Tanzania

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Looking around the table, listening to the stories of Borneo, gorillas in Rwanda and other exotic spots, I felt a bit out of place.  This was ironic.  While I grew up in California, I work in International Development which had taken me to Peshwar, Jalalabad, Bogota, Banda Aceh, Tegucigalpa….just to name a few distant outposts.  However, this trip was different…my dad and I were sitting in an elegant tent in the middle of the Serengeti as the wildebeest migration wandered through camp.

 

It all started when my dad mentioned his retirement dream of seeing the migration and going on safari.  My mom, a more artistic than adventurous soul, said she’d rather not go, and my dad generously asked if I’d like to join him.  This sparked a year-long research project of finding the right safari….did we want to stay in tents?  Five star hotels?  Did we want our own guide?  What country, what animals, what cultures?   We finally narrowed it down to the Serengeti in Tanzania, with a multiple-day stay in a camp following the migration.

 

Arriving from two continents, me from Italy and dad from California, we stayed one night in Arusha before meeting our gregarious and knowledgeable guide, Cornelius.   Our trusty Land Cruiser was packed the next morning with luggage and treats, and off we went.  The drive quickly went from hot, noisy, dusty Arusha to the wide-open spaces of the rift valley.

 

Our first stop not on the printed itinerary as we were quick to learn was the “way of Cornelius” was a lone Baobab tree.  Here Cornelius hopped out, jumped a fence of thorns and begin our education on the amazing array of birds living in the micro-habitat around the Balboa.  Birds with long tails, yellow coloring, delicate features opened a new world of African safaris was opened to us as we stood looking up.  We would learn that the  “big five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino) were only a fraction of the life on in the Tanzanian savannah.

 

As we arrived at our next destination, Lake Manyara National Park, dad and I were like kids in a candy store.  As our first true “safari” spot, it lived up to our dreams, with a baboon family welcoming us at the gate, rhino rib trees displaying spectacular lines and angles, and our first glimpse of a cheetah.  Next was Gibbs Farm, one of the first guest houses in Tanzania, sitting on acres of organic coffee and produce. More than 70 percent of the items on the menu are products of the farm. Our first night’s meal, cooked by a professional chef included a peanut and eggplant soup and fresh herb soufflé…not items I had anticipated eating on safari!

 

The next day brought elephants chasing away lions, thousands of pink flamingos, a rare black rhino sighting, and frolicking baby zebras on our drive into and through the Ngorongoro Crater.  Driving down the other side of the crater, we entered the hot, dusty backside of the conservation area.  Umbrella trees went from a rarity to the predominant life-form on the landscape.  From green to brown the landscape changed as we lazily neared camp.  As we neared, a storm descended upon us, sloshing the Land Cruiser about, giving Cornelius the chance to demonstrate his talent at taming the “Land Cruiser in mud beast.”  Watching other Land Cruisers in the distance not move with us, we appreciated Cornelius’ driving skills more than at any other point along the trip.

Upon arrival, we joined the small group of other hardy storm survivors who had reached our intimate camp on this vast plain.  Sitting at dinner that night, I realized how special the moment was in this place … sounds of wildebeest grunting in the background, stories of travels far and wide circling the table, and my dad sitting at my side, smiling and laughing as he fulfilled his retirement dream.

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How I found the freedom to be myself
Sometimes in life people change, sometimes life changes people, and sometimes life is there when people change. Before I went to on my trip to Zanzibar I was in a place of transition to say the least, and I can’t say whether it was the place or whether it was me, or whether it was really a bit of both. This is what I learned in Zanzibar.
Life is beautiful, and life is colorful and so are the people in it, and when things become dark or difficult, the best thing that you can do is throw colour on it. When I first arrive at the Zanzibar airport my senses were overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the airport or the lack of an airport to say the least. In my time I have been fortunate to travel to many places and as a result many airports, but for me this was a first. The building was old and bare, there was sand on the floor, and things moved at their own place, but the locals didn’t seem to mind this minimalistic approach. This place was naked, and so was I as I decided to leave the excess of western culture behind me, and walked in embracing the idea of simplicity.

