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September 9th, 1967

Dear Mom and Dad,

…I arrived here in Loliondo on Saturday. The trip was pretty uneventful. Around Arusha and all the way to Ngorongoro, it has been pretty wet for the last week and a half, so much so that the grass is even beginning to green in some places, although not enough to bring the animals back. We see only a few widely scattered herds of giraffe, wildebeest, gazelle and zebra. Descending Ngorongoro and starting off across the Serengeti there was a dramatic change. This time of year the Serengeti is truly a desert. There is only the short brown cropping remains of what a few weeks ago was lush waving grassland as far as the eye could see. At times the wind would blow the dust toward the front of the car and we would have to stop because visibility was cut to one or two feet. Out there the wind is steady and strong day and night this time of year. As to the animals, the huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle of every description were all gone to the highlands for lack of water and grass. We see only a few small isolated herds of Grants gazelle and Thomas gazelle. Its really a wonder how they survive. I’m told that early in the morning before the sun comes up there’s a little dew and they manage to survive on that.

Leaving the Serengeti area and approaching Loliondo, there was still another dramatic change. In the immediate vicinity of Loliondo the country is hilly and 7,000 feet above sea level. It is still very green here and a good many animals are around. A Maasai elder was flown out last week by the flying doctors to the hospital in Nairobi. He was badly mauled by a lion. If the lions are around this generally means plenty of animals.

There are three priests here. Fr. Wasinger, a priest-doctor from Austra, who runs the hospital, which is about six miles from the mission. Fr. Kohler, who is gone most of the time, works among the Sonjo tribe. Unlike Maasai they live in walled villages. There are six villages all located in a valley about forty-five miles by road from here. The third man is Vince Donovan, who works among the Maasai. I have been sent to replace him. It seems that Vince will be going on leave soon. Today he is going off on a teaching safari to a place called Malambo about sixty miles from here. He is taking me with him to begin introducing me to the work.

Love,

Ned

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