04 de dezembro de 2019

My African Photos Safari - Journal Entry #11 - August 29, 1988

It was our last day in east Africa. Early in the morning, we had to give up our tents at the Masai Mara River Camp at 5:00 a.m. and stowed our camera gear, and luggage under the front desk in the lobby, where there was always at least one person there, to keep an eye on things. I kept one camera with me just in case I should see something interesting.

During our morning drive, John was driving with Ron, Don and I in the van. We saw a wildebeest mother and calf, and a small herd of Cape Buffalos laying down resting, with a mother and calf, at the center.

Then I saw something that I'll always remember, in my mind's eye, whenever I think of it. It to me, was the definition of, "Cool," in the most primal way. As we were viewing game, one last time, we saw a young Masai youth of about seventeen years old, walking through the tall, amber grass with nothing but his brightly colored red and purple clothes, and a spear. When the two large male lions that were not far from him, saw him, they both turned and walked away from him, giving the youth respectful space. We stopped, and John spoke with him, for just a few moments, with the Masai youth standing outside the van, on the driver's side. I just sat there, (inside the safety of the van), awe struck at what I'd seen, and said, "That was amazing how those lions backed away from you." He smiled broadly, and waved at us as he continued on his journey on foot.

After our last game drive, we rolled back into the Mara River Camp at noon, and walked the path towards the dining room, one last time for lunch. I took a photo from in the dining room looking out towards the Mara River.

Lunch that day consisted of a tasty beef stew with potatoes, and carrots. After lunch I went back to the lobby to switch my 300 mm telephoto lens to my 24 mm wide angle lens, to shoot some scenics of the camp and the Mara River.

While I was in the process of changing lenses, one of the men at the front desk asked if the old Reebok athletic shoes setting on top of the suitcase were mine. (I had run out of room to pack them inside my suitcase.) I said, "Yes, they're mine." He held up one of his feet to the shoe, to see if they would fit him, and decided they would indeed fit. "Would you like to trade your shoes for something in the gift shop?" he asked. "Yes, I would. Thank you for suggesting this," I replied. I had a wonderful time choosing some last minute gifts. This was a good trade because what I considered old, worn out shoes, someone else was thankful to have. . . . and I loved looking around at all the treasures to be found in the gift shop.

I entered the gift shop, which was just across from the lobby. I chose an, "East African Ornithological Safaris, Ltd.", t-shirt, that had, "Tusker Premium . . . the truly great lager of Kenya," with a drawing of an elephant on the back. I also chose two pairs of earrings and five Masai beaded bracelets. I thanked the man again, and went to put all my, "purchases," in my camera bag.

Then I walked on the path through the camp, and took a photo of the tent Ann and I stayed in, and a scenic photo of the Mara River, and an acacia tree.

By this time I saw Ann and Cliff, Lou, Don Len Jr. Nancy and Ron. We took a group photo of us all sitting on a long bench, with the camera on self-timer. (I didn't get to see the photo, as it wasn't taken on my camera.)

Then I said to Ann, "I'd like to get a shot of you and Cliff." She said, "Could you take two and send me one?" "Of course," I said. I took two of them by a tree, and two by Cliff's tent. They looked so happy together.

It was getting close to the time we had to leave the Mara River Camp, and head out toward the Kichwa Tembo Airstrip to catch a small plane to Nairobi. I felt we arrived there too quickly, as we had to say goodbye forever to Msembi, James, and John. I asked Ann if she would take a photo of our three drivers and I, and she took two. I hugged all three men goodbye, and was very sad to have to leave. I thanked James for helping me learn more Swahili than I ever thought I would. I thanked Msembi for retrieving my credit card I'd forgotten at a trading post early in our trip. I then told all three of them it was so nice getting to know them, and how much I appreciated their vast knowledge as to where to drive to, to see such a variety of African wildlife.

The small propeller plane arrived just then. John walked over to the plane with me, and handed me my camera bag. Tears welled up in my eyes as I hugged him goodbye, just before I boarded the plane. The little plane was very crowded, as I was one of the last people to board. I was able to get a seat by the window, and Don sat next to me. I looked out the window and saw Msembi, John, and James standing together near, "our" three vans. We started to taxi down the airstrip. John waved a blue handkerchief at our plane as we took off. That was the last time I saw all three of them, as an opportunity to return to Africa has not come my way again.

When we arrived back in the U.S., at Kennedy Airport, in NY, I grabbed the first cart I saw. I must have looked, "Safari Tough," walking through the airport alone with my green safari hat on, along with my Tembo Tusker Elephant t-shirt. On my cart was my Masai shield, Masai spear, and the four foot high wooden giraffe carving. It was such a wonderful feeling when two young black men came up to me and asked, "Did you go to Africa?" Yes, I said. And I told them as much as I could about the wonderful experience I had, where in Africa I'd been, and the highlights of what I saw. My ride arrived, and I said goodbye, and waved to them both.

Since my trip to Africa, I've had many photo exhibits, and given numerous slide presentations about my trip to Nairobi National Park, Amboseli, and Masai Mara in Kenya, and Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania. Here's a link to the TV interview/slide show, I put together at a community access TV station. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjfNwuX3Rc4

My photos have been published in World Wildlife Fund's newsletter, "Focus," eight times, and 30 of my photo images were accepted into their photo library. My close-up photo of a black rhino is on their website, in a few places: https://www.worldwildlife.org/photos/black-rhino--5 and here: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/black-rhino (scroll down, near the bottom of the page.)

Thank you for stopping by and reading this.

Publicado em 04 de dezembro de 2019, 09:15 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

03 de dezembro de 2019

My African Photos Safari - Journal Entry #10 - August 28, 1988

The next thing I heard was Lenny saying, "Ann, Kathleen, wake up." Once again I slept straight through the night without waking up once. It was 5:00 a.m. I quickly left the bed, washed up, and scrambled to find the clothes I'd be wearing that day. I put on three t-shirts, my long green safari pants, and my gray hoodie, as it was cold that morning. I brushed my hair and was out of the tent by 5:15 a.m.

I walked briskly to the dining room and poured a cup of tea to both wake up and warm up. Breakfast was non-existent, as the kitchen wasn't serving yet. They did provide us with box lunches again, as they had for all the mornings we left early for our full day of shooting photos. I recognized one of the waiters from dinner, the night before, as he was the, "lucky," one to be up this early, providing us with our box lunches. "Jambo, asante sana," I told the waiter. (Hello, thank you.) "Si jambo," he replied. (Hello back.)

I left the dining room and headed back to the tent to brush my teeth, and grab my camera gear and fresh film. This was our last day of taking photographs in the Masai Mara. Once again, it was dark when we pulled out of camp.

We saw the sun rise behind a cloud bank, just in front of a mountain. The roads were very wet and muddy. Again. I was in the van James was driving, with Len Jr. and Ron. We got stuck again. Our entire stay in east Africa was during the month of August; "the dry season." This year we were told, it had been unseasonably wet, with unexpected rain.

James drove up a high bluff to try to spot the Wild African dogs, we'd seen two days earlier. We sat in the van for a good hour and a half, but saw no action. I was telling Len Jr., and Ron, about the role microbes play in food poisoning, as I had recently taken a Microbiology class in college. Everyone seemed to get a touch of vomiting and/or diarrhea, common symptoms of food poisoning in the Mara, except me. Just then, Len Sr., said loudly from another van, "Let's say grace," to pray over lunch before we ate it. We all got out of our three vans, formed a circle and held hands as we prayed.

Then we got back into the vans and opened our boxed lunches. I continued telling Len Jr. and Ron about the food in our lunches that could possibly cause food poisoning. The unrefrigerated (for hours) hard-boiled eggs could give us salmonella. The butter on the bread also could make us sick from lack of refrigeration. I scraped off the butter. Fruit, you have to peel yourself and make sure its skin is thick skinned like an orange, or banana. Len Jr. and I ended up eating just the three slices of bread with the butter scraped off.

We drove around and saw another group of tourists in a van, with a cheetah on the hood, then roof. Being very curious like most cats, seeing a cheetah atop a safari vehicle, was a somewhat common sight.

We continued to drive a little ways from where we'd been, and our luck changed for the better. The extremely endangered wild dogs were spotted again! I took several wild dog photos. Not only did we get to see them again, but we saw them make a kill of a wildebeest that looked to be about six months old. It was difficult to watch, but at the same time fascinating. The hunt, takedown, kill, and consumption, all took place in less than fifteen minutes, and in complete silence. Literally, all that was left of the six-month old wildebeest, was skin and bones.

We saw some members of the wild dog pack stand aside, when they'd gotten their fill, so the other members could feed.

We also saw two wild dogs playing together, laying together, as the other members of the pack continued to feed, and another dog approaching the pack in a submissive stance.