This thought however was quickly put to rest when I entered the streets of stone town, the hub of Zanzibar, there is a colorfulness in this town, in the markets, your senses find that the clean over-the-top structures of Western power are absent; instead you find a culmination of old Arabic courtyard architecture, and African culture, intermingled with beautiful bright colors, exotic fragrances, these aspects are what give this town a completely unique feel.

The streets are narrow and inter leading, as an outsider you can easily get lost in the maze of stores and buildings, with the smell of fruit and spices, never far away.

From its tumultuous history of violence and revolution to its awakening as a beautiful place of colour and peace, Zanzibar is the epitome of new life: the light that radiates from the people, from the jolly larger-than-life captain of our dhow boat; Babo, to the children playing in the street, laughing as they run through the vibrant curtains of shaded cloths that contrast the stony road surface below or to the life of the Zanzibar born musician Freddie mercury. These people show no signs of unhappiness or unrest, and as I sat and watched them in their daily movements, the ease and gratitude with which they handled life, even when they had very little of their own, opened my heart, to let go of the resentments which plagued me, and inspire me.
As I stared at them through my camera lens I did not realized that those moments, and those people would follow me home, as I traded a camera for canvas, and capture those images by picking up the paint brush that I had long since forgotten about. I took my experienced in Zanzibar and translated it onto the canvas that now hangs on my wall as a constant reminder of how small things and small moments can change you.
And this is what freedom means to me: freedom and independence stems from the freedom to express one ’s self, and find that thing that inspires creation.

About the Author: Liesl Schroeder I am a writer, with a degree in philosophy.

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Tanzania picThe blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned woman walking through the market in Arusha stands out from the crowds of spiral haired, brown eyed, chocolate skinned locals. She wanders through the tight rows of food stalls, all stacked to the sky with their rainbow produce, weaving between the hawkers selling their wares.
That blonde woman is me. My fair complexion, cautious approach, and eyes wide with wonder identify me as a foreigner; yet I have never felt so at home as I do in Tanzania.

I call Sydney, Australia home. My childhood home looks out to the towering skyscrapers of the city on one side, and the golden beaches and sparkling sea on the other. I live a privileged life – a kitchen full of food, a wardrobe full of clothes, and a life full of opportunities to study, travel, and shape my future.
The men, women and children of the villages of northern Tanzania live a much simpler life. Often whole extended families live in one mud and thatch hut the size of a single car garage, set back from the dusty corrugated road. There is little space, or money, for lavish personal items or non-essential food, and many villagers have never travelled beyond the next village. Yet their joyful smiles and inner peace express a contented acceptance of life.

Having no regrets is all about acceptance; acceptance of your circumstances and acceptance of your choices. Coming from the hustle and bustle of the city to the natural flow of life in northern Tanzania provides new perspective. Here people live in the moment and accept life for what it offers, making the most of the haves rather than wanting the have nots.

In Tanzania time beats at the perfect pace, and the people work with the natural flow of time. There is no racing from place to place, no wishing the weekend would arrive, or begging the clock to slow down before a deadline. Africa is the only place in the world that impassions me to get up when the sun rises and enjoy the day as nature intends it to unfold.

For me, the days spent journeying through the natural surroundings of northern Tanzania are the most fulfilling. Each national park welcomes its guests into a different environment, from the luscious leafy canopy of Lake Manyara Park to the endless dusty plains of the Serengeti. Sitting in a vehicle mere metres away from a pride of lionesses gentling tending their cubs, or halting the car as a herd of elephants wander trunk to tail across the path, are some of life’s most heart-warming experiences.

Every moment in this setting is a gift. The serenity of the landscape and its inhabitants affords the realisation that each of us is just one small dot in the big picture of life. It inspires me to care more about the environment and to return to my home committed to being a better global citizen.

Flying out of northern Tanzania after ten incredible days, I leave this region full of love for this country and joy for what I have experienced. More importantly, I take away an unexpected sense of calm and belonging; full of inspiration, a renewed perspective on life, and absolutely no regrets. I promise myself that I will return, and am silently excited that one day I will again be the blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned woman in the local marketplace.

