Thursday, December 31, 2009

AFRICA - LAST SAFARI - Nov. 17th, 2009


Today’s safari at, Lake Manyara, was our last safari in Africa. I left on this safari with mixed emotions. I was very exhausted at this point and feeling quite sad that my trip to Africa would soon be coming to a close. I found it hard to get myself moving. My friend, Betsy reminded me that if I didn’t go I would miss out on seeing more lions.” The magic word kicked in and I remembered how I hated missing my first day on safari due to the Deet mishap. I quickly forgot how tired I was and grabbed my safari hat and said, “Right this is Africa.”

This particular safari was even dearer to me, because I knew it would be my last. Amazingly, I managed to get some of my best close up shots of baboons, giraffes, elephants, and some really pretty birds. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded. Definitely a place for bird watchers! We saw some giraffes that were so dark in coloration that they appeared to be black from a distance. It surprised me that giraffes had different amounts of pigmentation. Lake Manyara is an ideal location for elephants because of the abundance of tree and plant life. The park has Tanzania’s highest population of elephant per square km. Elephants are capable of consuming up to 400kg of food a day. We also saw more wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on the grassy plains.

So much of the lake has dried up that we were unable to get close to the water. That was because the lake was surrounded by soft marshland. However, we could see light pink and darker pink flamingoes that were spread across the entire length of the lakebed. There were literally thousands of pink hued flamingos on their perpetual migration. We saw pelicans, and storks sharing the lakebed as well. Ernest Hemingway was once quoted as saying that Lake Manyara was “the loveliest place I had seen in Africa.”

On our drive back to the lodge everyone in the van was quiet. I think we were all experiencing the “last safari blues.” Lunch helped brighten my spirits and I wish I could eat all meals from those silvered covered dishes, everyday, but I would be as big as a house if I did. I am still working at losing the six pounds I put on since I arrived in Africa. After lunch the plan was to visit a banana plantation and meet the local African workers. It was a very hot day and I was still very tired so I stayed back at the lodge. The truth is the beautiful pool with its vanishing horizon was calling to me.

My friend Betsy told me all about the things she saw at the banana plantation so I didn’t feel like I missed too much by not going. She told me was how surprised she was when she found out that the owner of the plantation was a woman. She was also surprised that her dwelling was so primitive. They walked around the plantation and spoke with some of the workers. They also toured the town and Betsy got some good photo shots of the local people and kids walking home from school.

After dinner will went to the bar and enjoyed the local Maasai as the entertained us. Some of the dances and chants of the Maasai tribe were very sexual in nature. One of the dances demonstrated (in dance) a couple being graphically intimate. Another dance was disturbing because they worked themselves into a trance and spread fire from a torch all over their arms, legs, and chests. Then to top it all off, two Maasai dancers sat down to share a bowl of fire. They actually put the fire in their mouths, down their pants, and rubbed it on top of their heads. These were no parlor tricks friends. I smelled and saw the smoke where one of the Maasai burned the hair on his head. I thought only Haitians did those crazy things. Oh my what would the missionaries who gave them all their Christian names think of that? Tomorrow we will leave this mystical place and head back to Nairobi via Arusha. It grieves me that I may never come back to this place called Africa. A place where the animals own the land, and run free, but because of man are still not safe. MORE TO FOLLOW…


AFRICA AT LAKE MANYARA – November 16th, 2009

We left the Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge right after breakfast, and were on the road at 7:30 a.m. We had only a short time to pack our stuff after breakfast before the hotel staff came to collect it. Our guide, Tony, runs a tight ship and we oblige him by being on time. I was rushing because I wanted to go into the gift shop before we boarded the van but I tripped over a cobblestone going up the steps and slid across the very rough cement. This time I was really embarrassed, and knew I would be late for the van call. A very nice man helped me up and asked if he should call my guide. I said I was fine and went into the bathroom to clean myself up. I could hear Tony giving his customary “Woo Woo” call for all to get on board because the van was leaving. I hurt more than my pride this time. I had a great big bruise on my hip, and my hands were scuffed. I was just thankful I did not break a hip, and praised God for watching out for a klutz like me. Yes, indeed, I think I am accident-prone!

The drive was packed with beautiful scenery that kept changing from flower filled mountains, to open plains, to very poor cities. We stopped for lunch and had sort of a picnic at an archeological site. The Serengeti Serena Hotel made us box lunches to go because we would not get to Lake Manyara until later in the afternoon. The town where our hotel was located was called “Mosquito Creek:” – Yikes! I hoped they gave out those packets of bug repellent, because I was all out. I didn’t feel too confident about staying in a place called “Mosquito Creek.” As it turned out Mosquito Creek was not as bad as the name conjured up. It was a busy town with paltry shops, fruits that were displayed on pieces of cloth upon the ground, children walking home from school, in their uniforms, cows being herded and goats milling about.

When we arrived at the hotel I wasn’t surprised it was another beautiful Lodge to lay our heads down. Each room had a private balcony with a panoramic view of the Great Rift Valley, below. The circular buildings were constructed in such a way that they complemented the indigenous architecture. Many of the Lodges had beautiful pools that were rimless so the water seemed to be level with the ground. At Lake Manyara the pool with its rimless boundaries overlooked the Great Rift Valley and gave the impression of a vanishing horizon. Next to the pool was a bar and a pool-viewing platform. It was a stunning view that melded the pool with the Great Rift Valley, and they were one.

