Most travelers choose their destinations for a basket of reasons including everything from famous museums to beautiful scenery, deep history to culinary delights. A few just want to tick off another destination.
I think the six of us came to Rodrigues because we all love Africa, and this is the most remote and unexpected part of Africa that exists. Like any Robinson Crusoe island hidden in the giant oceans, we also expected very unique beauty, history and ecology. We weren’t disappointed.
Look on the bright side: Driving in Mauritius is like being the first astronaut to drive on Mars. Yes, there’s problems. It’s costly. But what an adventure.
I’ve raced my broken Landrover over the Lemuta Plains through a dust storm and avoided every aardvark hole. I’ve navigated through a blizzard in the middle of the night on Chicago’s highways. I’ve kept my Vauxhall on the right edge of the ditches in the Scottish moors. I’ve even zigzagged a bus on the Chapman’s Peak Road over the Cape!
I’m in Mauritius, defined by geography, pirates and free money. I flew in from its much larger and much poorer cousin, Reunion, and the contrast between the two couldn’t be greater.
The ideological and even moral divide between these two main Mascarenes Islands are as great as the political divisions around the world between the right and the left, and one is forced into concluding that in a relatively short time, only one will still be standing.
Right now I’m in the longest country on earth, more than 5900 miles across. No I’m not in Russia, which is a measly 4500 miles wide.
I’m in Africa in …France(!) doing a reckie before returning with my group next week. The Île de la Réunion is a départément, one of the 18 “states” of the French Republic. It took an 11-hour nonstop flight from Paris to get here. When I return next week with my intrepid travelers I’ll describe the remarkable attractions of this remote ecological paradise in the Indian Ocean. But here are my first impressions as any first-time tourist:
Air Rage grows fueled by the increasing difficulty of flying anywhere. Last month American Airlines reported 6800 passengers missed their flights because of incompetent airport security.
USA TSA Security is a joke that’s working for exactly the wrong reasons. So stepping into an airplane, today, in the US is like walking into a bawdy bar outside a Carolina industrial park where executives have just announced the closing of factories that are moving to Mexico. Beware!
Only the rich can see wild animals. That’s the message – indeed, the policy – of Rwanda’s decision over the weekend to raise the permit fee for an hour with mountain gorillas to a staggering $1500 per person.
It’s really more profound. Not just seeing, but helping, conserving, understanding … all the components of saving our earth now become the purvey of the rich and the rich alone. Other implications are equally staggering.
The explorers of Africa provide us with an understanding of our turbulent and uncertain societies today in a way none other can.
Tomorrow at 3p at Dubuque’s Free School I’m giving a lecture about Stanley finding Livingstone. If you’re coming to the lecture you’re under a solemn oath to keep this blog to yourself until I finish. Because this is the punch line:
Snakes? I know, for most people they command little love. We place the few humans who like them in remote categories generously tagged as “weird.” But where I’m going in a few weeks, they’re more precious than pirate treasure!
Next week I travel to the furthest eastern part of Africa, Mauritius. Everything about the island nation is unique, including its biology probably best represented by … a snake.
Much of the world takes a holiday, today. All of Africa’s largest and most powerful countries are on holiday. May Day carries a morbid tradition of celebrating the horrible mental and physical tolls on workers in the second millennium.
So who isn’t a worker? Is Trump a worker? Is Nigerian Aliko Dangote a worker? Is the poor Joe who was once a miner in Appalachia still a worker? Everyone and no one is a worker, today. This is a false moniker for the modern age and it leads us into a sort of dangerous nostalgia.
NPR’s fuzzy wuzzy reporting in the last few days about the northern white rhino is high school journalism. I’m not suggesting that this story needs the due diligence of Jared Kushner’s Russia contacts, but what is an important battle between science and performance NPR has reduced to a smiling emoticon.
NPR reported as if it were new a crowdfunding campaign for in vitro fertilization to save the last three known surviving northern white rhino. In fact the campaign has languished for more than sixteen months. And there are good reasons it’s languishing.
Except for bribes, dirty deals and billionaire arrogance, Guinea would be one of the most prosperous places on earth.
Any steel around you? Driving a car? Probably wouldn’t without Guinea. How about aluminum? Do you use aluminum foil after dinner? Not without Guinea! So how come Guinea is the ninth poorest country in the world? Too many Piggly-Wiggly sales?
There’s nothing – no war, no geopolitical area, no language, no country club, no store or slum or club or crime gathering of persons that so starkly defines poverty as malaria. It’s easily cured and if cured often and widely enough, it’s effectively controlled. That’s why so much attention is given it: it’s something easily done, which isn’t.
‘Laikipia’ runs off the tongue into conversation exactly like the beautiful waterfalls that burst out of the high jungles over the dramatic cactus landscapes of deep canyons and endless vistas in north central Kenya.
Laikipia was a beautiful story in the 1970s, still compelling two decades later in “I Dream of Africa,” but it’s a grim and dark tale, now.