About the Author: Danielle Fryday is a 30 year old Learning and Development professional from Sydney, Australia. I have been brought up travelling with my parents, and have recently married the love of my life who also shares a passion for travel. Our honeymoon to Africa has inspired me to explore travel writing opportunities to share our adventures with others.

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tassia lodge walkingWalking safaris in Africa are good for the soul, it’s a fact – getting back to basics with a private safari guide, exploring some of Africa’s most unique and game rich areas, all on foot. It feels natural and authentic and never will you get a better view of the bush than when on foot. If you really want to get away from the crowds and explore areas which others haven’t, then on foot is the only way to do it. Walking safaris are the preferred safari option for most guides which means the walking safari operations often attract a much higher quality of safari guide whose knowledge of the bush will be unrivalled.

robin pope walkingWalking safaris take place all over Africa and some of our favourites are those that walk out from a luxury lodge and meet a lantern lit fly camp for the night, before walking back. This means you don’t have to commit to days spent walking and roughing it, but can enjoy the feeling of complete remoteness before heading back to your luxury camp, which in itself will be in a remote and magical location. Sand Rivers in the Selous offer fantastic walking safaris across hills and through savannah where vehicles cannot go. Chada Katavi in Western Tanzania also offer magical fly camping, in an area which is bigger than most counties and only has one luxury camp – it doesn’t get anymore wild.

motswiri walking botswanaZambia is also famous for walking safaris and all of the properties there offer walks from the camps, or walking with a mobile camp which is moved by your private staff during the day while you are walking. You get to take in the smaller things, which make the ecosystem around you survive, and often have peaceful and quiet experiences with wildlife, which are humbling and life changing.

lewa walkingLuxury camps and lodges can no longer simply offer game drives, it is the freedom to explore the bush which is really appealing to people and this is shown by the number of camps which now offer walking. Sometimes you will come around the corner to find a fully laid out bush breakfast, delicious after a hard walk. Or a sundowner spot laid with lanterns and a cold beer or coca cola. Walking is so peaceful and the game reacts calmly and naturally to your presence. Walking with the expert guides is fantastic and in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia there is the chance to walk with ancient tribespeople whose knowledge of tracking and the bush is mesmerising.

About the AuthorRose Hipwood lived, loved and worked in Africa for 7 years before founding The Luxury Safari Company four years ago. Specialising in off the beaten track luxury safaris you can rest assured that you will always have access to Africa’s most exclusive properties, the best safari guides and unrivalled first hand knowledge of Africa.

Kilimanjaro Overlooking Mawenzi PeakHours after a dim light from an East African moon graced the barren landscape, our ever smiling guides began their all too familiar task of rousing weary trekkers from their slumber. Illumination from headlamps began to fill the cramped sleeping quarters that defined Kibo Huts. The would be mountaineers layered themselves in an impressive spectrum of adventure gear as the patient and practiced guides began to assemble an equally impressive offering; fuel for the frigid, slow walk to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

We were obediently herded into the single file existence we had become accustomed to since crossing the threshold into Kilimanjaro National Park. As our ocular senses began to shed the burden of the previous hours slumber the struggle we would soon face unfurled in front of us. Hundreds of feet above isolated strings of headlamps appeared to float towards the summit under the power of their indiscernible hosts. Progress was slow as our guides attempted to impart the importance of traversing the switchbacks slowly through the countless recitations of the mantra “pole pole!” “Slowly” one foot replaced the other like treads on a tank at the mercy of a scree slope. The sun’s heated rays began to peek over the horizon, illuminating smiles among the group. One final scramble led us over the crest of Gilman’s Point only to reveal Uhuru Peak situated across the crater rim. After making the final leg of the journey, congratulations spread like wildfire. Digital snap shots of time were seized by all in an effort to eternalize their respective struggle(s) to the summit of the tallest feature in Africa. As the air of excitement was interrupted by piercing wind we began our expedited return to Kibo Huts.

Descending, gravity assisted what is best described as a controlled sprint down the scree field arduously surmounted hours earlier. The clear day offered an unobstructed view of Mawenzi Peak. The group was dispersed on the descent so I seized the opportunity to slow my pace. I found solitude amongst the plethora of geological specimens littering the slope. Relaxing into the mountain afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon various facets of my life. Fortunately the wind masked the sound of stumbling fellow travelers and their excited dialog. The white noise provided a sense of isolation, a catalyst for unbiased and emotionally detached thoughts. Beginning with the obvious topic of sitting on Mount Kilimanjaro, I reflected on the decision to attempt as well as the ultimate success of such a feat. My thoughts redirected to fifteen months earlier as I held my son in my arms for the first time. How I desired to complete this trek again with him as my companion was at the forefront of my thoughts. As contemplations of the future developed thoughts of a pending deployment to Afghanistan inevitably began to metastasize. I quickly shrugged away thoughts of conflict, and refocused on my family. Strangely enough, the summiting of Mt. Kilimanjaro was overshadowed by the solitude discovered amidst the scree strewn slope.

While Uhuru Peak provided me a photograph, the serenity of the surrounding landscape volunteered a way of thought and understanding. Understanding that amongst all the white noise of our existence, one must regularly seek out a place of solitude to reflect. Such a location may present itself in the strangest form. For me it was a nondescript scree field in Tanzania. Wisely, I have since found solitude spending time with my family; amidst crowded subway trains beneath the city that never sleeps; and navigating the harsh terrain, culture and political climate of Afghanistan. Without reflection one would wonder, what defines our existence? Is it dutifully checking life’s boxes or rather succumbing to its intoxicating effects? Either way it’s unlikely to experience the intoxication of life while sobered by white noise and regret.

About the Author: John Milicevich is a twenty-five year old Infantry Officer in the United States Army who, at the time of writing, is deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan. When the opportunity presents itself he loves to seek out life’s adventures with friends and family.

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kiliI walked out the gate for the last time, carefully closing it behind me. I walked slowly, unwilling to move fast. Tears were building up in my eyes. Mama V walked along me in silence. I tried not to look back, I tried to move forward but I couldn’t fight it anymore. I stopped and turned around. Beyond the horizon, above the clouds, floated Kilimanjaro’s snowy peak.

The whole time I tried really hard not to think about saying goodbye and leaving. It was denial but I didn’t want to acknowledge that there will be a moment when I will need to say goodbye and walk away. Mama V stood beside me. She reached out and touched my hand, gently squeezing it.

“Will you come back?” asked Mama V.

“I hope so.” I paused. “God willing.”

She nodded. “God willing. I will pray for your return.”

“Thank you. I hope I can come back. I will miss you all too much not to come back.”

“The kids will miss you too. We all will.”

“Thank you.”

“They do really like you. You should remember that.”

All I could do was nod.

Two months ago on my first day volunteering at this orphanage in Tanzania, the children and I collected pebbles. I counted in English, children counted in Swahili. We all learned. The same would happen when I chopped veggies for lunch stews. I said in English, they said in Swahili. They laughed when I said it completely wrong. They were way better at mimicking me than I was at repeating after them. It happened so fast I didn’t even realise what was happening, but very soon I was living for that moment in the morning when I would walk through the gate and be greeted with the children running towards me screaming “Teacher Katie!”. It was the hours spent with kids that mattered the most from there on. Every moment with them was a precious gift. Soon I started to regret how attached I was getting to the children, and to those views of Kilimanjaro on my daily walk and from the orphanage’s yard.

In my second week there, one of the girls grabbed my hand and simply said, come. But where, I protested. Instead of answering she just pulled me by hand. I gave in and followed. We walked to the other side of the small brick building that housed the storage rooms and Mamas’ quarters. As we rounded the corner, she pointed to the horizon. Kilimanjaro, she said. Yes, it is, I said. On the top there is snow, she said. Yes, the white top is the snow. She nodded. We stood there for a moment staring at the horizon. I looked over at her, she looked more serious and in thought than I would ever expect a six year old to look. But then her stare broke, she smiled. Can I have some chalk, she asked. I smiled back, maybe later.

