We love having visitors because they always see every situation with new eyes. Cindy, Patty, and Carol were so much fun to have. Many of our visitors spend one night, usually on their way out of Tanzania, on Safari to the Mikumi National Park. Here is Cindy's and Patty's account of their trip. Editor's Note: The problems discussed in this article have been addressed. We are using a different service to provide ground transportation to Mikumi. ON THE WAY TO SAFARI Or, subtitled: This 50-year olds' Perceptions CINDY: Mrs. X and her husband picked us up promptly at 7am just as reported. Mrs. X is a dainty Indian nationality female. But, soon I learned that behind that petite demeanor of a woman is a New York Taxi Driver in disguise! I happened to sit behind Mrs. X for some reason, on the way to Mikumi National Park Patty and Carol often nodded off to sleep, leaving me the job of praying for our lives!!! The Toyota Mini-van had seen better days as the sun had eaten some of the paint, a rear-tail light was broken out. Somehow, Mrs. X loved to forsake the laws of nature! As she sped down the highway, the car seemed to often shake with the speed! And did she ever like to pass cars! O-my-goodness!!! Past semis, past cars, on hills, down hills, O MY!!! Then, we were stopped by the police. It was frightening to be on a highway going 120 kilometers per hour one minute, and flagged down by the police with guns the next minute!!! They noticed the broken tail light and Mrs. X had to 'pay' them. Within 10 minutes we were off again!!! [Patty, in her fears was quietly crying. She was so scared!] PATTY: Yes, I was! CINDY: Ah! Besides the 'unique' driving, we made it in about four and a half hours to Mikumi National Park! PATTY: As we entered the Park, we immediately began to see some of God's wondrous creatures - giraffes, elephants, zebras. CINDY: Vuma Hills/Foxes of Africa is an extremely lovely 'get-away'. As the brochure states: "The tents are large and comfortable with a rather old fashioned colonial decor. The tents have complete facilities and shady verandas. The dining area overlooks the swimming pool, creating an oasis of tranquillity in the dusty hot climate of the lowlands". And this is true! The accommodations were excellent and comfortable! That dusk we went on a 'safari' drive and saw some great sights! It was so cool to actually see all of these wonderful creatures that God had created! I would say to myself: "Gee, I am really in Africa!" PATTY: Right off the bat, as we were driving, I got bit by a titsi fly. Those buggers bite hard! Our Safari Driver assured me that it wasn't "fever season". I felt so much better. As our safari driver drove around the park, she seemed to pull off the beaten path. Before we knew it, we were upon a small pride of lions. There were about eight of them. One of them definitely was a young male due to his maturing mane around his head. They were relaxing in the shade of a small tree. We were so close, I could hear them purring in a low, rumbling way. I was not too comfortable being so close. So, I asked the driver (who also turned the engine off!), "Aren't we a little too close?" She whispered, "No, I saw them eat a wilderbeast yesterday. So, they shouldn't be hungry." I said, "Well, I ate yesterday too, but I am hungry today!" She softly giggled and didn't say anything else. Cindi seemed to try to comfort me with her words of wisdom by saying, "The lions only see the truck and don't really recognize it as food." The vehicle is open-aired so there are no doors or windows. Well, I took my pictures, and kept thinking of that wilderbeast who probably thought he was well hidden. CINDY: The food was great! We actually got to have dinner with another guest. A Russian lady who was Russian Orthodox, and a Christian! We had wonderful conversations over a tasty meal! PATTY: As we started towards our tents for the night, a tall, lean, beautiful man draped in red carrying a staff (A Masai!) came up behind us and asked us our tent numbers. I asked him why he wanted to know? He said he was our guard for the evening. The Masai are known for being warriors in Tanzania. They are cattlemen by tradition. They are known to go toe-to-toe with lions, jackels, and anything other threatening animal that are after their small herd. I spoke with the Driver of our safari trip and she said that it was his job to keep the lions and elephants away from our tents during the