"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back from Africa! Part 1

After 38 hours of continuous travel, we safely arrived home from our trip to Africa on Sunday. I have been trying to think of what to write about this trip to do it justice and there are truly no words to describe its impact. It was a life changing event and so much bigger and more important than I ever thought possible. So big that I, the Queen of verbosity, is at a loss for words to describe it.

So I decided I would give the facts of the trip and maybe some of the stories and emotions will crystallize in my head. Picture: Dastardly Duo goes to Africa! Bags are packed and meet the weight restriction despite the HUGE amount of camera equipment hubby brought!

We left San Francisco on July 1st headed for our first stop which was in Frankfurt, Germany. We had a 8 hour layover there ( it was supposed to be 12 hours, but we had a 4 hour delay in San Francisco. There is lots of "hurry up and wait" involved in International Travel) and we had rented hotel rooms to shower and nap. My Dad and I decided to take advantage of the fitness center and got in a 5 mile treadmill run in the hottest fitness center I have ever been in. 7 treadmills in one room and NOT ONE FAN! Ick! Picture: Super sweaty RBR and Daddy of RBR in Germany.

I am going to take this opportunity to apologize for my pictures. I only have the point and shoot camera that I run with. My hubby is the photographer, so I was appointed the "family vacation" photographer so, I have next to NO animal pictures. Just pictures of my mom, dad brother, and husband. My hubby and Dad got AWESOME pictures that they are frantically processing and organizing and as soon as he posts his pictures I will have a slide show here. Here is a link to a teaser set of pictures that he posted on a photography forum last night. Africa Pics

The next flight was to Johannesburg, South Africa where we would meet with the tour group. We did this safari through National Geographic Expeditions. The tour would take us through three countries (South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia), four game reserves, and one point of interest (Mala Mala in S.A., Mashatu in S.A., the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Chobe in Botswana, and Victoria Falls in Zambia) in 10 days. There was a lot of travel to get to all of these places and it was done on a private charter plane. immediately after landing in Johannesburg we had to board the charter plane and fly another 1 1/2 hours to Mala Mala game reserve.

My mother gets motion sickness very easily, my father has an iron stomach. Unfortunately, it appears that the motion sickness gene is dominant and my brother, mother, and I were VIOLENTLY ill on the first flight on the charter plane (a DC-3. Yes, for you "plane" folk that is an OLD plane. Same one that is seen in the movie Casablanca). Three barf bags later we arrived at Mala Mala. I thought we were the only ones that were sick, but apparently 4 other people got sick as well. We affectionately called the DC-3 we traveled on the "Vomit Comet" from that point forward. Picture: Mom and brother, pre-vomit comet

Mala Mala, South Africa

Mala Mala is a private game reserve and boasts the p
resence of the "Big 5". The "Big 5" are elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, and cape buffalo. This name dates back to the days of heavy hunting and these animals represent the most difficult and /or dangerous African animals to hunt. Hunting is not allowed on Mala Mala game reserve these days, but it was a former hunting reserve. It is a gorgeous lodge and had the most knowledgeable guides. We went on game drives in the evenings and mornings.

We had four game drives in Mala Mala. We saw all members of the Big 5 on the first night! (Ok, I shouldn't say "we' I was still sick and I missed the first game drive. Which sucks because they saw a mother rhino and her young calf. Something I would have sold my kidney to see, but fortunately hubby got pictures.) Pictures: View from our room in Mala Mala

I had envisioned driving around for hours and maybe seeing 2 or 3 animals, but there was wildlife at every turn.

Highlights from Mala Mala: We parked next to a pride of lions with 9 cubs feeding on a giraffe kill from a couple days prior, we watched those nine cubs play like kittens running up trees and wrestling, and then saw as the hyenas moved in once the lions had their fill of the giraffe carcass, had graceful giraffes walking next to our jeep, we watched a young female leopard court a disinterested male leopard, watched that same male leopard eat an imp
ala up in a tree, followed a huge, but illusive male rhino through the bush. Watched elephants and their babies come down for water as we ate breakfast. Commiserated with the aging Cape buffalo males that formed their own bachelor herd once they had lost a step and were ousted from the main herd by the younger males. Picture: RBR family on safari in Mala Mala.

This sounds like a disinterested inventory. I don't know how to put all of it in words, but I want to write it down before I forget.

But for now I must go ride, run and swim. Christ, I have a half IM triathlon in 17 days!


Andrea N said...

OMG I am SO happy you're back!!!!!!!!!!!! I missed you SO much!!!

Ugh - I can't believe you missed your first game drive - so sad. Sounds like you had a great time overall though.

Thanks to the link to Ed's pictures (which are crazy fantastic). I didn't know he hung out at POTN (over 10,000 posts - he hangs out there a lot). I commented to him - you can tell him we know each other!

Dan Marino at Mala Mala? Cool. His kids, listening to music during a game drive? Ungrateful!

JenZen said...

Hi there! I just stopped by to say hello and how much I enjoyed your post. I saw your profile and your "about me" just made me giggle. It was like reading in mirror - or looking or reading about or whatever. I'm an inconsistent runner working on my first marathon. I feel your pains! Africa - WOW!! What an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

Angela said...

Wow! How amazing was all of that?! I'm glad you're back, though. Sounds like you had a terrific time. I missed you, though!

Stef0115 said...

SO glad you are back!!!!!

"Disinterested inventory" or not please keep writing . . . what a fascinating journey. Thanks for the pics too!

Of course you do have to get back to training so I'll cut ya a little slack, but not much. :-)

Lou said...

Sounds like the trip was amazing! However I am among the many who have missed you. You're one of my "sure thing" bloggers. Also, I am so glad you got back in time to see my race report posted before it was old news!

E said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. The pics of the animals are amazing. Glad you had fun and made it back safely!

Calyx Meredith said...

Welcome back! Sounds (and looks) like the RBR clan had the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy synching back into your training schedule but give us more details when you can. The ones you've already set down are amazing. (Well - except for the vomit comet which sounds excruciating!)

Willie said...

Welcome home! Wow you had an awesome trip. Not being the animal lover that you are but being a CRAZY airplane lover I must say I am jealous you go to fly on a DC-3! That would be awesome, I would give anything to fly on one of those! Even 3 vomit bags would be worth it!

I'm sure you have an enormous amount of stories and experiences that may never make it to the pixels here in internet-world but I look forward to hearing at least some of them!

BTW, my target is Dallas White Rock marathon in December for my BQ. No promises but I'll try my best. You coming to the Redman?

ShirleyPerly said...

Vomit Comet -- Ha! I can laugh only because I wasn't on that plane (had I been, I surely would have been like you).

Wow, great pictures (is your husband a professional photographer?). Look forward to hearing more about your trip. Certainly very exciting already!

Steve Stenzel said...

WOW!! What a trip! Great photos!! Were you actually able to take you mind off the upcoming half IM to enjoy the trip? (because I wouldn't have been able too...)

Erin Leigh said...

Wow it sounds so amazing already. LOVE the pics and am looking forward to reading and seeing more!