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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

F'ing Tsetse Flies

 We left the lodge at the crater before breakfast, which means they pack it as well as lunch. That suggests another long day in the car. We did more of the crater, which is interesting because of the location and all the animals to be seen there, but the roads are particularly bumpy, which does little for my insides and back.
  We spent two nights at the Plantation Lodge after leaving Ngorongoro.  As I write, we’re 3 days later, so much is a blur of game drives and animal sightings. We have seen the Big 5, the last being the black rhino, of which we saw 2 in the crater, but always in the distance. We have high-powered binocs in the car, so seeing them is easy. We spent quite a lot of time just waiting for him to move, so when he put his head up, we got excited. One actually stood up and walked…they’re so huge.

 The intestinal problems continue and now Matthew has them too. I’ve decided it’s the Malarone, which we have to take for Malaria. We’re supposed to take it with milk or heavy fats, so I’ve now tried everything from drinking milk and tea to just adding mostly cream to a little bit of tea. Pretty gross and delicious all at the same time. We opted for dinnertime because we knew breakfast wasn’t at the same time everyday. Plus, it’s easier to drink cream then. Just kidding..only did that once.
 We arrived at the Plantation when it was still light, thankfully. To get there, you wind through a village and red dirt roads with farms on either side. The terrain is so different—once leaving Ngorongoro National Park, everything changed. Many farms with corn and sunflowers planted as well as vegetables. There are no fences because they don’t want to disallow the animals from moving/migrating, but because it’s become so grown up with homes, the animals have been diverted nevertheless.

 Our suite was near the back of the property along paths of beautiful flowers and many cats that live there. We had a living room with a fireplace, a lovely covered patio, a mini bar with little cookies and a coffee maker, a huge bed with separate duvets, which I love, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower and separate huge black-tiled tub. The staff is exceptional as well. Traditionally, in every place we’ve stayed, the staff greets you with a cold hand towel (or warm if the temp is cool) and a special drink. There’s was pomegranate tea. Then they bring you inside and tell you about the property, when and where meals are served, and anything else we should know. We’re generally shown to our rooms by the person who’s responsible for taking care of the room…and that person comes in when we’re at dinner, turns down the bed, sets up the mosquito net, and if requested, adds the hot water bottles. Yeah, I’m liking this… The other thing many of the staff does, particularly at the Plantation and some other properties, is they say “You’re welcome” when they bring you anything or show you to your room. It’s not a response to thank you…it’s their entreaty to enjoy. Adam tells us every night at dinner what to expect the next day and how early we have to get up and out.
 The following morning we set out with breakfasts in hand for a 45-60 min drive towards the Bushmen area. We picked up a young man, Gorjo, who grew up in the area and could translate for us. He walked in to make sure they knew we would be coming soon, and meanwhile, Adam set up a table and chairs and the breakfast, then when Gorjo returned, we had our meal before walking into the Bushmen’s camp. 

