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October 13, 1967

Dear Mom and Dad,

The mail lorry is pretty regular, coming every week. This will be true until the rains come and then it will be difficult to tell. I understand cars frequently bog down out in the Serengeti for days at a time. Also the last fifty miles in is especially bad. During colonial times, the roads were kept up very well, but haven’t been touched in years. Given that they were just paths hacked out of the bush to begin with, you can imagine what years of rain have done to them. Normally roads are started out here by the desire to get to a place. One take a bearing on a hill and just starts out. The next one to go there follows his tracks and pretty soon you have a road. When the ruts are worn too deep on that track to get through, one simply starts a new one beside it.

I celebrated Mass in Maasai this morning for the first time. I was told afterward that most of what I said was understandable but I have a long way to go yet. It’s an extremely difficult language to pronounce.

I’m living in a tent about half the time these days. The one Vince left is really terrific. The canvas fits over an aluminum frame so there are no poles to get in the way inside. One whole side can be put up like an awning during the heat of the day. It has no floor. This is good because all the cooking (I try) can be done inside. An inner room comes with it for sleeping. This has a floor, walls and even a ceiling. It attaches to the frame and provides quite a snug place to sleep at night. This room takes up half the space inside, so that it can be left up all the time. Having a completely enclosed place to sleep is very important because of the bugs and snakes. It seems that almost every kind of snake in East Africa is dangerous. Lions, I’m told, have never been known to force its way into a closed tent, but I still sleep with a 12 gauge shot gun right next to me with the safety off. The white hunters say that a shot gun loaded with heavy shot is more effective against a lion at close range that a rifle, mainly because one would have difficulty concentrating on hitting the right spot with the animal only a few feet away.

I use camping gas cylinders with a cooking nozzle for my experiments in food preparation. For light, I use an ordinary sixty-watt bulb, attaching the cord to the car battery with clips. This I was surprised to learn can be used for four or five hours each night and the land rover battery charges itself up easily each day with the ordinary running of the car.

Love,

Ned

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