10 hours ago
"...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 presence 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 impala 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!