Monday, February 19, 2018

Africa 2018: Splendid Places, People, and Surprises

 Annamaria in Kenya and Tanzania

My week in Kenya ended with two fascinating days.

Through the good offices of Facebook connections, I made a new friend, who herself became an instant conduit for magical connections. Her name is Lydia.

On this past December 6th, I posted this picture on Facebook,
as an example of what settler life was like in early Twentieth
Century British East Africa.  I took the picture off the internet and
had no idea who the people were.

When I met Lydia and told her about my research, she offered to introduce me to her friend Calvin Cottar.  She made a date for us to meet with him for a coffee on Sunday morning.  To prepare for that meeting, she sent me a link to an internet interview with Calvin, who is the premier private safari guide in Kenya today.  There, at the top of the article, was the very picture above.  The man in the sun helmet on the right is Calvin's great-grandfather--Chas Cottar, who founded Cottar's Safari Service right at the time I am writing about. Calvin now heads it.

Me, Calvin, and Lydia

Calvin allowed me to take pictures of
his period family photos.  This one of Chas's
son.  Chas was an American from Oklahoma
 who immigrated.  My guess this was a 4th of July
 celebration.  You think? 

After our visit with Calvin, Lydia and her friend Jess took me to the Nairobi National Park for a picnic.  

Impala against the skyline of Nairobi 

Hartebeest, ditto
The next evening I had the chance to host a dinner for Lydia and my friend Michael Lenaimado, a leading Kenyan anti-poaching and conservation ranger.  During the course of our dinner conversation, it came out that Lydia and Michael have a friend in common - Calvin Cottar!

Michael, Lydia, and me

As Michael explained his work to Lydia, while discussing the dangers of anti-poaching work, Michael lamented the loss of rangers to snakebite.  "Wait," Lydia said, "my sister-in-law and her husband run a snake-bite prevention and treatment effort here in Kenya."  Bingo!  Thanks to this chance encounter, Lydia has put Michael in touch with the people who can supply anti-venom serum ad help save the lives of his men.  And I got to sit there and listen as this this took place.  I ask you: Are you surprised that my life feels like magic to me? 

The very name Kilimanjaro Airport denotes adventure to me, even still.
The next day I was on my way to Arusha, Tanzania and The Emusoi Center.  That's me at the very  top of this post, with the new girls, who are being prepared to take their school entrance exams and set themselves on a path to eduction, instead of being sold into early marriage.  Hooray for the education for girls!!

I got to make a little magic of my own for the Emusoi girls with a gizmo I acquired in Italy. With the help of Sister Mary, Emusoi's founder, and Sister Jerine, a teacher, we launched it.  Here are two very short films.  The take off and a few second of how the girls reacted.

 Then it was on to Lake Manyara.  I was the only passenger on the flight from Arusha Airport, a first for me.

Harry, the pilot.

Your reporter amongst the empty seats

A glance at the Rift Valley during the descent.

 The ride from the airport to the lodge was a marvel of game watching.

Here are some highlights of the sightings over the past couple of days.


Lions at sunrise

And zebras

This close!!!!

A gazillion flamingos and me!
Magical!  All magical!


  1. Wonderful! And we've finally had some decent rain in the bush here.
    Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

  2. All right, that's IT. Your license to have fun is in SERIOUS jeopardy of being revoked!

    1. Can I redeem myself by confessing that, in the past three days, I have been stung by a bee, bitten three times by tsetse flies, and pooped on by a squirrel?

    2. Ah, okay, NOW we hear the TRUE, balanced story of these adventures. (You're still having an illegal amount of fun. But thanks for sharing it. :-)

    3. EvKa, you know by now that my default position is positive. Stan once described me in these precincts as a proton. I am! Dumb luck on my part. There are neutrons around too and we need them. It's those negatively charged electrons I fear. All we have to do is look at the functioning of groups of the elected to see what negativity produces. What’s a little squirrel poop in a universe where there are all those stars in the firmament!

  3. Your life makes magical those of everyone you meet!

    1. Thank you, Bro. I feel blessed. And very, very lucky.

  4. I can attest to the magic you create :-)

    1. The couple of times that you and I have been in the same place proved to me that two positives make an even bigger positive. Joy! Why not!

      Besides, we’re all crime writers here. What a fabulous job we have. We get to pour all our thoughts of trouble and evil into the stories. When we stand up and walk away from our desks, we can take joy in what’s left. Hooray!

  5. I teared up reading this, because I'm so happy to see your joy and these lovely places. What a magical, wonderful adventure. You are living such a beautiful life - brava!!

    1. Susan, my splendid friend, you are my most stunning example of the philosophy we share: Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

      When I am daunted, I follow your example!