Time to Track Down Some Wildebeests

GreatCircleMap

And now it’s time to go. At high noon we’re off to Toronto Pearson airport (for the second time in two months, somehow) and then on to Nairobi. HerdTracker is watching the great wildebeest migration, and we’re heading over to jump right in. Many photos, I hope, to come. See you from over there.

Map from Great Circle Mapper.

Friday Photo #36 – Outside the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

FP36

Here we have an HDR of a springtime morning just outside one of the many entrances to the Grand Bazaar, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey. No one’s places-visited list is complete without a trip to Istanbul.

There are 386 photos in the Turkey Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. See also 578 more HDR photos.

And see all the Friday Photos.

(At this hour we should be roughly somewhere over the Mediterranean en route to Nairobi for a look at the great wildebeest migration. Depending on upload speeds from the bush, watch for photos here.)

Have a good weekend!

Africa Vignette Series

b1

At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a blizzard of little African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from EarthPhotos.com.

20 Botswana

Some people in Botswana conjure an income from this tall white savannah grass. They gather it, dry it and take it to Maun to sell as roofing. They harvest papyrus reeds, thicker and longer than the grass, dry and tie them with twine to line fences. They’ve done that behind the tents at the back of camp.

Usually underwater, the grass and reeds are exposed now, and they tempt the working man since they’re extra long, longer than in a normal reed harvest. So people have walked here all the way from Maun.

It’s unsettling to watch reed cutters hauling bundles on their heads where at another moment topi or tsessebes or even cheetah might roam. It’s even more unsettling to know these people camp out through the night.

Grass and reeds are the main building materials in the delta – along with the aluminum can. You put down a row of reeds, a layer of mud, a layer of crushed aluminum cans, a layer of mud, a layer of reeds and voila! A wall!

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.

Technological Molting

landscape

The first time I saw the term technological molting was in a 2012 article from John Jeremiah Sullivan in the New York Times called Where is Cuba Going. May we all step back once in a while and molt.

Here I sit, outside at the farm, watching a moon making its way up over the National Forest, waxing gibbous, no sign of the first manmade thing, yet here I also sit wed to the web on my laptop.

Tomorrow we’re off to spend ten days of, I expect, mostly enforced absence from the internet. I appreciate the enforcement.

In the run up to leaving I’ve been unsubscribing from the daily email barnacles I have accrued over time. Offers! Deals! Opportunities! Imagine, you can get Club Carlson points at Radisson hotels by dining out!

Zap, and zap and zap.

Too much screen is too much screen. Once in a while let us go and live and breathe and watch and listen, and allow the wired world to fend for itself for a couple of weeks.

See you with photos from the wildebeest migration across the Masaai Mara if the photos and the opportunities present themselves, and if not, I’ll have those photos for you in due time.

For now, cheers!

Africa Vignette Series

z2

At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a blizzard of little African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from EarthPhotos.com.

18 Zambia

This morning will be a new experience – a walking safari. Mirja and I will walk between a rifle-toting guide in the lead, and a tracker, the four of us trailed by a young apprentice carrying coffee and biscuits, the “tea boy.”    

Isaac, a stoic, leathery bush veteran with a beret and a .357 caliber Brno rifle, will be our scout. Aubrey is tracker/guide. As we all assemble around the fire, the first bird calls begin under an orange sky, and the bush fills with whistled, warbled, clucked and chattered declarations that yes, I’ve made it another night; my territory remains mine, so you just stay away.

The grass between camp and the Luwi River is taller than we are. At the riverbank Isaac and Aubrey part it, revealing crocs on the bank opposite. Standing in the shadows, before the sun, on a rise just above the water’s edge, it’s hard to convince myself that crocs only inhabit the far side.

Aubrey takes his job seriously and means to do well. In these first few minutes he has already explained the three territorial zones of animals: the zone of awareness, the warning zone and the zone in which instinct takes over and the animal attacks. We don’t think we’re in anybody’s zone, but still step gingerly onto a ledge a dozen meters above the river, and sit on a log to watch the sun begins to establish sovereignty.

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.

Africa Vignette Series

 

z1

At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a series of African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from EarthPhotos.com.

17 Zambia

We’re dining at a long table set on the lawn under the stars. The proprietors, Georgina and Denis, lived in the small town of Broome, Australia (population 9,000), and Georgina is telling stories. We’re going on and on, gabbing away when, from the other end of the table, Denis cuts us off in an urgent voice.

“Georgina, Bill, will you please be QUIET. There’s an elephant right THERE.”

And there are seven. There is indeed one at the edge of the lawn and as she grazes her way onto the lawn, another and another, then another follow. Denis commands that everybody, including a table of Lusaka bankers drinking at the pavilion nearby, sit perfectly quiet and still.

They say elephants can’t see much but shapes in the dark, but they can see movement. So there the nine of us sit, transfixed. The bankers flee to a chalet and watch from a window. The elephants eat their way to not ten feet from the table and you have never thought elephants were so big until you’re looking up at them, stuck with your legs under a table, hoping nobody will sneeze.

The night crackles with life. Hyenas call and we can’t flee to our room because the elephants have stopped to eat between us and there. Earlier, we’d been delayed by a hippo in the middle of the road. Abraham observed laconically as we sat there, “You have to give a hippo room to maneuver.”

Once we’re home the elephants, who have been hanging around camp all night, put on a real tingling show, tearing at the trees behind the patio, even putting the occasional elephant foot on our stairs just an arm’s length away from the doorway.

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.

Africa Vignette Series

b2

At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a blizzard of little African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from EarthPhotos.com.

16 Botswana

Elephants self-medicate in at least a couple of ways. Pregnant mothers chew the leaves of a particular tree to induce labour. Humans have experience with elephants’ other method of self-medication, and O.P. and B. have a set piece to illustrate it. They discuss the things we learn from animals: How to spot predators from watching the herds, flight from watching birds … and alcoholism from watching elephants.

There’s this one particular tree, see, called the murula, that they take us to see. Elephants eat the little green fruit that falls from the trees’ wide crowns and if they happen upon naturally-fermented ones, they get tipsy.

This is the legend, at any rate. Some say that elephants are so big they would need to eat massive amounts of the fruit. Others counter that the fruit ferments in elephants’ stomachs, so the dozens an elephant might eat could prove sufficient for a nice buzz. You can find photos on the internet that purport to show drunken elephants, and some are pretty funny.

In O.P. and B.’s telling of the murula legend, Man The Observer has seen what happens to elephants and squeezed the juice of the fruit, added sugar, and produced bottles of Amarula Cream. It is de rigeur as an apertif around the proper Botswanan campfire.

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.