Tag Archives: World Travel

Walking the Great Walk of Africa Day Five

During the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1898, in nine short months, two man-eating lions killed over 135 workers. Colonel John Henry Patterson, an English military engineer with Indian experience was in charge of the project. He killed both lions.  They are known as the Man-Eaters of Tsavo and are now on display, in of all places, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. We hiked to the cave where Patterson said the lions would drag their victims.

click to enlarge photos…

Walking across Tsavo West ✅

Leaving the wetter more mountainous portion of Tsavo West will change the game encounters.  In Tsavo East there will be more lions and heavier concentrations of elephants.

Registering at the new park triggered a memory – the ranger approached the vehicle wearing a freaking face mask. Covid. Something that hadn’t crossed our minds for days. Living in the bush is an option folks!  Fiction is better than reality.  

We had to a short drive down the Nairobi Mombasa Highway, named the most dangerous road in Africa, to start the new portion of the walk. Iain said walking amongst predators was safer than crossing the road.

We walked through an old rail station. Closed in 2012 because the new fast Chinese rail would no longer stop here and 40 other stops along the way. Everything was left behind.  Ticket books still sat on the counter. It was as if time had stopped.

With breezy and often times overcast days and temperatures around the low 80’s walking has been lighter and easier than if the sun blared all day.

Some of us scaled the top of a huge rock embankment at one of he breaks. Check out the view.

A two hour drive got us to our camp.  Our new home for the next three nights.  

Bull elephants are known to hang out and walk through this site. Iain refers to them as the “retirement group”.  Today, at tea time, one such male decided tho walk up to the mess tent.  Thank God Iain had popped his head in only moments before the encounter. He ushered the few of us there into a group and we moved around like frogger trying to avoid a visual face to face with the big guy.  It was quite exciting and not to mention scary.  My heart was racing. 

 


While driving today Lajori whispers “simba” Swahili for lion.  Only a Samburu bushman with an innate sense of what, I have no idea, could have spotted lions resting in the distance under a bush.  The same bushes we walk by 100,000 times a day! It took me several minutes with Lajori pointing in their direction and binoculars to find them. Iain drove closer for a better look. This man has no fear!  This is only a few hundred meters from our campsite.

Nighttime pees take on a whole new meaning!

 

 

Incredible India

It started in Chennai – in the south east.  Bill and I explored northern India 4 years ago and wanted to see the South.  Preston and Chloe (eldest son and daughter-in-law) decided to join us.

UNESCO World Heritage sites are always on the radar. On the Coromandel Coast in the Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu – the Monuments at Mahabalipuram were a great place to start.  The rock carvings were founded by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries.  The terrain consists of larger than life sized boulders right next to the coastline.

Our original plan was to take the train to travel across the country – opting for overnight sleepers when possible. We got to the station at 10 pm for a midnight train. It was already delayed by two hours. We suspected that as the clock approached 2 am it would be further delayed – most trains were. Everyone was very tired. Sleeping on the floor is obviously okay, but when Bill saw the sign that read “please do not defecate on the station floor” we decided to return to the hotel, get some sleep and fly. 

Onward to Kochi in Kerala.  An overnight 2 bedroom houseboat trip through the backwaters in Alleppey. We kicked back on the huge lounge at the front of the boat , drank beers and cruised at a snails pace – watching life on the water.  Fishing, bathing, washing clothes/dishes, taxi boats and children bobbing in the water are part of life on the banks of the waterway. We stopped at a tiny fish market and picked out humongous  jumbo prawns for dinner.  Freshly cooked lunch, dinner and breakfast fit for an army was served to just the four of us.

We strolled along the coastline in Kochi and got a lesson on the workings of the famous  Chinese fishing nets.  It wasn’t fishing season but the Portuguese contraptions make for good stories. Yes, Chinese fishing nets.  Nets from China – the idea from the Portuguese. China won on the name game.

Goa – oh Goa.  You are so clean.  India is known for it’s garage. It’s everywhere!  For some inexplicable reason the beach in Goa is CLEAN! We stayed at Utorda Beach area and did I tell you it was clean?  We strolled the white sandy beach, splashed in the warm clean water and relished the peace.  

Goa is home to a series of UNESCO churches built by the Portuguese in the early 1500’s.  They are stunning and attract lots of visitors.  The Christian population in Goa is around 25%.  High for a country that is mostly Hindu.

We witnessed a Hindu ceremony at the Shanta Durga Temple.  Not sure what it all meant but it was special none the less.

A seaside dinner was off the charts.  Water front dining with nothing but candle light. The menu – a bucket of fresh fish delivered to your table.

Mumbai – large, crowded, dirty and has crazy traffic which all comes to a screeching halt at 2 in the afternoon when the 6 hour traffic jam starts.

We packed a lot into a couple of days. Highlights were the Haji Ali Dargah Mosque, on an inlet and quite the landmark, constructed in 1431. Mani Bhavan – Gandhi’s headquarters for approx.17 years, from 1917 to 1934. My personal fav- Ghobi Ghat, an open air laundromat without machinery, washing the clothes/bedding from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals. It’s fascinating. Gateway to India, erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Elephanta Caves, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a series of caves dedicated to Shiva dating back to 550 AD. Lunch at Leopolds (read the book Shantaram) (it still has dozens of bullet holes from the 2008 terrorist attack) and lastly shoulder to shoulder bazaar shopping at Linking Road.

Phew…  It was a remarkable trip and wonderful to be able to share it with the kids.

 

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Zigzagging and being present

Bill and I are yogis – enjoying the practice 4 times a week keeps us committed, flexible and forever trying to be present.

Shavasana is when we are to be most present.  Per Wikipedia it is intended to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. In Shavasana, practitioners’ breath deepens, and the stress of the day is released. The yogi forgets all other thoughts and surrenders any psychological effort. While in Shavasana, yogis slip into blissful neutrality and reflect on the practice.

Yeah right – we also make plans and lists….

However, travel – from experiencing all the beauty in between using a bathroom with urine overflowing the brim to seeing a dead man laying on the street – gives me the most opportunities to be “present”.

Everything is new. Engaged in our surroundings there is no room for lists and planning and there are no expectations.

I always thought golf, scuba diving and being with the kids made me present. However, upon reflection golf is just a plain masochistic way of being present – scuba diving has me constantly looking for sharks and being with the kids (best of all) still has me being the mom.

World exploration is good for the soul.  It has helped me become more accepting and tolerant. I am constantly learning. Reflection and deeper thinking has lead to more understanding.

When present I don’t have time to fear.  It affords me the opportunity to get out of my head.

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson