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Africa - Outdoor Bathrooms are Scary Things

Christine Watt is an adventurous Journeywoman living in Irvine, California. Contemplating a safari holiday in Tanzania, she rose to the challenge and forced herself to stare down an age-old "outdoor plumbing" fear. It was the only way she would be able to fulfill a lifelong ambition -- to see fabulous African animals in the wild. Christine writes...

Since first I realized such creatures as the 'hefelumps' of my childhood storybooks really did exist, I'd wanted to see elephants in the wild. When B.B.C. Wildlife magazine offered a trip to Tanzania hosted by Virginia McKenna, actress of Born Free movie fame, I raided my savings and reserved a spot.

The loo was outside...

Now here I lay, listening to hyena cackles split the night while untamed creatures skittered over my tent roof. The air was moist, cool, and pungent with alien smells of a world untouched by so-called civilization.

It was the loo that finally made me realize I was actually living my dream. Of course, as soon as the camp generator had been switched off, I naturally had "to go." It didn't matter that I'd just been. I hummed, as I lay on my cot counting wildebeeste in a bush-tent hermetically zipped (I hoped) against scorpions and other creatures that wander in the night. You see, the trouble was, I was inside while the loo was outside -- across no-woman's land.

Leopards, zebras, birds and baby baboons...

In only a few days, I really had seen it all -- wildebeeste fulfilling their need to thunder across the plains, massive black rhinos, like prehistoric tanks, pounding their way through herds of delicate antelopes, ostriches snapping up grasshoppers as they shimmied their wings like shawls that wouldn't stay in place. There were troops of baboons whose babies stared at you just like human babies do, leopards up thorny acacia trees, and plump-bottomed zebras everywhere. Giraffes peered superciliously down at me through the jungle foliage, a mighty water buffalo charged my Land Rover near the Olduvai Gorge, I'd even witnessed a cheetah kill.

But what truly astonished me in East Africa were the birds. Forget any attempt at camouflage -- think "Here I am!" flamboyance. And, if the birds' colors were resplendent as a rainbow, their sounds were often more bizarre. Imagine the bottle bird making sounds just like a water bottle with an air bubble being emptied -- a melancholy "bloop bloop." The complete experience was wonderful.

Insects and waiters with bowties...

There was something surreal about that first meal on Tanzania's Serengeti. Because of El Ni�o, insect life teemed in Tanzania. When the first squadron of shiny, black, living golf balls dive-bombed our group at dinner, I leaped sky-high along with everyone else. By the end of the meal we were all blas� as scarab beetles crawled over our china side plates and green mantises as long as my forearm hung from the tent ceiling.

The food could rival any fancy Parisian restaurant's, the tables were set with gleaming silver and spotless white linen, and gracious waiters wore bow ties. Yet, the closest drinkable water was prides of majestic lions away. I was in paradise!

Women's Words on the bathroom thing...



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