The word Manyara comes from the Maa (language of the Maasai) it refers to the Euphorbia Tirucalli tree plant. The Maasai like it because it is resilient and long lasting. They use it to create pens for their cattle. The total size of Lake Manyara is 330 square kilometers. It is a relatively small park that can be traversed in a short period of time while viewing many different species of animals and birds.
The game drive was from 4-6 p.m as usual. We saw some very lazy hippos that just kept yawing which gave us a great photo op. The park is famous for its Acacia Tortilis tree-climbing lions. We saw a lot of baboons, monkeys, giraffe, impala, elephants, leopards, lions and a variety of different type of birds. There are three different types of scenery going through the park. First we went through an area of diverse vegetation with a thick forest of baobab trees. I first read about these trees that were referred to as the “upside down trees” in James Michener’s book “The Covenant.” I knew one day I would get to see them. The trunk is very thick at the top of the tree, and the branches actually resemble roots instead of branches. I read Michener’s book when I was in my twenties! I have waited a very long time to see these trees. I can’t believe we only have one more day of safari. I have had several bouts of being home sick, and now I’m already home sick for Africa. It is bitter sweet, indeed. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Prior to leaving for today’s game drive we went to the Serengeti visitor’s center and learned more about the “Great Migration.” The zebras always lead the migration and the wildebeest follow. We were told this was because the wildebeest do not have very good eyesight so they stay behind the zebra and use them as guides. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai word “Siringet” referring to the “endless plain.” As you stand on the southern grass plains, you experience the vastness and are able to witness one of the greatest concentrations of animals left on earth, yet the Serengeti is much more – nearly 2/3 of the park is bush or woodland. It was declared a Game Reserve in 1929. The park is also the center of the Serengeti ecosystem. It is roughly defined by the annual wildebeest migration. The ecosystem encompasses an area of 25-3000 square kilometers. It is the combination of Serengeti National Park along with Ngorongoro Conservation Area, four Game Reserves, one Game Controlled Area and Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. These parks protect the largest single movement of wildlife on earth.

At the visitors center we saw adorable Rock Hydrax, now they are really cute! They kind of look like rabbits without ears or bunny tails. There are beautiful rocks named Kopjes (pronounced at “copy” from the Dutch meaning “little head”). The intriguing, rounded shapes of these ancient granite rocks are the result of cracking and erosion and exposure to sun, wind, and rain. They appear to sit on edge jutting straight up from the ground. They provide shelter and capture water for a wealth of wildlife and plants. Without these rocks the large animals would be unable to survive the dry season on the plains. The Moru Kopjes are outstanding for their large size and profusion of resident wildlife including lions, leopards, rhinoceros and elephants.

The Serengeti stretches almost to the shores of Lake Victoria. We were only two hours or so from Lake Victoria but it was not on our tour agenda. We tried desperately to talk our driver in to losing the other vans and head for Lake Victoria, but he wouldn’t be bribed.
The Serengeti is so overwhelming. No matter how tired I was I wanted to see more. It truly is a photographer’s paradise. On the 4-6 p.m. game drive we saw lakes with loads of hippos all squeezed together and on top of each other. The babies were in the center of the mass. This is how they protect their young and each other from the crocodiles. We saw lions, leopards, and cheetahs everywhere. We also saw several more dik-dik. They are named for the sound they make when alarmed and they look like small antelope and have an elongated snout and a soft coat that is grey or brownish above and white below. The hair on the crown of their head forms an upright tuft that sometimes partially conceals the short, ringed horns of the male. Very cute!
The “Great Migration” moves through the northern woodland plains from June-December in order to feed on the lush grass that persist in this area. Their range during this time extends north into Maasai Mara. The short rains come in November and the wildebeest move south from the northern woodlands. They move to exploit the short grass plains, where the grasses are rich in minerals so they can rear their young. In February/March one of the wildlife’s most amazing spectacles occurs. Over a 3-4 week period, the female wildebeest give birth, flooding the plains with thousands of newborn calves each day. When the rains stop, the plains dry out rapidly forcing the herds to migrate west and north once again. Their departure in May/June marks another great spectacle.
The Tsetse flies are everywhere, but I did not see any mosquitoes during the day, and only a few at night. The hotels did supply some packets of bug repellent and I make sure I put it on before I go on safari. Tomorrow we leave for Lake Manyara. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Monday, December 28, 2009



We arrived at the “Serengeti Serena Lodge”, another beautiful hotel located in the middle of the Serengeti. The animals and wildlife were a site to see. There were wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles as far as the eye could see. They covered the plains in large groups. The landscape changed into dense forest separated by open valleys. We saw lions, baboons, giraffes, leopards, hippos and Cape buffalo along the entire route to the hotel.

I must mention the Tsetse flies. As soon as we got out of the van we were attacked by huge flies, they were everywhere. They are big, they bite, and they hurt. We were assured these monster flies were no longer a threat to humans because “Sleeping Sickness” had been eradicated. I now know there are 21 different species of the Tsetse fly that live in Africa, and the World Health Organization reports there are 25,000 new cases of sleeping sickness throughout Africa every year and increasing. Oh Well!

I was still very concerned about the mosquitoes and malaria because I was unable to use the Deet spray for protection. I tried spraying it on my clothes avoiding any areas of my skin, but it still burned and made my blood pressure shoot up. I took more antihistamine to counteract the reaction.

The night before we left Ngorongoro a waiter spilled hot water on my hand. Today I slid down a roadside embankment while we were waiting for our driver, Joseph, to change our flat tire. My hand was red, but not blistered from the hot water, and the slide down the embankment only scuffed my hands and twisted my foot. My pride was hurt more because everyone thought I was a Klutz. Two hyenas watched us curiously as we all stood waiting to get back in the van. No one is allowed to get out of the van, except to fix a flat tire, so the hyenas were very interested in us since they never see people outside of a vehicle. They were kind of cute.

The hotel was set high on a tree-clad ridge with a panoramic view over the vast Serengeti. It was designed in African style architecture. Streams and ponds surrounded it. The circular dwellings and the winding paths were inspired by the architecture of a Maasai village. The pool had no rim appearing as if it were the same level as the ground. I took a photo of my friend Betsy, sitting at the back end of the pool that over looked the Serengeti and she and the Serengeti became one with a vanishing horizon. Every Serena hotel we stayed in had the very best of amenities. All the lodges we stayed at had beautiful dining rooms and bars, traditional music, culture and dance, guided walks, massage and beauty treatments, and gifts shops and boutiques. One of them even had a steam room. All the rooms had private baths, hair dryers, private balcony, and phones. It would be a pleasure just to work there!

