Reporter's Notebook: Covering Clinton in Africa
A trip to Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater leaves us all exhausted on the last day of the trip.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania — The final 24 hours of this trip have been a total, sleep-deprived blur.
They began with a 5 a.m. departure from Arusha, Tanzania, after many here, including former President Clinton, pulled all-nighters so as to watch the YouTube/CNN debate between US Democratic presidential candidates, which began at 2 a.m. local time Wednesday.
We were staying at one of the nicest hotels in town, but, nonetheless, every half hour or so, there was an electricity outage.
The first time the TV snapped off coincided exactly with the first time a question was addressed to Senator Hillary Clinton.
"Boy, that was frustrating," Mr. Clinton admitted afterward.
But his wife, he assessed, rubbing blurry eyes, had done "terrifically."
We set out on this last day, all 40-odd of us, on a safari. The destination: The Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania.
The crater – 2,000 feet deep with a 100 square-mile floor – is what's left of the mouth of a volcano that was active millions of years ago.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton had visited here in the early '90s and raved about it, and the former president has been talking excitedly about this part of the trip for days.
In the evening, with members of the traveling party literally falling over in exhaustion, we flew back to Kilimanjaro airport.
From there they all took off for the US, without me (this time, on purpose). I remained standing on the runway, waving.
I wonder if they saw me from the windows.
Nah. They were probably standing in line for the in-flight showers and the delicious hors d'oeuvres.
Oh, how I will miss you, my luxury airplane. Sigh.
Now, I'm off to book my bus ticket back to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
I am staying behind to work on some other stories and to take a closer look at some of the Clinton Foundation's projects, here in Tanzania and back in Malawi, away from the handlers and hurried timetables of the former president's whirlwind trip.
Stay tuned for a series on Western superstars' work in Africa: How much is it really helping? How much is it all about the photo ops? And why does the West pay so much more attention to Africans only when Clinton, Bono, or Angelina Jolie are standing among them.
I leave you with some images and explanations of the Ngorongoro Crater, together with some words from Clinton, who, in a one-on-one interview, says why he loves the African continent and why all of us should care about it.