 They’re nomadic, so their ‘homes’ are not waterproof and somewhat open, though private. When it rains, they stay in the hollowed out boa-bob tree nearby. The tribe was very friendly and happy to have visitors. We weren’t the only ones; two other trucks were there as well. The bushmen wear skins of antelopes or other animals they can track and kill. The men showed us their tools and danced for us. I asked Gorjo is they dance as a rule or were just performing for visitors, and he said they don’t dance everyday but do after a successful kill for food. They use bow and arrows, and Matthew shot arrows at a target with them. The women and children were sitting in another part of the camp, so we walked over to see them. And the women were beading! They had some kind of long skinny part of a plant with a pointed end they were stringing. Gorjo told them I also make jewelry, so they invited me to join them. I got down on my knees in the dirt and did a little beading~ ! If I could have stayed in that position longer, I would have, but my knees might never have been the same. Meanwhile, the men were back at the fire smoking tobacco and some other kind of plant. Their eyes showed the affect it was having…just a bunch of guys getting stoned everyday. 
 The government want to ‘improve their lives’ so they’ve tried to get them to send the kids to school and move them to permanent locations. Once they almost succeeded by bribing them with zebras and other animals and money. They moved them into housing with tin roofs and it rained that night. The next day, they were gone. The noise of the rain on the tin roof scared the crap out of them, and they ran. Plus, they didn’t get what was promised. Also, the government refused to get them marijuana, which would have been an incentive.
 After leaving them, we visited one family from Gorjo’s clan. They're a polygamist clan, and this man had 4 wives. Three young women were there with 2 toddlers; the first wife was off somewhere. Wife 1 showed us how she grinds corn—back-breaking job using two large flat stones. They asked me to try, but I declined saying my back and shoulders were already in pain, so I didn’t think it was a good idea. Matthew said he’d try, but they said it was only for women to do. The men build the houses, which are permanent and have good roofs, and the women add the cow dung to keep out the cold and wet. They maintain everything in the house, including getting water and doing the cooking and tending children. The men take care of the livestock.
 An old man walked in and shook our hands. He came and sat next to me and we learned he was their husband. We were stunned…I figured he was an elder who came to greet us. He turned out to be around 64, though he looked much older. Men have to provide the women’s family with 2 cows in order to acquire them as wives, so younger men can’t afford to buy many wives. Gorjo is 36 and has one wife, but says he plans on another in about 10-12 years. 
 I bought a beaded gourd from the women as a souvenir of our time there. I really liked the women. They were warm and curious about us. The main wife asked many questions…like how many wives Matthew has. He said he’s had 3 but not at the same time. She asked about children and where we come from. I told her Matthew does the cooking and that surprised them.
 The man asked if I’d stay there and be wife #5 and he would trade Matthew 1-2 of his younger wives for me. I said I’m too old to have children and won’t grind corn, so he really wouldn’t want me, but he said he would. He apparently liked my skin tone. I thanked him and said no, but it was the best offer I’d had in many years.
 From there, we visited a blacksmith, possibly from the same clan. They have a home nearby, but do their fire work in a clearing nearby. They melt down metal parts, like plumbing supplies, then anneal it and create bracelets. I had immediately noticed Gorjo’s when we met, so knew I’d buy some. We negotiated for what we wanted, and they were very pleased as were we. They gave me one free, which I think might fit a certain grand niece of mine.
 We tipped Gorjo for a job well done all day with us, then headed back to the Plantation for lunch. They had set us up outside between the main building and the pool, down many steps. They had several people serving us (we were the only ones having lunch there that day), starting with focaccia with guacamole, then rice, fish, 2 salads, and greens. Then they finished with guava sorbet. Quite a lunch. My insides were still gurgling, but nevertheless, I had arranged a massage for that afternoon and kept the appointment. I wasn’t sorry…it was wonderful. She started by having me put my feet into warm water, washed them and gave me flip flops to wear. The facilities were lovely and clean, and the massage was fabulous. She used hot oil and really helped my sore neck. The cost was $60 for 60 minutes. What a treat. It didn’t magically fix everything, but I did feel better. 
 Adam suggested we see a doctor in Karatu the following day, and made arrangements to stop there on our way out of town. Neither of us felt like we were sick with flu or a virus, but even if it was the Malarone, we needed to figure out how to fix this. That’s the night I drank a little tea with a lot of cream. 
 We felt better the next day, so decided to skip the doctor and hope for the best. I made it through the day without any unnecessary stops. Matthew was gurgling, but did okay. It’s taken most of the trip, but we’re on the mend or getting used to the meds.