We were so thrilled, that our luck had changed, as this was the last day of our game drives, because our three week photo safari was coming to an end. After the excitement of seeing the wild dogs again, and so much varied behavior we drove away, as they lay sleeping in the grass.

We stopped a few miles away, to have a bathroom break, behind some bushes. As usual, the women, and men split into two separate groups, with each person having their own bush to, "go," behind. We always thought, "Safety in numbers," when we'd get out of the vans, literally, in the bush. After we all were done, I said to Lou, "I can't believe that three weeks could go by so fast." I was definitely sad. I could have spent a year there, had I known how much I'd love it. Lou nodded in agreement. "I can't believe it either."

We all walked back to our vans, but hung outside together, as a group. James got on the subject of marriage. He said, "I would like to have two wives; one in Kenya, and one in America." Should women have two husbands?" I asked. "No, that would be a bad thing, not good at all," he replied.

Lou, Nancy, Ann, and I all laughed.

Don, who was a physicist and gemologist, came over and suggested that we look for rocks to take as souvenirs of this area. Ann, Lou, Don, and I found many pretty ones.

Then we all got back into our three vans and headed back to the Masai Mara River Camp, as that was our last game drive of our photo safari. But it was spectacular!

When we arrived at camp, we each went back to our tents and washed up for dinner, then Ann and I walked to the dining room. We had roast pork, carrots, potatoes, and string beans for supper. We had eaten at the same table for our entire stay, and had the same waiter. That night he placed a generous portion of pork on my plate and murmured, "I want you to eat more," with his sweet Kenyan accent. I guess he had noticed I wasn't eating much, not because I wasn't hungry. For sure I always was. As you know if you've been reading my journal, I was very guarded about getting food poisoning again, as I had the first night in Ngorongoro Crater. By this time, my entire group knew of my, "micro-phobia," from food not being cooked throughly, not being refrigerated, or sitting around too long not being kept hot enough, as what happened in the Crater.

Three young girls about eleven years old, had recognized Lenny from one of the lectures he gave at their school. One of them excitedly exclaimed, "That's Leonard Lee Rue, III!" They were all smiles and giggles. (I felt like this the entire time I was on safari with him.) :-) They came over to our table near Lenny, with their grandparents in tow. The more vocal of the three introduced them to Lenny. The girls asked for his autograph, and the grandfather asked if he could take a photo of Lenny with his granddaughter and her two friends. "Yes, you sure can!" Lenny said enthusiastically. The granddaughter sat on Lenny's knee, and her two friends stood behind them. After they thanked him and happily left, I said to Lenny, "It was so kind of you to take the time and make them feel so welcomed. I know they'll remember this the rest of their lives. I know I will, as this will be the best trip I will ever take." He just smiled. I did that do him a few times; left him speechless.

We continued to talk together about over dinner, about our wonderful luck in seeing the wild dogs, and the other, many adventures we had together. We were one of the last groups to leave that night, as we did not have a game drive scheduled the next morning. We moved to the lounge, and had beverages, and just chatted the hours away. I know we all felt sad as we eventually headed back to our tents, one last time. Ann and I made our journal entries, then shut off our lamps for the night. I listened, one last time to the night sounds of Africa.

Publicado em 03 de dezembro de 2019, 02:32 AM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

02 de dezembro de 2019

My African Photos Safari - Journal Entry #9 - August 27, 1988

Good Morning, Ann and Kathy, are you awake?" asked Lenny.

Could the morning be here already? I thought. "Good morning Lenny. Yes, we're awake."

I immediately threw off the nice, warm covers and got out of bed. I didn't want to be late again, like yesterday morning! It would be so easy to slip back into an exhausted, coma-like sleep if I didn't get up right then. It was 5:00 a.m., and a very cool morning at the Masai Mara River Camp, in Kenya. I hurriedly washed my face, got dressed, and quickly walked to the dining room. Ron and Nancy were there before me. I felt as if I had sleepwalked there, as I was still very drowsy. I poured a cup of hot tea, and slowly stirred some sugar into it, and hoped that the caffeine and sugar buzz would wake me up. I was still dark out. Don was next to arrive, and already looked awake. He poured himself a cup of coffee, and sat with Nancy and Ron. I still sat at the coffee bar, as I didn't feel like talking yet. Finally the tea kicked in, I woke up, and joined Nancy, Ron, and Don.

The kitchen wasn't open at that hour so we finished our breakfast beverages, and hurried back to the tents to gather our cameras and film, and headed toward the vans. That day Len Jr., Don, and I were riding together.

We left the Masai Mara River Camp and crossed the Mara River on a bridge that looked to be well constructed. The road was muddy from the rain of the previous night. We were on an extended drive to a place in the Mara where a high concentration of migrating wildebeest were known to be, at that time of year. (August) We passed the burial site of Denys Finch Hatton. (The character played by Robert Redford in the film, "Out of Africa," based on a true story written by Isak Dinesen - Karen Blixen)

We drove on and saw many zebra, topi, and a group of three lionesses sleeping on a small, knoll with amber grass, and a mother cheetah with her cub. I took several photos of the cheetahs interacting together.

We drove on towards our destination of the day, of seeing the world famous wildebeest migration. Several hours later, we arrived at a hut-like designed lodge, though I've forgotten the name of, with beautiful gardens. A burgundy shade of bougainvillea, grew near the far side of the lodge. Yellow, red, blue, white, and pink flowers, also grew in the well manicured gardens. I believe everyone in our group used the facilities. Then I walked over to where Len Sr., Len Jr., Ron, and Cliff, were all bending down, looking at something, which was an elephant skull, minus the tusks. (ivory). The teeth, especially the molars, were very large, and used for grinding the very fibrous plant diet of elephants.

The sun had recently become visible, and the sky was a shade of light blue, with puffy, white clouds. Lenny looked at my hair, stroked his beard, and said, "You've got some gray in your hair, like my beard." I joked with him and said, "It must be all the stress from this trip." Then I went on and said, "No, I'm just kidding. I've been getting gray hairs for a few years now."

We all piled into our separate vans and headed on to where the migrating wildebeest were. We arrived to witness several thousand running across the Mara plains between a few lone acacia trees.

Most of them were in a single-file formation, with a few, two and three abreast.

After we saw this exciting migration spectacle, we saw several more zebra, including a mother zebra with her four day old foal. I took several photos of this mother Grant's Zebra and her young foal.

After we stayed with the mother zebra and her foal for about 45 minutes, we turned around and started on the long drive back to the Mara River Camp, and arrived at dusk. I had time for a shower before dinner. Ann and I arrived among the first in our group that night. This was to be our last dinner together at the River Camp. We all held hands and Lenny said grace, as he always did before each dinner we had together. We spoke of what we'd seen that day, with the wildebeest migration as the highlight. We didn't get our wish of seeing the extremely endangered Wild African Dogs again that we'd seen the previous day.

I decided to say good night early, as 5:00 a.m. rolls around very quickly. It was raining again, when I got the area of the camp where the guests need to pass through from the dining room back to their tents. A Masai man of about my age, walked me to my tent. I had an umbrella, and held it over both of us. He had a spear with him. As I mentioned in an earlier journal entry, there was a rule that all guests needed to be escorted back to their tents after nightfall. As my Masai guide said, "The hippos have cross dispositions." I said to him, "Kiboko cali," (Grouchy hippos), and we both laughed. I asked him his name, but unfortunately forgot it, as it was hard for me to pronounce and remember. For years he had worn weighted, wooden gauges in his ears, gradually increasing the weight to stretch out the earlobes, so they become very thin, and extremely elongated so they reached just short, of the top of his shoulders. This was a cultural body modification. He had his earlobes looped up, around the top part of his ears, to appear more, "mainstream." I thought, it was sad that things got to the point where the Masai, in their own country, were made to feel like they had to look like everyone else, so as not to alarm tourists. (During my time in Kenya, I saw several Masai women and men, using empty plastic film canisters, in place of the traditional wood earlobe gauges. The film canisters seemed to be just the right size for as far as some people wanted to stretch their earlobes.) I told the Masai escort, "Asante sana." - (Thank you very much.) He replied, "Nakwenda sasa," - (I am going now) and he silently disappeared into the night.

I unlocked the lock on the tent and removed my shoes before going inside. I cleaned my cameras and lenses, made an entry in my journal, and got ready to sleep. I heard the laughter of the drivers, in the still night air, as their tent was just behind ours. I still had the lamp on and saw a bat fly through the tent. There was a space between the the canvas tent-which was just four walls of canvas with no attached canvas ceiling. The roof/ceiling, was an actual thatched structure, that the four sides of the tent set under.

My first thought was, "Bats can carry rabies," as I watched it make another silent, fluttery pass through the tent. Then, mercifully, it few out as silently as it had entered. I must admit it, bats creep me out. I don't mind spiders and snakes, but bats . . . just no. After the bat's departure, I turned off the lamp and listened to the sounds of the African night; the hippos grunting, the high pitched braying of zebras, and bird calls. I heard Ann come in sometime later in the night, and fell back asleep.

