Travel Tanzania

Frater, Alexander

1994 jan-feb?

Book ID 86

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Frater, Alexander Travel Tanzania, 1994 jan-feb?

Moses took me to Gibb's Farm

Moses took me to Gibb's Farm, a small hotel set in a shadowy, intimate garden. Standing high on the flank of a hill, it commanded views of a huge landscape made electric by stands of jacaranda. The flowers, a gorgeous unearthly blue, evoke images of lavender rain clouds and far away summer lightening - and to African's overseas, powerful memories of home.

My bedroom contained a fireplace laid with kindling, the bathroom a notice saying: 'Sometimes the water is a bit brownish due to elephants visiting the dam.' Today it was the colour of tea. I chatted to a bony youth raking jacaranda petals on the lawn. He told me I might hear leopards jumping on my roof at night and said the fireplace would be necessary when the rains came. When he finished work he was going for a 10 mile run.

'The altitude up here is good for distance. Thinner air builds stamina. Many of us are preparing to represent Tanzania one day in the Olympics'.

What about the Kenyans?'

He smiled. 'We will take their crown.'

I breakfasted on a strong home-grown coffee and fruit from the garden, then walked up the hill into the bush. Some sort of tropical storm had rearranged it during the night, flattening the scrub, knocking limbs off trees. My guide, a wiry man carrying a machete, said elephants had done this, and recently; if we spotted them we must stay downwind and motionless. I pointed out there wasn't any wind. He said there was quite enough for an elephant. But we saw nothing, and hiking back, he spoke of American visitors who, if they spotted elephants, smiled and walked towards them. 'I'm having a heart attack and they just tell me, hey, this is why we've come to Africa.'

I laughed. 'Have you ever lost one?' 'Not yet,' he said grimly.

At dusk some of the hotel staff congregated in the garden, exclaiming at a succession of big bruise-coloured clouds sailing overhead. 'The rains?' They nodded. 'Soon.' One added, 'At first light' - and he was almost right. At dawn I was awoken by a single percussive bang on the roof. That's no leopard, I thought. Two more came in quick succession, then a brief fusillade then, all at once, the steady, reverberating roar of a regimental drum roll.

It stopped only moments after it started and, in the silence, I heard a bell tolling. Other bells joined in. But they weren't bells. They were birds. Heartened by the shower more gave voice. Some sang like flutes, some like clarinets, some like trumpets and some made honking old man noises - like tubas. This amazing concerto was performed by all the birds in the garden and, to judge by the quadraphonic effect, up the valley as well.

Extract ID: 276

See also

Frater, Alexander Travel Tanzania, 1994 jan-feb?

Only three lodges are permitted on the rim

Only three lodges are permitted on the rim. The Sopa, almost brand new, is sprawling and welcoming,

Extract ID: 728