 We spent another very long day in the car. Adam said we would head into Tarangire Park and game drive around to find elephants, which they’re known for because it’s a safe environment for them and for baobab trees, then we’d get to Camp Swala by around 3 and before 4. But he also told me to let him know if I was getting tired and he’d head up there. So at 3, I said enough…we’d seen many elephants up close, which was cool, and some lions, but I was very ready to get to this extremely expensive-$1150 a night-camp and relax. Well, when I said that, he said it would be another hour and a half to get there. I so thought he was kidding until the first half hour passed and we were no one near anything. We didn’t get to the camp until almost 5. I was drained and pissed. And it’s out in the middle of nowhere. Roads that have been washed out and high grasses with so many tsetse flies that you either are stifled from heat if you keep the windows closed or you fight off the biting flies the whole way in. I’d been told not to wear black or dark colors because they attract them, but I had no idea they’d still sting and bite regardless. I can’t imagine what would happen if I’d been in black. I even brought every pair of ugly old white socks I own as a precaution. Didn’t matter…they were everywhere and sting/bite as soon as they land on you. So gross. Adam gets it worse.
 So what’s so cool about Sanctuary Camp Swala? Yep, in the middle of nowhere, except for all the impala, vervet monkeys, dwarf mongoose, and the cutest genets that visit during dinner. Each little accommodation is separate with open netted walls. They’ll close the outer walls, but we left two open so we could just use the curtain and hear the animals at night. We did, but also slept very soundly too. We were told upon arrival that we only had to watch out for the elephants. If they walk through camp and we run into them, we should just back up and return to where we came from. 
 The only glitch in all this was a big one for us. We felt Adam was uncomfortable or very tired when we arrived. He didn’t say anything other than what time we’d meet for dinner. We decided to go a little early because they have a bar set up near the outside dining. The manager and his fiancĂ© run the place—they’re white South Africans…the first white people we’ve seen at any of the places we’ve stayed. Ben said our guide had requested to eat with us, and was that all right? I said, “Of course. We’ve been eating together the whole time.” That put me off right away. Then later when Adam joined us at the bar, he told Matthew he just wanted a glass of sparkling water, which I was having. They started talking and Matthew was explaining about something, but I was sitting there noticing Briana and Ben were serving everyone who came over except for Adam. They never asked him if he wanted anything. I finally suggested we go sit down for dinner, which is when Matthew noticed he hadn’t gotten Adam his water. 
 During dinner, Adam told us he’s been there several times before and when they made the reservation, they’d told them he’s the owner of the company and eats with his clients. They usually aren’t happy about this, but don't make a fuss. These are new managers, they oversaw the whole place being renovated and redone, which opened only 3 weeks ago, so the new managers, who are maybe in their 30’s, haven’t dealt with this until now. And it turns out, this property is one of many owned by Abercrombie and Kent, a very expensive and maybe exclusive travel company. Most of the people here are on their tours.
 I had noticed earlier when we arrived a woman sitting outside, who came into where we were being greeted and oriented without a hello or acknowledgement. In every place we’d been, most people say hello and some ask each other where they’re from. Then before Adam came to the bar, we’d walked over to where a cooking demo had been going on, and no one except the staff talked to us. We didn’t stay long there because it was almost over and I told Matthew the place felt “cliquey” and I didn’t want to stay there…. and I was right-on. By the time we’d finished at the bar, before Adam explained the South African connection and the attitude he’s experienced in this camp, I knew. I could feel the privileged asshole attitude from these people. I know them and I don’t like them. We both grew up around people like this and are not impressed. Money does not buy you manners or kindness.
 We did have a good laugh during dinner because Adam copped to the fact that he realized at 3 that day that we were at least 1.5-2 hours from the camp and he’d promised to get us there before 4. He promised that today we’d come back for lunch, and I said I’d make sure it was early this time and when he told me to let him know if I was tired, he didn’t say to tell him 2 hours before I got tired! At least we’re able to laugh about it now.
 The best part of the evening was when I spotted something below us off the deck during dinner. Matthew said genet, and Adam agreed. I’d never heard of one—they’re so freaking cute! It’s body looks like a cat with spots and the long bushy tail, more than it’s body length is striped! It’s a member of the mongoose family and not a cat at all. She apparently lives there along with another—mother and child. They’re nocturnal so hoping to spot it again.
 Today we drove through the park, and it was small animal day. We saw many dik-diks, which are the second smallest antelopes. They’re adorable and fast, mostly in pairs. We’d seen our first at the gorge, but none since. We also saw many species of birds and dwarf mongoose which were hiding in termite mounds. They made holes in the mounds and stick their heads out. Reminded me of gophers at home. Except cute. It was an odd day for large animals. Only saw one elephant and other drivers said they hadn’t seen much, so we opted to return to the camp for a lunch early and relax in the afternoon. We could see giraffes in the distance and many close up impalas, dwarf mongoose, and monkeys right off the dining room deck. I told Adam we were game sitting instead of driving, and I was fine with that.
 For $1150 per night, you’d think the wifi would be good enough for me to send this and add pictures, etc. but it’s not. They only provided wifi for one device, so I told Ben last night that I needed more. They gave me another password for one more device, but honestly, I had trouble sending a text with a photo, so I’m not even bothering to finish this until tomorrow. We’re heading back to the first lodge in Arusha for the night, then a long day before heading to the airport. 
 Good news…I’ve set aside half my wardrobe to leave behind! Makes for easy packing. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

