August 19, 2016
One of the first rules of intercontinental travel is to allow for a day of adjustment. When even a difference of three or four hours can screw up sleep cycles, one should not assume that an 8-12 hour difference is easy to overcome.
Well, we realize this fact, but we do little to honor it. When we plan a trip, we find ourselves saying things like “let’s not waste a moment” right before we make a major goof in our agenda. Let us examine New Zealand as a fine example. We landed and immediately rented a campervan and drove to a city several hours away. So we found ourselves driving a huge vehicle on the wrong side of the road with a left-handed manual transmission while both disoriented AND sleep-deprived.
That particular drive sparked some wise proclamations:
“Next time we fly over an ocean, lets allow ourselves a day to acclimate to the time change.”
“Yes dear, that is wise and sound thinking. “
“Yea, verily, let is be so.”
[Note: we do not really speak that way, but I thought it might add a little class to this journal. By doing so, I am hoping you will feel free to enjoy a glass of wine rather than pork rinds and a Big Red soda.]
In any event, we have had this conversation multiple times – in Sweden, China, Germany as well as New Zealand. You might notice we are incredibly consistent in the having of the conversation, but rather incompetent in the remembering of the conversation. Each year, we remind our campers and counselors about the deleterious effects of sleep deprivation. One of the best-documented effects is memory loss.
Students without enough sleep forget material for exams,. Doctors without sleep miss diagnoses.
And traveling parents without sleep forget all the lessons created by jet lag. Yes, indeed – every lesson learned from travel is lost just as quickly.
So, as you have surely gleaned, we started our first full day with an early breakfast and a very full day of tours, treks and animal watching.
[Note: the electricity is really dicey here, kicking out every hour or so. You might initially think this is no big deal. Your mind would change if you were in an elevator. Yup, that happened. The guy next to me was very calm and assured. He might not have bathed this month, but he did NOT panic.]
Yes, we fell asleep several times in our safari van, but I would not have changed a thing.
Walter - our excellent guide, friend and driver - is both highly knowledgeable and good-natured. He has none of the world-weariness (or should I say “tour-weariness”) that often inflicts professional guides. While we know that we are one of perhaps 400-500 safaris he was led in his 12 years, nothing in his demeanor would suggest he is tired of it.
He knows his plants, his animals, his geography and his history. Add a great sense of humor and you have a fantastic combination.
So today we enjoyed a trip to Arusha National Park. We went on a hike that included a cooling waterfall.
For a while, an auger (African bird of prey) flew around us and guided us as we drove. We saw zebras, wart hogs, cape buffalos, baboons, gazelles and giraffes.
Man, did we see giraffes!
When I started this blog, I promised to avoid the “look how amazing our trip is” moments We started well enough – I’ve shared tales of lost luggage, upset digestive tracts and stopped elevators. So far, so good.
But I also feel a need to acknowledge when things go better than expected.
When we went on our hike, we came upon some giraffes. Apparently, this is not common. You are expected to see tons of cape buffalos, wart hogs and even baboons. But seeing giraffes is considered a treat.
Our giraffe encounter was quite special. What do I mean by special? Here is the data point that caught my attention: when we got within 25 feet (feet!!) of the giraffes, our guide took a selfie. This is an armed woman that has worked as a warden for 8 years. She has made the same 3 kilometer circuit 2-4 times a day for perhaps 2000 days. Yet here she is, taking a picture of herself with a giraffe 25 feet away.
I wondered if she had a tradition of taking such pictures, so I asked her.
“No, this is the closest I have ever gotten. Usually, they avoid us. But to get this close – especially with a large group – is not normal.
“Not normal.” That moniker has worked for us for many years, so I am glad we can add Central Africa to the places we are thus deemed.
PS Here are a few bonus pics that do not really fit the blog, but are worth sharing. The first was a bucnh of flamingos.
These are shots of the Baskin family. If you are not a direct relateive, feel no obligation to spend time on these.
Wiley looking good in profile.
Liam and Terrill chilling with the giraffes.
Really cute shot of Virginia.