This particular hotel had security guards with flashlights, who escorted you to your room after dark. We were told to call for an escort whenever we left our room after it got dark. There were no fences or gates and the animals can come and go as they please. After all this is there home, and the Serengeti has a lot of nocturnal animals that roam throughout the night…especially big cats!
Dinner was at 7:30 as usual and we got back to our room at 9:30 p.m. Betsy and I just never got used to the time change and if we slept for four hours we felt good. Betsy averaged two hours sleep a night. This particular night I think she was up awake all night long. I got up to go to the bathroom around 4 p.m. and when I went into the bathroom I saw her in a robe seated on the toilet seat cover reading a book. She scared the dickens out of me and I was afraid that everyone heard me scream. We laughed ourselves silly over that, and then neither one of us got anymore sleep. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


AFRICA AT OLDUVAI GORGE, November. 14th, 2009
We left for the Serengeti right after we finished breakfast, around at 9:30 a.m. Yeah! We got to sleep in. We visited the Olduvai Gorge, located in the Great Rift Valley, on the way to our next destination. We also took part in a game drive as we drove to Serengeti. At this point in time there were animals roaming all over the Great Plains.
The Olduvai Gorge is known as the cradle of man. It is where the famous Leakey family discovered ancient hominid fossils and fossilized footprints. We also had a lesson on the proud, colorful and fascinating Maasai people. I continually learned something new about the Maasai people. They believe they are directly descended from the northern tribe of the “Twelve Tribes of Israel.” Although, they are not sure which tribe, they continue with research to find out exactly which one. It is their belief the sandals they wear, the staff they carry, the cattle they attend to, their nomadic life style, and their type of clothing is similar that which was worn by the northern tribe of Israel, distant relatives of the “Twelve Tribes of Israel.”
There was a small museum at Olduvai with displays showing the evolution of man’s ancestors, the development and refinement of his tools, and the animals that shared this environment during the different periods. Excavations are on going and continue to produce splendid specimens of extinct hominids, animals and plants.
Some Paleontologists believe that early man flourished at Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge in the eastern Serengeti Plains, not far from Ngorongoro Crater. In 1960, Mary Leakey discovered the 1.75 million-year fossilized remain of Homo habilis (nicknamed “The Handyman” for his tool making skills). Then in 1978 at Laetoli, 3.6 million-year-old fossil footprints of an extinct human ancestor were discovered during and expedition led by Dr. Mary Leakey. The footprints are claimed to be human in appearance and scientific and public attention was immense.
Not everyone in the scientific world believes in evolution. When I went to school we were taught “The Theory of Evolution.”(emphasis on the word Theory) Somewhere along the way that seems to have changed and it is now being taught as scientific fact. I believe there is a lot more scientific evidence, supporting creationism, contained in the Bible and the writings of the Hebrew Prophets (dating back to 1400BC), which were collected and kept in the Tabernacle and then the Temple of Israel.
Paleontology – witnesses the validity of the Genesis’ account. When we refer to paleontology we are alluding to the fossil record. If some were not so closed minded they would appreciate that the biblical account of creation and the science of paleontology are in harmony. For instance, there is a mixture of the simple and the complex (Gen. 1: 1, 2 "without form," 3-25, and earth with all the complexities, consummating in man, vss. 21, 27).
In the account of creation, life suddenly appears, fully formed (Gen. 1: 20, 21, 24, 27, 28). Paleontology also teaches the sudden introduction of mature life. There is no intimation of gradation, either in Genesis or the fossil record. Life was created mature and ready to reproduce (ibid.).
In this same vein, the record in Genesis explains why there are no transitional forms (a tadpole developing into man, i.e., all the progressive developmental stages...). The fossil record also presents evidence consistent with Genesis – no transitional forms.
Just think how the Genesis’ flood would have and did impact the fossil record (Gen. 7; 8). You would have universal fossil evidence of life forms being suddenly fossilized, often in stratum of dense mud, rock, and/or ice. Paleontology reveals fossil facts that are consistent and corresponding to the effects of the Genesis’ flood. Indeed, there is undeniable paleontological evidence of severe geological, atmospheric, and hydrological changes to the earth – just as would have been produced by such a great catastrophe as the flood described in Genesis chapters seven and eight.
Is It Time to Revise the System of Scientific Naming?
Lee R. Bergerfor National Geographic News
December 4, 2001
A team of researchers led by paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey sparked a controversy among evolutionary scientists and the press alike earlier this year when they announced the discovery of a new genus and species of ape-man. They named their find Kenyanthropus platyops, the "flat-faced man of Kenya." Ordinarily, the find itself would be enough to spark a flame of controversy in the heart of any follower of human origins research. But this find also highlighted an ongoing debate within the scientific community over the adoption of a new system for naming, ranking, and classifying organisms. The debate is not confined to ivory tower scientists. The fossil discovery was widely reported. The New York Times referred to the new genus as a hominid, National Geographic reported on the find as a hominin. National Geographic subsequently received several hundred e-mails complaining about the poor editorial work of the staff that had clearly erred by replacing a "d" with an "n." So what's in a name? The classification debate is not just a debate for the purist; it cuts to the very core of our understanding of human's place in nature and our evolutionary relationships. All hominins are hominids, but not all hominids are hominins...MORE TO FOLLOW

Sunday, December 20, 2009

MY AFRICAN TRIP CONTS. Nov. 13th, 2009

AFRICA AT NGORONGORO - November 13th, 2009

The Ngorongoro is called the eighth wonder of the world stretching across some 8,300 sq km. It has been declared an “International Biosphere Reserve.” Thousand of animals, reptiles, birds, and insects live in the crater. As we drove up the mountain to our hotel the dirt road was steep and became smaller and smaller. It was an exciting drive. We could view the crater most of the way up. This was the only road the Maasai did not use for their cattle. They had a road all their own to take the cattle down to the crater for water. The terrain was covered with beautiful purple flowered trees. The deep purple flowers were everywhere you looked. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the trees that produced such beautiful flowers. It reminded me of our mountain home in the North Georgia Mountains, Blairsville, when the mountain laurel is in bloom, except these mountain flowers were huge.

