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Soy beans?!?!?

The farmhouse where we are staying is at 5000 feet.  Not super high, but Melissa, with her cold is struggling with low oxygen saturation.  Today’s trek is supposed to take us to the Ngorongoro crater rim which is at 7500 feet.  Maybe not the best idea.  Another failure on the part of the travel agent – who neglected to let us know that we might need altitude medication here in Tanzania in addition to the Uganda mountain forest.  Alas we don’t have enough altitude medication for both locations, not to mention the fact that we will be back near sea level before the medication would kick in.  Additionally, Melissa has really been having stomach issues.  Unclear why.  Melissa elected to stay behind and catch up on blogging.

When lunch time rolled around, Melissa went to the farm house restaurant and was served a bunch of food.  Soup, then salad, followed by a big meal.  As is often the case, the waitress brought 5 or 6 individual small bowls with various dishes.  When she sat the last one down she said, here is a bowl of soy beans.  Hang, on.  Soy beans?  SOY BEANS?  Deep breath.  Melissa politely asks the waitress to check with the chef to see if its really soy beans.  She returns – yep – they are soy beans.  Melissa then asks that the waitress please send the chef when he has a free moment.  A few minutes later the chef shows up.

A bit of context here might be helpful.  When we booked this trip, we were assured – repeatedly – by the travel agent that all the hotels we would be staying at could and would accommodate our food allergies.  When we arrived at the first hotel, it was not at all clear they had been informed.  This wasn’t a big deal because at the first few places there were menus we could order from, and hence we could make choices and ask questions.  Later though we found that many of the lodges serve buffet style.  Two issues with that for those of us with food allergies.  (1) there might be near to nothing you can eat because each dish contains one thing you are allergic to.  In total the hotel might think they can accommodate your food allergies (sure we have gluten free stuff!) but in reality the gluten free stuff contains corn.  So yeah, they have corn free stuff too, but that contains… you get the point.  (2) The buffet food wasn’t marked with any of the ingredients.  So you can either play 20 questions with wait staff that have no idea what is in the food or make your best guess.

When we arrived here at the Farmhouse last night, Melissa decided she had enough of having a stomach ache and asked to see the chef.  We chatted with him about what was in the dishes for dinner, and what he might make us for a picnic lunch the next day.  He knew we were allergic to soy as we had a whole conversation about the fact that we couldn’t eat the soy sauce in the stir fry being served that evening.  (Yep, sauteed veggies with no sauce for us.  Yum.)

So when the soy beans arrived at the table – that was about the last straw.  Dave is allergic to soy too, and Melissa knew that he and Shabani had been sent off with a picnic that included rice and beans completely unaware that it was probably soy.

Enter the head chef with a sheepish look on his face.  Melissa invites him to please have a seat and join her.  He starts out by saying he knew we were allergic to soy sauce but not soy beans.  Melissa explains that soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans.  He is clearly bewildered and had no notion of this.  Melissa explains that soy is very dangerous for her – it can make her eyes swell shut.  He asks about Dave because he now realizes there are soy beans in the picnic, and Melissa explains that she was able to reach the guide in time before they sat down to eat (by like 5 minutes) so Dave is safe too.  Melissa emphasized that the waitress is to be commended for telling Melissa what was in the food – for fear that the waitress might take some blame in upsetting a guest.

The kicker is that we’ve eaten beans and rice a number of times now.  No wonder Melissa has a stomach ache all the time.  Let us hope that solves it.


Meanwhile Dave and Shabani were off having way more fun.  They visited the Ngorongoro crater.


There were (of course) more Zebras.


The national bird of Tanzania – a Grey Crowned crane.


Hippos.  Shabani had a friend that was chomped in half by one.  Note to self, stay away from the hippos.


And what pray tell are all these trucks lined up to see?

A lioness with her zebra kill.  She was alone and anxious about whether she should go back and retrieve her pride, or stay here and guard the kill against the hyenas.  She had eaten her fill.  She decided to stay.

There were baboons.

And a lioness with her cub.

Ostridge.  Which are just funny.

And finally the Ngorongoro crater is home to the last few remaining black rhinos.  Shabani had given a 10% chance of seeing them as they tend to hide out during the dry season, but they were lucky enough to see three of them in the distance.  Even with the zoom on the camera they are way far away.

And here is Dave NOT eating those soy beans on his picnic!

When Dave got back, he was exhausted.  We skipped dinner in favor of an early bedtime.

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