Sunday, March 23, 2008

Out of Africa

Our last stop on our 2007 African journey was Capetown, South Africa.
You can’t go many places in the Capetown without a view of both the mountains and the ocean. It is a city of extremes – amazing wealth & beauty surrounded by devastating poverty.
We had so many different experiences in a few short weeks – from riding in a jeep through the Seringetti, to watching the sunsets in Zanzibar, to the breathtaking scenery along the southern tip of Africa. Every time I travel to a new place it changes me just a bit and I see the world from yet another perspective. A trip to Africa was a lifelong dream and it did not disappoint.
Thinking back to last year’s trip makes me want to plan another. Anyone for Cambodia, Laos and northern Vietnam???

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Akuna Matata

After roughing it in the Serengeti and Ngorongora Crater, it was time for serious relaxation on the tropical east coast of Zanzibar. We spent 5 days reading, swimming and watching the tide roll in and out. We took advantage of the opportunity to reflect on everything that we had experienced in Africa so far, and to recharge our batteries before heading south to Cape Town.
What is life without the opportunity to be with nature, to feel our feet in the sand, to connect with the ocean, and to just be? I tried to commit the feeling of peacefulness I found there to memory so that I can revisit my own personal paradise in my mind when the craziness of life tries to pull me in.
Life is like the ocean. Sometimes it’s harsh, dangerous and unforgiving. At other times it’s calming and breathtakingly beautiful. I’m determined not to let the sharks and big waves that come my way keep me from experiencing the exhilaration and renewal that come with the high and low tides of a life spent focused on the horizon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Memories of Africa

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year – at times it seems like it was yesterday and at others it seems like it was just a dream and didn’t happen at all. I’m on a roll, so I’ll just continue the story …

After Peggy & Megan returned from climbing Kilimanjaro, Jennifer & I met up with them in Arusha just before heading off for our camping safari in the Serengeti. We headed out of town by jeep, with our guide Chaffe and our cook Isaac. Riding in a jeep through the Serengeti is probably not recommended for someone recovering from surgery, but it did cure me of my tendency for motion sickness.

I can’t begin to tell you the animals we saw: lions, hippos, giraffes, gazelles, baboons, zebras, etc, etc, etc. Our campsite and tents were not exactly luxurious, but we went to Tanzania for adventure and adventure is what we got.
One morning before the sun came up, we actually heard lions in the not so far off distance. I guess that's why our guide told us to pee beside the tent at night instead of using the outhouse. To hell with modesty!

To be continued...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Meanwhile... at the top of Kilimanjaro...

While Jennifer and I were riding camels and hanging out with the Masaii tribe outside of Arusha, our friend Peggy and her daughter Megan were headed to the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. They joined a group called Up Kili which was lead by breast cancer survivor Amy Micks, and raised money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. On March 10th 2007, Peg and Megan celebrated at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro wearing pink boas and proudly displaying the Up Kili banner. Peggy and I shared a tent on a mountain trek in Nepal in 2000, so when I heard she was going to climb Kili in Africa, I seriously considered doing it with her (despite our obvious differences in fitness levels). During the planning for the climb, I was diagnosed with a metastatic tumor, so the climb was out of the question. I was still happy to feel part of it all in a small way by joining Peg and Megan, along with my travel buddy Jennifer, for a safari in the Serengeti after their climb.

You can read more about Up Kili at

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2007 - Longuido Masaii Village

A year ago today I was recovering from lung surgery and making last minute preparations to go to Africa. I had dreamed about going on an African safari most of my life and I wasn’t about to let a little thing like a cancer tumor stand in my way!

One of our first adventures in Tanzania was visiting a Masaii village a few hours outside of Arusha. The people there live very primitive lives, in dung huts without electricity or running water. I was fascinated by their culture and way of life, but was reminded of how fortunate we are to have the conveniences and opportunities we do in North America.

The curious little girl in the picture came right up to me and took my hand. It’s sad to know that her life is pretty much decided for her: when she is a teenager she will be subjected to female circumcision and married off to an older man who probably will have many other wives. She will build a dung hut for herself (which her husband will visit when he feels like it), take care of the children, haul water for drinking and washing, and cook the food her husband provides.

By then, she will have long forgotten the white lady from Canada who visited her village. But it will be a very long time before I forget the feeling of her tiny hand in mine, and the brief visit I made to a world very different from my own.