night. CINDY: The next morning we were up early to see more of the wildlife in Makumi! Each time we went to the entrance of the game reserve, there appeared to be some problems with our 'paperwork'. It seems that Mrs. X took them with her when she left us at the Vuma Hills/Foxes of Africa. But, after much 'discussion' we were always allowed entrance. After breakfast of coffee and bread and cheese at the 'Hippo Pool' we continued on our 'safari' until we had seen plenty of the wildlife! We returned back to Vuma Hills and had an excellent breakfast! THEN Mrs. X and her husband picked us up for the return trip to Dar. Mrs. X drove her usual fast self. This time Patty was sitting behind the driver, and occasionally her eyes were round as she looked at me with the look of: "I SEE WHAT YOU MEAN!" After awhile Mrs. X's husband took over the driving. His driving was interesting. At times fast, at times slow and thank goodness that is when it happened! WE HAD A FLAT TIRE! Yup! There we were, all piled out changing a tire! PATTY: It was also 97 degrees! We were told to stay in the vehicle for safety reasons. We prayed and asked the Lord to give Mrs. X and her husband wisdom and help them fix the tire. Then, over the horizon, a Scania truck stopped and pulled up behind us. He got out of his truck. Now, in a country like Tanzania, it is not always safe to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. We were hours away from Dar. But, as Cindi, Carol, and I were sitting the hot van, I looked at the stranger and said, "The Lord has sent him to us. He is a blessing from the Lord!" So, I decided to get out which Carol and Cindi followed. Boy, it felt good to get out and stretch our legs. Mrs. X then tells me that her husband "happens" to know the "stranger". They had gone to school together. She says, "Aren't we lucky!" I said, "No, we are not lucky. We are blessed. Cindi, Carol, and I have been praying in the back of the van and God has blessed us!" So, here we are, literally out in the middle of nowhere (at least to us it was), literally 4 hours away from Dar, and the man who happens to help us knows our driver! God is good -- All the Time! He hears our prayers and answers us! CINDY: Once Mrs. X's husband stopped to use the restroom, and when he came back, he was drinking a beer! While driving! We all decided it might not be the right thing to object. I am pretty sure, we just all went to praying!!! PATTY: I saw the beer too. But, from where I was sitting I saw something else that Cindi and Carol didn't see. I saw Mrs. X pour Vodka into a water bottle for her husband. I had saw the Vodka bottle earlier and it was about one quarter full. Now, the bottle was empty. I decided not to say anything because we were so far away from Dar Es Salaam, and our flight was leaving that evening. I was afraid of being left behind in the middle of nowhere if we caused any trouble. I also saw when Mrs. X's husband stopped to go to the restroom, he bought another bottle of Vodka. CINDY: When he stopped to get some fruit, Mrs. X took over the driving. PATTY: This was such a God-thing. CINDY: which was probably just as well, because shortly thereafter the police stopped us again! Another bribe had to occur! After we started back on our way, Mrs. X' s husband turned to us and said: "Good thing she took over driving! I don't have my license on me!" PATTY: And, he was plastered! CINDY: Mrs. X's style of driving had not changed in over 24 hours. Once again we were speeding away, passing every vehicle that was before her! We were so relieved to reach the city limits! But now we seemed to be caught in 'rush-hour' traffic! We saw a motorcycle accident with police and bystanders all around. It is amazing how close you can get to the scene of the accident as well as other vehicles! The return home took us over six hours. I must confess I had never been so relieved to return to the Pentecostal Mission Guest-House! As soon as we entered our room I got on my knees and literally: PRAISED THE LORD!!! PATTY: We all got on our knees and Praised the Lord! Editor's note: We have changed some names in this account. Also, we are now using a different taxi service to provide ground transportation.Also, if you have a high speed internet connection, you might want to check out the website that has many of their photos posted on it. It is: www.watkinsowners.com/africa Use your browser's "back button" to return to our website..