I've Never Seen So Many Sunrises!

  Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a sunrise kind of gal. My sister used to get up and out before 6 am to get to the gym, and I could hardly move until I had at least one cup of coffee.
 Here in Tanzania, the best time to start out is around 6 because the animals are easier to spot, there are fewer safari trucks on the roads, and by afternoon, it's too hot for both kinds of animals to be out there--us and them.
 So with leaving the camps or lodges at 0-dark-30 and returning at least 7 hours later, and twice 9-11 hours later, I've had little time or energy to write. We have had some wonderful experiences, but it's also been challenging. My insides still feel upside down after being jostled daily on dusty roads.
 We have now seen the Big 5! The black rhino was the last, which we saw before leaving the interior of the crater. My picture is but a dot, but Matthew got some good shots with his better zoom lens.
 We left the crater yesterday after exploring for several hours, then headed out of Ngorongoro for the Plantation Lodge. Getting out of the crater is something else. Well, actually getting into it is worse...feels like it's straight downhill on a very poor, recently washed out and sort of fixed, road. We came out a different road, one that's so small and windy, it's only used for ascent. Views are spectacular and you're driving through a forest.

Saw a lion with her fresh wildebeest kill, then her cub wandered over. Cool way to start our drive...seeing the cub.

  Lots of elephants live in the caldera, but they're mostly male. The females live elsewhere and their mates visit them by going up the ascending road to where they're located. They have no trouble finding them.
 This bird is everywhere and I have spent countless moments trying to capture it in flight. The outer wings are iridescent blue--it's a type of starling.

 On our way up to the Maasai village.

  We were welcomed by the chief's son (sounds impressive until you find out the chief has 16 wives and 73 children, so anyone who greeted us would have been related to the chief), dressed us in cloths and a necklace for me to borrow. Then a woman grabbed me by the hand and brought me over to the other women...and they all started singing and dancing, which I was expected to do as well. A large part of what we did was move our shoulders up and down to make the necklace dance. Then the woman on my right would tell me to "jump," and we'd jump a few times during that part of the song.
 See what I'm holding? That's a huge bag containing 10 hanks of beads--in 10 colors. Towards the end of the dance, they got very distracted realizing what I'd brought them. The lead woman came over and I presented them to her, then they all sat on the ground and separated each strand so that they'd be shared equally.
 Meanwhile, we were watching the men make fire using two types of wood.
  After the fire was built, we got to watch the women sort the beads and two males counted them out and made sure each woman got 10 strands, one of each color.
  They normally have to trade or buy beads at the market, so this will help them immensely. We bought a few things from them at the end, and unfortunately, we didn't negotiate well and they set their prices very high. Adam wasn't pleased when we told him later--he felt they took advantage of us.His company pays them out of what we pay, so he's told them to be fairly priced. I should have asked him if this was right before we paid. It's too bad the visit ended on a sour note because they were fun to visit till then. We saw one of their houses and also their kindergarten. The kids sang a song, and there's an obvious tip box sitting in the room.
  We have seen a couple types of jackals...and they're so cute!
 Haha...see the black rhino? Well, he's out there--that little black dot. Take my word for it.
  This old guy walked right across the street near our truck. He always has the right-of-way.
 And then there was these two who were walking along, stopped, sat, nuzzled each other, then proceeded to walk between the trucks in front of ours. Ah, shade, they said, and they laid down. One had a paw on the tire...we weren't going anywhere. We were surrounded by safari trucks with everyone taking pictures as we photo-bombed them by standing on the seats and hanging our heads over the edge to take pictures too.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Out of the Camps