Publicado em 02 de dezembro de 2019, 11:27 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #8 - August 26, 1988

Succinct recap of August 24, 25, 26: We drove from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania to the Tanzania/Kenya border. At the border, we said goodbye to Jasper, and our other Tanzanian game drivers. I was overjoyed to see James, Kinyili, and John, our Kenyan drivers we first had upon our arrival to Kenya. They drove our group to the Norfolk Hotel, in Nairobi where we stayed one night. Then we headed out to the Masai Mara River Camp, a wonderful place with permanent tents, set atop concrete slabs.

After our arrival at the Mara River Camp on the night of August 25, 1988, we were finally heading out on safari in the Masai Mara, on the morning of August 26! The first thing we saw was an agama lizard on a rock, warming itself in the morning sun. The next subject was a Lilac Breasted Roller; a small bird, perched on a branch.

Suddenly I heard a soft, "Oh no," from Don. "What's wrong?" I asked. I think I left my garnet, (a semi-precious gemstone) in the pants pocket I just sent to be laundered in camp. He checked all his shirt, and pants pockets, and camera bag, but it wasn't there. I said, "Don, you'll have to tell Lenny, to ask John - (our third game driver) to turn the van around and drive back to camp so you can get your gemstone.

We have to go back. I thought for sure Lenny had wanted to wring both Ann and my necks for being late that morning getting ready, and now Don's, but he actually took it better than I imagined. We left the other two vans just setting there as we drove back to camp. All the while, Don look very worried about his garnet getting lost or damaged. I tried to comfort him and said, "Don't worry, chances are they haven't gotten to your laundry yet, as things tend to move more slowly here. We'll get back before they get to your laundry, and everything will be okay."

We arrived back at camp. Don left with John, our game driver for the day, who took him directly to the laundry area of the camp, instead of dealing with the front desk in the lobby. They came back very quickly, and Don was smiling, as they arrived just as his laundry was about to be washed, and Don retrieved the spinel out of his pants pocket without further fanfare

We started our morning drive again, and saw a topi, (a large antelope) standing on a small mound of dirt. The sound of our vehicle startled it, and off it dashed. Then we saw several wildebeest (gnus) grazing. The morning sped by, and we headed back to camp for lunch.

We dined, al fresco near the Mara River, instead of in the dining tent. The lunch was buffet style, and I helped myself to roast beef, salad, bread, and potatoes. It was wonderful, and I ate a lot to make up for hardly any breakfast. It was a beautiful, sunny day, with blue skies and white, puffy clouds. I thoroughly enjoyed the lush green scenery, contrasted with the sights and sounds, of the muddy Mara River.

After lunch, we walked back to our tent, grabbed more film, in preparation for our afternoon drive which proved to be one of the most exciting, in terms of photographic opportunities. We saw giraffes, impala, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's Gazelles, and cheetahs.

John, our game driver, spotted a mother impala with her newborn calf, which was about ten minutes old. We decided to stay with them, because we also saw a group of five cheetahs only about a quarter mile from them.

One young cheetah from this group, ran towards the mother impala and her calf. The other four cheetahs took off in another direction, as there was a large herd of impala, with several targets for the cheetahs to choose from. The one cheetah we were watching, charged at the mother and calf. The mother impala ran away in one direction, and the calf in the other. I was surprised at this, because I thought the mother would stay with her calf to try to defend it by kicking at the cheetah, but she didn't. The cheetah chased the newborn impala and tripped it by hitting the impala's back legs with its paws as it ran towards the impala.
The impala tripped, and quickly the cheetah grabbed the impala by the throat. The calf was still alive at this point.

I was using my 300mm telephoto lens and this shot filled the frame. I'll always remember this photograph as one of the best of my photo safari. Through the lens, I could see the impala's coat was still wet from being recently born. There was just the faintest hint of blood on the impala's neck.

The cheetah placed the impala down in the tall, amber grass, as it was now dead, and the cheetah started chirping like a bird, as it called to the other four cheetahs in its group. It was a high pitched sound, and I was fascinated. Never in all the National Geographic shows I'd watched, had I ever heard a cheetah's birdlike call.

"Our," cheetah's companions didn't come to it, so it picked up the impala, walked a few yards, dropped the impala, and started calling again. It repeated this several times, and then finally left its kill, and walked away to find its other four companions, which were nearby, on a kill of their own. They had taken down a full grown impala, and were busily feeding.

When the cheetahs were finished eating, "our" cheetah started leading the other four to its newborn impala kill. It came within ten yards, but didn't find it again, in the tall grass. I thought, what a shame that little calf died for nothing. As if Lenny could read my mind, he said, matter-of-factly, "Something will find it. Nothing goes to waste here." This was very sad to me, and I found it difficult to tell people about this when I got home. It still haunts me a bit.

We drove on, and saw wildebeest (gnus) migrating in single file, under what looked like, "fair weather," clouds. We were wrong.

The next animals we saw were Wild Cape Hunting Dogs, or "African Wild Dogs." (Lycaon pictus) We were all so excited to see them, as they are an extremely endangered species with an estimated populations continuing to dwindle.

Being it was late August, I didn't think anything of the gathering storm clouds brewing overhead, as we delighted in seeing the wild dogs. We should have paid more attention to the weather, as the road conditions changed quickly, and the large potholes soon filled with water, and the road grew muddy, within a few short minutes. I think our game drivers were even more surprised than we were. Two of our three vans got stuck in the mud. I of course took photos documenting the scene as the guys from all the vehicles got out to push.

After the two vehicle were, "freed," we slowly made our way back to the Masai Mara River Camp. Looking back on this experience, I reflected on the fact that our little group of three vans, were the only ones in the area for miles. That should have told us something. We reluctantly called it a day, and hoped to see the wild dogs again, the next day.

Publicado em 02 de dezembro de 2019, 10:34 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #7 - August 24, 1988

On our fifth morning, we woke up to a light fog, enveloping Ngorongoro Crater. As we headed out, we saw this beautifully peaceful scene of wildebeest and zebras calmly grazing together. This let us know, there were no predators around. We watched this for a while, and noted how quiet it was.

We continued our morning drive, and the fog soon lifted. We saw four lions on a wildebeest (gnu) kill. Nearby were the scavengers; hyenas, African Golden Wolves, and vultures. This kill was almost completely eaten by the time we arrived at a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. One hyena got really close and stole a leg of wildebeest from the lion. Other hyenas followed it, in hopes of getting a few scraps.

I also got a photo of vultures claiming what was left after the lion, hyenas, and African Golden Wolves were done eating.

Nearby was a solitary black-maned male lion. He climbed up on a small hill and stood there for a moment. Then he started a series of short growls, then a loud, long roar, then plopped down. That was the end of the action.

We drove on for about 20 minutes, and spotted a Thomson's Gazelle mother and fawn. They cautiously moved toward the waterhole. Only two steps ahead, the doe led the fawn. First one drank, then the other.
As they walked away from the water, they were joined by a buck. Then all three walked out of sight, behind a hill.

Next we saw a mother Grant's Gazelle, and her fawn, which looked to be, "all legs," in proportion to the rest of its body. We drove on down the road, and saw a male Grant's Gazelle with quite impressive horns.

We headed back to camp for lunch. It was little after 12:00 noon, and quite hot. On the way, we saw many zebra and wildebeest. The camp cooks had spaghetti on the menu that afternoon. Surprisingly it was quite tasty.

After lunch I went to my tent, to retrieve my journal, and headed back to the enclosed canopy where lunch had been served and began to write in my journal. Len Sr. was already there writing. We exchanged a warm smile, and I started to write about what I'd seen earlier in the morning. After four nights in The Crater, I actually was used to it, and felt what I called, "Safari Tough." I finished the entry in my journal, got up and threw it back in the tent, as it was time for the afternoon drive.

Then I saw the most beautiful black maned lion. He was such a pretty boy, and seemed to know it, when he, "Struck a Pose," as I photographed him.

That afternoon, we saw the same paired lion couple we'd seen a few days earlier. As they mated once again, she crouched down in the straw colored grass. As he finished, he still held onto the nape of her neck, with the slightest of pressure, from his huge teeth. His mouth was so large, that it fit totally around her neck with room left over! He then jumped quickly to the side, as he let her go upon dismount, then roared loudly. We were very close, about 30 feet away. When I said loud; I actually felt the sound of his roar, vibrate through my body. It was a sight and sound, I'll never forget.

As luck would have it, I was in Len Sr.'s vehicle that day. He said very authoritatively, "Kathleen, that's how its done. I see you're taking pornographic photos." "Not pornographic shots Lenny, educational ones," I replied. I mean I was in awe, of what I'd just seen. He replied, "Educational shots, I like that," he said and gave a little laugh.

