Safari magic

My new Africa life, typical day is as follows... Wake up at 5:30, stretch, peek out the window to see if there are Impala outside, flip on the kettle, scoop Nescafe in a mug, grab the biscuits and coffee and sit on the stairs, listen to the birds, say hello to passers by, watch the elephant up on the hill (if I'm lucky to see him), go inside and start to edit photos and write for a couple hours, pour a third cup, go meet up with David and drive to the village, visit a school or two, take lots of photos, come home, download pics, make lunch, have a fourth cup with biscuits, (maybe add a cup of sav blanc with ice), edit and write some more, make plans for tomorrow, then go wait by the safari trucks to see if there's room to join on the evening game ride.  Not a bad routine at all, and I'm getting to like it a lot!  

We start out at the lodge up on the hill, overlooking the vast plains below and chatting with the other guests as we sip on a iced coffee and (the best) cupcakes (I have ever had in my life).  Then we hop into the safari trucks with our ranger and tracker and off we go into the bush.  We drive around for hours, stopping when we see big and small creatures alike.  The birds here are outstanding, some beyond colorful, and others with the most curious calls.  We sit and look at them while Johnny or Shane tell us stories about their behaviors and how they got their names.  My favorite so far is the Grey Go Away bird, which has a call that sounds like someone is squashing the last bit of breath out of it!  

Then there are some big guys like the buffalo, or as they are called here, Dagga Boys.  We learn that these guys are the most dangerous animals out in the bush due to the fact that they will charge you in a heartbeat with their massive bodies and solid horns.  We also come across a pair of white rhinos grazing in the bushes.  Rhinos are being poached at an immense rate, threatening their continued existence on this planet.  Traditional Chinese Medicine is the main culprit, as they believe the horns can cure anything from headaches to comas.  Yet, they are such a beautiful creature, so ancient in their body engineering, it's hard to imagine someone coming along and torturing these innocent beasts and killing them in the name of medicines that are not even proven to work.  

Farther along the road we watched elephants (eles, as they like to call them here) gracefully move their thick bodies through the trees, we came across a pair of sleeping male lions, we tracked a female leopard, and finished off the day watching a pride of lion in the grass;  two females with eight young ones all peeking up at us with their huge eyes, and round fluffed ears... These little lions are definitely my favorite sighting of all.  Yet, each time I go out I think to myself, "That was my favorite"... Then I see something else and say "No, no, now that was my favorite by far!"   That's the fun of the bush, it's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gunna get.  

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First morning in Ulu

I've been dreaming of the early morning sunrise in Ulusaba for the past year and a half, longing to sit on the stoop with my Nescafe and breath in the African bush air.  The mornings here are precious, there is a golden hue on everything, bird's songs are all around you, the air is calm and peaceful.  Then the lodge workers begin to stir and you see beautiful people walk past speaking in a language you've never heard, they turn to me and smile & wave, greeting me with a "Good morning, how are you?"  I love how everyone says hello, everyone waves.  

We are going to the village this morning at 8:30 to work until the sun gets too hot, probably around 1 pm. The community center is getting a coat of paint and a mural, I look forward to being back there to see how it looks a year later.  Lindsay told me the trampoline just broke, which I was amazed about because there are always at least ten kids pouncing on it at any given time.  

I laugh at how it took me six days to get here, but it was worth every minute.  The journey here was epic, meeting beautiful friends on the flights, reconnecting with a special soul in Jo'burg, being taken in by a lovely woman in Nelspruit, and getting a ride the last two hours to Ulu, seeing giraffe, elephant, and zebra in our first five minutes inside the gates.  

So much to write, I could be here at my laptop all day long... so for now I'll sign off and go enjoy the morning air some more...  Photos to come later!