01-Feb-2004 -- As I sit here in June looking over the pictures, movies, and GPS track logs of our February visit to 4S 37E, I am amazed at the fact that we not only made it to the CP but that all members of our party made it back to civilization alive and without the need for critical medical care. I suppose I don't have much excuse for not posting this CP visit sooner, however, in my defense I must admit that it has taken me these long four months to let the emotional scars heal enough so that I may recount our journey and not least enough, to let my liver dry out.
We gathered up late on Saturday January 31st and headed out from Arusha a couple of hours before sunset. Driving south from Arusha, we decided to check out a big sandy river that Grant and I had found on our previous attempt to 4E 37E. We raced up the dry riverbed for a couple of kilometers and found a nice place to camp. Many beverages were consumed and many incriminating photos were taken (all of which have been suppressed to protect the guilty), and the next morning the unlikely group of Confluences Heroes dragged themselves from their hangovers and headed out for another day's adventure.
We continued south and passed through Komlo, which sits at the base of a beautiful escarpment. At the top we paused to take a few more pictures including one of our Confluence Convoy (note the out-of-place TLC). Winding our way through the bush, we made Naberera in good time and found our next target road which, unfortunately, was off the mark as we had misread our maps and instead of heading for the hills due west of the CP, we hit the small hills due north of Naberera which are called Ndovu (one Kiswahili word for Elephant). Figuring out our mistake, we stopped and chatted with some folks at a nearby village and were directed to a road which then brought us south of the hills we had intended to skirt in the first place.
There were numerous tracks in the area and we had no problem finding our way to within 2 kilometers of the CP from at which point we embarked on a nice walk through the African bush to hit the CP on foot. Our mascot Pimbi (Kiswahili for Hyrax) lead the way and, while we had no major mishaps, we did have 2 close calls. Apparently a couple members of our group were unfamiliar in the proper use of binoculars and nearly did themselves in, while the fearless leader forgot to recalibrate the compass in the GPS after changing the batteries, thus the Heroes' route to the CP was a bit more circuitous than had been planned.
Nevertheless, success was had and another Tanzania Confluence Point was ineptly conquered! Our mascot Pimbi can be seen astride the point with GPS in paw and the rarely documented "Confluence Dance" was recorded with all the solemnity such an occasion deserves.
We quickly set a reciprocal course and made our vehicles in no time and decided to head south to look for a major North-South road which showed on our maps and which we would use to get ourselves back home. I am not exactly sure what happened at this point, but there seemed to have been a cascading logic failure amongst our group as we all soon quickly lost the ability to make rational decisions about the best direction and road to take. Maybe it was the heady rush of emotion from knocking down another CP, or maybe it was just a combination of sun and beer – at any rate point moot. No matter how we tried, we could not find the road and we seemed to be getting farther and farther from the direction we wanted to go! Never minding the road we HAD walked across as we headed to the CP, which did run in the right direction, we continued to head south. Finally we halted, a new leader was chosen, consensus established and we set again in the wrong direction!
Now this is the funny bit. Not more than a minute after we had stopped AGAIN and decided to turn back, than did we almost run into another car coming the opposite way down the track - driving the car was a very perplexed looking Padre with a young Tanzanian in the passenger seat looking even more perplexed. We sprang from our vehicles, fell to our knees, and begged mercy and forgiveness and, please, where could we find the main road? And the punch line - wait for it - if we had just driven another 200 meters on the way we HAD been going, surprise, surprise, we would have found the bloody thing!
Now, here is the real kicker. As we sped north back to Arusha on the main road (and it was a big beautiful road, I might add), our course ran suspiciously close to the CP... Keeping an extra eye on the GPS as we sped along, the extra twist of the knife came as we passed to within 1.90 km from the CP!! Ha, ha - Life and its funny games!
Our run back into Arusha was uneventful and we made it into town just at dark. A smashing meal of Ethiopian was had and a few more beers were consumed to take the edge off. For those that might be able to handle it or know us, you might be able to catch a glimpse of some of the more shocking and deplorable behavior of Tanzania's 4S 37E - Confluence Heroes - that is, if we let you. ;-)