Then both lions were on the move, as the female joined the male. We followed as they leisurely walked away from their mating site. I got another shot of them standing side by side, looking off into the distance of the great expanse of the Crater.

We continued to slowly follow along in the Land Rover, as they came upon an area where the grass was taller. Cliff asked Lenny, "How can we top that?" - (referring to the series of lion mating shots.)

Just then, four zebra came into view. We couldn't believe it; we thought we might actually get photos of these lions making a kill. The lead zebra came within 200 yards of the two lions, who were perfectly camouflaged by the tall, golden grass. The lioness was up and running before we knew it, and both lions and zebra kicked up large clouds of dirt from the dry ground. The zebra got away unharmed. It was a good effort by the lioness, but I believe she was too far away, to have a real chance. The male had also tried to help with the hunt, but she outclassed him in speed, as did the zebra, her. The best way I can describe it was; he had a slower, lumbering gait as he ran in comparison to her sleek, streamlined body. But he makes up in strength for what he lacks in speed. She would not have tried to take down the zebra if he wasn't there with her. If she had been been a little more patient, and crept closer under the cover of the tall grass, no doubt she would have caught the zebra, and with him seconds behind, he would have taken it right down with his enormous strength.

What a great last afternoon drive in the crater, as we would leave the next afternoon, at 1:00 p.m. That night, I paid special attention to the night sounds I might never hear again of the lions, zebra, hyenas, and wildebeest. I wished I could have stayed at least a week longer, as I'd started to feel comfortable (as a person could get), sleeping in a thin tent for, "safety," at night, with so many large, wild, predatory animals nearby. Sadness came over me as I thought about leaving.

The morning arrived, and we lived through another night to tell about it. After breakfast and before we headed out, we asked Jaspar, one of our drivers, to take a photo, of our photo safari group, then went out on our last afternoon game drive in Ngorongoro Crater.

We saw a Marabou Stork in a small stream, perched on a fallen log. Then we drove on, and saw a warthog, zebra, and a Hamerkop, Yellow-billed storks, Spoonbills, at a watering hole, and a few other bird species. Soon we saw very social zebras, resting their chins on each other's back, and standing together in a side-ways line.

The morning passed quickly and we headed back to camp, as it was mid-day. Our little group, went back to the tents, gathered all our belongings, and camera gear, and placed them in the vehicles. Then we headed for the enclosed canopy for lunch. As we are eating, the cook and his helpers are breaking camp. By the time we finished lunch, all the tents are down, and what amenities that were there were packed away. The camp-site looked so different, as though we were never there. The large banyan tree, where the cooks were set up under, is the only familiar sight left. I said, "Asante sana, and Nakwenda sasa," - (thank you very much, and good bye in Swahili) to the cook and his helpers.

I waved to them as we drove away, and they grew smaller and smaller as we slowly ascended, on the, "road," which would take us back up to the rim of the Crater. It took a good three hours to reach the top, as we were about 2,000 - 2,500 feet down, at the crater's floor. The road was not to be believed! No exaggeration, there were holes in the road the size of the Land Rover. We inched along. The road was barely the width of two lanes, and it was an impossibility to have even thought about sitting as you'd be bumped, bumped, bumped, along the width of the seat and back.

So we stood holding on with one hand, and holding on to the camera with the other, in case a good shot presented itself. Actually the position we held was what I called the, "flamingo stance," because you stood on one foot, held your camera case up with the other foot so it wouldn't fall off the seat.during particularly violent bumping during certain areas we traveled over. (The seat provided some cushion for the cameras, as there might be damage if you left them on the floor of the vehicle with all the pronounced bumping.) It was kind of funny how this soon became, "normal."

Finally we arrived at the rim of the Crater, then drove to the nearby Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
The Ngorongoro Crater restaurant was located in the main building, as you drove up to the Lodge. (This was back in 1988.) The lodge was set atop the rim of the Crater, with the rooms located along the rim, further down the paths that wind around the complex.

I paid a young boy to carry my camera bag and small bag of clothes to the room. I didn't really need any help help, but he offered so I agreed, and gave him the equivalent to $5.00 U.S., in shillings He looked so thrilled.
Ann and I followed our young escort to the room. There were two single beds, a bathtub, sink, and yes, a flushing toilet. What luxury. No sooner than I sat down on the bed, we heard the authoritative knock on our door and Lenny's loud voice informing us, "Girls, be down at the Crater Lookout in five minutes, and he was off before we replied. "Ann, I can't take it anymore," I said, and we both started laughing. It felt nice to be inside a room with actual walls again.

Ann left to participate in the group photo. Being rebellious at heart, I jumped into the bathtub instead, to luxuriate in the tub. I knew we most likely, wouldn't have much time to bathe before dinner, so I took those extra few minutes. The water was heated separately, in each room by a gas heater above the tub, I expected the water to be cold, as it was in the shower we finally found in the crater, but I was pleasantly surprised. The water heater over the tub worked instantaneously. I saw blue flames shoot up every time every time I turned on the hot water. Being I wasn't very familiar with gas powered stoves, and had never seen a water heater like this, I thought it might blow up on me as I took my bath. It didn't.

I spotted a bowl on the table right next to the tub, which I used to pour water over my hair, as there was no shower attachment. This was the first time in six days I got to wash my hair. The warmest of water, before it turned hot, felt heavenly. I must admit, I hogged that bathtub, because I knew we wouldn't run out of hot water. Being clean again felt great. I dried off with an actual towel, and got dressed.

By this time, Ann had returned from the group photo, and said, "You missed the group photo." "I know," I answered. "It gave me more time to bathe before supper without having to feel like I'd be late," I replied. Ann said, "Yeah, I know what you mean. My turn now," she said.

I wrapped a towel around my hair, and left the room to take some panoramic shots of the crater, and the exterior of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

We actually did have a few a minutes to ourselves before dinner that night, which was a rare treat. I sorted my film as to used or unused, and wrote in my journal and applied some make-up, I was silly enough to bring. (As if there would be time to apply it.) I felt a little more, "civilized," again. It was then time for dinner, and for the first time I felt, "ready, not rushed." Ann and I walked together to the lodge's lounge, and met up with Len Sr., and Len Jr., who of course, were already there. Next Don and Cliff arrived, then Nancy and Ron; our only married couple. Lou, was last to arrive. We had a wait before supper, so we all sat together and spoke about our experiences in the Crater.

We were led to the dining room, which surprisingly was quite formal, especially when compared to what we had just experienced in the Crater while camping. White linen tablecloths and napkins, with a full complement of silverware, plates, plus water and wine glasses. There was a large fireplace at one end of the room, and the lounge/bar at the other, with the decor being of an African motif. Upon the walls, hung about ten pair of horns from several different species of animals, with a plaque beneath each, identifying the animal these once belonged to.

Our supper started with the soup, which wasn't very good. We progressed to the next course which consisted of potatoes, string beans, and, "mystery meat." It was unidentifiable by sight, and tasted worse than it looked, which I marveled at. The, "chef," had cut the meat, "not quite right," as it curled up on the plate instead of lying flat. I was sitting next to Len Sr. that night, and he received most of my food. I ate lots of bread, with no butter-you can't be too careful. It was interesting to note, the cooks back at camp, did a much better job of preparing tasty food than the chef at the lodge.

After supper, Ann and I walked back to our room together. We were sitting on our beds, talking. About two minutes later, there was a knock at the door. We looked at each other and started laughing as we both said, "It can't be Lenny." It turned out to be Cliff and Don. "Would you like to come over to our room to play cards with us?" Cliff asked. Ann and I looked at each other, and agreed. Ann replied, "Yes, that sounds like fun."

When we got to their room, we noticed right away that their room was warmer than ours, and mentioned this to them. We all went back to our room, and they couldn't get the gas heater to come on either. At that point, we should have told Lenny, but we didn't. Instead we went back to Don and Cliff's room and played five card poker, with the dealer choosing the wild cards. I only won three hands, being that I didn't know how to play, but I was learning.

After playing cards for about two hours I said, to Ann, "Do you think we should call it a night?" Ann said, "Yes, it's getting late." We said goodnight, and went back to our room which really felt cold compared to the guy's room. I slept in all my clothes again, just like while camping out in the tents, at the Crater's floor. I hadn't noticed this earlier, but as I turned out the lamp to go to sleep, I noticed a painting of hyenas, hanging on the wall opposite the foot of the bed, and thought the painting was a little unnerving. That was my last thought before sleep took me.

