Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By The Way ... I'm Going to Africa

It has been brought to my attention that I forgot to tell a few people about my upcoming adventure.

Yeah, so ... I'm going on vacation to Africa (Tanzania) in a few days. That's why I started this blog. Although granted, I've also come across a fantastic band name. I'm calling copy rights, everyone. It's mine.
"Hello Liverpool! We ARE Chased by Tigers!" (After the Africa spiel, the blog is probably going to take a whole different turn. Possibly to say, North England, where I'll hire three drummers with rotten teeth, adopt a thick regional accent and buy a keyboard. And a tuba. And a tiger costume).

I leave for my trip on Sept. 1 and (barring an actual tiger attack or something of that nature) return on Sept. 23. I fly from Denver to London, London to Nairobi and (30-some hours later on Sept. 3) to Dar Es Salaam, (the capital of Tanzania, which, for those of you geographically challenged, is on the East Coast of Africa, below Kenya and above Mozambique).

Don't worry, I'm not going alone. Karin Prescott is coming with me. I invited her, not just because she's one of my dearest friends, but because she comes with good odds. What odds, you're wondering?? Well, Karin has already been to Africa - to Gabon - on a photography trip a few years ago with National Geographic. Thus, she comes with a bit of experience and inside knowledge of the culture and landscape and ALSO with another chunk of useful life lessons. You see, Karin was charged by an elephant. That's right ... it's a great story. She lived to tell. Oh, you want to hear it right? OK. So, she was walking back to her camp from the photo site where she and NG were shooting (with cameras) elephants. She was walking on a long dirt path with open grasslands on one side and jungle on the other with one of her group's local "guides." There was a rustling in the jungle and when the guide took his machete to a tree to scare whatever it was away, an elephant charged out. The guide abandoned the scene, high-tailed it outta there at full speed, leaving Karin alone to face the elephant, who turned on her. There was a single tree on the grasslands side of the path and she stepped behind it just as the elephant reached her and nailed the tree with its head. The two of them did a little dance around the tree for a few moments, staring into each other's eyes as Karin loudly and calmly told the animal to go away. Finally it did.
Amazing, right?
So, my thinking is this ... Karin will be a great African traveling companion because she has already been charged by a wild animal, and - much like the odds of being struck by lightning or eaten by a shark - how many times could one person (OR her travel partner) possibly have this experience in a single lifetime? I'm buying into her favorable odds ...

Karin will also quite likely be taking on the part of navigator, peacemaker and - if the going gets rough - psychologist, on this adventure.
I, in addition to holding up the high-maintenance end of our traveling duo (wanting to shave my legs, listen to my iPod, etc), will likely be taking on the role of neurotic gaper. I'm excited to see a new world and everything, but The Unknown frightens me more than it probably does ... most people. Of course, it also fascinates.

We are not entering mysterious lands without a roof over our heads. Another friend - Stephanie Smith - who, since her beer-guzzling, Taco Bell-eating, mess-making (hi ... I was the CLEAN roommate) college days, has lived in many developing countries and learned more languages (some of the native/tribal variety) than anyone I've ever known. She has somehow become a total neat freak, eluded mortal danger of all variety AND is currently working/residing in Tanzania. We will be staying with her during our time in Dar Es Salaam. She tells me her place is right on the beach and has monkeys in the backyard. Awesome.

She will be - as she does these days - working very hard, however, and will not be joining Karin and I on our 6-day safari adventure in the southern part of the country. The area down south is called Selous (described, by the booking agent herself, as "in the middle of nowhere"). It is the largest protected area in all of Africa and far less frequented by tourists than the Serengetti up north. We will fly to this place from Dar (possibly by pegasus), land on "an airstrip" (I think we might have to jump off and tumble rather than actually land), and stay in a nearby camp ... in a "permanent tent." There will be a jeep safari, a river safari and a walking safari. Adventure is on the way ....

When we get back to Dar, we're taking the ferry to the island of Zanzibar. My best friend Brad - who loved Africa and was a huge motivating factor in me taking this trip - was reading a book about Zanzibar and telling me about it shortly before he passed away two years ago. He was always talking about the magic of Africa. I want to see the things that so intrigued him. I want to glimpse this land he loved so much.

The last week of our trip is open. We might get Visas to Kenya and go visit another couple friends of mine - Lucy and Ed, who live 3 hours from Nairobi - but it's all up in the air.

Not sure what kind of internet access I'll have while on this trip, but I'm hoping to knock out a few stories... Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Liz said...

Great blog, Shauna! Can't wait to keep up on your travels. Good chatting last night - hope you have a wonderful trip.