Try the quiz and see where you wind up, you might be surprised!
Here’s another of Monkey Fists’ always interesting Maritime Monday posts. I’m still in New Orleans, but heading home tonight. Hope to catch up soon (if I don’t get lucky and find a job). Tighter marine fuel sulfur limits will spark changes by both refiners and vessel operators The …
Here’s my choice for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax.
I took it my last night on Zanzibar, before I began the hectic process of returning to America and back to ‘real life’. Stress of airports and TSA BS pretty much negated the beautiful peaceful month I spent traveling overseas.
I checked into my new hotel this afternoon. When I walked outside to take a look at the beach, I noticed a column of smoke not too far away. Actually, it was pretty close.
I went to see what was going on. As I got closer, I could see the flames shooting up. Spreading quickly up the thatched roof of a nearby resort.
I went over to see if I could help (as a mariner I’ve been training in firefighting for the last 30+ years).
The scene was complete chaos.
Like a ‘Chinese fire drill’, but no Chinese around. It was an African fire drill, but not a drill. A real fire, and a big one!
There was a huge crowd milling around, taking photos and selfies. European tourists in bikinis and locals from the nearby village. 🙁
Someone decided to be ‘official’ and ran a bunch of yellow plastic crime scene tape around the area. Best I could tell, the waiters were trying to fight the fire. There were a couple of groups of guys trying to get the fire hoses straightened out.
Dozens of people- locals, Maasai men, workers from the resorts, and a few tourists (including me)- joined in to help fight the fire and keep the flames from spreading.
One hose ran all the way from my resort- at least a half mile- there was no water pressure. The same situation on the other side of the building.
It was a large, mostly open air, building with a palm thatched roof. From the gear scattered around outside, I assumed it was the kitchen/dining room. There were tables and chairs, serving bars, small refrigerators, serving platters and condiment trays.
On my side of the flaming building, there was a small market and massage business. People were moving all the paintings, carvings and tables further away from the fire. On the other side, there were about 2 dozen little thatched palapas between the fire and the next building.
Luckily, the wind was blowing pretty much directly towards the ocean and not to either side. If it had been, it would have been a complete disaster. As it was, they were very, very lucky it wasn’t a lot worse.
By the time I walked from my resort past the one next door to the one where the fire was, the fire had spread from one end of the building to the other. It was not just the thatched roof now, but a raging inferno as the fire consumed all the interior furniture, framework, etc.
Outside was still complete chaos. There was still no water pressure. I kept wondering why didn’t they have a pump set up? They could keep one set up in the little shack there on the beach, keep a couple of hoses nearby and they’d have all the fire-fighting capability they’d ever need with the ocean right there.
I noticed the manager (or the man who seemed most to be in charge) and offered to help. Put some of those decades of experience to use, but he was too agitated to bother with me. I feel sorry for him. He told me they had just had a drill 3 days ago.
I’m not sure what the problem was with the water pressure, they did eventually get the hose to work. In the meantime, I was helping the women in the bucket brigade. We were filling any containers we could find in the swimming pool, passing them through the kitchen, through the palapas, to the men who would throw them onto the fire.
Other men were working on trying to take down the palapas, to keep the sparks from igniting them and spreading the fire to the rest of the resort. A couple of guys got hold of a water hose and were doing what they could with it.
I noticed a fire extinguisher and wondered why no one had thought to put it to use?
All I could think about was what a waste. The lack of training was so obvious, it was sad. These people were doing their best, many were plainly very upset. I noticed tears on the faces of a few of the women. The men were yelling and pointing and extremely agitated. I wish I could speak their language, but I’m limited with just English.
I tried to catch someone who spoke English, to give them a few pointers (since they were not fighting the fire very effectively). I hoped no one would get hurt when they went inside the building (with barely enough water pressure for a garden hose) and no protective equipment. Most of them were in shorts and flip-flops.
There is always the danger of re-flash and yes, the fire did flare up again a few times. A few men kept up throwing buckets of water and sand on the thatch when the women were told to get back to serving lunch (WTF???).
I would offer to do some drills with them while I’m here, but somehow I think they might not appreciate that. I’m sure it would help to just get everyone confident with a fire extinguisher. I’m not sure what started the fire, but since it was in the kitchen/dining room, I assume it started in the kitchen.
Grease fire? Burned the bacon? I’d like to know what really happened. I sure do hope they review this incident and get some ‘lessons learned’. I’m glad no one got hurt, but from watching the whole episode, that had to be pure luck.
PS- I heard today that it did start in the kitchen. They cook over open flames mostly here. The story I got was that the cooking fire somehow caught the gas bottles (in a small room) and then there was an explosion.