Publicado em 02 de dezembro de 2019, 09:21 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

01 de dezembro de 2019

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #6 - August 23, 1988

Afternoon Drive: We drove around looking for subjects to photograph, but as with the morning drive, no subjects initially presented themselves. At one point after lunch, everyone decided to take a bathroom break. The men went to the front of the first Land Rover, and the women went behind the third Land Rover. I didn't have to go, so I stayed in the vehicle. After everyone had been back in the vehicle for about ten minutes, simultaneous itching broke out among everyone who participated in the bathroom break. Lucky me. For once I wasn't afflicted with something. Upon close inspection, Len Sr. established that tiny, red mites were found to be the culprits.

We saw many zebras that afternoon, and I recorded on film, many different behaviors. I called one photo, "The Line-Up," as many Grant's Zebras were lined up, single-file, stopped. Then I photographed a solitary zebra drinking at the watering hole, then leaving by itself. Next, I saw two, three, and four zebra drinking together, at another watering hole. Then I noticed zebra reflections, in a small pool of standing water.

We also spotted a mother zebra, with her very large foal, still nursing. The foal was almost as big as the mother. Through my 300 mm lens, I noticed the raised, brown fur towards the back of the foal. This brown fur disappears, as the zebra matures.

We headed back to camp at dusk. When we arrived, there was a large canopy tent, and inside were the familiar card tables we used for dining. There were fluorescent lights that night, which provided much more light than the lanterns.

That night Lenny's stories went uninterrupted, as the lovely canopy kept out the nasty looking bugs. After the stories, he brought out his harmonica and began to provide us with some night music, after which, we all said good night.

Ann and I went back to our tent, and started our nightly ritual of journal writing, camera cleaning, and getting everything set for the morning so we could be ready, as fast humanly possible, for Lenny's wake up announcement. I got up, to use the "new," flush toilet, one last time before bed, and returned to our tent. As I was zipping it closed for the night, THE ZIPPER BROKE! (Lenny's story about the three men that went into a tent one night was fresh in my mind. (Please see my earlier journal entry, "Three Men in a Tent.") - You can find this story, in my Journal Entry #3 - August 13, 1988, at the third paragraph from the bottom.

"Ann, guess what just happened?" I asked. "What?" she answered. "The zipper just broke!," I said. We both laughed nervously. "What are we going to do?" she asked. "I'm going to tell Lenny. He'll probably have something to fix it with," I said optimistically.

Cliff and Don were the first people we saw on our way to find Lenny. We told them our dilemma. I don't know why Don thought to bring butterfly clips (like binder clips) but he did. I said, "Thank you Don. You're a lifesaver!" and we all laughed at this; a joke that went with Lenny's, "Three Men in a Tent," story. We borrowed all five of Don's clips, and clipped the tent flap closed, with them. Cliff lent us his Masai fighting stick, "Just in Case." The tent was once again, "secure." Ann and I went into the tent that night, and we both came out, in the morning.

Publicado em 01 de dezembro de 2019, 10:37 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photos Safari - Journal Entry # 5 - August 21, 1988

Once again, Ann and I were awakened by Lenny saying, "Kathleen, Ann, are you awake?" "Yes!," we replied. For the first time since arriving in Africa, this was the only morning he couldn't knock on the door, because we were in a tent.

I slept in all the clothes I had with me, so I didn't have to get dressed. I had on two t-shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, long pants, and socks, which didn't keep me all that warm, the night before. In the planning of my trip to Africa, I hadn't checked the average temperatures for Ngorongoro Crater at night, in August. I just always thought Africa was hot, so I didn't even bring a coat. That's called, "Learning the hard way."

I quickly ran the brush through my hair, put on my safari/sun hat, and pulled on my all ready tied athletic shoes. I unzipped the front flap of the tent, and stepped out. Warm water had been provided for me in a small, red bowl to wash my face with. It was a cool morning, and the air smelled fresh, and clean. I was then ready for breakfast.

That morning, all the faces around the breakfast table look tired, but more rested than last night, after the day-long journey over dusty and bumpy roads from Amboseli, Kenya to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.

For breakfast, our cooks had prepared poached eggs, toast fresh papaya, coffee, and tea. I had tea, and toast and gave the rest of my food away. After last night's bout with food poisoning induced diarrhea, I decided I wouldn't take any chances from now on regarding food-borne illnesses. (The eggs could have salmonella, the fruit; a different set of microorganisms than in the U.S., the butter; was it refrigerated? Better hungry, than sick again.

After breakfast, I used some boiled water to brush my teeth, and then a quick trip to the chemical toilet. Next, I grabbed my camera gear, and was ready for shooting photos.

For those of you wondering what camera equipment I used to take my photographs; two Nikon camera bodies; an F3 & FE2, with a 300mm telephoto lens mounted on one, and a 70-210 zoom lens, mounted on the other camera body. I also had a wide angle lens, but didn't use it. I had 50 rolls of Kodachrome 64, 36 exposure, color slide film, and a camera brush to gently brush off the lenses, when the lens caps didn't suffice, and lens paper. I also had a tripod ball head mounted on a plexiglass triangle, that I placed on the top of the land rover to keep the camera absolutely still for sharp photos. Don, who was a physicist, had invented this specialized tripod and lent me one of his, as he brought two. Whenever we were about to shoot something, our drivers would turn off the engines in the vehicles, to keep the shooting surface absolutely still.

Jaspar was our driver for the day. He was eighteen years old, and this was his first summer as a game driver. Just about a quarter mile, (if that far), from where we slept in our thin tents, were two lionesses feeding on a zebra kill. Last night, I had been correct to feel such profound fear and vulnerability, as I sat on the toilet waiting for my bought of diarrhea to subside, with those lions so close! There wasn't much left of a kill, by 8:00 a.m., as we headed out of camp.

Further on down the road, we saw a young male lion being harassed first by four African Golden Wolves.
A few minutes later, he lost patience with the African Golden Wolves getting too close to him as he ate, and lunged at them to scare them away. A few minutes later, a spotted hyena came on the scene. The lion left soon thereafter.

Next, we saw a solitary African Golden Wolf, getting a drink from a watering hole.

A while later, we saw a good size elephant munching acacia thorns for breakfast. The lighting was good for showing the wrinkles and texture of the elephant's skin. We stayed with this elephant for about an hour, noting how quietly it ate.

Next, we saw two pairs of lions; one couple was very bonded and mating, and the other was not.

With the mating pair, were fortunate to see all the steps of lion mating. First the male made the flehmen face/flehmen response to assess if the female was ready to mate. This is when the male takes a small amount of the lioness's urine into his mouth, curls back his top lip to inhale air, to engage the Jacobson’s organ located in the roof of the mouth. This is his way of checking if the female is ready for breeding with the best chance to fertilize her eggs. Next, the male lion approached the lioness VERY carefully. His assessment was spot on, and they proceeded to mate. As the male dismounted he grabbed the nape of the female's neck with his teeth, to quickly get away as he dismounted, because intercourse is painful for the female. This is because the male lion's penis has hook like structures. Generally the female tries to swat him on the face as he dismounts. (This behavior can be seen in most cats, large and small.)

Lions mate frequently when the female is in the receptive part of her cycle. The frequent mating is thought to help the female release many eggs from her ovaries in the hope of producing many cubs in one litter, as lion cub mortality is quite high.

During an earlier mating, the male had not dismounted as quickly as he needed to, and the female swatted his nose with her sharp claws. In many of my photos of this lion, his bloodied nose can be seen.

We'd been shooting from the roof hatch atop the Land Rover, and then I had a thought to get on, "eye level," with the lions, instead of continuing to shoot downward at them. I sat down on the seat and opened the window just enough to get my 70 - 210mm zoom lens out and then rested it on the window frame for stability, and to get needle sharp shots. Just as I completed this move, the big male lion advanced toward our vehicle. I kept shooting, hoping for that one, good shot. What resulted, in my opinion, was the best photograph of my entire trip; an extreme close-up of this male lion with the bloody nose.

This gorgeous lion came within eight feet of our rover. This was at the closest range of my 70-210 mm zoom lens. Had I used the 300 mm lens, I would have missed the shot, as he was that close. I could see through my lens, the the fine, red droplets of blood on his black nose, running down into his amber fur, near his mouth. He had six rows across, by three rows down of white whiskers. His eyes were a beautiful shade of light brown, with a black, round pupil. His mane was thick, luxuriant, and fully developed; a beautiful male, in his prime. I remember this moment, as being the highlight of my trip to Africa. Getting that close to a wild lion, and seeing the shot through my lens, and then forever, in my mind's eye was/is an incredible experience. All of us in the vehicle together, felt that almost, "electric energy," as the lion walked so near to us and around the vehicle.

The other lion pair was not mating. The female was interested but the male was not. The Lioness was rebuked by male, for trying to mate with him, so she soon walked away, looking for a more suitable mate.

It was interesting to note, the male lion actually looked forlorn that the female left him because he would not mate with her. She needed to mate because this was the best time for her to conceive. She soon found a cooperative male lion.