Our hotel “Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge” was perched on the jagged rim of Ngorongoro Crater itself. It is camouflaged in river-stone and wreathed in morning mist. The lodge offers endless unparalleled views from its clustered boulder-built buildings that were linked by rope-lashed timber walkways that skirted the roofs of ancient Liana-hung trees. The Liana tree is a long stemmed woody vine. It is characteristic of moist, tropical deciduous forest and rainforests. The hotels interior design was ethnic Maasai with handcrafts, bright-beaded robes, and intricately designed carven artifacts made by the Maasai tribe. In the center of the lodge is a primeval log fire glowing on game-viewing hide as in a prehistoric cavern.

The hotel was just gorgeous. It sits so high up that I didn’t have to worry about mosquitoes. The beds didn’t even have nets around them. This was the first time I wasn’t concerned about not taking any malaria medication. The view from our bedroom balcony was overwhelming. We could see the entire crater, but the mist from the mountain made it hard to get really good pictures. We could hardly wait to get closer to the crater. The hotel offered the same wonderful meals with those silver-covered dishes. Yum, yum!

At 7:30 a.m. we were off in the vans for yet another exciting game drive down the Ngorongoro Crater. All I can say is, it was “Spectacular.” The Ngorongoro total conservation area is 3,200 square miles and within its area is the world’s largest volcanic caldera. It measures 20 Km across (12.4 mi.) and 600 meters (2000 ft.) from the rim of the floor. What we saw at the bottom of the crater was so awesome it is hard to put into words.

The flamingos were spread far and wide across the shallow lakebed. Their colors were light pink to a darker shade of pink. Apparently the deep-pink flamingos filter algae out of the water by vigorous suction and expulsion of water out of their beaks several times per second. They accomplish this with their bill upside down in the water.

We saw Golden Jackals, Egyptian Geese, and many different species of birds. There were too many to remember their names. The hippos lounged around in picturesque ponds. The wildlife in the crater lives year round and is healthy and active. The vegetation is green with many flowered trees.

Over the millennia a diverse ecology has developed within the protective walls of Ngorongoro, with grassland, lush forest, swamps and lakes, attracting an equally diverse population of African wildlife to this Eden. The lush grass and water are abundant throughout the year, attracting a large permanent population of herbivores, especially wildebeest and Zebra, as well as predators. The estimated population of 25,000 larger animals equates to around 250 animals per square mile.
Our afternoon safari was just as thrilling. What made it even more wonderful was it began to rain. I had to Praise God for sending the rain. I silently thanked Him and hoped it would reach Amboseli…MORE TO FOLLOW.

Friday, December 18, 2009

MY AFRICAN TRIP CONTS. Nov. 12th, 2009


We left Amboseli at 7:30 a.m. for Tanzania. We drove for several hours until we reached Arusha for lunch. The restaurant was another lovely place with African atmosphere. We chose to eat out in the courtyard among the lush vegetation and flowers. The service was impressive and the food very good. It was not a buffet luncheon so we were all able to sit at one table and get to know the other twelve people that were not in our van.

Tony, our guide, told us what to expect when we reached the border-crossing checkpoint. He said it would take time, because the officers did not rush for anyone. He said we would have one more stop before reaching the border for a pit stop and, of course, to shop. We went through several small, very poor towns, and I was in awe waving at all the children with their big smiles. I wanted to take them all home.

When we reached the border we had to have our paper work filled out and our passports ready. The lines were not as long as I anticipated and all was going smoothly until I got up to the window and they would not accept my two fifty dollar bills. No one told us they had to be dated 2005 or newer. So I had to scramble and find someone in our group who had newer fifty-dollar bills. Of course, no one did because most of them did it by mail. Betsy and I chose to pay at the border. Finally after a panic attack, and seeing myself stuck in this horrible border town for the rest of my life, Tony came through and had two newer bills. I later found out they wouldn’t accept the older bills because of all the counterfeit money that plagues all of Africa, especially Kenya.

The border-town was really a mess. There were goats and cows walking about. There were people shoving their wares in your face. A very old Maasai woman grabbed my arm before I could jump into my van for safety. She wrapped a beaded bracelet around my wrist and said “For you a gift” I said I don’t want a gift but, I will be happy to pay you for it” and I handed her four dollars. She kept saying no “a gift, a gift.” So I said “thank you” in my naïveté. Then she asked me if I had a camera, which I was holding, and said I could take her picture if I wanted to. I thought that was kind of sweet so I did and then showed it to her. Then she said, “The gift is free, but you must pay for the picture.” The scam finally dawned on me, so I handed her five dollars, but she said “one more dollar” I gave her that, and she said, “one more dollar” I gave her another dollar. At this point all I wanted to do was get back to the van. She asked for another dollar and I said, “NO I will erase your photo” and high tailed it back to the van.
We arrived at spectacular Ngorongoro, which is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. We got to our hotel at 6:16 p.m. and dinner was served at 7:30 p.m. I went to the bar at 6:45 p.m. before dinner to watch the local Maasai band and dancers. Betsy decided to unpack and rest before dinner. We finished dinner at 9.p.m. and went to our room exhausted to wait for the 5:30 a.m. wake up call. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Africa Trip Conts - Nov. 11th, 2009 page 2


The Maasai/Masai are an inigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are educated in Kiswahei and English. Most people called it Swahili, but the language is actually Kiswalhili. The Maasai population has been variously estimated at approacing 900,000. The Census with Estimates of the Maasai populations in both countries are complicated by the remote locations of many villages, and their semi-nomadic nature.

