Monday, April 30, 2012

Mokoros in the Okavango

Xigera Camp - Botswana

Dear Dorothy

The Anti Malarials with food seems to have worked. Still not 100% but certainly better that it has been in the past week.

After tea and a rest we headed out on a Morkoro. Traditionally pole driven hollowed out tree trunks. Here we use hollowed out fiberglass trunks. Nothing really exciting but it was nice and peaceful. We did see an infrequent sighting of a Pel's Fishing Owl. Of course I had to be lead by the hand in order to see it. Finally after clicking the shutter in the wrong area several times the guide Teko said "stand here"" and pointed directly at the critter. At long last I saw the owl. Way high in the tree resting in the shadows. I nice smaller orangish owl. I think I got a shot as the owl was looking in my direction.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gnawing and bitching

Xigera Camp - Botswana

Dear Dorothy

After I finished the last entry I went back to the tent (I was going to say room) and flopped on the bed for about an hour. And then had a bit of conversation with Ben the food and Beverage Manager about the world's situation. In other words - nothing much. Just words floating back and forth between mouths and ears.

Then tea time a mushroom crustini and a little vegetable thing like a muffin only not dry, maybe more akin to a mini quiche. Then one of the guests was having a birthday and they brought out a cake for him. Bobby had told me and I assume the Eskimo that we were leaving early because there was a nearby lion kill of a warthog. Well we had to wait for the baby Eskimo get done with her cake of course and she has never heard that maybe, just maybe other people are in the world besides herself. So instead of leaving early we left on the regular time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dinner Al Fresco

Duma Tau - Botswana

Dear Dorothy

I crashed for a while in the afternoon until a dream I didn't like awoke me. I was a little disoriented and really really wish I had been able to find a clock at the airport in SeaTac. This having to boot up the computer to find out what time it is, is not the most efficient way to know what time it is. And on this trip time is a very important thing. Wake up 5 am. Escort to the dining area at 5:30. Get on the bus Gus at 6. Return at 11. Dine at 11:30. Free time until 3:30. Tea at 3:30. 4pm "Bus Gus" again. 7 pm return to camp. 8pm dinner. 10 or so pm bed. And there is very little flexibility in this. I can understand because they are used to herding 20 or so guests at a time to various sights, but it still is a little rigid for my traveling style.

My Limo

Speaking of rigid. After this morning’s game drive for lunch I opted to sit at a different table than my Rover companions. The woman running the room was insistent that I sit with my group and not the current one. I told her I knew them already and these were new to me. She was very insistent so I got up to move and one of the guests at the table asked/told me to remain. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Off to Botswana with the eskimos

Duma Tau - Botswana

Dear Dorothy

At the crack of 8:05 we boarded the bus and went to the airport where I and the rest of the ducklings were handed off to another mother duck and we waddled through immigration and the exit formalities.  Our Cessna 208B picked up all nine of us and popped into the sky for 15 minutes before landing in Botswana.  Where another hen guided us through those bureaucratic mazes. I generally give a shoulder patch to the first officer I encounter my Mr. Officious Immigration officer who was a paper work micro manager did not get a patch. I might have given him one, but would have had to wipe my butt with it first and I didn’t want to disrobe in the immigration office then.

Back on the 208 with one additional passenger a VERY tall black man who was going to Maun to visit his wife who was a teacher there. We slipped into the sky and in another 45 minutes landed on a grass strip in the north eastern Okavango delta. Our nine minus the one split into three groups and like the Blue Angels peeled off into separate directions.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Helicopters over a World Heritage Site

Still Toka Leya - Zambia

Dear Dorothy
After a nice night's sleep my little eyes spied light to the east this morning so either the sun was starting to rise or the neighboring tent was on fire. Either way I should probably get out of bed. After a cup of coffee I turned on the computer to find it was 5:30 am so I guessed that my neighbors weren't calling their insurance agent.

Breakfast and then a town tour with Sam and Caroline and Oliver the Northern Irish couple. We were going to stop for about an hour while the boys went on a helicopter ride over the falls. I just didn't want to pay $300 for 30 minutes. Besides Caroline didn't seem all that interested and she's good company so what the heck? I'm on vacation and really what would I be doing otherwise?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A stroll among the Rhinos

Toka Leya - Livingstone, Zambia

Seven twenty pm

Dear Dorothy

Time for a room tour. First of all the room is BIG. Maybe 400 square feet. I call it a room because the only resemblance to a tent is that the walls and roof are made out of fabric. The fabric is over a wooden wall frame. There are two sliding glass wooden framed doors that glide effortlessly on their wheels. To the right is a writing desk with an electrical outlet on the wall that has outlets for 3 different plug types. The only one missing is North America's 2 prong plugs. A hairdryer is in the bottom the left are two wing chairs and behind them is a table with coffee, tea, sugar and creamer. A hot water heating pitcher and French press coffee maker. A flippin' French press!!

