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Posts Tagged ‘africa’

            “If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” – Isak Dinesen, “Out of Africa”

Following the leader forward. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Following the leader forward. — Photo by Pat Bean

Africa

Balloon ride over the Serengeti: OK, which way is forward? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Balloon ride over the Serengeti: OK, which way is forward? — Photo by Pat Bean

            The first image that popped into my mind when I saw that “forward”  was the photo challenge topic this week were the long line of elephants that I watched trudge forward  in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. What an amazing sight..

            Then I thought about how the native guides were always going forward in search of Africa’s exotic wildlife to give me and my friend, Kim, the best possible safari experiences they could. They did well.

Holding my breath until this baby moves forward and rejoins his mom and brother -- Photo by Pat Bean

Holding my breath until this baby moves forward and rejoins his mom and brother — Photo by Pat Bean

         On the very last morning in the Serengeti, we watched a mama lion and two nearly grown offspring come forward toward us. The guide had seen them and had parked the Land Rover in an ideal situation so that would pass not too far from us.

            One of the young lions, however, took a detour and came over and scratched his back on one of our tires – the one I was standing above. It was both thrilling and frightening and I was glad when he went back to going forward toward his mom.

            Interesting how two weeks of some of the best travel days of my life became fresh again in my mind after hearing one single word.  

        

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

  Bean’s Pat: Winter’s Majesty http://tinyurl.com/b7d8zek A leaf and a simple poem that captures the best and worst of Chicago in the winter.

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 “We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing. — Louisa May Alcott

African Safari: The Dream

Frank Buck, a macho "bring-em-back-alive" hunter/explorer, provided the first generation of many of today's zoo animals. He also whet my dreams to visit the dark continent. -- Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

For the most part, I’ve been perfectly happy traveling only where my RV Gypsy Lee will take me. America has the most amazing and diversified landscapes – from Death Valley to the Grand Canyon and the Denali peaks to the Everglades’ river of grass – one can find anywhere.

Perhaps that’s only my opinion, but I’m sticking to it and challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

I’ve driven this country from coast to coast and border to border, finding beauty everywhere I go. People ask me what’s my favorite place, and I’m always hard-pressed to answer because I have so many.

But I also grew up reading Osa Johnson and Frank Buck’s tales of Africa. This dark continent so full of wild animals and mystery called to me. The truth is it called and called for many years before my dream of an African Safari finally became a reality four years ago.

Since this is a travel blog, and since Maggie and I, are currently camped out until mid-September here at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho, where I’m a volunteer campground host, I’ve decided this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my African adventure with you.

I began planning for the trip three years in advance, first telling my good friend, Kim, my travel plans. She and I, over the years, had already shared many adventures, like battling white-water rapids together and getting lost while four-wheeling up an unpaved, muddy canyon.

Osa's Ark: The plane that Osa Johnson and her husband used to study African wildlife, which she wrote about in "I Married African." Her book lit the fire in my desire to visit Africa. -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“You’re not going without me,” she responded. And I didn’t.

Together, we decided to do the trip first-class, and for three years we each saved the approximate $10,000 cost that covered airfare, in-country transportation, guides, luxury camping (even in tents), daily safari trips, tips and souvenirs.

After pouring over brochures, we chose The Africa Adventure Company to make all arrangements for us, and our choice of tours was their 16-Day African Journeys’ Safari to Tanzania and Kenya, the cost of which I noted on their website http://africa-adventure.com/ this morning begins at $6,450. It was a bit less back in 2007.

Next Episode: Travel Details. Please journey with me as I relieve, from beginning to end, my African safari.

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 “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life … We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll.

Life is good for this impala as long as he escapes being eaten. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Journeys

Life is full of pitfalls, and life is not fair.

I think I always knew about the booby traps, but my Pollyanna-brain took much longer to absorb the unfairness.

While I still believe that working hard is the way to fulfill one’s dreams, I now have learned to accept that we can’t always make our dreams come true – or always win an unfair lawsuit filed against us.

Life throws wicked curve balls at all of us.

Perhaps, after saving up for years to buy the home of one’s dreams, the spectacular lake view is obscured when a two-story residential development moves in next door.

Or a beloved child is killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Or one’s career as a dancer is ended by a serious injury.

This lion has no fear of the impala he wants for dinner, but somewhere another male lion might be wanting to take him on. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Or, as has become common these days, one loses their job and can’t find another that pays half as well.

Rare, if not non-existent, is the person who’s made it to my old-broad age who hasn’t suffered some tragedy in their lives.

The wise among us grieve, and then move on the best we can.