Although the Tanzania and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, the people have continued their age-old customs. Some institutions claim that the lifestyle of the Maasai should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands. I didn’t see any Maasai farms. They told us they only eat meat and drink cows blood mixed with cows milk. I hope they drink some water too!

The Maasai is the most known Kenyan tribe outside Kenya especially for the tourists. They also have a presence around the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania for over 150 years. They are the main residents of that area. Their lives revolve around herding cattle. They believe in the rain god Ngai and that all the cattle was entrusted to the Maasi people when the earth and sky split and wealth is measured in number of cattle. They are a warrior tribe and since all the cattle was given to them they think it is OK to steal cattle from other tribes.

Our game drive was at 10:30 a.m. right after we ate a bit more breakfast. Amboseli is in a severe drought.. I was apprehensive to leave the beautiful surroundings to go out to the wastelands, but this was Africa! So I prepared myself for seeing more dead animals. We saw a hippo walking alone on the barren brown plain. I imagine he was in search for water. We saw some Jackels and a lot of Baboons, and vultures. There was a lion that stopped and sat right by our van. He looked exhausted and very thirsty. It was very sad and if they allowed me I would have given him my water in my hat. I was heartsick and sorry that I went on this safari, and swore I would not go back on the 4 drive. Most of the animals we saw were in search of water. I was having another bout with feeling home sick!

It amazed me that outside the walls of the beautiful Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge there was so much death and suffering due to a three year drought. All afternoon rain clouds hovered over this God forsaken land, but no rain came. Life here for the Maasai and the animals is very tough to say the least. I prayed for rain the moment I saw the first dead carcus. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MY AFRICAN TRIP CONTS. Nov. 11th, 2009

NOVEMBER 11th, 2009 – We visit a Maasai Village

The next morning after a very early breakfast we went to visit a Maasai village. We arrived at 6:30 a.m. There were a few Maasai men to welcome us outside the village. The leader of this particular tribe’s name was Andrew. The Maasai use their Christian names just for the sake of the tourist because we would not be able to pronounce their real names. They are also very long names. Andrew instructed us what we to expect when we entered inside the village. He told us he would take us into one of their huts and explain how they were built. He said we would have to stay together and not talk to the women. Then we would go visit their school, which was quite a long walk from the village.

After his talk the whole tribe came out to greet us. There were no children with them. They welcomed us with a ceremonial dance and jumping as high as they could. They wore sandals, which they made them selves. I can’t imagine how their backs, legs and spines endure the pressure of continually jumping straight up in the air as often as they must do it.

The village was built in a circle with the huts very close in proximity. There were about fifteen huts. In the middle of the village goats were penned up with thorn bush, but some were walking around among us. They build the huts with hard sticks and support the sticks with cow dung and urine. Then mixture is spread throughout the inside and outside to cover all the wooded sticks. The entrance to the hut is very tiny and we had to bend way over to get inside. It is shaped like a sideways U to keep out the cold, heat, wind and bugs. There are tiny openings for windows around the top of the hut, and an opening in the center so smoke can escape. The small windows block out the sun to keep it cool, it also avoids flies and mosquitoes from getting inside. It is so dark it takes some time for your eyes to adjust to so little light. The really tall Maasai must have very strong backs to be able to bend over each time they have to get into their hut. My back hurt the first time I did it. Only five people at a time could go in with Andrew. Once inside it was so dark you were completely blind for a few moments. We were taken to where they slept. There were two beds made of woven branches and cushioned with dry grasses and covered with a leather cowhide. It was very hard when you sat on it. They do not use pillows of any kind, and the only blankets they use are their clothing. The beds were on each side of the hut, one for the parents, and the other for the children. In the center of the hut was a small place for a fire, a pot for cooking, a few utensils, and a bowl for washing. The ceiling in the center was higher so you could actually stand up, but not if you are tall. There was no odor from the cow dung and urine.

Later they displayed how they make fire. The people on the reality show “Survivor” need to take a lesson from the speed they can do it. All they do is use dried elephant dung and rub two sticks together and “poof” you have fire. It’s that fast! Later they use cow dung to fuel the fire.

The women do all the labor. They build the huts, which takes about seven months. They milk the cows; they fetch the water no matter how far the walk is. Twenty miles would be a short walk. They are not allowed to own land or cattle. If they never give birth to a son they are scorned and forced to beg in their old age. Many tribes still circumcise their women even though it is illegal. The one thing I could not help notice was the women never smiled, but the men looked very happy and their smiles were huge. Gee! I wonder why? Our guide Tony told us that’s the way it is “The men did the thinking and women did the working” Women in this country have come a long way baby!
For the boys, fifteen is the coming of age ritual, when they become circumcised and become Moroni warriors. They used to have to hunt and spear a lion, but since it’s illegal they are not allowed. Who can say though for there is no one to stop them? They wear mostly red clothing so the animals fear them. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Africa Trip Conts. - Nov. 10th, 2009


We left Mara Game Reserve after breakfast for the airstrip, a very tiny airstrip, to go back to Nairobi. It was sad to leave that magical, mystical land where animals and nature thrive so peacefully together

We flew back to Nairobi in a “puddle jumper” It was one of those little planes that have only ten seats. Some of the people on our tour were a little anxious about getting into those small planes, but I flew in “puddle jumpers” many times with my husband who was a pilot for Zia Airlines in New Mexico back in the 1970’s. It was a small commercial airline. Sometimes I would fly with him just because I was bored at home. I can tell you we saw some horrendous weather, so it was exciting for me. I love to fly and taking off and landing is a rush for me. I love to feel the power of the engine in full throttle. It was a great flight and I got a few good shots coming into Nairobi. We flew right over “Slum City” and that area still shocked me.

