Sunday, November 29, 2009


AFRICA – NOVEMBER 5TH – 6th ,2009

The trip from JFK to Nairobi via “Dubai” took us 23 hours. When we finally arrived at our hotel we were more than pleasantly surprised. The 168-room Norfolk Hotel has been a center of city life since its founding in 1904. It was a Tudor-style hotel with traditional safari atmosphere surrounded in private tropical gardens a short distance from the city center. It was renovated in 2004 in honor of its centennial. The hotel had six restaurants, health club with gym, sauna, and steam room, beauty salon, and heated outdoor pool. It was quite lovely. I was ready for “Safari!”

The plan was to have a welcome dinner but we didn’t get to the hotel until it was almost 7.00 p.m and the dinner celebration was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Since we all needed time to get cleaned up it was postponed for the next evening. I was quite happy about that because I was not going to be very sociable after being up for 36 hours. So our group of 16 ate dinner respectively with whomever they chose. My girlfriend Betsy and I enjoyed our meal alone. We have been friends for thirty-seven years so we didn’t have to expend too much energy socializing.

Breakfast was at 6:30 a.m. and it was outstanding! There were silver-covered dishes with everything from bacon to oatmeal porridge. A chef was there to prepare any type of omelet’s you wanted, pancakes, waffles, a bread bar, a bakery bar, a cheese bar, a fruit bar, and a juice bar with eight different types of juice. I must find passion juice! The juices were my favorite because I would mix them. I especially like mixing the passion juice, papaya, and mango all together. We ate outside on the terrace, which is right across the street from Nairobi University. It was fun watching all the business walking by going about their business. I have always been a people watcher anyhow, so that was right up my alley.

We boarded our vans for a tour of the downtown area and taken to a few shops, one in particular that specialized in Tanzanite. I have a friend that collects stones so I asked the price one rather small stone and was told it was $900. Well my friend, is not getting a Tanzanite stone, sorry Gwen. Tanzanite is found only in one mine in Africa and the darker color of purple hue the more the stone costs. Ok moving on…

We were then taken to a local Giraffe Reserve. They only had nine Giraffes and mainly use it for educating the children of Nairobi on conservation. Giraffes are being killed for food and they are an endangered species, especially in Kenya.

Lunch was another outstanding buffet with all those silver-dishes with everything from soup to nuts. I did miss the juice bar though. After lunch we had a little down time and spent it around the pool relaxing and taking photos of the hotel.
Our welcome dinner was at 7.p.m. and we got to meet and eat with all of the 16 people in our group and our guide Tony. I will speak more about Tony later. He is a very interesting man. I will also tell you more about the group of people that I spent twenty or so days with. More to follow…

Saturday, November 28, 2009


ADDENDUM - The Maasai people drink blood mixed with milk, not water. What was I thinking?

AFRICA - November 4th, 2009 – 1ST Day in Africa

Flying to Dubai from JFK took over eleven hours and that did not include the three hours we had to be at the airport prior to departure. Considering I didn’t sleep the night before from just plain anxiety I was tired before I even got to the airport. We met four of the folks that would be on our tour at the gate. There were a total of 16 people in our tour group.

I must tell you about Emirates Airlines. I used to love to fly, but since 9/11 it is a hassle to say the least. By the time you take off your shoes, your belt, your jacket, and put everything into bins you are already exhausted, and that doesn’t include the long line you had to stand on to wait to for the pleasure to get undressed and redressed. It seems I am always the one they want to do an extra check on my luggage. I love getting pulled aside and your luggage ravaged. Gee! I always thought I had an innocent face. Now getting to Emirates – WOW! The Boeing 777 is a state of the arts aircraft, absolutely outstanding. The seats in coach are comfortable and you don’t feel packed in like a sardine. Each seat has it’s own video screen with sports, movies, T.V. shows, and music to select from. The seats actually recline, not like the pretend reclining seats on our domestic flights. They give you blankets, pillows, and earphones – free – imagine that. The service was great; the flight attendants were personable and extremely courteous. They actually smile like they love their job. When the lights go down the ceiling of the aircraft lights up like stars. You can also track your flight from the cockpit on one of the many channels of your very own TV screen. Oh, and all wine and drinks are free for those who like to have a cocktail before dinner, during, or after dinner.

After landing in Dubai we boarded an A20 Airbus to Nairobi. It took another 5 ½ hours until we reached Nairobi. At this point I was so tired all I wanted was to be back home. From the air Nairobi looked very crowded, speckled with green trees. After deplaning the aircraft and looking for our luggage and guide there was mass confusion. We finally found our driver, Samuel, and he had a huge smile on his face and seemed so happy to see us… just like we were old friends.
Driving to our hotel was an adventure in itself. The fumes from the cars made me think of being a kid going through the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City before our country had catalytic converters. I thought I would suffocate before I got to the hotel. It was also rush hour and the traffic was crazy. The hotel was only eleven miles from the airport, but it took us over an hour to get there. Cows and goats were just hanging out on the sides of the road and people would just walk across the road in the middle or in between cars with no regard for life or limb, to cross the street. I have driven in Mexico, but I never feared hitting a cow or a goat. This was insane! MORE TO FOLLOW…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Peace is to be found in the acceptance of things we are unable to change. -- Author Unknown

November 24, 2009 - returned home on 9/23/09

To all of you…
The quote above is what I learned most from my trip to Africa. It is wonderful to be back with my family, but I left a piece of my heart in Africa. There are so many things I want to share with you. So many adventures and people I have met that impacted my life. I always knew I had a destiny with Africa. In fact, in some way, I had my doubts that I would return from that incredible place called Africa. I felt doubtful enough to write a poem to my family to read if I did not return. There were a few incidents that could have landed me in a hospital, and being in a hospital in Africa is the last place anyone would want to be.

I was in West Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and completed my journey in Dubai. I have hundreds of photos that most people only get to see on the Discovery channel. I met native tribe people who are fully aware of the 20th century and modern technology, but continue to practice the way of their ancestors. The Masai people own the land of Kenya and Tanzania. They believe they
were given all the cattle by God. Unfortunately the English did to them what the USA did to the American Indian, by trying to rule and control them. All the Masai people care about is living the life they have always lived. It sounds strange when they tell you their names because they are Christian names from being baptized by the missionaries of centuries past. However, they continue to practice their tribal culture of drinking blood mixed with water and only eating meat. No fruits, no vegetables. I visited their village and invited into one of their huts made of elephant dung. This is what they also use to make fire.

I felt the peace of being among God’s creatures in a surreal place of safety and contentment. There is a magnificent crater called Ngorongoro. It is a volcano that imploded, and down at the bottom of the crater lives the rare black Rhino and Wildebeest, Giraffes, Zebras, hippos, Eland, Thompson Gazelles, and lions. The Flamingos cover a lake as wide as the eye can see. We saw Golden Jackals, Egyptian Geese, and dozens of species of birds. In that place exists a paradise for the animals. They live in harmony in the quiet surroundings of a Garden of Eden. They are safe from poachers, safe from starvation, for they have water, unlike most of Africa. Ngorongoro is what I will remember when I need to go to a quiet place. I would love to tell you more about the history of the implosion, but you can find that on the Internet.

I will be blogging my three week journey and e-mailing everyday a part of the journal I kept. I hope you want to share in my adventures and lessons I learned. May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. Love Stelle.

Better to love God and die unknown than to love the world and be a hero; better to be content with poverty than to die a slave to wealth; better to have taken some risks and lost than to have done nothing and succeeded at it. -- Erwin W. Lutzer