My 2007 African safari reinforced this hard rule imposed on all by Mother Nature.

Life is not fair, but it still can be good

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The Mara River in Kenya was a favorite hangout for hippos, which are considered one of the most dangerous to life and limb in Africa. This photo was taken from an overview of the river from the safety of a Land Rover.

Photo by Pat Bean

 While in Kenya, I crossed these exotic and potentially dangerous waters, several times daily during a four-day stay at Governor’s Lodge.  Shown here, my friend, Kim, and the boatman, wait for me to come on board before crossing to the other side, where Kim and I will be met by a guard to escort us to our luxury tent accommodations.

Photo by Pat Bean

 The tents come equipped with a large tile shower, another form of water. In the morning, we had to wait for another guard to escort us to breakfast.

One night, we were forced to wait out a couple of hippos who had come to visit our tent site before we could return to it.

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Maasai women look on as men of their village demonstrate their jumping skills. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The great thing is the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Journeys

While drinking my morning coffee, I read that today was International Women’s Day. My first thought was how the world has changed for women during my time on this earth.

I’ve gone from marrying young and being barefoot and pregnant to being a homemaker who also brought home the bacon – if you can call that progress. I successfully fought for equal opportunity and equal pay in the workplace. Today, I take pride in the role I played so my granddaughters can take such things for granted. .

And then I remembered the Maasai women I had seen in Africa just three years ago. These beautiful women have such hard, difficult lives that our native guide, who was not a Maasai, expressed sorrow for them – and called their men lazy turds. This remark came every time he saw a man walking carrying nothing and a woman walking behind him loaded down with water or firewood.

It is the Maasai women who build the mud and dung huts for the family. It is the women who walk miles every day for water and firewood, unarmed among dangerous wildlife. It is the women who milk the cows and cook the food and tend the children. And yet it is the men who own everything.

This young girl, looking on at the jumping men, is surely thinking she can do that, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This young girl, looking on at the jumping men, is surely thinking she can do that, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I appreciate ethnic cultures, this is one aspect of the Maasai way of life that needs to be changed. And I make no apology for saying that.

I definitely thought this after a visit to a Maasai village in Kenya, where the men demonstrated a game they played with stones then noted that it was too difficult for the women to master. I was not impressed and huffed off.

But then a young girl in the tribe offered me hope that change might already be sniffing at the men’s heels.

It happened when the men were showing off their jumping skills, something young boys began practicing almost as soon as they can walk. Off to the side, where the shaved-head Maasai women stood quietly looking on, a young girl, ignoring the disapproving looks coming her way, jumped in rhythm with the men.

She, I thought, was the beginning. I hope one day she will be able to look back on how far she’s come, too.

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This young lion, which came close enough for me to lean over and touch if I had been so inclined -- I wasn't -- provided a tall-tale to relate to my grandchildren. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

 

“An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.” — Walter Winchell

Journeys:

My early mornings are reserved for writing, but I played hooky today to run errands with my daughter-in-law.

When I moaned to her that I didn’t have an idea for today’s blog that I was going to have to write when we returned from gadding about – That’s the downside of signing up for this blog-a-day challenge – she suggested I write about my encounter with a lion.

The story is one of the anecdotes from my African safari that I tell to impress my grandkids, whom I want to think that Nana is cool, or whatever term they use for it these days. I know such self-serving promotion smacks of Frank Lloyd Wright’s decision to choose “honest arrogance” over “hypocritical humility,” but I do it anyway.

Lions sleep the day away as tourists gawk from metal contraptions that African wildlife consider just part of the landscape -- Photo by Pat Bean

And since it’s now past time for my brain to be at its writing peak, I’ll accept the suggestion and repeat the story. Once upon a time, on an August day in 2007, I had the experience of a lifetime…

All three of the native guides who chauffeured my friend Kim and I through Tanzania and Kenya for two weeks were experts at finding wildlife. On this particular morning, our guide had spotted three lions, a mother and two almost fully grown males, headed our way.

He parked and we waited for them to pass by our Land Rover. These tourist-transporting vehicles have become so common to African wildlife that they’re merely considered an indigestible part of the landscape. And Kim and I had been assured we would be perfectly safe as long as we stayed inside the metal contraptions.

As our guide had so correctly assumed, the lions passed not far from our vehicle. That is to say two of them passed. One of the younger males took a short detour to scratch his back on the tire of our Land Rover, whose canvas tops and sides had been rolled back to give us better views.

I froze, but then couldn’t resist a single shot from the camera I had in my hand. Here I was, standing mere inches away from the king of the beasts. I wanted proof – and I got it.

How “cool” is that?

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