We drove on and saw three adult black rhinoceroses, and one calf. We got pretty close to them; within about 35 - 50 yards. They were grazing on grass the color of straw. I watched the one closest to us through my 300 mm lens. The hide was battleship gray, with many scratches etched into its skin, that appeared as fine, white lines. The rhinos have tiny eyes in proportion to their large bodies. Tufts of hair grew from their ears, and the prehensile lips grabbed the grass, and quickly into the mouths it went, as the rhinos grazed.

We also saw a mother black rhino with her calf. As we moved closer, the mother rhino placed herself closer to her calf, and closer to us, as a way to try to protect her baby from a possible threat. We retreated so as to not cause the rhinos anxiety.

We drove on, and our next subject was a Blacksmith Lapwing nest, with four eggs, but no mother bird to incubate, nor protect the eggs. The lighting was harsh, as it was about noon. We continued looking for different species to photograph, and came upon a few common white-bearded wildebeest whose beards were back-lit by the mid-day sun. It was a sight that brought the thought to me, how precarious their survival was with regards to finding water, and grass to eat.

Then we came upon a small stream. There were graceful green reeds, growing abundantly, by the cool, blue, water's edge. As I was thoroughly enjoying the scenery, the reeds began moving ever so slightly, but there was no breeze. Out steps a lioness, followed by an older lioness, then a cub. All three paused for a few moments, then two more cubs appeared, and also paused at the stream's edge. What a joy to see this little lion family, as lions are my favorite subjects.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. All five lions chose to rest right at the side of our vehicle. We stayed with them for as long as they rested, about 20 minutes. I got some wonderful shots of the cubs interacting with their mother. The cubs started to head out, and the mother followed with two cubs ahead of her, and one behind. The older lioness followed at the rear. They walked away from the road, so we weren't able to follow in the vehicle.

We drove back to camp for lunch, and found everyone from our photo group already there. We ate lunch and rested for 30 minutes. With all the new sights we experienced I didn't realize how tired I was. On photo safari, you can't really sit for long (if at all) because the roads are so poor, and you'd get bumped the entire day. Besides, you also might miss a shot if you're sitting down, so standing up and holding on to part of the vehicle was the norm.

After our lunch-time rest, we headed out again. This time all three land rovers stayed together for the rest of the day. There wasn't anything spectacular to photograph again until the end of the day. That's when we came upon a sleeping, black maned lion. We stayed with him and hoped he'd wake up soon. From lying on his side, he shifted position and rolled onto his back with with all four paws in the air, just like a pet cat.

I got a wonderful series of ten photos of, "Lion Waking Up." He walked off, most likely ready for his night hunting. We headed back to camp, as the sun had set, and the light was failing.

We arrived back at camp just before dark, and I washed up with the warm water provided in the little red bowl. We ate supper, and discussed all the incredible sights we'd seen throughout the day. After the plates were cleared, Lenny Sr. started telling a joke. The light from the lanterns had attracted large, flying insects. Our cups were on the table for the nightly spot of tea, or coffee. I forgot the joke Lenny told, but just as he was about to deliver the punch line, I brought my cup down forcefully, with a loud bang, to kill a large, nasty looking insect, and Lenny gave me a look of disbelief as if to say, "How could you ruin my joke like that?" (By startling everyone listening to his joke.) I laughed at my incredibly poor timing. I explained by saying, "Lenny there was a big bug and it was headed your way. I didn't want it to disturb you, so I killed it." His eyes got really big, as a shocked expression came onto his face, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. Everyone was laughing by this time, as he finished his joke. Somehow though, he'd lost his concentration, and the ending to his joke didn't seem to have the impact of his previous stories.

By this time it was about 8:30 p.m., and it was starting to get really cold. The wind was growing stronger, as it had the night before. I went to my tent, and pulled the blanked off my sleeping bag and wrapped myself up in it, and went back to the table. Lenny was playing a harmonica. This brought back memories I hadn't thought of in years, of camping trips I'd taken with as a child, with my mother, years ago. At around 9:00 p.m. we all retired for the night. Ann and I were in the tent. Before getting ready to sleep, our routine consisted of washing our hands and faces with the warm water provided, cleaning the camera bodies and lenses, replacing exposed rolls of film for new ones, and then writing in our journals about the day's events, by the light of our flashlights.

I slept in all my clothes once again, to try to stay warm. As I'm lying in my sleeping bag, my thought was, "I wished I'd planned better and brought a coat!" I didn't know any better to have thought to bring a tape recorder, to record the night sounds of the Crater, as the night sounds are not to be believed unless you've experienced them first-hand. Lions, zebras, and hyenas were the dominant sounds throughout the night.

Publicado em 01 de dezembro de 2019, 09:29 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #4 - August 18, 1988

We are awakened early, once again by Lenny Sr., with his loud, insistent knock and, his favorite morning greeting, "Ann, Kathleen are you awake?" "Yes," we answered together. This is our last morning at the Amboseli Lodge, Kenya, because today we're headed to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, one of the best places in the world to see African Wildlife. We spent most of the day on the road to Tanzania.

Our first stop was to take a photo of Mt. Kilimanjaro, way off in the distance. This was the first time we even had a glimpse of it, because during our entire stay at Amboseli, this world famous mountain had been shrouded in, what seemed to be,a permanent cloud cover. Needless to say, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Further on down the road, just a little, we paused again to take photos of weaver bird nests, skillfully woven among this tree's branches. Just for the record, I never saw a weaver bird though.

We continued on our journey. James slowed down, as there were two young, Masai boys driving a herd of their cattle, across the dusty, red dirt road. They looked to be about eight years old.

We drove on, enjoying the spectacular scenery. I was in front of the van talking to James, with the few words of Swahili I learned. Then he'd say a complete sentence and have me repeat it to him. I did, then I asked him what I just said. We were both laughing.

Next thing we know, a small herd of giraffe look as if they are on a collision course with our van. James came to a swift stop, as the giraffes ran across the dirt road, directly in front of us. They were remarkably graceful while running. Their long necks push forward, followed by their long front legs, then back legs; like a three part ballet movement. It's such a wonderful sight to see what we commonly know as zoo animals, running free, in their natural environment.

About an hour later, we stopped at a trading post. I thought we were out in the wilderness, and they accepted credit cards as payment! I bought two green malachite necklaces and bracelets, a large Masai shield with a blue and white design on the front, and two ebony wood bracelets. In my excitement of looking around at everything, and hurrying to get back to the van, before Lenny had a fit, I left my credit card laying on the counter without realizing this. Msembi saw this and said, in his beautiful, soft-spoken Kenyan accented English, "You forgot your card." I thanked him for picking it up for me, and went to get it from him. When I got near him, he pretended to hide the card from me under his jacket. I sure felt silly as I looked up at him. We were both laughing, as he handed me the card. I had been so involved in money conversion from U.S. dollars to shillings, and making sure I had everything I purchased all together, that I forgot about my credit card. Msembi and James, seemed to be looking out for their little group, as no doubt, they'd seen people almost lose things, several times before. James and Msembi were wonderful game drivers, who really liked people, and were genuinely kind. I was so very sad when I realized I had to say goodbye to them, about 30 minutes later, at the Kenya/Tanzania border.

James helped me unload my Masai shield, and spear, luggage, and camera gear from his van into another vehicle. I hugged James and Msembi, and said a tearful goodbye.

I was one of the last people to get into the new vehicle, which was a fully packed bus. It held our group of ten, plus about 20 more people. Everyone looked road weary, hot, and on edge. We crossed over to the Tanzania side of the border, and disembarked from the bus to go through immigration, have our passports stamped, visas checked, and complete yet another, money declaration form. I was in line, behind a man from the United Kingdom.

I looked around for someone in my group, and spotted Ann, and asked, "Do you know what address we should write down for our address in Tanzania?" Lou overheard my question and supplied us both with the answer. For the money declaration, we had to list the English shillings and U.S. dollars we had with us. I waited in line, and eventually got to the front. When it was my turn, I suddenly realized, I forgot to list the money in my pockets. "Damn it," I said to myself, feeling all paranoid that they'd search my pockets, find the undeclared money, and then I'd be in jail in Tanzania, forever. The official gave me a piercing look. I said, "Jambo." (Hi, in Swahili.) "Se Jambo," he gruffly replied, as he stamped all my necessary documentation to get into Tanzania.

I walked out of there as fast as my paranoid self could go, without drawing attention. At this point, we had three vehicles again, for our photo safari group, Land Rovers this time, with three Tanzanian drivers. We split up into three people to a vehicle and continued towards Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.

Let it be known, the roads in Tanzania made the roads in Kenya seem like a California freeway! I don't know if anything has changed since I was there, but bump, bump, bump, the entire way. At one point, we came to a pothole the size of the Land Rover, on the actual road descending the 2,000 feet down into the Crater. No exaggeration. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say, I shouldn't have complained about the roads in Kenya!