We left the Serengeti and are now at Ngorongoro Conservation area. We saw the Olduvai Gorge today and saw amazing artifacts that made Matthew drool, including Lucy, whom I remember hearing about when she was discovered in the '60's. She was tiny. I felt a little better today, but by the end of the day, after being in the dusty car ride from 6:24am till almost 6pm, I was ready to lose it. Also physically...I raced into the bathroom at the hotel as soon as I could. The next few days will be shorter--Adam has figured out we don't like the long car rides. He only had to see my face around 3:00 to know that.
So since we have better Internet, I'm mainly posting some pictures with captions tonight. If you're interested in where we're staying, which has a phenomenal view, look up Serena Lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Outdoor shower at the Kubu Kubu Camp--looks awesome except when a breeze blows the water off you and you freeze.

Beautiful view from our tent. I heard a snuffling sound last night which Adam said was an antelope. 

Great expression!

I had to put at least one wildebeest in here after seeing thousands. It is cool how they migrate by first joining forces and meeting all together. They're very powerful animals. Ugly, but powerful.

This was foreplay.

And this last about 20 seconds at most, then the female growls and swipes at him to get off. Once he's off, she lies back down in submission to show she really knows who's boss. (her, of course)

Lots of beautiful birds here...

We've seen many lions, but this was our in a tree. She was beautiful. Yesterday we saw a leopard and her 8 month old cub in a tree, but in the distance. We used binoculars to watch them. After all these years, I'm still the 'cat lady.'

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Woze of Travel

The days are blending into one another, though tomorrow promises to be very different because we’re leaving the Serengeti for Ngorongoro and staying on the rim of the crater in a lodge.
 But I digress…..

 Our second tented camp, Kubu Kubu, is lovely, but for a couple of major things.  The outdoor shower looks awesome, but I took my shower after settling in and before dinner, and if you’re not standing directly under the waterfall shower, you get chilled. And when you’re finished, it’s really chilly! Matthew was going to shower after dinner in the dark, but I strongly urged him to reconsider, which he did. He came in freezing and shivering, so it would have been worse later. 
 Then there are the bugs. Little harmless round things everywhere and in everything. I was about to brush my teeth, but was faced with about 7-8 of them in the sink. They don’t seem to fly, but they magically appear all over. Then there was this giant black beetle in the sink just before I went to bed.
 I was never a camper, so trying to enjoy the rustic life at this age is a challenge to say the least. And I haven't even mentioned the tsetse flies that get into the vehicle and sting as soon as they land on you. They’re a very ugly part of the terrain. I was told not to wear black because they are attracted to it, so I brought every pair of ugly white socks I had, and still they’re all over me. Adam has to fight them off as he drives…they really love him. 
 One part of KubuKubu that’s cool is the Masai warriors who walk you to and from your room with their spears.  They wrap beautiful colorful cloths around themselves. Adam explained they used to wear animal skins they’d dye, but once machine-made textiles were introduced, they switched to using them. He’s from the Masai culture so talked to us about their traditions today.
 Okay, yesterday and today…so many wildebeest. Have I said I’m already sick of seeing them? Enough already. Remember, I have a short attention span. Adam loves watching as the herds combine and grow, and I get that it’s a natural order of things. They gather and gather, then someone decides to lead them in a direction. They have no leaders, so it’s sometimes whoever draws the short straw. We watched for maybe an hour yesterday while the herd stood around trying to decide if it was safe to cross the road to get to the drinking pool. It wasn’t, as evidenced by about a dozen land rovers waiting to see if the hidden female lion was going to feast or not. A male and another female were under another bush sleeping, but she was in full waiting mode. 
 Adam is a tracker who’s been doing this for 20 years, so he said we should wait because he felt something else was going to happen. Almost every other land rover left and didn’t see the lions move to another spot, where 2 more females and a baby were waiting and we got to watch them get up and move as a group. It was an aw moment.

