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Volume 2756a

TARZANíS JOURNEY
Part II
by Martin Hash
Continued from Part I in ERBzine 2756

Africa During ERB's Time
Reading Tarzan on the Truck
Half a dozen of our traveling companions took the opportunity to read Tarzan, and were pleased to have the chance.  All were from countries other than America but they were aware of the Tarzan legacy, and anxious to discover him for themselves.

arzan and the City of Gold, Namibia, August 4th
Tarzan and the City of Gold, Namibia, August 4th

Namibia, "South West Africa (SWA)" in ERB's time, is where old Africa ends and modern Africa begins.  The famous Etosha Game Reserve was everything its reputation led us to expect.  During the days the salt pan reflected the sun like a mirror, backlighting the herds of zebra and wildebeest.  At night the waterholes were a bustle of activity: giraffes, not mentioned in Tarzan's Africa, cautiously approached the waterholes, but Tantor the elephant went in unhesitantly.  Butto, both black and white rhinos came in by the dozen.  Tarzan #16 was left in a youth hostel library in Swakopmund.



Tarzan and the Lion Man, South Africa, August 19th
Tarzan and the Lion Man, South Africa, August 19th

South Africa ("Union of South Africa" in ERBís time) is as modern as any city in the West but has the distinction of tin-roofed, mud-and-brick huts just on the outskirts of the big cities.  I had been to the famous Kruger Game Park in 1983, and was anxious to revisit it.  Though different, I was not disappointed.  I found it marvelously coincidental that I was reading Tarzan and the Leopard Men when I saw my first leopard in the wild!  Modern South Africa is not the Africa of ERB's vision but it is the hope of Africa as a continent, and a sterling example of what Africa can become.  Tarzan #17 is in the good hands of our Afrikaner guide.


Tarzan and the Leopard Men, Botswana, August 25th
Tarzan and the Leopard Men, Botswana, August 25th

Tarzan #18 can be found at the Sitatung Camp in Botswana ("Bechuanaland" in ERB's time), the starting point of our safari into the beautiful and unique Okavango Delta.  We traveled in a small dugout canoe, called a mokoro, poled by a muscular local through narrow channels in the tall river grasses.  That evening the natives sang and danced for us.  The sunset shinning through the reeds of the marsh was extremely beautiful.


Tarzan's Quest, Zambia, August 31st
Tarzan's Quest, Zambia, August 31st

Victoria Falls is the most spectacular waterfall in the world.  This natural colossus spills into the Zambezi River, one of the ruggedness white-water treks in the all raftingdom, and it lives up to its reputation, including crocodiles along the shore.  One side of the river is Zambia and the other is Zimbabwe.

The famous quote, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" uttered by the explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, is never mentioned by ERB but Tarzan #19 was left in Livingstone's namesake, Livingstone, Zambia ("North Rhodesia" in ERB's time), at the old Danish embassy, now a welcome hostel for weary travelers.


Tarzan and the Forbidden City, Malawi (Nyasaland in ERB's time), September 6th
Tarzan and the Forbidden City, Malawi ("Nyasaland" in ERB's time), September 6th

During my journey I also wrote travel articles for "iPhone World," "Transitions Abroad," and a Tumblr website http://africanadventure.tumblr.com.  It was not my original intention to chronicle the journey in this way but the urge to record our unique adventure was overwhelming.  Remarkably, cell phone coverage was available through most of Africa, even in the jungles.  As part of an article I listened to Tarzan #20 using a text-to-speech application on the iPhone but I left my book copy in our hotel room at Kande Beach.


Tarzan the Magnificent, Tanzania, September 12th
Tarzan the Magnificent, Tanzania, September 12th

Zanzibar, Tanzania ("Tanganyika" in ERB's time) is another mythical locale deserving of its aura.  It is an island off the coast of Tanzania - a fusion of Arab, African and Portuguese influence.  Swahili spread throughout Africa as a common language from Zanzibar - this knowledge I garnered from reading Tarzan.  I was reading Tarzan and the Castaways on the ferry to Zanzibar and found it coincidental that I was going to an African island while reading about Tarzan stranded on an African island.  Tarzan #21 was left in a historical "Stone Town" hotel room.


Lion Ignores Watchers
Lion Ignores Watchers

Tanzania is also the home of the legendary Serengeti Plain and Ngorongoro Crater, two of the most famous game parks in the world.  In fact, in a 24-hour period we sighted all of the "Big 5:" lion, leopard, rhino, water buffalo and elephant.  In the Ngorogoro Crater our safari drove amongst immense herds of wildebeest on their annual migration.  Lions were inured of our presence, walking nonchalantly next to our vehicles in their majestic stride.