After bumping along for a good three hours we stopped at a hotel for a late lunch. It was around 1:00 p.m. and it took over an hour to get our food. I had spice chicken with vegetables and potatoes. This was my second choice. I wanted the lamb, but someone said it was really goat, so I ordered the chicken instead. I came down with my first case of diarrhea soon afterwards. Fortunately, we were still at the hotel, near a restroom. When I came out, Don, who was another member of our photo group noticed I looked a little sick, and asked if I was okay. I told him the lunch didn't agree with me. He had anti-diarrhea pills and gave me one. I thanked him. Being he'd been to Africa before, he was so much better prepared for whatever came our way, than I was. I felt hot, clammy, and a little light-headed. I drank more water.

At this point, we all got back into the Land Rovers for the remaining hours of the trip, with just one restroom break. Mercifully, the anti-diarrhea pill was effective and fast-acting. At the time of our next restroom stop which was about two hours later, we all got out to stretch our legs, and use the, "Port-a-Potties." Ann went in first. It was so bad, she came out gagging, without using it. At that point we both decided to go behind a bush, as we noticed the guys were doing. We quickly walked away to give them privacy, until they headed back to the vehicles. Ann, Lou, Nancy, and I, then had our turn, while the guys were busy buying Masai fighting sticks. Someone spotted a monkey atop a tall tree. It was probably watching all of us, as we watch them.

We finally arrived at the top of Ngorongoro Crater, under the cover of night. Our drivers shut off the lights of all three vehicles, and Lenny let us know that it was against the law to drive in the Crater with the lights on at night. Poachers use lights, so the game wardens shoot at vehicles with the lights on at night. It took another 25 minutes to reach the floor of the Crater, where our camp was set up. We arrived hours after our scheduled time. Having to slowly creep forward in the extreme darkness, added to our tardiness.

We all got out of our vehicles, walked around a little, and used a chemical toilet about 50 yards from where the camp was set up.

The cook and his helpers had dinner waiting for us. There were two card tables with plastic tablecloths over them. What light there was, came from two dim lanterns. Being the food was setting in a barely warm pot, I was concerned about the safety of this meal. What made it worse is I couldn't see what was dished out to us. I always like to see and identify what I'm eating, to see if it looks safe to eat. I called this, "Mystery Meat Stew." I happened to be sitting next to Lenny Sr., who was watching me check out the food. He looked really tired, and sounded a bit crabby when he said, "Eat it, it tastes fine." I ate it, as it tasted okay.

After supper, there was no visiting, as everyone was exhausted from the trip. We all used the, "Nicer-than-on-the-road", port-a-potties again, and then went to our tents, to retire for the evening. It was surprisingly (to me) cold in the Crater at night, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with the wind blowing. I put on all the clothes I brought with me, to sleep in, to try to keep warm. Ann suggested we push our sleeping bags to the center of the tent to be warmer. I immediately fell asleep.

At about 2:00 a.m., I got terribly painful stomach cramps from food poisoning. I was glad I packed my flashlight! The chemical toilet was about 50 yards away from our tents. It had 4 flaps of heavy canvas around it for privacy. The top had no canvas, and was totally open, for celestial observation at night.

I want to tell you, I've never been so bone-chillingly afraid in all my life, as when I had to walk from our tent to the toilet, and then sit there for a long time because I was so sick with diarrhea, and then walk back to the tent. I felt such intense fear sitting there, in the dark, hearing the lions and hyenas so close. I felt like my hair would turn white, overnight. I've heard this has happened to people when they have been so scared. While I was sitting there, waiting for the diarrhea to end, I was devising a plan as to what I would do if a lion came at me. This plan was so poor: I thought to myself, I'd close the toilet lid, jump up on top, make myself look bigger and yell as loud as I could. I know. A very pitiful plan. My condition finally got better. As I lifted the front flap of the toilet's privacy shield, I put on my flashlight, hoping not to see the refection of some hyena or lions' eyes. I seriously thought I'd be torn to pieces, walking back those 50 yards to our tent.

As you know, I made it safely back to the tent, or you wouldn't be reading this. I finally fell back asleep listening to the strong wind swirl around the tent. I remember thinking at the time, the tent was going to blow down. That was the last thought I had. Suddenly I heard Lenny Sr. asking, "Ann, Kathleen, are you awake?" This let me know, I'd lived through the night!

Publicado em 01 de dezembro de 2019, 08:17 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #3 - August 13, 1988

My roommate Ann and I were awakened by Len Sr.'s authoritative knock at the door. Each morning he'd been awakening us in this manner, because this way there was no excuse for not hearing one's alarm clock. After the familiar knock, there was the burning question, "Ann, Kathleen, are you awake?" "Yes, we are now," was our reply.

Precisely 30 minutes later, we dined on fresh fruit, croissants, juice, tea, or coffee. If we aren't ready soon, to go shooting photos for the morning, being left behind was a distinct possibility. I liked to kid Lenny that he was our, "drill sergeant," and we were his recruits. I also liked to try to get him to laugh, the way he got me to. But more about that a little later.

We were out and shooting by 8:00 a.m. Ann, Len Sr., and I were in a van together that morning, with James driving. This was the first rotation with Len Sr. I'd ever had. I was so happy, because I knew for sure, we'd get a wonderful, insightful narrative about animal behaviors and habitats for the day.

Vervet monkeys were spotted first, then a troop of baboons nearby. Two of the monkeys actually jumped onto the van. James attempted to, "Shoo," them away, by waving his hat at them. It didn't work very well, as a few monkeys remained.

Male Vervet monkeys have brightly colored genitalia. Lenny was the first to point this out stating, "Now girls, don't be taking photos of that technicolor penis." Ann looked mortified, and I started laughing so hard, as did Lenny. As James started driving the remaining monkeys jumped off the van.

We were fortunate to see several different species of birds in Amboseli including; a Malachite Kingfisher, Blacksmith Lapwing, two Kori Bustard, one Goliath Heron, a Pied Kingfisher, one African Hoopoe, three Red-billed teals, a White-Necked Cormorant, and a Little Egret.

We drove on and saw a group of spotted hyenas; some walking around, and others sitting in a watering hole. This seemed to be a way they kept cool.

Next we came upon two young elephants playing together. They looked to be four or five years old. First they would chase each other around some green bushes, as if they were playing tag. Then they pressed their heads together and pushed each other to see who was stronger. This playing was helping to develop strength and stamina. They'll use these lessons later in life to establish dominance, when it comes time to breed. They also just enjoyed each other's company by touching trunks.

Soon after the, "calm," one picked up a branch and wielded it at the other to look bigger, and more threatening. In return, the other young elephant fanned out his ears to look bigger, and more threatening.

Young elephant fanning out his ears to look bigger and more intimidating. When huge males (bulls) do this, it is awe inspiring. I think a car should be photos, for scale, when viewing a full grown male, because the elephant will dwarf the car, because they can become that big, if not a victim of poaching for their tusks. (ivory) The males can grow to be twice the size of the females! (Cows). Elephants have a life span of about 60 years. Unfortunately, most are killed before this for their tusks. Record weight for a tusk is about 265 pounds!

When huge males (bulls) fan out their ears, it's awe inspiring. I think a car should be in photos, for scale, when viewing a full grown male, because the elephant will dwarf the car, because they can become that big, if not a victim of poaching for their tusks. (ivory) The males can grow to be twice the size of the females! (Cows). Elephants have a life span of about 60 years. Unfortunately, most are killed before this for their tusks. Record weight for a tusk is about 265 pounds!

This elephant play also included mock threat displays and charges, which perhaps they may have to use with humans someday, to try to chase them away. Many times a huge elephant will charge, but stop just short of the intended target. Other times they will just trample whatever is in their way. You have no way of knowing if the charge will be real, or a mock charge. It is wise to give elephants plenty of room, and respect, while on photo safari.

This play, was also teaching them valuable survival skills for when they get older. The males (bulls), for sure, most likely will have to fight for dominance, with the winner, having the chance to mate and pass on superior genes.

We stayed and watched them for about an hour and a half, until they tired of their play and walked away together. It seemed like only five minutes.

Next, we came upon a large group of zebra. As always, Lenny was right on the case, and quite vocal about it. His next informative statement was, "That zebra has five legs."- (The zebra in question had a noticeable erection.) James was laughing, and I covered my face this time, and started laughing as I said, "Oh no."

After this sighting we drove on, and came upon some hyenas feeding.

Spotted Hyennas were larger than I envisioned. I hate to anthropomorphize but they were very sinister looking. As I was looking through my 300mm telephoto lens, one hyena turned it's head over its shoulder and looked directly behind itself. At me. It was an eerie feeling, as if it were sizing me up for dinner.

