Friends, it’s been years since I’ve been cut off for a week from the internet, regardless of where in Africa I might have been.
The three camps we used last week all advertised internet then apologized when we arrived that it wasn’t working. Not having something — especially something promised and expected — is really hard. My blogs were written and will post starting next week. Stay tuned!
Yesterday I saw more endangered big game species in four hours than I usually see in a decade of safaris in Africa. Add to that a manipulated zebra species but frankly, I’m going to have to work on having enjoyed this.
Mokala National Park is South Africa’s newest national park. It’s a massive big game wilderness laboratory. Fifteen years ago there was nothing here. Today it contains the largest concentration of near extinct big game on earth.
I got a real kick when Sam Epstein, one of our non-veteran travelers, got so excited seeing his first ostrich when we entered West Coast National Park! It’s so much fun to feel fellow travelers’ excitement on this trip, because these folks are so incredibly enthusiastic!
We finished the 5-day flower tour totally amazed at the friendliness and engagement of local South Africans traveling and hosting us. I’d actually missed anticipating this jewel of the trip, concentrating on the earth’s ridiculously explosive bouquet. But as wonderful as the flowers were, the South Africans stole the show!
It’s night in Africa. As guide I’m responsible not just for keeping all the parts of a tour going smoothly and interpreting everything we see, but I’m equally responsible for keeping my clients happy, respecting the idiosyncracies of their lives that they have turned over to our 24×7 communal experience.
That’s hard and particularly when three of my ten clients are from Texas with family and friends now worried about their every day lives, miffed by the irony that they are safer and calmer in Africa than Texas.
It’s been a long time since an African safari was cut off from the news of the day. Shielding my clients from the news is not possible and something that I wouldn’t accept if it were. The evil and misery of the world is omnipresent. There is more darkness in our souls than in the heart of Africa.
I asked our guide how rare were some of these flowers? He almost whispered, “There are only 8 plants left on earth of our rarest.”
And no, we couldn’t be shown that. The location of the plants is a state secret. But he would show us his second rarest, only 382 left, the euryops virgatus. Compared to all the other beauties it wasn’t memorable: a kind of scraggly yellow dot-flower weed.
Extremeley few Americans come to South Africa to do what my nine travelers and I are doing right now in Clanwilliam in the Cedarberg Mountains. Most Americans believe “Africa” means “lion” and little else.
Lions are one of my principal passions, but particularly when pursued in southern Africa I actually think there are other kinds of attractions that are more interesting and exciting. Like …flowers.
I’m in South Africa where yesterday once again I was put to shame by the common sense and social responsibilities that most of the rest of the world has in proud supply compared to my native land. This time apropos to my vocation, drugs for safari.
Drug companies in the rest of the world are doing just fine. This is not a story of capitalism or not capitalism. It’s a story of unconstrained greed and even worse, support of that greed by those harmed by it. That’s the real sickness.
What wildlife authority in Africa recently issued this edict:
“Many wild animals in (?) have become displaced as the result of urban growth and habitat loss. [They] are becoming more common in urban areas and are frequently seen by people. These animals can cause problems. A resident landowner or tenant can legally capture some species of wild animals without a permit if the animal is discovered damaging property.”
What actually did the scientists at Oxford University tell us last week about the catastrophic decline in lion populations?
We’ve known for some time that lion populations are in trouble. The world’s preeminent scholar on wild lions, Craig Packer, issued a number of striking studies before his retirement several years ago. Packer was sounding the alarm a decade ago and just before retiring was so moved by his own data that he shook loose from his life-long support of sports hunting.
But nothing happens in vacuum. If you’re the vacuum cleaner man then it may seem so, and it seems to me the researchers from Oxford University are acting like vacuum cleaner men.
A “parliamentary driven democracy as opposed to presidential… is the only system which [can] shield the country from biased or unsuitable leaders.”
So ascribes Kenya’s current president together with his principal rival who were on opposite sides of the mini civil war of 2008. While America languishes in anguished reflection regarding what to do with something like Trump, Kenya has a plan. They intend to change their constitution.
Women – not other genders, races or ideologues – will determine the world’s upcoming contentious elections. Women is the only voting demographic universally conceded as being oppressed. Oppressors in power argue that’s the way it should be. So there’s no rationalization in between; arguments won’t sequester into “Fake News.”
63 years ago today, in the cold war days of 1956, 20,000 women marched on government buildings shouting, “Enough is enough!” Not in Washington. It happened in Pretoria, South Africa.
I was in Nairobi walking the streets with three hundred dollars of cold cash squished deeply into my cargo pants pocket. It was 1994. I knew Nairobi well but the street I was now walking, not so well.
Riverside Drive was then the esophagus into the underbelly of this city. Yes there were huge slums surrounding the city, but Riverside Drive preyed on that poverty and it wasn’t on the outskirts. It was smack dab in the middle. Riverside Drive wasn’t so much a slum as a mafia promenade. Badly lit, never cleaned up and always putrid, this was where you bought an AK47 for $8.50.