We arrived at Nairobi Airport about 11:30 a.m. and were taken to a lovely restaurant called “Canivore.” It was a Brazilian style restaurant and we ate on the open terrace among lush vegetation and beautiful flowers. The service was great. If you like crocodile, ostrich meatballs, and other game meats then that’s the place to go, but I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole. I’m not a meat lover to begin with and never eat meat outside of America. Their vegetable lasagna was very good, and their desserts were delish!

After lunch we took off in the van to take another five and one half hour drive to Serena Safari Lodge in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. It is located right under Mt. Kilimanjaro. The drive seemed very long and not even half of the drive was on paved roads. It was another “road massage” trip. When we arrived at the Park and went through the entrance we were shocked. We were bombarded with Maasai women shoving their wares into our van windows to buy something, anything! It amazed me because we were in the middle of nowhere and I wondered where they had walked from and how far. I couldn’t help them out because I spent all my Kenyan and American cash at the first pit stop. I left the rest of my money back at the Norfolk Hotel locked up with the majority of my luggage. I only had my charge card.

The two-year drought had taken its toll on everything. Trees were completely uprooted like they just fell over dead. There were many dead animals and caucuses spread throughout the park. There were very few Acacia trees, and everything else was brown. We passed a few water holes and small areas of swampland for animals to quench their thirst. It was a far cry from the Mara Game Reserve. Even the animals were sparse. They did not interact with each other and I could see their ribs. I just wanted to cry. I had another bout with feeling home sick.
When we finally reached the Serena Hotel it was like entering another Garden of Eden. The hotel was lovely and the decorations shouted “Africa.” We were greeted with hot towels to wash up, passion juice, and monkeys running all over the place. It was great! I closed my mind to the wastelands that surrounded us. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nov. 9th Sarafi ends..Nov. 10th to follow...

November 9th – 6:30 a.m. Safari…ending the 9th

The 6:30 a.m. safari was so intriguing. I really regret not bringing a video, but later my friend Betsy told me my camera did have that function on it. Being a new camera I am lucky I even knew how to take a picture. You just can’t explain the migration unless you can take a panoramic view of it. To see so many animals gather together in one place is a majestic site.

On our afternoon safari we saw a Black Rhino and more lions. Watching the animals in their natural habitat is thrilling. We watched as two lions mated. One of the ladies, Alberta, who shared our van wouldn’t watch, she said, “animals need their privacy too.” It was a wonderful to see how gentle and loving they were with each other. Later we saw another male and female lion stroll right past our van. We could reach out and touch them they were so close. Of course, we are not allowed to do that, and value our hands too much to try. The female was in front of the male and she stopped to do her “business.” The male lion just stood by patiently waiting until she was through. Then he spent quite a bit of time enjoying her scent and displayed his pleasure with a mewing and moaning type sound.

We spotted a Leopard sitting under a tree. The time we spotted the Cheetahs they were having lunch on a wildebeest. The Leopard was just sitting out in the open. He was big and beautiful to say the least. Later in the evening we had entertainment from the local Maasai. We watched them dance and chant in celebration to the cows. I have much more to tell you later about the Maasai tribe later on… MORE TO FOLLOW- NOV.10th

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NOVEMBER 9TH, 2009, My African Safari conts.

November 9th, 2009 – My Safari Continues…

Leaving at 6:30 a.m. allowed us to see sites that you might not see later in the morning. The animals are frisky and playful. They’re all up and about, grazing, and showing a lot more affection toward each other. It was wonderful! I got some great pictures.

This is our daily schedule:

We go to bed between 10 p.m. – 11 p.m. Betsy and I wake up at 2:30 a.m.every morning and it impossible to fall back to sleep. The sounds of the birds, and whatever else is outside our tent, are in constant conversation. We are so off our regular time schedule and our bodies are so confused we just can’t sleep for very long. I don’t even require my usual afternoon nap that I usually take at home.

We drag ourselves out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to eat breakfast @ 6:30. As I have mentioned earlier, breakfast was my favorite meal. I usually hit every one of those silver covered dishes. We are off on safari at 7:30 a.m. and don’t get back to camp somewhere around 12 or 1 p.m just in time for another great buffet lunch. Then we have some free time before we leave again at 4 p.m. and aren’t back at camp until about 5 p.m. Dinner is at 7:30 p.m. so you can see we were on a tight schedule. This is what you call a “working” vacation. Between traveling, breathing in dust, and being knocked around in the van all day we are ready for bed at nine o’clock. We average 4-5 hours sleep. Some people do well with that. I never did, but I sure am now!

After coming back from the afternoon safari I was approached by one of the security guards and he asked me if I could help him get to America. We talked a long time about the corruption of the Kenyan government. He confessed how badly he wanted to go to the USA to make himself a new life. Actually, I thought he had a great life. He was in a camp that looked like paradise and had a job. That’s so much more than most Africans have. I told him that the grass wasn’t always greener on the other side. I told him that America also had problems to with corruption, but he said nowhere could be as corrupt or poor as Nairobi. After seeing “Slum city” I could believe it. The poorest of poor in our country are wealthy compared to these people.

The people that work at all the hotels, we stayed at, work for three months at a time before they get to go home for a two-week visit. They live in a compound and I would imagine the pay is not very high. Many of these people are married so they don’t get to see their families often.
The security guard told me he had a brother in Wichita, Kansas and gave me his telephone number. He asked me to tell his brother where he was and that he wanted him to phone him. He said he needed a letter from him inviting him to America and wanted him to help him get a visa. When I arrived back home I did call his brother in Kansas. He seemed happier to hear that I just came from Kenya than he was about getting in touch with his brother. I can only hope he called and will write the letter for him…MORE TO FOLLOW

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NOVEMBER 9TH, 2009, My African Safari conts.


