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Girl with a Pearl Earring

It was yet another nice afternoon when we decided to stretch our legs a bit after our shift and walk up to The Manor.

I must add that ‘stretching our legs a bit’ turned out to be a bit of an understatement, as we had only been given a very rudimentary description of the route. We soon found ourselves on somewhat of an unplanned detour, but didn’t really mind, as it took us through beautiful surroundings bathing in the golden light of a low afternoon sun. It offered a bit of humour too, when, in the company of a German physician, we stumbled upon a poster of a German coffee company, proudly announcing that it gets its coffee from the area. The German link isn’t that surprising, given that mainland Tanzania was once part of the German colonies in East-Africa.

Going uphill for the entire walk was a fair bit of exercise, but after one and a half hours we reached our goal: the edge of the Ngorongoro crater, where The Manor is located. We could obviously do with one of its cocktails, which are known for both their taste and their affordability.

I have to add that the cocktails are just about the only affordable thing at The Manor. The prices of rooms are way up, far too high even for most western tourists. It calls itself a “home away from home”, and in a way, it is. The Manor is an oasis of rest, where you might take a bit of refuge from the dusty, noisy town to enjoy the view and beautiful sunsets.

At the same time however, it is somewhat alienating to find yourself in the middle of 21st-century Africa, surrounded by splendid luxury in a building built in a ‘Cape Dutch’-style that echoes the past. To this Dutchie, the ‘crown’ on this alienation was the present day copy of Vermeer’s world famous 17th-century painting Girl with a Pearl Earring I spotted above the fireplace.

​Heading down from there some other day, we were in for another adventure. We had taken off for The Manor in an ordinary car instead of a jeep, which even going up earned us some surprised and perhaps even pitying looks. Going down again, we discovered why. A few tropical showers had turned the sand into mud and since we were in the pitch dark, it was even harder to distinguishing a road at all. Slowly slipping down, we paid more than the usual attention to the tracks of elephants and buffalo’s that had crossed the road. While we were all hoping to see one, none of us liked the prospect of accidently bumping into one...

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