-year-old Glebe resident and a writer who is on a 10-month trip around the world with her family. This is the fourth installment in her series for the Glebe Report.

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