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Of Heresy, Old Friends and Near Misses


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#1 twaffle

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:20 AM

I haven't really written much of my report as yet, just some notes and ideas. It will just be some reminiscences and feelings of locations, sighting and camps. I will post additional information at the end on my booking process and things I could do better.
BUT first,
I have just had an email from Alex that Karen Moller who was running his Serengeti camps this year, and also ran them last year after graduating from University in Brisbane was killed yesterday in a car accident along with the camp mechanic Seba. I am devastated as she had such a bright future, was amazingly talented as an artist and was wonderful to be around handling all queries and issues with grace and humour. So my trip report will now be tinged with the memories of friends and the taint of sorrow … I seek your forbearance. To John, her father (a good friend to me) and to the family of Seba who I didn't know, my condolences, not much more I can say.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#2 dikdik

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:34 AM

Thats very sad indeed.

There's none so blind as those who will not see.


#3 twaffle

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 08:36 AM

Alice


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My iPhone photo of the border stop



I don’t really remember how I came to be standing here, surrounded by Chinese tourists confused by the exit procedures for leaving Kenya. Dust eddies through the trucks, buses and 4x4 safari vehicles which are parked in an inventive manner designed to get passengers as close as possible to the immigration building. No yellow exit forms to be seen anywhere so we dutifully fill in the blue entry immigration forms, and I write DEPARTURE in big bold letters over the top, just in case anyone thinks I’m a mythical being who can enter multiple times without ever leaving.

Wandering back to the vehicle, I see the same two women standing next to my passenger door, various beaded bracelets hanging from their hands, a look of hope in their eyes. I’ve exhausted my Swahili in trying to convince them that I don’t want any souvenirs, that I have nothing to trade, no money to spare, no space in my luggage ad infinitum, but still they hold out hope. Thinking that a quick departure is in order, I shrug my shoulders in African acceptance when told of the fact that the bus blocking us in is there for the duration as the driver has given the key to someone for safekeeping and that particular, reliable individual has headed off for a well deserved drink … apparently!

I’m stuck with the saleswomen.

“Perhaps I would like to trade my earrings for some beautifully beaded Maasai souvenirs?” the younger woman asks. I explain that my mother gave the earrings to me and I could never trade them. Well, that changed everything. If my mother gave them to me, then there was no way they would consider taking them. What was my name? I introduced myself, and the younger woman introduced herself as Alice. The older woman had a name which I can neither pronounce nor remember, she also had very few teeth but a lovely smile. Mama Mzee has 8 children but only one girl for which she is very sad, but she has many grandchildren so is blessed. Alice has two children and thinks Mama Mzee is mad to have so many. Alice asks me why no one buys their goods anymore? I struggle to answer because it is a long time since I bought such souvenirs. She says that she has to pay school fees and support her family, and I say that it is difficult being in business as we have all suffered. Bit rich coming from someone who sits in an expensive 4x4 with a private driver, in a country half way around the world from home, but it is all relative. There was a time when the haranguing of roadside hawkers made me nervous, but now it is an opportunity for simple ‘girl’ chat and learning of new things.

The bus driver’s friend materialises at about the same time as the bus’s occupants escape from the clutches of the immigration officers which surprises no one, and we get ready to leave. I say a cheerful goodbye to my new friends, wishing them better sales (target the Americans, I say in parting, they have lots of money!!) and we drive the few metres across the border into Tanzania.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#4 Kavey

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:03 AM

Oh gosh, I'm so sorry to read the news you shared at the top. What an incredible shock and sadness that must be for all who worked with these two individuals, and their families I am sure are devastated. So sad to hear this. A reminder of how ephemeral life is.

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I love the style of your report, though. I can't wait to read more, it's wonderful.
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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"I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees."
Alfred Tennyson

#5 twaffle

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:59 AM

Thank you Dikdik and Kavey. I had written Alice's story earlier but now I will take a short break to gather my thoughts so that the report doesn't become too maudlin.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#6 Anita

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 12:32 PM

Twaffle, so sorry to hear about Karen and Seba. Thoughts with their families and friends.

#7 Atravelynn

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 02:51 PM

How tragic and sad that vibrant lives were cut short.
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#8 Shreyas

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 03:25 PM

Sorry to hear, Twaffle. Prayers for the departed; and hope you feel better.

#9 pault

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 04:03 PM

So sad to hear of that kind of death - too shocking - and thoughts gathered or not I can imagine you might not be so cheery writing this - well not for a while.

Anyway, I like the story of Alice and would be quite happy if you continued in that vein... just saying; happy however you continue.
August is coming.... that waiting nearly over

#10 Sangeeta

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 07:18 PM

Very, very sorry to hear about two young people losing their lives so senselessly. Condolences to both families and gosh, it really brings home the lesson to sieze the day and spend ones time doing the things one loves with the people that matter.

I like your beginning too, Twaffle, but take your time. This must not be easy for you.

Zindagi na milegi dobara... Chalo Africa
You only live once...Go To Africa

www.chaloafrica.com


#11 twaffle

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:04 PM

Thanks for your thoughts and support. Last night I realised that I am living someone else's grief and in that regard must keep it in context. I find it easy to let the empathy I feel for Madibe (Seba's father who is a guide and who I did meet) and for John (Karen's father) overwhelm me until their grief becomes mine. It is one thing to reach out to others to offer support and love, quite another thing to become the person who needs support which becomes indulgent. So the sadness I feel is for the loss of vibrant youth with a great future, the realisation that the people we hold dear can be taken from us so quickly (sometimes we just forget these things) and the knowledge of how people you've become very fond of are suffering.

