This was an epic year of travel for me – the best ever. I was very fortunate to be able to go somewhere special each month. I visited National Parks in the US as well as a few new places in my home country. I had a completely unique experience as a volunteer citizen scientist in Kenya. And my feet touched the soil of South America for the first time. To top it all off, I was totally spoiled on a one of a kind barge cruise on the Burgundy Canal in France. I don’t think any year in travel can get much better.
These were the parting words that my guide said to me as we finished the fascinating tour of the Gedi Ruins near Watamu, Kenya on the country’s Indian Ocean coast. After three hours of touring the site with him, I could understand why. Other than a local school group, I was the only tourist there.
By the end of February my body and soul are usually quite winter weary. My soul needs some bright sunny days to lift it back up and my bones need warm sand and surf to lubricate the joints. After a two week citizen science conservation experience in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, I also wanted to get in some Kenya beach holidays. But, I did not want to have to spend a lot of time or effort getting there. Jacaranda Beach on Kenya’s Coast was the perfect answer (and was my personal alternative to the Seychelles)
I have seen this many times in Africa – women effortlessly carrying large loads balanced on their head as they easily walk from one place to another. In this case, it was early morning on Jacaranda Beach in Kenya, and this young woman was carrying a basket half as tall as she was, while wearing flip flops and walking in the shifting sand, taking supplies to one of the nearby beach restaurants. This must be the secret to why African women have such beautiful long and graceful lines to their figures.
Quilt Inspiration – I found this original African fabric panel at a quilt show and knew I would need to use it in my African inspired quilt as a colorful reminder of my first trip to Africa. On that first trip, I only took the quilt top to photograph due to space and luggage weight limitations. On that Africa trip I also bought a batik panel at one of the road side vendors which I used on the back of the quilt. By the time I went back to Africa on my most recent trip, the quilt was finished and I took it back with me so I could photograph it complete on location. Continue reading “‘This Is Africa” – Original Quilt Design”
It’s four in the morning and I am sitting in a blind at a waterhole in the midst of Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara ecosystem. The visible sky beyond the blind is covered in so many stars that I finally have a sense for how big a million-billion really is.
On the ground though, my visibility is limited to just a few feet in the absolute darkness beyond the confines of the branches and sticks that make up this makeshift enclosure that surrounds me. In the pitch blackness, I can’t detect the animals I am here to observe without the aid of night vision binoculars, but the cacophony of sounds leaves no doubt that I am completely surrounded by life. A loud orchestra of frogs, toads and insects serenades me so that I can easily stay awake during my shift. An occasional bark from a hyena or grunt from a hippo reminds me that larger four legged creatures also prowl the night. The local leopard though is nowhere to be seen or heard tonight.
This post was recognized by the North America Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) in the 2019 awards competition with a Bronze award in the Featured Photo, Illustration– Online category.
I love Kenya. I love the elephants and the giraffes and the zebra and the rhinos and all the myriad wildlife that is so unique to this part of the planet. For me, nothing beats the exhilaration of seeing a baby elephant trying to figure out how to use its trunk or watching the graceful slow motion ballet of a running giraffe. A recent day on a Masai Mara safari gave me the chance to experience all of this and much, much more.
While the adult men in the Maasai Village in Kenya were performing their traditional jumping dance for us, off to the side, these little boys were practicing and jumping along. When they saw my camera pointing at them, they put even more energy and exuberance into the act, and giving me the biggest smiles possible at the same time.