As I stood there with Mama V, looking at the peak, I tried to memorise where the snow lines were. Someone told me the snow was melting, maybe to be gone in our lifetime. For now, it glistened in the late afternoon light. Children’s laughter and squeals echoed from the yard.

I regretted getting attached but looking up at the mountain again, I forgot about that regret. All I remembered was love and hope I found in this corner of the world. The snows of Kilimanjaro will melt, the kids will grow up, the time will move on, but before all those things happen, there is a lot of life still to be lived.

About author: I am Katie Chakhova. I loathe the question “where are you from?”, there is no simple answer. Travel and writing have both been part of my life since childhood, forever linked and integral parts of my life. I am passionate about this amazing world we call home and stories we tell about it.

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GloriousThrough the Looking Glass

We sat under the shadow of a nearby Acacia tree at the corner of the orphanage to hide from the sweltering sun. The little girl beside me shielded her eyes with her dusty hands as the fierce rays intermittently broke through the leaves. We stayed on the red clay earth for two hours while she struggled to open her eyes until it was time to carry her inside. Her name was Agnus. She was the newest addition to the orphanage and I had been assigned to stay at her side because until today she refused to open her eyes. No one knew her story.

I met Agnus when I was a volunteer at Glorious Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. My duty was to teach and oversee the care of the 63 children at the orphanage. In the evenings, I took children to the hospital located in the nearby city to receive care for problems ranging from HIV to malaria. These hospital trips allowed me to connect with my students on an individual basis, and became the glue that solidified my desire to pursue a career in medicine. For most of the students, I felt as though I could offer a concrete service that directly contributed to their health. With Agnus, however, I felt uneasy and powerless. It was clear she had been through a profoundly life-changing experience and needed help working through it, but I didn’t know where to begin or what I could do to.

I thought back to a doctor I shadowed in India who thought carefully and holistically about his patients’ needs. A year before my trip to Tanzania, I had the opportunity to shadow an orthopedic surgeon in my family’s hometown of Nadiad, India. It was here, in a cramped operating room lit only by sunlight and equipped with the bare essentials, where I learned that great physicians need not only physical tools, but emotional tools as well. I witnessed the doctor piece together the shattered femur of a factory worker whose leg had been crushed. In spite of the pain he felt, the man smiled as he was wheeled into the operating room; he was thankful to the doctor. The doctor himself had arranged for the man to come to the OR that day. He helped him free of charge because he believed his patient had the resolve to recover. Three days later, the man dropped his cane and took five shaky steps. I was amazed. The man was determined to walk and through his will he did just that.

The possibility of being able to impact someone’s life, like the doctor in India, is what excites me most about becoming a physician. This physician looked through the man’s eyes and understood that his patient could lose the use of his leg and his livelihood if the surgery was not conducted. Through this trip, I realized how much impact a physician can have on the lives of his patients. A physician’s duty is not only to serve his patients, but also to understand his patient’s perspective.

This desire to help people, like the man in India, who live in remote parts of the world is what brought me to Glorious Orphanage. For Agnus to be examined by a doctor, I walked an hour to the hospital with her on my hip. During her exam, the physician began asking her a series of questions in Swahili. As we waited for the blood work, the physician pulled me to the side and whispered, “The child is not blind.” Agnus’ symptoms stemmed from the emotional trauma of enduring physical and sexual abuse by her parents who abandoned her in an empty warehouse. The problem wasn’t that she couldn’t see, the problem was that she didn’t want to.

That afternoon as we walked back to the orphanage, Agnus and her story weighed heavily on my mind. I thought back to what the physician in India would have done. I had worked hard to build a rapport with Angus, to build trust and establish an environment that she would know was safe. I was thrilled to be there that afternoon under the acacia tree when she first started opening her eyes to the sky, to the trees, and to the world she had disconnected herself from. As she opened her eyes, I too was beginning to see medicine through a different perspective: sometimes the greatest contribution to a person’s health is the effort to understand their struggle, and the relationship that develops in the process.