Tarzan and the Foreign Legion, Rwanda, September 26th

When I first started depositing books, anyplace would do.  I was apprehensive to explain myself so the books were left surreptitiously.  However, as time went by I became more selective about their placement.  Rwanda ("Ruanda-Urundi" in ERB's time) shocked the world in 1993 when the Hutus killed 800,000 of their Tutsi neighbors!  The bodies were buried in a mass grave and a memorial museum was built as a reminder of the atrocity.  Tarzan #22 was laid to rest in a beautiful garden inside the walled memorial.



Tarzan of the Apes, Uganda, September 27th, (gorillas in the background)

Finally the moment we had been waiting for: personal contact with gorillas in the wild.  We were in Uganda ("Uganda Protectorate" in ERB's time), home of perhaps half of the world's remaining 700 Mountain Gorillas.  From the border we drove another four hours by minibus through beautifully terraced mountainsides, mist filled valleys, and lush jungles on a dirt track too dangerous to be termed a road, until reaching Camp Bwindi in the Impenetrable National Park.

Accompanied by two machinegun toting rangers, a porter, and our guide, we journeyed into the dense jungle expecting to hike for hoursÖ  But, remarkably, within twenty minutes we came upon a group of 18, including the silverback and several playful young.  The whole tribe came down from the trees to meet us Ė bolgani in the flesh!  It was a remarkable experience.  It was also a great relief because now the quest was assured.  It could not have been any better.  I left Tarzan #1 near them Ė hopefully, one copy will be enough.


The Return of Tarzan, Kenya, October 3rd
The Return of Tarzan, Kenya, October 3rd

Nakuru National Park Game Reserve in Njoro, Kenya (British colony in ERBís time) is renowned for its giant flocks of Flamingos covering its shallow pan, however, there is an ongoing draught decimating all the large wildlife.  In fact, the few remaining rhinos were removed for their own safety to more fertile fields.  We also visited Joy Andersonís (author of "Born Free") historic home, "Elsamere."  Her popular true story of the raising of Elsa the lion into adulthood very much reminded me of Tarzan taming the Golden Lion. Tarzan #2 is at Kembu Campground in a book exchange with a note inside the front cover directing future readers to contact me via email.


Tarzan and the Madman, Madagascar, October 9th
Tarzan and the Madman, Madagascar, October 9th

With a sense of melancholy, I savored every word in the final book: Tarzan and the Foreign Legion is odd in that it is set on the island of Sumatra during WWII and written while the war was still going on, so was very representative of the stereotypes of the time.  Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, is a colonel in the English airforce.  My decision to visit Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, and not originally on our itinerary, sprung at least part way from the similarity of locales.  I left Tarzan #23 in the side table drawer next to the Gideon bible in our hotel room in Andasibe.  Tarzan probably never saw a lemur during his long and illustrious career but he would have liked them, and the jungles in the isolated mountains of Madagascar would definitely have seemed like home to him.  Madagascar made a great stand-in for Sumatra.


Ethiopian Village Women
Ethiopian Village Women

Ethiopia, named "Abyssinia" in Tarzanís adventures, was peopled just as ERB described them.  The women wore goatskin sarongs, rings in their lips and around their necks, and were unashamed of nudity.  The men carried rifles but also brandished spears.  Our vehicle broke down on a lonely dirt track and while we were fixing it the local tribe cooked us a goat and danced for us.  Unexpected, it was one of the highlights of our trip.


Trinity Church
Trinity Church

Ethiopia is also home of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Christian religion.  Established in the forth century it has not progressed much past the crusades with similar art, chanting, and gold and silver regalia.   There are monks and their cylindrical churches hidden away on isolated islands eerily similar to some of the religions Tarzan encountered.


Medieval Castle
Medieval Castle

Ethiopia also has what is called "The African Camelot" of medieval castles, also a familiar theme in Tarzan's adventures.


Tarzan and the Castaways, Ethiopia, November 1st
Tarzan and the Castaways, Ethiopia, November 1st

Tarzan #24 is in the "Abyssinia Hotel" in Addis Ababa, which seemed apropos, as were so many other coincidences and similarities that played out over the course of eight months and twenty-four sub-Saharan African countries:  African dialects are indeed as varied and multitudinous as depicted in the stories; there are pygmies and cannibals; the natives still live in grass huts; monkeys are friendly and can be imagined climbing on Tarzan's shoulder; Americans are still crass, optimistic and loud and Brits are still reserved, capable and thin.  ERB would have loved Africa.


Grass Huts (with TV aerial and motorcycle)
Grass Huts (with TV aerial and motorcycle)

It was a long, enjoyable odyssey -- I feel both melancholy and relief at its ending.  My acts were in honor of both Edgar Rice Burroughs and my childhood friend, Steve Wright, with whom I shared my Tarzan reading excitement, and whose untimely end of life inspired this Tarzan journey.  In conclusion, you can review a short video version of this tribute at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygpA1JlzHYs.


Africa During ERB's Time
Africa During ERB's Time
Mountain Gorilla,Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Mountain Gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda 

~ Dr. Martin D. Hash, Esq.


Read TARZAN'S TRIBUTE by Martin Hash in ERBzine 2057


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