February 18: Ngorongoro Highlands To Arusha

Today is the longest day of the trip. It is time to head back to the US which means many hours of flight time and airport sitting. Depending on the final destination, one could be in motion for over thirty hours. But the time spent in Africa is well worth the hassle of airport lounges, security lines, and repeat movies on the flights.

The drive from Karatu to the Arusha once again took the group over the open plains of the Ngorongoro Highlands. Along the way standing unobtrusively on the side of the road were three young Masai boys who were participating in their cultural rite of passage of "survival" before manhood. As written in earlier pages, the Masai believe in circumcision and perform this surgery on the boys between the ages of 14 and 19. The incision is done without anesthetic with the boys being challenged to show no sign of pain. During the healing process the boys are expected to spend the next three to six months learning "survival" in the wild to prove their bravery. During this time they dress in black, coat their skin with black paint made from the tire rubber, decorate their faces with white markings symbolizing their bravery and add any feathers from "kills" they have made. These three boys may have been very skilled in surviving in the wild, but they also had mastered the art of survival among tourists. For a little "cash" they would be happy to pose and model for the group! This gesture was very welcomed by all!

After a brief stay at the Olasiti Lodge in Arusha most of the group was shuttled to the Kilimanjaro International Airport for their return flights to the US. Four were continuing on to Zanzibar and the beaches before facing that long flight schedule home. As the van approached the airport Mt Kilimanjaro stood glimmering in the sunset. A great final memory of a wonderful experience had by all.

Masai Boys On A Rite of Passage Experience

Feathers From An Ostrich!

White For Bravery and Courage

Barely Fourteen!

Sylvia and Her Boys!

First Sight of Mt Kilimanjaro

Good Bye, Mt Kili!!!