Right off the bat, I was a bit disappointed to see that at the start of the second episode, three days had gone by and the four explorers and their retainers were at the base camp near the Uluguru Mountains. That said, I thought it was an intriguing an interesting move to decide to take the route over the Ulugurus, as I know that Stanley didn't do so as that is quite some formidable terrain. While watching the bit in the base camp, I couldn't help but wonder how difficult it must have been to choose what to take with and what to leave behind. Going up into mountains usually necessitates one leave a few things behind.
It was interesting to watch the interaction of the four explorers as well as how they dealt with the pressures of the environment they were in, and some of the other social interplay. I thought it was quite fascinating to watch Kevin Sites and his concern for the porters. Poor Julius, the head porter, looked out of his depth at several points during the early part of the journey into the Ulugurus. While Kevin's concern for the porters was heartening (especially in the light of Pasquale Scaturro's seeming disregard for them and his "expedition comes first" attitude), it started to feel as if the porters were leading the expedition at one point, an element mentioned and dealt with by Mireya Mayor and the others later on.
There was some really lovely and witty dialogue from time to time during this episode as well. One of my favourite bits was when Pasquale wanted to know which of the porters was slowing the group down, and Mireya inquired as to whether he was going to fire them.
I also was rather fond of the Mireya Mayor-ism: "This is as typical as it gets on an expedition. You plan and plan and plan...and then Africa happens."
About halfway through the episode, I realized that like some of the folks on the expedition, I could really hate the word "tweende" (Swahili for "let's go"). On the other hand, Pasquale Scaturro really likes that word! :)
Then there are the Maasai. There are two Maasai warriors accompanying the expedition, and they have been a joy to watch. Sure, they're staying relatively in the background, but I love the talkative Maasai warrior, and his insights on situations and events has been quite good to watch. Wish I knew his name.
Some of the vistas and panoramic views from the Uluguru Mountains was just phenomenal. They were definitely emphasized and contrasted with that first blustery, noisy, very windy night at camp. I know for certain that I would not have been able to sleep that night, with all that hullaballo going on around me. That said, the camera crew deserves a lot of credit for some of the shots they took during this sequence.
One of the most irritating things I find at times is Pasquale's tendency to lecture when he talks to the camera during the interviews. While the information that he imparts is very much informative, it's too like being in a schoolroom setting and all.
I loved Pasquale's line, "We're taking the '1 hour to the top' pace" when asked about this at one point.
When the expedition entered the old-growth forests, and the oldest - 25 million years old!!! - forest, it was truly awe-inspiring stuff. There was some very cool stuff in this segment of the episode, and I loved it for the inspiration and sheer magnificence of its aura and its feel.
I have to admit that when "Mireya and Benedict Allen stopped and were discussing the maggot that she had found on the trail they were following, at first when he ate a bit of the plant he found, I had actually thought he had eaten the maggot!
The magnificent view of the epiphytic trees and vegetation was just wonderful and well photographed. Benedict's espousing on the subject and then his discussion of various properties of plants and the discussion with the porters and Maasai about plants was lovely. After he took the plant for use in expunging stomach contents, and noted it in his botanical journal, Kevin Sites had a wonderful line, "So, if you die, we wanna get your notebook, right?" Great stuff.
Another lovely moment was once the expedition got to the heights of the Ulugurus where they were in the clouds at times, Mireya Mayor made some lovely observations about the group living in the clouds, and it was a very surreal moment for me to watch. Such a contrast with the mangrove swamps from Episode 1.
When the group was getting ready to start the descent from the Ulugurus, Pasquale made an interesting point: "Going up a mountain is optional. Getting down a mountain, that's mandatory."
Note to Self: When in the wilderness, always take a woman's tampon with you for helping to light fires under damp conditions.
During the morning when everything in the camp was wet due to the moisture in the air, I really felt the group's being dispirited, hungry, wet, and tired because they couldn't really light the fires or anything. I sympathised with Benedict about wearing the damp, wettish clothes.
When the group faced the fact that they might possibly have to deal with climbing and descending cliff faces, I was somewhat surprised at Kevin's fears, until I remembered that he wasn't really an explorer or established expeditionist. I was quite pleased that this element of the early part of the voyage was actually left in. Wonder if there will be any reference to this later on?
The find of the village in the Ulugurus came as a bit of a surprise to me, although I guess it shouldn't have. People seemingly live everywhere, in all sorts of locations and terrain in this crazy world of ours. Bananas, pineapples, and goats, oh my!
After Benedict convinced the others to purchase the goat, and one saw the Maasai warriors' almost licking their lips at the thought of it, I was somewhat grossed out with the business with the goat kidney. I have to wonder what "Mireya really thought about the taste of goat kidney. Her expression when she was eating it said...a lot. Ugghh! That said, given the situation and all, I probably would have eaten a bit of it, too.
The final sequence of the episode, with the musicians showing up, the dancing with the pythons, and the entire sequence was fun to watch, and gave me a slight taste of how the immersion into the African tribal culture must have felt. Besides, after the tough time the group had had up to that point in the Uluguru Mountains, a bit of exhilaration and enjoyment like that must have been welcome.
All in all, the second episode of Expedition Africa rocked, and was quite good. A lot of contrasts, juxtoposition, and a few surprises and delights. Looking forward to the next episode.