Internet still really SUCKS, but here’s what I get to look at in the meantime. 🙂
Another very early morning wakeup brought us to spending the day with a couple of the traditional tribes of the area. First the Hadzabe, the hunters, next the Datogas, the blacksmiths. We had to meet the Hadzabe very early for a special treat, we would go on a hunt with their men!
We left the beautiful Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge at 0545 and drove about 45 minutes to the Hadzabe camp. They still live a nomadic life, so we met them at one of their temporary camps. They had built scattered domed huts out of thin, flexible branches tied together in addition to their ‘rooms’ in a rocky outcrop atop a high hill.
When we arrived, we met the chief and through our interpreter, Joseph, he explained the basics of their lifestyle. The men brought us up to a large overhang of the rock where they had a fire going. They explained the different types of arrows they used for hunting (some were poisonous).
A couple of them showed us how they started a fire (no, not with a Bic lighter), the old fashioned way of twisting a stick until it gets hot enough to light the tinder. The Hadzabe men used the spark to light their pipes for a good long toke. A few of our troop tried it too- (lighting the fire, not smoking the weed)- but only one succeeded (just barely). It looked a lot harder when our group tried to do it. The Hadzabe made it look so easy.
Similar to the Maasai, they were nomadic. But the Hadzabe were hunters, not herders. The chief also had more than 1 wife. The men spent their days hunting and preparing to hunt. They made their bows and arrows, sharpened their knives, kept the fire going, and smoked a lot of weed while they were at it. They offered some to us, but nobody was brave enough to accept.
After the demonstration, we left with the men on their daily hunt. I followed along for about 20 minutes, up and down the rocky hillsides, surrounded by thorny plants in the hot sun. The hunters were already so far ahead of me I couldn’t see what good it was doing to try to keep up with them. I was rushing- huffing and puffing- and not able to really pay attention to my surroundings and thought better about continuing on.
I turned around and went back to camp. Joseph escorted me and a couple of others who also wanted to return, just to make sure we made it back safely.
Joseph brought us back to camp, introduced us to the women and then returned to the hunt.
Like the Maasai, the Hadzabe women stay in camp and tend to the household chores. They take care of the children, do whatever needs doing around the camp, and make items for trade. I watched as all the women and children sat together creating beautiful beadwork items (which they later showed our group- just in case anyone wanted to buy).
It took a couple of hours for the men to return to camp- along with our group who stuck it out with them. Sorry to say, they didn’t catch anything. They’ll have to try again later. In preparation for heading out again, they practiced with their bow and arrows and a target stump a couple hundred feet down the slope. We watched as all the men (even the young boys) took their shots at the stump. They even offered to teach us how to do it.
A couple of our group decided to take them up on it and took a couple of shots at the stump. No one managed to hit the target. I tried to pull the string of one of the small boys’ bow. No, I couldn’t pull it even halfway back. We all had fun, the Hadzabe had a good laugh at how awful we were.
Before we left, the tribe got together and gave us a farewell present. They put on a dance show for us and even invited us into the dance. It was a fun ending to our visit.
I’ll update this post with the video as soon as I can get somewhere with decent internet.
I have so many great stories to share from this safari. Tons of great photos too. Too bad the internet is so horrible here and I can’t get anything posted. I can’t even open my mail on yahoo.
I’ve spent the last week on safari in Tanzania with Great Escape Publishing. There were about 20 of us altogether- 16 ‘students’ and 4 teachers- in 4 jeeps (or land rovers).
We started and ended our safari from the African Tulip in Arusha. We had a lucky week. The weather was great, hardly any rain. We saw all of the big 5- even a rhino at the very end (but it was so far away I could hardly see it).
We saw lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, hippos, buffalos, gazelles, giraffes, zebras and more. What was really fantastic was seeing so many of the babies. I’ve got some fantastic photos! Not as many as I’d like, but enough that I’m still thrilled. 🙂
Even tho I bought a new lens especially for this trip, it wasn’t really what I needed and so I missed out on a lot of really great shots I could have gotten if I had spent the money for the proper equipment.
I bought a 70-300mm lens with an adapter for my Sony camera. The adapter was manual tho, so it was really hard to get it to focus. Almost all of my shots were blurry when I used that lens. I finally gave up and went back to using my old 70-210 lens where the auto focus worked.
The other problem I had was that my camera does not have an eyepiece to look through. I had to use the screen on the back of the camera and since it was so bright out, I couldn’t really see anything to focus on and just had to guess half the time.
I’m glad I got to make the trip, but it’s a shame I was so concerned about money that I skimped on the camera gear. If I ever get a chance to come back over here, I’ll try to get a better lens. It makes so much of a difference.
I’ve been trying for hours to get a post uploaded. It’s still not working. 🙁
I’m traveling around a gorgeous island. I hate to spend so much time trying to stay connected instead of enjoying the beauty around me.
If I can’t manage to get anything done tonight, I’m signing off til I get home (or at least to the airport where the internet works).