Flight from Masai Mara to Diani Beach...Plus, Tom's photos...New safari photos...Please scroll to the end...

Due to the number of photos in this post, there are unavoidable spacing issues.  We apologize for the inconvenience.



 
As our final safari came to an end, a sudden burst of rain surprised us on our return drive to camp. During the entire time we'd been in the Masai Mara, we'd seen only beautiful billowy clouds.  After raining for less than 10 minutes, this rainbow appeared, quickly disappearing. Tom captured this photo.  For us, it was a goodbye for us, a final indication of a perfect adventure that we'll carry in our hearts forever.



 
Moments before the rain, Tom captured the clouds rolling in at precisely the right moment. This was shot with an extra camera we carry with us, a US $100 Samsung.  Wow, Tom!
 
Flying in yet a smaller plane on the return flight to Diani Beach, we find ourselves seated behind Edwin, our sole pilot.
 
With no wall or divider between us and Edwin, this single engine 12 seater plane feels like the "real deal."  At this point, a 4 or 5 seater won't be much different.
 
I won't go as far as saying that I've conquered my fear of flying in small aircraft but at least this time my heart isn't racing, my mouth isn't dry and I'm not watching the clock agonizing over how much longer until we'd land.
 
Instead, I'm writing with exuberant anticipation of sharing more details in writing of these past exhilarating days, the writing in itself a divine blessing in its ability to divert my attention away from the 2 hour flight.
 
Today at 1:00 pm, Anderson drove us to the tiny landing strip from Olonana making a stop along the way to pick up our pilot Edwin who was having lunch at a nearby lodge.  Chatting with Edwin on the remainder of the 20 minute drive provided me with a modicum of comfort.  Why?  Was it due to the fact he was breathing, coherent with his wits about him?  Perhaps.

After 15 minutes in the air, we landed at another landing strip to pick up 7 more passengers.  As their multiple bags per person were being loaded into the equally tiny luggage compartment, I began to wonder not only about the weight of those bags but also of the people carrying them.  Only I would think of this.

The plane leaned to and fro as they positioned themselves on board.  Tom moved up to sit next to me.  A friendly young man sat across from us, cheerily making conversation.  All we ever heard before the engine started up again was, "We never got to see The Big Five."  Tom and I smiled at each other, knowing our experience may have far surpassed that of others without Anderson at the wheel.

Once we were airborne again, fast and furiously I started making notes on the notepad app on my smart phone to aid my memory in the multitude of amazing experienced we'd have in a short 3 days.  Three days we'll never forget.  Three days ingrained into the essence of who we really are, who we've really become, somehow to be changed forever.

Not to sound too romantic or melodramatic, visiting Africa, with all of its hardships, has made me feel as if I've come "home."  I doubt that I'll ever understand the "why" of this profound awakening.  But, the "why" doesn't matter.

This bewildering sensation encompasses me, leaving my knees weak and my heart filled with an indescribable familiarity that I've chosen not to question.

Tom although less poetic than I, in these past days has exuded a peaceful resonance in his voice and a loftiness in his step, that I have witnessed on occasion.  And that smile on our faces, not intended for a photo op, seems to have a mind of it's own, making our faces hurt after a long day.  (And today, October 18, 2013, I can't stop smiling as I transpose that which  I wrote on the plane now, a full 10 days ago).

All I know is that bouncing around in a open sided Land Cruiser over the bumpiest roads I've ever traveled, driving through creeks and riverbed for almost 8 hours a day, occasionally stopping to "check the tire pressure," fearless in the tall grass, I never questioned for one moment why we were doing this.  For this short period in time, I belonged to the bush, to the wild and to nature more than I'd ever felt before.

As my fear continued to diminish over the occasionally turbulent return flight, I realized that if, God forbid something unforeseen occurred, I've lived a full life at 65 years old.  I've loved, I've been loved, I've failed and I've succeeded but most of all, I've learned more about myself in this past year of travel than I'd ever learned before.

Life is fragile but we are strong...and with my strong and brave partner at my side I've pushed myself to reach for my dream, some of which I only recently allowed myself to realize.

To realize a lifelong dream of Africa, in the bush, on safari, enmeshed in it's culture and it's people;  I feel free, I feel grateful, I feel fulfilled.

Thank you Masai Mara.  Thank you to the most amazing guide on the planet, Anderson.  Thank you Camp Olonana.  Thank you Kenya.  And, thank you, Africa."

Most of all, thank you to my husband, for not only "stepping outside the box" but "leaping outside the box," and for your courage, love and compassion to make this dream come true.

The cloud darkening the sky moments before the rain fell.