I remember again how every day is an opportunity to make someone else feel valued, and that is something I don't always do so well.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#12 PT123

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 11:36 PM

Twaffle, I am very sorry as well. Very sad when a young person just staring out passes away. Her parents must be devastated.

#13 pault

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 02:52 AM

I remember again how every day is an opportunity to make someone else feel valued, and that is something I don't always do so well.


Yes, that's the point - this kind of thing makes us all a bit maudlin; more so when you knew the parties involved and especially when you know the parents who have to bear the burden. From the "outside" I don't think it self-indulgent and I certainly didn't take your statement as an invitation to comfort you.

Anyway, I'm only going to comment on the trip report now... these kind of words never quite seem to come out of me like I intended! :rolleyes:
August is coming.... that waiting nearly over

#14 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 06:31 AM

Very sorry to read this. Thoughts and prayers for family and friends.
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Botswana in my blood .......

#15 twaffle

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:03 AM

Thank you everyone. You are a good community to belong to.

And now I will go back and start writing.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#16 twaffle

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 10:29 AM

Missed Chances, the first

Of many, if only I had known. I, of the optimistic idea that I could drive to Arusha and photograph Larks on the way and visit TZ birder as well, must learn that time slows in Africa but not enough for my plans.

Resigned to no larks (this time) and to no little Safaritalk GTGs either, I rather despondently arrived at Shanghazi House, our Arusha bolt hole. I hadn’t seen any reviews of this place, but its close proximity to Arusha National Park made it a good choice. Magnificent gardens, a beautiful central dining room, outdoor terrace, wifi to update ST friends and well spaced out bungalows made it an ideal resting place. I immediately felt cheered. Wonderful service, very quiet (well, we were the only guests) and really good food were coupled with interesting birds and flowers to photograph. The staff needed a little help with the concept of providing a ‘breakfast to go’. Apparently the typical Shanghazi guest doesn’t depart before breakfast, beautiful light on Mt Meru notwithstanding. So special instructions on the nature of taking breakfast were given and we readied ourselves for an early departure the following morning.

They really weren’t quite equipped to cope with this but they did their best. The main gate couldn’t be unlocked as the night watchman had finished his shift and the day watchman had not quite assumed his position. One of the staff raced down with a key but couldn’t make it work, so we gathered our thoughts, cameras and ‘breakfast to go’ and departed through the tradesman’s entrance. Rather fitting really, we are only humble photographers after all.

Posted Image

Waiting for the Shanghazi gate to open



Arriving shortly afterwards at the Arusha NP gates, we were slightly surprised that we had surprised the gate staff by our early arrival as well. I am sure others must turn up early, but perhaps not quite so often as at the gates to other parks. Despite all the delays, we managed to navigate our way through the park to our main destination. The forests and the colobus monkeys.

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We encountered many interesting animals in ANP and the scenery is beautiful to say the least.

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Woodland Kingfisher



The birds are stunning, but colobus was my aim and so when a glimpse through the trees of the distinctive black coat with shimmering white mane came soon after entering the forest, I was optimistic of good sightings.

Two hours later, and finally the small troop came out into more open areas of the tree canopies and we were able to start photographing them. Two hours later again, we were fortunate to see another troop, complete with tiny babies. We were able to leave the park feeling that our safari had indeed begun.

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… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#17 Atravelynn

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 03:13 PM

Outstanding job on the colobus!
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#18 twaffle

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:18 AM

Shangazi or in praise of plants

In the dead of night I tossed and turned, the neighbourhood dogs keeping up a sing song which echoed around and around and the heat of the Arusha highlands surprising me with its strength. Swathes of mosquito netting draped around possibly the largest bed I had ever slept in. Thank goodness a fire hadn’t been lit, nor a hot water placed considerately under the quilt. Despite the canine chorus I felt sure that I would sleep, but when the roosters began their morning salute to the sun, I decided that enough was enough and perhaps I would begin the experimental time lapse photography.

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How fortunate that my assistant was snoring next to me and that I had, over many years, learnt not to feel any compunction about waking him up. So out we stumbled into the peaceful garden of Shangazi (if you discount the dogs and roosters, of course) and set up the laptop for tethered shooting of the time lapse. Shame we hadn’t practised, but for heavens sakes, who ever practises. It was breaking dawn before we had mastered the settings, but never mind, the composition wasn’t ideal and we had intended to do our time lapse in the Serengeti not Arusha. Thank goodness we weren’t banking on our night photography … and I won’t mention the polarising filter at all!!

Despite the trials of our unpreparedness, we had a lot of fun with the plants of Shangazi and it is certainly a place I would return to. But for now it was time to mooch out of there and head towards another highlands … Ngorongoro.

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… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#19 Jan

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:37 AM

Dearest Twaffle, viewing your lovely photos I feel like throwing my camera away!

#20 twaffle

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:55 AM

Oh Jan, you are so nice. It is only because they are of flowers and plants, not blood drenched predators. But I like my photos to be beautiful and to make people feel good. I'll leave the prey being eaten alive to others to illustrate. Too much sadness, and blood, and gore in the world time for some beauty as well.

… clarity in thought comes after challenge …






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