We had a quick breakfast, coffee and a Danish. Time is of the essence now, as our Guide Tony wants us to see everything there is to see. We were on the road, promptly at 6:30, to drive to the Mara River. Our camp sits in the center of the migration. There are over 1.4 million Wildebeest, 200,000 Zebra and Gazelle. The animals migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain-ripened grass.

Our safari was scheduled from 6:30 – 9:30, and it was another thrilling moment in time. We saw a hyena rolling around and playing with himself in the vast plains. Our driver had a machine that matched animal sounds and he set it for the hyena. The little guy went searching for the phantom hyena. It was so funny all we do was laugh. I wish I had that on a video.

We saw a young male lion on a hunt and watched as all the other animals gave him a wide birth. I was so frightened that I would witness a kill, but the lion was annoyed that we were watching him watch them. He kept turning around looking at us as if to say “Hey you are in my space.” He continued walking and so did the heard that kept avoiding him. None of them ever moved fast. It was kind of a slow dance. Our guide told us that he believed the male lion was alone because he had been cast out of the pride. A lone male lion can’t take down a wildebeest alone. I guess the rest of the animals knew that but they still took note of him.
Later we saw two larger, older lions not to far away. They were just sitting on the side of the dirt road making moaning sounds. It was magnificent to hear and see them up close and personal. Our driver said they were calling for female lions so they would hunt for them. We were close enough to touch these guys. It astounds me how close you can get to all the animals in this reserve. Of course they have no fear of man or their vans no matter how many are gathered in one place to take photos of these grand animals. They know they will not be harmed because they are the Lords of their land. The sad part is that is also their downfall because there are still poachers that hunt to kill. The area is so vast that poaching cannot be controlled completely, but they do the best they can. If a poacher is caught it is a death sentence, but our guide told us the government of Kenya is trying to get that law rescinded. In my opinion they should definitely keep that law. It is legal to hunt in Tanzania, but you need a license and it has to be in season. This is not good, because the Serengeti is much larger so how can they stop poaching. It makes me very sad and very mad. MORE TO FOLLOW…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009



My friend Betsy left at 5:30 a.m. for a hot air balloon ride over the Mara Game Reserve. I chose not to spend $450.00 since I’ve already had an adventure in a hot air balloon in Orlando. I decided I could see the same animals closer up from the ground.

The rest of us left on the game safari at 7:30 a.m. What a blessing compared to yesterday, (remember the one I missed). The game safari was spectacular. We got to see more animals than I could count. The wildebeest, Zebras, Thompson Gazelles, Elephants, Eland, Impalas, and Topi Antelope, stretched as far as the eye could see. “The great migration” was amazing to say the least. We also saw Cheetah’s, which few people, if any, get to see on a safari. The big cats hide in the trees or the brush and are very hard to find because they blend in so well with the surrounding colors of the plains. They can be right in front of you and you could miss them. Our guide pointed out one Cheetah but he blended in so well all we could see was bits and pieces of him. We waited for a long time for him to come out and show himself, but he just laid his head down and went to sleep.

The highlight of the day was when came across three lions sitting on a rock just staring at us. I was so thrilled it brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away. Then I knew I was really in Africa. The lions just mesmerized me. I felt blessed to be so up close and personal with those beautiful animals.

Tomorrow we will start out at 6:30 a.m. because we will be driving further into the game reserve. The Mara Reserve is 1,530 km Sq. We will be going to the Mara River to see more of the migration. The Mara Reserve is so vast it’s hard take it all in. We still have four more Safaris to go. Wow! I am feeling home sick, but my adrenaline is keeping me pumped up. I want this to last forever.
When we got back from Safari we were told that a Leopard attacked a grounds keeper. It seemed the Leopard wandered into our camp early in the morning and couldn’t find his way out. The grounds keeper was in his way so he just knocked him down. The grounds keeper was bruised, but not badly hurt. The Leopard felt cornered and just wanted the poor grounds keeper to get out of his way. There are no gates or fences around our game camp, after all this is their land. I can’t wait until tomorrow to see the Mara River…MORE TO FOLLOW.

Friday, December 4, 2009



When we finally got to Camp Sarova Mara we were all shocked. It was like a Garden of Eden in the middle of the desert. We were greeted with smiles, hot towels to wash our face and hands, and passion juice, like manna from heaven. The campsite was lovely. Our hard wood floor tent was very impressive, indeed. We had eclectic lights, shower, comfortable beds and screened windows on all sides of the tent. The windows could be completely zipped up at night to ward off any light or uninvited quests. The first night I woke up with something running by our tent. There were a lot of monkeys and Dik Dik’s about, so I didn't worry too much. From our tent porch we had a birds eye view of a hippo taking up the little bit of water the drought had to offer. Two Cape buffalo didn't stand a chance of sharing the water with him. They tried but the Hippo made it clear to stay away.

After being shown to our tents we ate a wonderful lunch in the open lodge. We had another great feast of those silver covered dishes with all kinds of food to choose from. At 4 p.m. we were scheduled to go on our first Safari. I was more than excited. My friend Betsy and I unpacked our duffle bag and got ready to go. I was very concerned about the mosquitoes because I elected not to take any malaria pills. I am allergic to just about everything I take so I just trusted that God would take care of me. I did bring 100% Deet along for some protection though. Unfortunately, as I was spraying the Deet on my arms I somehow turned the can around and not knowing which way the nozzle was pointed I somehow sprayed it into my eyes. It burned like the dickens. Blindly I found the bathroom and put my head under the running water and kept the water running over my eyes until it stopped burning. I felt my blood pressure go up immediately and feared to open my eyes. Being a nurse I knew how fast poison can be absorbed into eye tissue. My heart was pounding from the deet and I told Betsy that I needed to lay down and would not be able to go on the safari. When I didn't show up and Betsy told our guide what happened so he sent the camp medic to my tent. My blood pressure was still quite high when he finally came, but we decided it was best just to give me an antihistamine and rest. I couldn’t believe I missed the first safari and was feeling quite sorry for myself! I slept until dinnertime, but I praised God I could see. More to follow...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Africa Trip continues - November 7th, 2009

AFRICA – NOVEMBER 7TH continued…

After driving for an hour, on what I thought were, the worse roads imaginable “Muli”, our driver, told us that we would soon be leaving the nice paved roads and driving on some very uncomfortable dirt roads the rest of the way to Sarova Mara Game Camp. We really didn’t think it could get any worse, but believe me it did. Thank God for Ibuprohen!