  The key to game drives is patience. We’ve waited for something to happen for ages and then it does. We’ve found lots of lions by watching and waiting. We also saw a group of  7 giraffes together, which Adam says is rare. They clumped near each other, then Adam said to watch because they looked like they wanted to move elsewhere. So we sat and waited and I took the slowest video of them moving single file very slowly. 
 It’s great when these animals in front of you, but getting there isn’t always easy. The roads are dusty, bumpy, and sometimes deeply rutted. I had had enough by the end of yesterday and asked to head to the camp about an hour early. We had a little down time that way, which I sorely needed. 
 Today was a bit difficult….I had some intestinal problems, which wasn’t helped by bumping along the Serengeti plains. I mean it’s plain. We spent at least an hour driving through boring landscape and I felt like crap. Sorry, wrong word to use. Oh, so also not a camper means toilets, not the back of a land rover, but I finally had to give in today after drinking a lot of water to avoid dehydration. I was so proud of myself, I took a picture. Adam’s catch phrase for when you need to stop is you need to “check the pressure.” Men are so lucky…
 Fortunately we left early and returned at lunch time—but it was still 6:30am till 1pm, so that’s a long time in a bumping car when your insides want to explode. Again, sorry—TMI?
 Oh, we did see the elusive leopard today in a tree with her cub, who’s about 8 months old. Adam says they stay together for about 18-22 months, then he gets booted to make his own way. They’re solitary animals, so once they mate, that’s the end of it. No long-term relationships for them. I have no pictures because my zoom isn’t strong enough, but Matthew got some good ones.
 Tomorrow is another long day in the car, so keep your fingers crossed for me that Imodium starts working soon. Crap. oops
 Oh, and now Matthew's stomach is acting up, so we are thinking it's the Malorone for Malaria that might be causing us problems. That I can live with. Met a bunch of people before dinner tonight who are all from CA--SF and SD. One lady said her attitude is to plug herself up with Immodium so she can enjoy her vacation and worry about unplugging later. Ah, those Californians. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tanzamania Trip

