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Published: December 29th 2018
Actually, the day started really well. We were all buoyant, excited and ready to head out to Ngorongoro. The plan was to briefly touch Ngorongoro on our way to Serengeti. Once we complete our two days safari in Serengeti, we planned to drive down to the Ngorongoro crater on our return leg to Arusha and make a night stay in Ngorongoro. Perfect plan! It was a bit cloudy when we hit the road, but we knew weather could change very quickly. We found the Ngorongoro entrance was busier than Tarangire or Lake Manyara; anyway, that is expected….this is the main gateway to Serengeti when traveling from Arusha. As we drove in, the serpentine mountain road picked up altitude quickly and it became foggy at the higher elevation. Roads are narrow and baboons were everywhere, waiting on the road side. I never see eye-to-eye with these animals. The animosity is not new; it started in Kenya when I had a fight with one of them who was stealing food! I lost the battle that day, but I retained the grudge. Someday…I always thought! I turned my face away from the roadside baboons as we continued our drive. When we reached the viewpoint
for the crater, the fog has mostly disappeared, but the view of the crater was still foggy. I tried to take some good shots with all three cameras, but didn’t have much luck. What a huge crater! I never imagined that volcanic crater could be that large. No wonder that the animals living inside the crater rarely feel the need to come outside. It’s a whole new world down there.
“Can’t wait to drive down there,” I said without knowing what was waiting for me.
“Will do that, my friend,” Edie replied.
“Hope the day is clear when we are back…couldn’t do much photography today,” I murmured.
We packed our gear and headed to Serengeti. The landscape started to become barren, with only acacia trees sporadically spread here and there. Goats and cows were roaming on the barren hills herded by Masai men and women.
“Where they are from Edie?” I asked
“Look around on the distant hills…they are all the Masai villages. They even have a town center for themselves where they have their weekly bazaars.” Edie was explaining with his hand on the steering. I must admit that there is a beauty
of the barren lands with the backdrops of acacia trees. Lovely! It is a different world than Tarangire and Manyara, I thought. That’s why I love Africa…so much changes in the landscape!
“Actually, that would be our next stop – Masai village.” Edie announced. “There would be a $15 charge per person…kind of donation or fee whatever you say.” We were four people in the group and that would mean we have to fork out $60 for the trip.
The cruiser came to a halt near the village. The Masai leader approached our car and I gave him the dollars and we headed out to their village fenced with some rickety bamboo sticks. Yes, we joined to a Masai dance – a kind of show and tell. The Masai leader took us inside the hut they live in. Each hut is approximately 10 x 6 feet with two built in bed rooms. The cooking is done on the floor, a makeshift oven dug into the ground serves the purpose. Near the entrance, there is a small cage where they lock their goats and cows. All confined within this 10 x 6’ hut. It’s not I haven’t seen tough
living conditions in other parts of the world,- tribal villages in Vietnam, remote villages deep inside the Borneo jungle, you name it. But this is different. This living style of Masai in such a confined area is not due to the poverty…this is their choice. Masai people are nomadic tribe...they don’t get settled in one place for a long time. This is how they prefer to live from place to place. In this village, they even have a makeshift school for the children and I had an photo-op with the school teacher.
Speaking about the photo-op…we were about to complete the tour when I decided to shoot some final images in panorama style. I started moving with the camera as it was recording the shot. Then it happened. I didn’t notice that I was standing close to a small embankment made from loose soil. I suddenly slipped while taking the shot. It was loose soil and before I realized, my right leg went deep inside the loose soil and got stuck. My body was still rotating taking the shot while my right leg not moving with the body. I heard the bone crack and I knew I had it!
I fell down on the ground still holding the camera. I tried to get up and had zero strength on my right leg. I had to be supported up to the cruiser. Edie brought two cold water bottles from the cooler and wrapped around my broken leg with a towel.
“Let’s find a doctor right now,” Mohan was tense.
Edie is a cool cat. “No, I want to take him to a medical facility where he could be diagnosed,” He replied. Makes sense! We drove back the same way we came from. Roads were bumpy and Edie put his seat cushion under my feet. What a wonderful guy!
Edie drove for an hour to bring us to a nifty hospital in a village – Fame Medical Center. X-rays were done and yes, I broke both Tibia and Fibula. The doctor stabilized the foot with crepe bandage and advised us to drive back to Arusha to see an orthopedic specialist.
“It would take us three hours to drive back to Arusha, and tonight is out of question,” Edie told us.
“Oh, you need to put a metal plate and screw to hold your bones.”
The orthopedic specialist told me in Arusha the next day. “Better get it done in Canada, otherwise you would be spending a long time in Tanzania.” The doctor told me flat. I liked his sense of humour! Regardless, I knew my trip was over and the best bet would be to return to Canada ASAP to get the right treatment. Emma from Shemji Tour is an angel and worked out my KLM flight back to Canada in the business class. And it was a long journey home with a broken leg from halfway around the world.
There I am, an avid outdoor lover now lying down on a bed pretty banged up from the surgery after a stupid fall. And it would be a long haul. The irony is, if I would have broken my leg from any of my favourite sports of skydiving or paragliding, - I could understand. But breaking my leg while doing photography, - can’t still believe it! No one does! But it is what it is,- and I have to accept the fact. As a friend of mine expressed in a vivid language – “Shit happens and we move on!”
goes my blogs out of the window for quite some times now. Yes, this would be my last blog for a while. Oh yes, talking about the window –I can see some tall trees through the living room window lying down on my makeshift bed. They are my friends now and I try to make the best of my time watching their mood in different shades! This is best summarized in a 20 seconds video clip telecasted during the prime time news! Here it is and don’t miss it. And oh yes, the infamous image during my fall is also posted. Needless to say, the image survived, but not my poor leg!
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