About the Author: My name is Naiya Patel and I am a first year medical student at UT Southwestern medical school in Dallas, Tx. My passions in medicine are very global health geared.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

imageOur guide raised the roof of the jeep. Literally. It was not a pop- up roof, but needed to be lifted off the car to rest on four metal legs. The metal roof floated above our heads so we could stand and see the animals.

I had chosen to celebrate my 50th birthday on safari in Tanzania, with my husband Avi, and my young adult sons, Yshai and David. Lake Munyara was our first stop.
“Is this thing safe? It doesn’t look very sturdy”, questioned Yshai, the older of my sons.
The guide assured him.
“It is very very safe. It never fell, ever.”

We drove past the guard station in the late afternoon. This was our first view of the African Animal Kingdom. We heard screeching monkeys who scurried in and out of our line of vision. Their white derrières looked like vanishing blurs in our photos. We were standing, eagerly scanning the landscape; it was a combination of lush greenery, verdant forests, and open Savannas. It was beautiful. And we hadn’t even reached the lake.

Avi was the first to sit down, then Yshai, then me. That’s when I heard a noise from the back of the jeep. I turned around and saw that the roof that “never fell, ever” was sitting on David’s shoulders. His head was nowhere to be seen. I could only see his long, lank headless body. Yshai and I, between frenzied, panicked yells, tried to lift the roof. Adrenaline helped us succeed. Slowly David’s neck and then his head emerged. He looked dazed and had blood on his forehead.
“We need a doctor” I yelled. “He could have a concussion.”. Or go into a coma, or something worse” I thought.

David slowly brought his hand up to the back of his head, and pulled it away. The fingers were painted with blood. I immediately thought of his blood pouring out and sapping his strength. Yshai, Avi and I quickly inspected the back of his head through the layers of hair. The wound looked small but significant. The guide did not move.

“We need a doctor” I yelled louder. The guide appeared to awaken, and wanted to continue the safari as if nothing had happened.
“Turn the car around. Your roof fell on David’s head. We need help”. He finally understood and complied.

The guards at the station recommended a doctor not too far away. I smiled at them in gratitude. We left the park. The guide drove quickly.

The young, thin, black, African doctor, Steven, graduated from medical school in Moshi, Tanzania. His hospital was small; a building with three rooms, a structure resembling a portable trailer, a big lawn and a nurse. The doctor and nurse spoke English and wore white coats. He looked at David and gave his verdict.

“He needs stitches.”
We were in Africa, land of dirty needles, unsanitary condition and AIDS. We were living a tourist’s worst nightmare.
“Are you sure? Avi and I asked simultaneously.
“It’s advisable” he responded.
We agreed to the stitches, but no injections. David could hold my hand and squeeze his pain and discomfort into it.

“He’s young, he’ll be fine”, assured Dr Steven as he opened a drawer. I expected to see unprotected needles and thread come sliding out of it, ready to pierce my sons scalp.
Out came a long box. Dr Steven opened it carefully, and lovingly pulled out a clean, new, shiny pair of surgical gloves, which he proceeded to pull over his hands. They fit like a glove, as gloves should. I looked at Avi and Yshai and realized none of us were breathing. I set an example with a loud sigh.

Next came another box with a sewing kit, all wrapped in crinkly new plastic. He quietly warned my son, then started to sew. My kids have been patched up before, with large, crude stitches. But in his primitive surroundings, Dr. Steven performed artistry. In two short pulls of the thread with a metal, staplelike thread pulling gadget, David’s scalp was back in perfect condition. Dr Steven was our hero. Dr Steven was the best doctor in the world. Thank you, Dr. Steven.

Our African doctor put a clean bandage over the wound, attached it with crisscrossed adhesive tape to David’s hair, gave us two different kinds of medication to prevent infection and shook our hands. We asked how much it would cost.

“Twenty dollars would be fine”, he said. “The hospital would appreciate whatever you can give.”
We gave him fifty. And thanked him profusely.
“My pleasure” he replied.

We stopped off on our way to the airport after our successful safari expedition. We wanted only Doctor Steven to remove David’s stitches. And we wanted to express our gratitude to the world’s best doctor.

