Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
"Mirror Mirror, on the wall"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Afterglow: My level of existence is elevated after my wonderful African Adventure!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time or the internet ability to post while I was gone.  The tour that I was on kept us so busy from sunrise to sunset, we fell into bed each night and even the hotels, which said that they had internet, had spotty service at best.  I am writing now from the first flight homeward, from Zimbabwe, where we experienced the astonishing Victoria Falls to Johannesburg S. A.   We have about 24 hours of traveling and two more flights ahead of us.  It is a welcome opportunity to rest and reflect on this amazing, trip of a lifetime. 

We actually joined this Tauck Tour after hearing about it from our Friends, Joanie and Mike who had planned to go on this trip as a 40th Anniversary celebration. Their trip sounded amazing, but I never thought of us as the guided tour types.  I worried a bit about Lewis aversion to being told what to do and when.   I really had nothing to worry about because this trip was nothing short of amazing.  We started out in Cape Town, had two different Safari experiences, and visited Johannesburg before traveling to Victoria Falls where the tour ended with a highlight.  We stayed at wonderful hotels, some more wonderful than others, saw incredible sights, and never had to worry about an airport transfer or a piece of baggage.  If there was anything to complain about, it was only that the details and instructions that our tour director gave us on a daily basis made me feel as if I were an incompetent five year old who had never been on a trip before.  I kept asking my friend Mike, “Do you think she would be shocked to know that you are a Harvard graduate?”

Joanie and Mike were wonderful travel companions.  We have traveled together many times before with a group of friends who go away together every year for the Fourth of July and even went to the beach together for a few days this summer, so we knew that we got along and would have a lot of fun.  We knew that they enjoyed meeting new people too and that we would not prevent each other from developing other relationships, but we didn’t foresee how bonded we would get from sharing these powerfully life-changing experiences. 

The other people on our tour were all interesting and we enjoyed our time with them, too.  The first night we met, it was clear that there were a few characters on this trip besides the ones we brought with us, Joanie and Lewis, but as we went along several others emerged.  One nice quiet lawyer from California was invited to join a group of African Dancers and ripped off his shirt to mimic the African men as he danced!  Lewis, of course, whenever he saw an African troupe on the street, couldn’t resist hopping in the middle and shaking his booty along with them.  Other members of our group would steal the microphone on the bus and tell jokes much to the tour director’s dismay, and Lewis loved to play tour director and propose  itinerary changes.  Although we were attentive and moved by the challenges of poverty and race relations in South Africa and Zimbabwe, I will say that we burned more calories laughing than with any other activity.  Here is a video of Lewis dancing with an African troupe.

The Safari vehicles held 6 people, so one unlucky couple from Lancaster, Pa. was assigned to go with our little group.  Betsy and Bill were the most good-natured and happy people on the trip.  Although I usually wonder if my real mission on this earth is to be the brunt of Lewis’ jokes, Lewis teased Betsy relentlessly and she took it all with great humor.   We went to two Safari sites; the first was Tinga Legends in Kruger National park, and the second was a private reserve called Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge.  We saw every one of the “Big Five” animals up close but so much more; beautiful vistas, breathtaking sunsets and starfilled nights more.   (The big 5; elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and Cape buffalo)

One day we were watching a pride of lions sleeping in a clearing after killing a cape buffalo and filling their bellies.  As we watched, a herd of Elephants came marching towards them.  Our guide warned us, “something is going to happen but I am not sure what”.   With that, the elephants started to take off after the lions; who knew that those huge lumbering beasts could run at about 40 KM's per hour.  They isolated one little lion cub who ran under a bush to hide.  The Mama lions did everything they could to distract the lions to no avail.   The elephants circled the bush and tried to trample the poor little cub.  After a while, the elephants dispersed an we drove close to see if the cub was okay.  He looked alright to me as he shivered underneath the bush but I am not sure.  Our guide told us that this was on of the most exciting experiences he had with a group.  He allowed us to see it all unfold at a very close distance but kept us safe the whole time.

Every day, we loaded our pictures on our i-pads and relived the excitement, but I always started with the pictures I brought with me from my last Olivia visit.  I am so happy that the whole family will be here for Thanksgiving and I will be able to share all my pictures and experiences and get some baby-love from Liv.

I have so many more Africa tales to tell so I hope that you will come back for more!

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