Pretty much everybody who knows me knows that I am the archetypal "crazy cat lady," a badge I wear proudly and without discomfiture - although some of my friends might wish I showed a little more discretion when it comes to my feline fondness.
I have always loved animals and, growing up, I was St. Francis of Rosenbloomington, our family home witness to the comings and goings of various gerbils, goldfish, hamsters (I especially remember one lil' fella named Snoopy; even my dad shed tears when that critter passed on into the great Hamster Heaven), and of course, cats.
So, this blog entry is dedicated to my new bestie, Drogo, the most adorable kitten this side of the Equator.
Now, I know what some of you are saying: There she goes again, the crazy cat lady.... But come on, Droges is part of my life now, and y'all better be happy about that because he's totally keeping me sane! Not to mention, well-snuggled!!
Last week, I took Drogey to the vet for his second appointment since he entered my life and I thought, even if this blog post isn't about Toa, it IS about life in Tanzania, and one thing I can tell you for sure, is that going to see the veterinarians at Makoa Farm is VERY different than taking those spoiled New York creatures to West Village Vet.
For one thing, instead of sitting calmly and quietly in his box, Drogo insisted on riding up front with me. This proved to be distracting not only to the driver (myself), but also to the many traffic police who randomly stopped the car for inspection. Note: it is NOT allowed to wear sandals while driving in Tanzania, but operating a motor vehicle with a cat on your lap is totes cool.
The main road from Moshi to Machame is tarmac but the rest of the way to the farm is mud, dirt, dust, and rocks. Uphill. So, the threats were various and many: armed police officers on the paved road doing the slow, scary circle around the car; or Mother Nature and her assorted perils.
When you first arrive at Makoa Farm, you are greeted by this character I call the "flat chicken." I have no idea how he came to look like this, but the vets, a German couple named Laszlo and Elizabeth, call him "Asterix." Word to the wise, he WILL peck your toes off.
Other fine, feathered friends abound at Makoa including a pair of geese and this ginormous vulture-y thing that made both Drogo and me a little nervous.
There's also a bunny hutch, a couple of mongoose (mongeese??), and a wise old monkey.
Laszlo and Elizabeth used to care for an injured cheetah, and Drogo and I met him on our first visit, but I found out this last time, that he just recently died of a cobra bite! Made me very sad actually, as they had completely rehabilitated the animal, but due to some bureaucratic red tape from the national parks people, his release back into the wild was delayed. Thus, he died in captivity from deadly snake venom.
Additionally, they just recently came into possession of a baby elephant whose mama was killed by poachers and was not expected to live. This, I was told later, as it appears I totally missed the "elephant in the room" though I was standing perhaps ten feet away from him. At least, prognosis is good for young Babar and hopefully when Dr. Dro and I go for our third visit, we'll get to peep the little guy.
At any rate, Drogo got his second round of vaccinations and I am so grateful to Laszlo and Elizabeth for their good care of him and all the other household pets in and around Moshi who can count on proper veterinary care in Tanzania.
Typically, Tanzanians are not much for animals: dogs are security hounds only and are generally treated quite cruelly; cats are simply pestilence. It's nice to be able to find someone to help care for and treat our animals the way we would at home. Even if it's about ten thousand miles and a few monkeys away from West Village Vet!
There now, you've reached the end of the "crazy cat lady" blog post. It wasn't so bad, was it?! Promise I won't let my cat fancy side out again, at least until Dro gets neutered; that should make for some good reading....