Our first stop was at “The Great Rift Valley” it is one of the wonders of the world, stretching from the Middle East, down through Africa, reaching as far as Mozambique, and is bordered by Uganda. The staggering view, as you approach from Nairobi, Kenya is quite unbelievable. The ground suddenly disappears from under you to show the huge expanse of the great rift, stretching for thousands of miles in either direction. We did not actually descend and explore the Lakes area of the Rift in Kenya but they say it is a "not to be missed" opportunity. Maybe someday!

The people of the Rift Valley are a mesh work of different tribal identities. The Maasai people serve as Kenya's international cultural symbol. The Maasai community have the most recognizable cultural identity in and outside Kenya. The Kalenjin and the Maasai are only a couple of the communities that call Rift Valley home. Other communities live here as well. People in the province are mostly rural, although they are growing more urban. Cities and towns have sprung up over the years to contain the rural-urban migration. If the right policies are instituted, Rift Valley province can emerge as the economic and cultural mecca in Kenya. That would be a much needed change!

We saw blue monkeys sitting throughout the trees and I could have stayed there for hours just taking photos, but we were told by our guide, Tony, that we needed to shop. These shops extend their bathroom facilities so it is expected of you to buy something – once again, “anything” and a lot of it! One of the shop keepers, zoomed in on me and esscorted me into the shop and grabbed a basket. He told me his name was Peter. He was in Maasai attire. He followed me around the store and kept picking up stuff saying do you like this? I did like it, so I would say yes. I didn’t realize every time I said yes he put it in my basket. When I figured out the sales pitch I changed yes to no. It was too late though because once I got to the end of the shop he was tallying up the total of my goods. Peter was quite the salesman and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was happy with my purchases but it took all the Kenyan money that I exchanged for $50.00 plus $20.00 of my american dollars.
The funny part was when I was leaving the shop Peter asked me if I had a pen. He knew I did because he saw it. I wrote down the name of the Great Rift Valley in my journal while I was outside looking at the amazing view. So Peter asked me if I would give him my pen. It was a fat pen and I really like it, but to be neighborly and wanting to show how nice Americans were I gave it to him. As I was getting back in the van I saw him talking to Mark, he was one of the guys that traveled in my van. He told me later than Peter asked him for his lighter, but since Mark was a smoker he wouldn’t part with that, so Peter kept asking him for stuff. Mark finally gave him is eyes drops that he uses for dry eyes “Tears.” It was a new bottle and not opened. I wish I was there to see him explain to Peter what the drops were for. We all had a good laugh, and I learned quickly how to shop. More to follow…

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Africa Trip continues - November 7th, 2009


We left at 7:30 a.m. to go to Sarova Mara Game Camp Reserve in Maasai Mara. We were going to spend three days there and were instructed strictly to bring only one small duffel bag. So we had to do a lot of rearranging with our luggage to bring exactly what we would need for three days. For me, my pills and snacks take up most of my suitcase so I had to really work hard at stuffing everything in my small duffle bag. Our luggage would remain locked up at the Hotel Norfolk until we returned. As it was not all of the sixteen people in our group followed directions, but I did and had my small stuffed duffel bag stuffed to the max and my fanny pack securely attached to my waist. I was ready for safari!

The drive to Sarova Mara was another five and one half hour drive. It was located in Kenya’s richest game reserve. Driving to the camp was one I would never want to take again. The roads that were paved were worse that any road you can even imagine. Our guide “Muli” called it a “Road Massage.”

As soon as we left the downtown area of Kenya we came upon “Slum City.” We could see it from the airplane when we were flying in and it extended for many miles. We were told it was the largest slum city in all of Africa. This is the area where the poorest of poor live. They have no running water, no toilet facilities, and no electricity. The squalor went on for miles and these people actually have to pay $10.00 a month to live there. The poor people in this country are rich compared to these people. Kenya is one of the most corrupt governments in Arica, but I will speak more about that later.

As we continued our drive I could see the vast open areas of brown dying trees and brown mountains. I saw dead Zebras and cows laying along side the road. The drought was quite evident. This time of year is called the “short rain season” but so far it hasn’t come.

The little towns we passed through on the horrible bumpy, dusty road was very depressing and the pit stops in between to use for facilities were small mud hut buildings that were no bigger than my bedroom. They were also souvenir shops where the shopkeepers were very anxious to sell you something – anything. The bathrooms, were outhouses, and always in the back outdoor the shop. Some of them were scary looking and others were kept as clean as they could. I always had my tissues and hand sanitizer in my fanny pack wrapped around my waist with my passport and money.

The small towns where the locals shopped were just rows of mud huts and tin boxes. Of course, cows and goats were intermingled with everyone and walked wherever they wanted to amongst the crowd of shoppers. There are no paved roads so everything is dusty and garbage strewed all over the place. They have no sanitation department and don’t bother to discard of any dead animals because they are one with nature and so they leave them for the vultures. Most of the people shopping wore no shoes. Still the children would wave to you with big smiles on their faces. It was heart wrenching for me, but you could not help smile back at these children and say a silent pray for them. More To Follow…