Toka Leya tent - Zambia
Two twin beds surrounded by netting, covered in thick cotton sheets and down comforters on top. The air-conditioning unit is over the bed. Behind the bed is a wall with double sinks and mirrors. A private toilet with flushers for number ones and another for number two's. Of course the t.p. has the folded end. There is an entire room as the shower with teak floors. There are gaps in between the boards and the water drains through them and on to the ground 6 feet below (the whole unit is built on stilts). There is a frosted glass door in the shower leading outside to the outside shower.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zimbabwe to Zambia

 Livingston Zambia

Dear Dorothy

Let's channel W. C. Fields for a second or two -

Ahhh, yes. I remember it welllll. We wrecked on the lower Zambezi. We lost all of our supplies and had to live for two weeks on nothing but food and water.

Well let me tell you there is no lack of food, water OR liquor on the lower Zambezi today. I moved from the rough of a bush camp in Zimbabwe to the lap of luxury in a tent on the Zambezi in Zambia. So nice that you could take this place anywhere in the world and have a 4 star hotel... that had people sleeping in tents. The only thing tent like about this room is that it has a canvas roof. Heck it even has wood framed sliding glass doors!

Ok back to things in chronological order.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wrong camera setting

1230 pm - Davison Camp - Zimbabwe

Dear Dorothy

Well poop - no, double poop. I shot over 300 photos with the wrong setting on my camera and nearly everything came out under exposed. I hope that Photoshop can bump up the brightness and tweak the contrast once I get home. Because there are two or three shots that might just be the ones to really say something about the trip. I’m glad I caught it at this point and not another 2 days from now. Here's hoping.

Now that lunch is done after breakfast and then a snack on the trail my New Year's resolution is officially a thing of the past. I guess I'll be able to put off my bikini shopping for another 6 months.

After lunch and a rest we hit the trail once again around 3:30. The couple from Wisconsin and I along with the same driver, Godfrey. We trailed elephants and zebra and it was a near replay of the previous evening's travels. It was funny to hear the same questions that I thought were so clever and uniquely insightful be asked by the new couple. Sounds to me like the guides get the same questions over and over and over ad nauseaum. I really don't have an awfully lot to say about the drive other than I shot a bazillion pictures and one in particular was going to be my ionic shot of the elephants. The full moon was rising and I had a close up of an elephant's head with the rising moon and trees in the background. Maybe I'll get lucky and get a similar photo tonight now that I have my camera's settings in the correct mode.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Davison Camp Zimbabwe

1230 pm. Davison Camp Zimbabwe

Dear Dorothy

I know this is not Victoria Falls. I've been lost since I left home. I'll just sink into the comfortable arms of Wilderness Safaris  and let them take care of where I should be when.
Also I want to thank Bert at Fish Eagle Safaris  for getting this trip arranged for me.

Sitting here after lunch of chicken kajine (kajine spices, not Tajine style) and slaw and tossed salad. With Iced tea and lemonade. As my guide says "Eating safari")

Yesterday I got to the Johannesburg airport and caught the jet to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I was expecting to find myself in Zaire. Whoops! So much for my map reading skills. After the long wait to the immigration/visa counter (it could have been longer if I hadn't cut in line (inadvertently - REALLY!!) in front of the large tour group. Then to the leetle airplane. A Cessna 187 big enough for 4 people with the feel of a small Fiat. The interior was a little worse for wear than I would have preferred but it was serviceable enough (it got me here didn't it?). The flight was about an hour long and miles and miles of very little except grassland and trees. There was the occasional sign of civilization but mostly it was just land devoid of human habitation. Occasionally off in the distance I could see the infrequent landing strip. I remember reading some pilot information that said for pilots to be aware of possible landing areas in case of emergency. And flying in private aircraft in the Puget Sound area there is always a farmer's field someplace in sight. Not in Zimbabwe. No sir-ee. If the engine dies you are a long long way from anyplace and not much that looked to me like a place I'd like to try to land on.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Johannesburg, South Africa

Dear Dorothy

0445 am - Johannesburg, South Africa

Well so much for sleep. My body thinks it is 6:45 pm. I got to bed around 1130 and slept until 0330. My body says its 530 pm and I should be not napping even though I was 30 hours between beds.

The flights weren't too bad. No middle seats at least. Sea to AMS I had both seats to myself and AMS to JHB I had three seats to myself, until Broomhilda shuffled a middle seat passenger in another row into one of MY empty seats... I was hoping on the whole row to get some sleep but all I got was the occasional zombie like cat nap.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A beginning ..

Dear Dorothy

Well this trip started out on an interesting note. After checking my bag from
Bellingham to Seattle and being charged $20 by Alaska Airlines (For those of you mathematically challenged that is $.20 a mile) I arrived in Seattle around 7 p.m.

I moseyed down to the courtesy van stop and looked at the list of the hotels. My hotel reservation was in my email, but I was pretty sure I could remember the name of the hotel. It started with a "C". I knew that at least. I rang up the Clarion and got a ride to the hotel and said "Do you have a reservation for Macaw?" .. No. ............... Crap!