 I hate to start a blog about travel with flying, but when you begin with a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, followed by a 7-8 hour flight to Nairobi, followed by what was supposed to be an hour flight to your final destination, which didn’t happen, it’s worth mentioning. And it’s why so many dislike traveling.
 Everything was on time until we got on our flight to Nairobi and were delayed on the runway due to so many other planes trying to get out too. We knew we had a short time between flights, so when we had waited about 30 min, then the captain came on to say it would be another 15, I knew we were doomed. Sure enough, the purser came over to tell us we’d have to stay in Nairobi overnight and fly out the next morning.
 We stood in line to get new boarding passes for a long time, then were told we’d have to give those to immigration where they’d waive our visa for Kenya, so I asked for a second set. Not sure what we were supposed to do without boarding passes. We got through immigration with much fuss, headed out to find the hotel booth where they’d arrange transport. They told us to get in the white van outside that was from the Crowne Plaza and we’d be given dinner and a room. Never before had I packed a full set of clothes just in case, so boy, was I happy about that! 
 We went through customs, found the van outside, and he asked for our voucher. Of course, no one at the desk said anything about a voucher, but by now we were over-exhausted and couldn’t even get back inside, so we insisted and he called someone who confirmed we were to be taken to the hotel. And of course, we had no voucher for there either. She didn’t really ask about vouchers then, but took our boarding passes. The next day at 6 am, she wouldn’t give them to us because we had no vouchers, so we had to wait for her to call someone and confirm KLM would be paying for everything. Not exactly a smooth introduction to Africa. 
 I did manage to get ahold of Nandi, our wonderful US connection to the safari company, so she could get in touch with Zubeda and Adam, who were meeting the plane we weren’t on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to her in time, so they had already shown up and found we weren’t on the flight. 
 Oh, and Nairobi airport was interesting. We flew business class and had priority boarding all the way there, but in Kenya, everyone waits in long lines to go through security, then goes upstairs where the gates are, but before getting to the gate, you go through another long line for yet another security—this time a full-body scan. My sweet little bird scissors I’ve had forever were confiscated—too sharp. Yeah, they had about an inch or less of cutters. Anyway, it was quite a fiasco, but we finally got to Arusha and were happily greeted by Zubeda with a lovely, if somewhat wilted from an overnight wait, bouquet of roses. She helped us through immigration and getting our visas, then customs where the guy wanted to hassle me about bringing in 20 pairs of (plastic encased) small scissors, 3 sets of art least 72 colors of thread, many school supplies, and about 10,000 seed beads. Zubeda explained I was bringing them as gifts and donations, and he said next time I should go through proper channels and declare them, etc. Humph. No good deed goes….
  I was very happy to give her all the sewing supplies. She has started teaching village girls to sew so they can make their own living. They get machines after they learn and some set up in shops or markets. Teaching kids skills allows them to have better lives, and both she and Adam do that. 
 Our first Tanzanian lodge is called Lake Diluti Lodge, and it’s beautiful. The grounds are lush and well-tended, the chalets are each a separate building, so they’re quiet and private, with huge bathrooms and outside sitting areas. We actually started with breakfast since we’d missed it that morning. We were asked what we wanted and neither had any ideas, so Sahib said, should I just bring you everything? and he did. Their coffee is out of this world, and the meal was great. The best part was the outside view of the property. 
 We hadn’t slept much in 2 days, but decided naps might throw our systems off even more, so we opted to rest a bit in our beautiful room. As we relaxed in our room, Matthew saw a movement in a tree outside, which turned out to be a monkey. We ran out with our cameras…our first wild animal and we didn’t think we’d see anything until the next day!
 Then a walk around the grounds to keep us awake. We found the pool, massage room, many labeled trees and coffee bean plants, then decided to see if we could find the lake. A young man intercepted us on our walk asking where we wanted to go. He took us to the lake and called for someone to unlock the gate so we could go all the way down to it. The property is well protected with gates and fences, which we didn’t realize. Victor then walked us back and we got into a discussion about monkeys. Oh, and Victor is a guide who works for the lodge, which we found out at the lake. We’re very trusting…we just followed him through the vegetation along the path without even asking if he worked there. 
 He asked if we wanted to see the verdant monkeys, which are different from the one we’d seen, which was a blue. We were fully entertained watching these little creatures jump from branches in the trees. There were seriously adorable.
 We ordered soup and salad for lunch and skipped the main course since we’d so much breakfast not that long before, met with Zubeda and Adam about our itinerary for the following 10 days later in the afternoon, and returned to the main building for yet another meal…a very good 4-course dinner. Sahib is the waiter for all the meals. He and every other member of the staff are wonderful.
 Adam was picking us up at 6:30 to head to the small airport, so we had to get up at 5:30 to have breakfast at 6. Not my usual day, but ‘when in Rome’…

Day 1 of our Safari with Adam:
 I can’t possibly cover everything we see each day…and will try to do so in pictures mostly anyhow. Getting here on the smallest plane—12 seater prop—was incredible. We sometimes flew low enough I saw a herd of zebras! This flight ended up making 3 stops before we got to ours. Sometimes they have no one else to pick up or drop off and it’s nonstop in the Serengeti Park, but it made it interesting to go up and down so much.
 We took off and started our game drive right away. It’s quite bumpy and I doubt passengers get used to all that action, but once you stop and see a herd of something you’ve only read about, seen on TV or in the zoo, you forget about the discomfort. We’re very fortunate because they had more rain this year than in the past 8-9 years, which means lots of food for the animals, so they’re procreating like crazy and their numbers are huge..
 We hit the migration for the wildebeest, and every time we passed their “meeting place" the herd had grown by hundreds. They're the weirdest looking animals--part of the antelope family.