About the Author: Rona Amichai lives in Los Angeles. She is a speech language pathologist who loves to travel and write about her experiences. She can be reached through Facebook.

africa 3Serengeti Surprise

Charles pulled out the biggest kitchen knife from his box of utensils and laid it out on the makeshift table beside him. It glinted in the early morning sunlight. This was all he had to protect himself.

A few hours earlier, this place had been crammed with trekkers: little groups huddled over fires, telling tall stories in a muddle of languages. Someone claimed they’d seen a lion stroll nonchalantly through the middle of the campsite and out the other side before disappearing into the darkness just a week or two ago.
That morning, we over-landers went off into the Serengeti in search of game, Charles stayed behind, alone in the camp. There was nothing between him, the bush and the lions…

Charles didn’t dwell on what was out there; he had a job to do. First, he built a coal fire. Whilst the coals burned, he prepared a mixture. Once the ingredients were blended to a rich, smooth and creamy consistency, he poured it into a battered crock. Seeing the coals were glowing white, Charles held his calloused hand over the fire. The heat was so intense he pulled his hand away sharply. “Good,” he thought to himself. “It’s time to set up the Dutch oven. “
Carefully, he laid four large flat stones on the metal ring, followed by a layer of coals. Next, he set the crock over the layer of stones and coal. Using tongs, he placed yet more coals around the croak and finally another layer on top. All he had to do now was wait.

As day drew to a close we returned to camp exhausted but exhilarated, our minds playing back a film of memories, a thousand images of the wildlife we’d seen roaming the vast canvas of the Serengeti. As the sky drained of light, and the world switched from muted colour to monochrome, Charles laid out a banquet:
First the chapattis; charred-crisp and finger-tingling hot, tasting deliciously smoky from the fire; Then githeri, a steaming stew of beans and potato; followed by ugali, a filling corn dish and kuku paka, a delicious spicy chicken and coconut dish.
We ate with our fingers, using the chapattis as spoons. As we sat in the darkness by the glow of the campfire, all the perfumed and spicy flavours of Africa, Arabia and India merged and hit our senses in sweet ecstasy. Somewhere in the distance we heard the cackle of hyena. Somewhere beyond the camp, we heard a roar. Our backs stiffened.

Then Charles unveiled his pièce de résistance: a chocolate cake. With a flourish he presented it to my birthday child of 11 who gazed at it in disbelief. A birthday cake? In the middle of the bush? Without electricity or an oven? Was that possible?
Charles, our magician chef, who whipped up fried eggs in seconds, and shouted ‘Doant waat’, had done it again. He had pulled the rabbit out of the hat – or a freshly baked chocolate cake from the camp fire.

About the Author: Helen Moat spent her childhood squished between siblings in her Dad’s Morris Minor, travelling the length and breadth of Ireland. She’s still wandering. Helen blogs at: http://moathouse-moathouseblogspotcom.blogspot.co.uk/

Flyer for email

Meet Mia Coffin at Park Restaurant 

2885 Kalakaua Ave

at Lotus Honolulu

Thursday November 7

5pm-7pm

Mia Coffin is a waitress, a world traveler, and would-be anthropologist. Coming from a large family in a small town in California she continually escapes her normal life in search of distant shores and adventure. Being an experienced traveler, Mia knows if things can go wrong they surely will––just how wrong, Mia recounts as she travels solo through Indonesia, Lebanon, Africa and New Zealand.

Mia is charged by an angry elephant, kidnapped by a Hezbollah drug lord, and gets caught up in a in a baby smuggling ring––all the while keeping her wicked sense of humor and never forgetting to email her worried mom back home. She fumbles with strange cultures, unfamiliar languages and unforgettable characters and realizes just how precious her home and family are to her. Invariably, Mia steps up to each ticket counter throughout her travels and requests––One, please!

One Please is available on Amazon.com in paperback and kindle.

 Park RestaurantPark is a new Waikiki restaurant specializing in unique Mediterranean cuisine. Come visit us today at Park for the best in fresh new Waikiki Dining!