Tag Archives: Photography

The Beauty and the Beach

After many years of living in capital cities around the world, and numerous intercontinental moves (phew, that’s a different story altogether), we finally decided to abandon our city life and took the leap to a very different lifestyle. Much simpler and quieter.

Of course there were some sacrifices to be made. Like abandoning a rewarding 24/7 job and the short walks to theatres and music halls. Not to mention, depending on the city, the daily bumper-to-bumber commute, packed subway trains,  the close-by Versace and Louis Vuitton shops and the constant buzz that’s ever-present in any large metropolitan area.

While the break-up was generally very pleasant, there was a transition period of feeling a bit… abandoned. I guess having the constant hubbub of people around you is somehow a bit deafening. Stress is quite noisy. My ears were only hearing the quiet in the beginning. Then little by little, I started hearing all the sounds of the nature. The wind in the palm trees, the ocean, the birds.

With that came the realization that I was free from the rat race. There was quite a wonderful sense of liberation!  Not that I had completely retired, but now I was my own boss. I could work as little or much as I needed to. And do work that I found interesting and meaningful, and still have the time to do other things I love. I would make my own schedule, work virtually from my home office much of the time, watching a pelican or a fish hawk fly by my window. And I would travel globally. But always be back here on the beach after a half hour drive from the airport.

    

Now after almost two years of my “new life”, I cannot even imagine a transition in the other direction. I’ve come to appreciate our laid back life, the long walks on the beach and in the close-by nature reserve. And the swims in the ocean. We have also found nice places to visit nearby, from excellent restaurants to museums and small theatres. Even went to see Sir Paul and Sir Elton some time ago.

As I recently said to a friend who lives in N.Y., the backwaters do have a cultural life, planes visit here too, and one can actually drive a car here. Not just practice parking and stretch one’s patience. But some people prefer the humming buzz of the big city. And that’s great. The world beautifully accommodates all of us.

All I can say is that I found the beauty on the beach. For that I’m always grateful. Peace.

Sunday Journey at Home

I love being at home on a sunny Sunday. I guess I’m getting comfortable. No need to travel all the time any more.  There are still many beautiful places I haven’t seen on earth, so sometimes is good. But need a bit of a break from non-stop flying. So this morning I took a quiet journey around the house. No security checks, no running to catch a connection, no sugary snacks on the plane – and no money needed. I started in South Africa.

They really know how to make African art. These birds almost made me miss my flight once. I saw them in the corner of my eye when I passed a little shop at the airport. They didn’t leave me alone so I had to go back for them. And then run for my plane. Just made it and have never regretted my sprinting record.

From South Africa I took to the west and landed in Ghana. No hurry. I could take my time to admire these huge masks that reach almost from the floor to the ceiling, protecting my office. I can only speak the truth when at my laptop, because they are always watching…

From there I took a journey across Africa, to Kenya on the east coast.  It didn’t take too long, no plane changes required. That’s where I found Amos, my Masai warrior and constant companion. He’s a world traveller by now, has been following me on three continents already, often travelling in the cabin with me. He told me he needs a “bath”, it’s been hot and dusty on the plains lately. So that’s what we will do this afternoon.

From there my journey went north, to Egypt. I am completely fascinated by their history. I have spent hours and hours in the Cairo museum talking to Tut and other pharaohs.  Tut’s belongings are just amazing. The little gloves he wore have always captivated me more than his elaborate jewelery.

And of course I got my first real (huge, or so it felt) sand grain in the eye in a sand storm at the pyramids. It became quite a nuisance. I got high fever and needed to see a doctor, but that did not prevent me from returning many more times. Today’s journey on the memory lane was very safe and not at all adventurous. Not a single sand storm, no belly dancers on the Nile, only some dust appeared in the air.

By now I was tired, you guessed it, of dusting. I decided not to continue my journey to other continents, but instead to return where I had started, to South Africa. Or our living room, to see the elephants calmly walking around my wall. Enough excitement for one morning. Time to give Amos his bath.

Chasing Queen Elizabeth’s Elephants

Many years ago when we lived in Uganda, we used to go on safaris or other adventures in the nature at least once month. Several of these Friday afternoon drives from Kampala brought us to Queen Elizabeth National Park (please also see my earlier post Elephants and Decisions). This park is located in the Albertine Rift and is the home of a rich variety of wildlife: mammals, reptiles and birds. Among its top attractions is the tree climbing lion, which we spotted once but did not manage to capture on film. It is also marked by several large craters and crater lakes formed after volcanic explosions. It is a wonderful place to visit if you want to be a guest in the wild kingdom. At the Equator in Uganda (2)   This particular Friday afternoon we were traveling with another family in two 4-wheel drive SUVs. On our way to the national park, we stopped at the equator for some pictures and arrived at the main gate just in time before it closed at dusk. Our first encounter with the wild on this trip came while driving from the park’s main gate to Mweya Lodge, where we always stayed. About half a mile before the lodge, we saw a huge lion walking on the gravel road right in front of my truck! She was walking calmly, in no particular hurry to get anywhere. She just walked and walked – and we remained at a respectable distance, until she decided to take a “side street” into the high grass. lion queen elizabeth_tonemapped Early morning the next day we decided to go for a drive we had not done before. We looked at the map and saw that a small trail, marked only by a dotted line, led to a dry crater where we might find elephants. We set off driving and soon found the hardly visible trail leading to the crater. But we had no idea about the adventure waiting for us. The trail went up and up on the side of the crater wall…and then suddenly there was no trail! Just smaller stones mixed with big boulders…how would we drive there and how would we come back down? We couldn’t turn as we were in between big rocks and going forward was clearly a hazard. We quickly realized that we could get stuck right there. With no one knowing where we were and (of course) we had no cell phones at that time. Crater in QE ed_tonemapped So we navigated on up the crater’s side by the help of our spouses who stepped out of the trucks and showed us, truly inch by inch, how and where to drive. We stopped briefly at the top take a few pictures, with no elephants visible in the carter. Needless to say that we were no longer chasing Queen Elizabeth’s elephants.  That would be for the next day. The whole effort was entirely focused on getting us out of there and safely back to the lodge. After a “drive” of about four hours, at less than walking speed, and moving carefully between the boulders, we came down  and found a small trail to follow. Lots of gratitude right there! Our reward came when we approached the lodge. We spotted a young elephant, probably a teen male who had already left his mother’s herd. He was calmly eating from bushes just a stone throw from the lodge entrance and didn’t mind us observing him for quite a while. The next morning when we woke up, we noticed that we’ve had an overnight visitor. All the rubber lining around the windows of our friends’ Nissan Patrol was missing. Eaten up. The lodge staff told us it must have been the young elephant who had been staying close to the lodge for some time. They also told us that the trail we had followed to the carter was not meant for driving…that’s why it was marked on the map by a dotted line. Always something new to learn. On Sunday, we went on a boat trip along the Kazinga Channel and saw many more interesting sights from rare birds to hippos, water buffaloes, birds and crocodiles. The channel is an amazing sanctuary for so many spices of wildlife. I hope you can visit this park some day. If that’s not possible, there are wonderful pictures from the park, including of the tree climbing lion, at the web-site of a National Geographics photographer, Joel Sartore (www.joelsartore.com). In any case, it has been wonderful to relive the memorable adventure we once had. If there is any tiny lesson I learned from this trip, it would be that we need to ensure things are what they seem to be. Because that’s not always the case.