We started heading back to the lodge, as it was dusk, and the light was failing. Lenny's, "recruits," were allotted 30 minutes, to shower and be ready for supper. Ann had her shower first that night. She was a great roommate. She was kind, easy to get along with, and highly disciplined. in that she wrote in her journal every night before, "Lights Out." This encouraged me to the same. I'm glad I did, because at the time you think, "I'll never forget everything that happened," but you do. You tend to lose the finer details, nuances, and conversations, if you don't record them in some way. Without writing in my journal, I couldn't share my experiences here with you, now. Thank you again, Ann.

Ann and I arrived to the dining room first that night, which was quite a feat. Two women, given half an hour to shower, wash and dry their hair, get dressed, and walk a ways to the dining room.

We had soup, potatoes, vegetables, steak, and fruit for dessert. We also engaged in stimulating conversation about the, "Five-Legged," zebras indigenous to east Africa. "Kathleen, I saw you shoot an entire roll of film on that particular zebra," said Lenny. I replied, "I didn't even take one shot." I was laughing again over this. Len Jr. asked, "Then why are you red?" - (from embarrassment) "It must be the reflection of this red tablecloth onto my face," I replied. I don't think anyone believed me, as we were all laughing now.

After supper, we headed for the lounge, and pulled up chairs to form a tight circle that included everyone in our little group. We looked up at the clear night sky, and Lenny said the stars look different in the southern hemisphere. Knowing nothing about astronomy I gazed up and enjoyed the beautiful Kenyan night sky. The stars seem brighter there.

During the next two days in Amboseli, we saw many more elephants, and zebras.

Elephant family. Check out the fanned out ears, and waterline from cooling down in a waterlogged marshy area. Did you know elephants are either right or left tusked, just as people are right or left handed?

At the end of the fifth night of our photo safari in Amboseli, Lenny started talking about Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania, which is one of the largest craters in the world. To be more precise, it is actually a caldera, measuring about nine miles across, and is approximately 2,000 - 2,500 feet deep, and covers roughly 100 square miles. The, "Crater," is an especially wonderful place to take African Wildlife photographs, because of the very highly concentrated populations of all the wildlife species you associate with Africa, and then some.

Being Lenny Sr. had been in Ngorongoro Crater several times before, he had a few stories to tell. This was my favorite;
"Three Men in a Tent"

Back in the 1960's three men went on a hunting safari together to try and bag the biggest animals as their trophies to hang upon their walls. One night they decided to camp in the Crater. It was a warm evening so the men left the door flap of their tent open, along with all the window flaps, in hopes of catching cooling breezes. The three men went into the tent after they retired for the evening, and unfortunately one of the men snored loudly as he slept, keeping the other two men awake for a while. Eventually all three men were asleep. In the morning, only two men came out of the tent! What had happened was . . . After all the men were asleep, a lion silently came into the tent, killed the snoring man, and dragged/carried him out while they were all sleeping. The speculation was, because the snoring sound of a human, sounds like a, "Death-Rattle," of a dying animal, (and therefore the easiest to catch, and kill), the lion chose the snoring man. What was left of the man was found less than 1/4 mile from their tent.

Lenny went on to say, while you're in the Crater, you can hear the lions roaring all through the night, nearby, and sometimes, even through camp, to make their presence known. He also informed us that we couldn't have a campfire at night, because it was the dry season. I said, "Then the only thing between the lions and us is about 1/8 inch of tent." I held up my thumb and index finger about 1/8 inch apart. Lenny pushed my fingers together and said, "More like 1/32 inch." "What's going to keep the lions away from us?" I asked, in a very concerned state of mind. This turned out to be a rhetorical question, as nervous laughter from the others in the group was the only answer I received. On that cheery note, we all said good night.

Ann and I walked back to our room at the Amboseli Lodge, and talked about the day's events and, "The Three Men in the Tent," story. We both wrote in our journals. This was the last night of our routine we started at Amboseli; upon our arrival, a few days before. Each day before we left for our game drive in the morning, we'd make sure our mosquito netting was tucked in under the mattress to seal out any malaria carrying mosquitos. Every day we also sprayed the netting with insect repellant. This made for an easy entry into bed, after dinner. As with every night we'd discuss what we might see the next day, and the trip we'd be taking to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, the next day.

Publicado em 01 de dezembro de 2019, 06:18 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #2- August 12, 1988

Spent most of the day on a dry, bumpy road to Amboseli National Park, from Nairobi, Kenya. Dust and more dust. "Chakula fumbi," James, our game driver would say. This was Swahili for, "Eat dust." We stored our camera gear in large, plastic garbage bags to keep out the dust, at Len Sr.'s suggestion.

We stopped at a Masai trading post. Len Jr., Len Sr., Don, Cliff, Ron, and I each bought Masai spears there. Then we continued the dusty drive to Amboseli. We stopped at another trading post where I looked at carvings of, "twigas." - (giraffes). Several sizes of carved giraffes were available for sale, from nine inches high, to over five feet, and weighing over 40 pounds.

We continued on, and just before we arrived at the Amboseli Lodge, the road got bumpier, which I didn't think was possible. James increased the speed, which actually made the ride smoother, and lessened the impact of each bump we hit, until . . . . . . we hit a large, deep pothole. All of us bounced way up, and off our seats. - (no seat belts). I observed James bounce up so high that he almost hit his head on the ceiling of the van, as did we all. I remember counting five times bouncing off the seat. I mean what else can you do but count how many times you become airborne, in such a situation?

We arrived at Amboseli Lodge, in the late afternoon. My roommate Ann, and I went into our room and found all the windows open. This was to be expected as it was a hot, summer day. But . . . this also meant there might be mosquitos in the room. Normally mosquitos are unwelcome at best, but in many parts of Africa, this could mean extreme sickness due to malaria, which some mosquitos carry. Ann and I closed all the windows, and started killing every mosquito we could find in the bedroom, and bathroom. There were so many in the shower stall! We counted close to 100, then stopped counting. We also were quite meticulous about making sure the mosquito nets were totally covering and tucked in around our beds. Then we sprayed insect repellent with 4% DEET, all around the netting. I didn't think I'd be sleeping that night because the repellent smell was so strong, as if we had set off a bug bomb inside the room.

By this time, it was getting dark, and I headed into the lobby. Ann had left about twenty minutes before me, as I was obsessed about killing all the mosquitos to make sure we were safe from the threat of malaria.

Suddenly, the lights in the lobby went off. I didn't see Ann anywhere. Then I heard a man's voice from behind me say, "An overload on the generators, no doubt." Out came the candles, as this seemed to be a frequent occurrence. I watched by candlelight, the man who was performing the money exchange, for several guests, dripping some candle wax down, onto the counter, to have a place to secure the candle. It wasn't easy. Next, the man behind the counter, continued to process the money exchange for several people in line, ahead of me. When it was my turn, after waiting a good twenty minutes, I realized I didn't have my money exchange form with me, as we had left most everything in our lodge rooms. I saw someone had left their money exchange form on the counter. I did NOT want to have to go back to my room, then come back with the money exchange form, and then have to wait in the long line again, so I put my hand on top of the form left on the counter, and pretended it was mine. In the semi-dark room, things seemed to get a little confusing.

By this time, finally, they had another man come out to help with the money exchange. What made this such a long, arduous process was that every paper bill of money a tourist brought in that wasn't Kenyan currency, had to have the serial numbers copied, by hand, into your money exchange form. It was finally done! As I left the line, I glanced at the name of the money exchange form, and it was Lou's, one of the other ladies in my photo safari group.

I continued walking towards the exit of the lobby, and noticed Cliff was the last person in the money exchange line. I shook my head at him and said, "I can't believe this." He said, "Yeah, unbelievable." I was a little late for dinner, but Cliff was even later.

When I got to the dining room, I quickly found Lou, and told her what happened. She was so happy that I found her money exchange form, and I felt so fortunate to have found it, and used it as if it was mine. We laughed at the absurdity of the money exchange process.

For supper, we had soup, roast lamb, potatoes, and vegetables, which were very tasty. Cliff arrived just in time for the main course. I mentioned he would be late, because he was at the end of the money exchange line. Everyone nodded in silent understanding.

We had pleasant conversation about the many species of animals, and scenery, and the beautiful artifacts, carvings, and jewelry we'd seen at the trading posts, during our drive from Nairobi to Amboseli

After supper, we all went into the lounge, where there was a huge fireplace made of stone. Len Sr. told us of his and Len Jr.'s adventure in Alaska, with a large brown bear. We finished our beverages, and called it a day. Ann and I walked back to our room together, and talked further about the day's events, and then said good night. I didn't think I'd be sleeping that night because the insect repellent smell was so strong. It was like Ann and I had set off a bug bomb inside the room. That was the last thought I had, as I laid my head down on the pillow, enveloped in mosquito netting, I'd previously only seen in movies. I slept like a log until morning.

Publicado em 01 de dezembro de 2019, 06:05 PM por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário

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