Also, thank you Tom, for killing that disgusting poisonous thing I spotted on the wall in the bathroom at 6:00 am this morning with nary a complaint... and for eating tuna out of the can mixed with mayo, a few slices of cheese and a sliced tomato (which you hate) for dinner last night when our propane fuel ran out when we were only halfway through cooking a pork roast, again without complaint. 

Tom was excited to see this plane and get a shot. It's an 80 year old, DC3 with obviously, new engines and props, commonly used in World War II.  I said, "Thank goodness we don't have to fly on this oldster."
 
And thank you for helping me with literally everything including putting on my shirt when my bad shoulder has been painful since we returned, after taking over 600 photos on safari.  And, for lighting that problematic green coil thing 10 times a night to keep the mosquitoes from biting me as we spend each evening in our outdoor living room. Thank you, my husband, my partner and my friend.   

 Arriving at the landing strip, this tiny plane was the only one in sight.  Then I knew this was Edwin's plane and we'd be flying in it. 
 

 
Edwin prepared for takeoff while I was sitting behind the empty co-pilot's seat. For the first leg of the flight, it was just Tom and I on the plane with Edwin.  Tom sat behind me so he too could look out the window.
 
Approaching the landing strip to pick up 7 more passengers.
 
 
 Control panel of the single engine plane.
 
 A breathtaking view from the plane.
 
 This was an body of water.
 
 As we neared the body of water.
 
 
 As we flew over Diani Beach the smoke from burning clouds the view.  In Kenya, there's no ban on burning often resulting in noxious fumes filling the air.
 

More safaris photos below...
 
 
 
A termite hill we saw on the way to Tanzania, possibly 4 or 5 feet tall.   

 
 
More of the Retired Generals hanging out together.  
 

 
 
These cheetah shots were taken from afar after a group of 3 had a successful kill.  Notice the bloody face. 


Hard to see from the far distance, these 3 cheetahs are devouring their kill which we witnessed from a distance, occurring so quickly, we couldn't get a shot.


 
 On our way back to camp on the last night, for the first time, we spotted these mongoose which are known  snake killers.
 
 
 
The King of Jungle never disappointed, continually offering an opportunity for close ups and the opportunity to observe his/hers playful antics and instinctual behaviors.  Thank you, lions.
 


 Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this journey with us.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can certainly see why your safari comments would be used in the advertising. You did very well for them and I know you really meant what you posted.

Tom's pictures were so beautiful. I always am in awe of the rainbow. God is good.

I will not get tired of hearing your stories. Because to us sitting here, in our sometimes boring and predictable lives, your so called mundane days and nights are adventurous and exciting to us. We loved the safari pictures and stories but we also loved all the other pictures and stories. So keep them coming please.

I have also been checking your blog on the low carb diet and it seems really tough. I can handle the dinner meal planning, but what does breakfast look like? I know you said you do not eat lunch. I usually have to have 3 meals or my sugar drops too low. I will look again to see what you say about breakfast.

We will be gone for a few days and will not have access to the internet so I won't be posting for awhile. I may be able to get access once in awhile, but not sure. I will miss the daily postings but will catch up.

Pat and Dan

Jessica said...

Please fill me in your upcoming time away. Love to hear! Have a fabulous time!

Tom says thanks for your kind words about his photos. He, too, is learning.

I realize how hard the low carb diet is in general for most people. For me, it is easy since it improved my health so much, I won't ever go back. I never eat a morsel of sugar, starch, grain. A side benefit is that I never have to pay attention to my weight anymore. I struggled all of my life until these past few years after adopting this way ot eating. The health benefit alone was the biggest motivator and the lowering of my lipids from very bad to normal was also a benefit. I guess it boils down to what we value most. For us, it is health. For others, it is the pleasure of eating cakes, pies, desserts and starchy main and side dishes. Fortunately, we all get to decide what's best for us. I don't judge anyone for their food choices, just myself and...Tom who "cheats" from time to time. I don't complain when he does but its hard not to notice when I want him to be at his healthiest so we can keep having the time o our lives.

As for breakfast, our first rule is simple: never eat when we're not hungry. As a result, as times, we may not eat until an afternoon snack or wait for dinner. On occasion, we have bacon, eggs, avocado slices, veggies for breakfast or cheese omelets filled with sausage bits, cheese and diced veggies topped with a dollop of real sour cream and salsa. Its very easy.

Not eating when not hungry changed everything for us. The caveman didn't eat three meals and snack each day. They ate when they were hungry enough to hunt and forage for food. God made us perfect. Our bodies tell us what we need if we listen. That's the biggest problem with the US and other countries western diet. Eating huge portions of processed foods too often. If you want more info, please email me and I can send you a list of reading materials from researchers and doctors.

Have a great time away. We'll look forward to hearing about your time away and seeing you write to us once again.

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom

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