Solbit Takes a Walk on the Wild Side

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

You know something?  Travel is wonderful!  Oh, I get pooped and grumpy traveling, though not as bad as Papa sometimes.  Still I get to meet new people, make friends with them, and they show me strange and interesting things.

Now that we’re in Tanzania on safari, I’m starting to understand what Papa means when he tells me, “Solbit, the two most liberating things a person — or even a Plastic Jurassic — can do are read books and travel.”  I’m not reading books, yet, but I’ve been traveling and am free to make new friends and to overcome my fears, too.

When we started our walking safari, I was terrified.  We were going where big meat-eating animals roam.  Yeah, roam; they’re not in cages or behind high fences.

Two of my new friends took us on a walk on the wild side near Lake Manyara. They helped me to get over my fear.  Here they are.

We made friends with our safari guide, Chagamba, on left and our Maasai guide.

We made friends with our safari guide, Chagamba, on left and our Maasai guide.

Chagamba guides for Mark Thornton Safaris.  He’s really smart and knows a lot about wildlife, birds, the Big Five, the Little Five, plants, you name it. He knows it. He said he grew up in the Ikoma tribe.  His grandfather taught him to be a tracker. Guess what.  He can read animal tracks in dust and in mud!

Nona said that he’s carrying a rifle to protect us, just in case a lion or elephant attacked us. Our Maasai guide carried a spear, too, Nona said, “…just in case.”  Oh, girl, I started to drag my feet. I don’t want to go into dangerous places. “Jo, looked back at me and called out, ‘Come on, Solbit, look what we found.’”

Walking on the Maasai Steppe, I got to know Johana, another of our Maasai guides (he's holding the spear); I already knew another Joanna (she's looking back at me).

Walking on the Maasai Steppe, I got to know Johana, another of our Maasai guides (he’s holding the spear); I already knew another Joanna (she’s looking back at me).

She’s the most sensible one of our group, so I knew I could trust her.  So, I hurried up to see what they had found.  Look.

This beetle is as big as I am! Poor fella was dead when we found him.

This beetle is as big as I am! Poor fella was dead when we found him.

That thing is almost as big as I am, but Jo explained that it was “… no longer among the living.” So, I went right up to it and touched it.  “Wow!” I said,  “Hard body.”  Papa said, “Right, it’s called an ‘exo-skeleton.’ It doesn’t have bones like dinosaurs and people have bones. Its ‘bones’ are its exoskeleton, literally ‘outside bones.’”

Then Chagamba called me,  “Solbit, here’s another insect that has an exo-skeleton.”  I ran up there to see, and suddenly these things surrounded me.  I could tell that they were still “…among the living.”

I'm surrounded by harvester ants, but they don't care about me.

I’m surrounded by harvester ants, but they don’t care about me.

They were very busy harvesting grass seeds.  That’s why they’re called “harvester ants.” Walking on the wild side, we were finding many different kinds of living things. Who knew wildlife could be so interesting?

Then Papa called to me, “Hey, here’s an animal that doesn’t have bones or exoskeleton, but a ‘house’ on it’s back.  Come look, Solbit.”

This field snail carries her "mobile house" on her back.

This field snail carries her “mobile house” on her back.

I think someone said this was a field snail, but I’m not sure about that.  What I am sure about is that this snail carries that big shell — it’s “house” — everywhere it goes.  If something tries to eat it, it can hide inside that shell.

Maybe we should all be carrying little houses on our backs instead of a rifle and a spear?  I don’t think we’d get very far, though, do you?

Now, Johana, our Maasai elder, found an animal with bones, and it wasn’t another human being and it wasn’t a lion, either.  Nona said, “Johana, how did you catch that mouse?  Wow, you are fast!”

Johana caught a field mouse. (No animals were injured in making this photograph.)

Johana caught a field mouse. (No animals were injured in making this photograph.)

After we all got a good look at Ms. Mouse, Johana let go of it’s tail.  It seemed surprised to be let free.  Kind of looked around.  Then suddenly it disappeared into the tall grass.  We all laughed, knowing how relieved it must be.

Well, I got over my fear of a walking safari today, but then we didn’t run into a lion or an elephant.  Isn’t it odd how I feel?  I don’t want to run into either of them, but I also want to see both up close.

I talked to Papa about that.  He said, “Solbit, you are experiencing a classic ‘Approach-Avoid Conflict.’”  Sometimes Papa says things that sound smart, but I have no idea what he’s talking about.  Do you?

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

June 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

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