I loved the zebras because their stripes are unique to them and no two are alike. Anyone who knows me understands how I relate to that. We drove and stopped, drove and stopped all day. Of course, we were in the land rover almost the whole time (unless someone had to "check his tire pressure" at the back of the car). No, I didn't. Teaching school all those years prepared me for strong bladder control.
 We stopped in an beautiful pooled area that was part of the river where a huge family of hippos were basking. We stayed quite awhile watching as they each woke and yawned, then strolled into the water. We even were able to stand outside for a short while watching them...and the nearby crocodiles too.
As we watch the different animals, Adam explains their nature, habits, habitats, and family structure. 

We stayed out driving from when we arrived by air around 10 until about 5 pm. We had boxed lunches in the car and then dinner at the first tented camp that night. Adam arranged for our armed guard to escort us to the dining room because it's not safe for anyone to walk around at night unprotected. The rooms are nice and spacious and somewhat rustic. Power goes off at 10:30, but some lights work. 
We are currently on day 3 of our safari and I have many more pictures and details, but we are in the second tented camp, which is lovely and wifi is provided but slow. If I add more pictures, it might not load, so I am going to opt out for now and hope this comes through.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Art Show & Camera Practice

 I bought a new camera recently and need to practice using it, especially for the blog. I want to be ready for an upcoming big trip. Hoping to photograph lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and guess where we're headed?!

I am participating in SVOS again this year--Silicon Valley open studios. It's always a crap shoot about how many people show up, especially on the coast. I'm about done with today and not one person showed up saying they found us through the cumbersome catalog of almost 400 artists we paid to join. I'm debating doing this again next year. Even though I'm home and not sharing my space, which makes it easier for set-up, it's still a lot of work. But if I don't sell work myself, where else? I have pieces in 2 great stores, but I still have many things here. I love what I do and want to continue making more, so moving it along to new homes is important. 
I had a goal today of taking photos of my displays and posting them. No lions--not even the cat this time, though he came down and sat in the middle of my table.
Wall hangings, jewelry, and beads for sale
Ice-dyed men's shirts, napkins, flour-sack dish towels and a few knitted baby dresses.

Necklace and bracelets

Oh my, more necklaces and bracelets

Dyed scarves, vests, rayon ponchos; woven wall hangings, earrings...and more necklaces and bracelets.

Goal accomplished~!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Over-dyeing--A New Life

  I started ice-dyeing last year and loved it. I was thrilled with whatever came out even if it was a sprinkling of color. The patterns intrigued me and I didn't want to re-dye them and possibly lose the original patterns. 
 Last weekend, I decided to experiment with a few scarves to see what would happen, especially to the ones that have a design cut into them. They look best when saturated with color. I loved the new effect and noticed the original color had not been replaced. Unfortunately, I was so excited to get started, I didn't take "before" pictures.

 I haven't yet ironed any of these, and they'll look even better after I do.

 This is a long rayon vest. Before, too much white and after, beautifully pastel color blending.

Cotton and silk scarf with similar results.

This turned out to be my favorite because it was ok being orange and blue, but then....

I'm not a fan of yellow, and this scarf had too much of it. I needed to tone it down or blend it with other colors.

This butterfly jacket also had too much yellow along with lime green. I really need to iron this to see the color formations, but it's now more saturated and darker.

My artist goal this year is to take what I already know--weaving, dyeing, beading--and learn new techniques or enhance what I already do rather than add more to my repertoire. 
Already happy with both the over-dyeing and crimping my weaving:
More to come....