Saturday, Oct 28 (NgorongoroóSerena to ArushaóImpala)

I ended up smushing a big, scuttling spider in my room last night. Normally, I like spiders, but this one was big, ugly, and fast; and after the scorpion incident, it basically gave me the creeps to have this thing running around the floor while I walked around barefoot. I tried to induce it to leave through the front door, but when it scuttled back in, I lost patience.

I gave John back his pen and got one from reception. The hyperdrive is gone now, so Iím limited to 1.5GB of pictures before I get home.

It is good that I have a stash of Euros as backup. At the ATM, Iím always afraid that Iíll be stuck with a boat load of shillings, so I make a small withdrawal. Then there are more expenses than I expect, and I risk running short. Souvenirs cost some. The Maasai village costs. Drinks cost. Fortunately, I could use one of my Euro notes for the tip for the drivers.

It is interesting that our group is not a cross-section of the country. We seem to be rather educated, with good jobs (or retired), and surprisingly, a fair number listen to NPR. I guess that having the desire, funds, and time to climb Kili rather selects a subset of the population.

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After leaving Serena, we traveled about five miles to a boma, a Maasai village. This consisted of about three houses and a few animal pens. They had the traditional dance (jumping up and down), and then we went into the inside of a house. It was incredibly dark inside. There were a few interior walls, and the entrance way was positioned so that essentially no light got in from the doorway. There were about three windows, each about two inches square. These let in very little light. There was a fire smoldering in the middle of the floor. There was no roof opening for the smokeóit apparently went out those tiny windows. It was warm inside, but the air was so thick and smoky that I could barely breathe. Halfway through, a woman lit some sort of oil lamp, and that made it easier to see. I was quite happy to get out to fresh air.

We had been told that it was $10 to see the village. No one was asking for money, so when they tried to sell me something, I figured that this was their way of collecting the $10. So I bought a purported lion tooth necklace, although I have my doubts as to its authenticity. With the number of such necklaces that Iíve seen, there ought to be either a shortage of lions or a lot of toothless lions. (Later, I heard someone say that these were from cow bones.)

After I bought the necklace, there was a collection of the $10. Had I known that earlier, I probably would not have bought the necklace, although Iím sure they can use the money more than I.

Unfortunately, there was another necklace that Iíve been looking for, which I could not find. I am often indecisive, and the best way to get me to want something is to tell me that I canít have it. Yesterday, on the way down into the crater, some Maasai were selling things through the windows of the Land Cruisers. One necklace caught my eye, but I couldnít decide whether to buy it or not. Just as the vehicles started to pull away, I decided that I wanted it. Of course, by then it was too late. Since then, Iíve been looking for one with a similar style everywhere, to no avail.

Iím wondering if this is a case of ďMaine BlueberriesĒ, where the necklace has been built up in my mind to such an extent, that no real necklace, including the one that started this thought process would be ďas good as that one I didnít getĒ.

After leaving the boma, John and Pam headed north, and the rest of us headed back to Arusha. We stopped for lunch and for a little shopping. Eventually, we ended up back at the Moivaro Lodge where we retrieved our bags. Five of us (with Jorge following soon after) went into Arusha to the Impala hotel for an extra night, while the rest went off to the airport to fly home.

When the five of us got to the hotel, all of our bags were piled up all together on a luggage cart, but we were going to three different rooms, all on different floors. The staff wrote our room numbers on the luggage in chalk and then delivered them room by room

The Impala is a fairly western hotel, with nine stories and a pool. It is very strange for us to see it surrounded by a wall and a gate, and to see the gate guarded by a guy with a rifle. Somehow, I donít think that there are a lot of lions prowling around here.

Interestingly enough, it seems like this is one of the biggest wedding days of the year, and the center of the rotary next to the hotel is a prime spot for post-ceremony pictures. We could hear the music and see the processions, so we wandered over there to look and take pictures. We lost count of the number of wedding parties, but there were probably at least 7 or 8 in the time we were there alone. They would drive by with a pickup truck full of musicians playing some traditional song. A bit later, they would process down the street and into the center of the traffic circle. I guess the grass and fountain made it a good photo spot. Someone there said that most of these couples were Roman Catholic.

We took a number of pictures, and then three of us went over to the other side to take more pictures. There, we were closer and had better lighting. I was slightly nervous and made sure to keep a strong grip on my camera. I didnít know how prevalent pick-pockets were in that area.

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We had a pretty good Italian goodbye dinneróthe five of us and Jorge. He is heading out by bus early tomorrow. The rest of us fly out in the evening.

A couple of us went to the internet cafť next door and tried to pre-check in for our flight home; but that didnít work too well. Hopefully, there wonít be any problems when we check-in at the airport. We also visited a money changing place, and I converted another of my Euro bills to dollars. There was also a jewelry place there, which I was told actually has a better selection of Tanzanite at a better price than the cultural center.

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