My African Photos Safari - Journal Entry #10 - August 28, 1988

The next thing I heard was Lenny saying, "Ann, Kathleen, wake up." Once again I slept straight through the night without waking up once. It was 5:00 a.m. I quickly left the bed, washed up, and scrambled to find the clothes I'd be wearing that day. I put on three t-shirts, my long green safari pants, and my gray hoodie, as it was cold that morning. I brushed my hair and was out of the tent by 5:15 a.m.

I walked briskly to the dining room and poured a cup of tea to both wake up and warm up. Breakfast was non-existent, as the kitchen wasn't serving yet. They did provide us with box lunches again, as they had for all the mornings we left early for our full day of shooting photos. I recognized one of the waiters from dinner, the night before, as he was the, "lucky," one to be up this early, providing us with our box lunches. "Jambo, asante sana," I told the waiter. (Hello, thank you.) "Si jambo," he replied. (Hello back.)

I left the dining room and headed back to the tent to brush my teeth, and grab my camera gear and fresh film. This was our last day of taking photographs in the Masai Mara. Once again, it was dark when we pulled out of camp.

We saw the sun rise behind a cloud bank, just in front of a mountain. The roads were very wet and muddy. Again. I was in the van James was driving, with Len Jr. and Ron. We got stuck again. Our entire stay in east Africa was during the month of August; "the dry season." This year we were told, it had been unseasonably wet, with unexpected rain.

James drove up a high bluff to try to spot the Wild African dogs, we'd seen two days earlier. We sat in the van for a good hour and a half, but saw no action. I was telling Len Jr., and Ron, about the role microbes play in food poisoning, as I had recently taken a Microbiology class in college. Everyone seemed to get a touch of vomiting and/or diarrhea, common symptoms of food poisoning in the Mara, except me. Just then, Len Sr., said loudly from another van, "Let's say grace," to pray over lunch before we ate it. We all got out of our three vans, formed a circle and held hands as we prayed.

Then we got back into the vans and opened our boxed lunches. I continued telling Len Jr. and Ron about the food in our lunches that could possibly cause food poisoning. The unrefrigerated (for hours) hard-boiled eggs could give us salmonella. The butter on the bread also could make us sick from lack of refrigeration. I scraped off the butter. Fruit, you have to peel yourself and make sure its skin is thick skinned like an orange, or banana. Len Jr. and I ended up eating just the three slices of bread with the butter scraped off.

We drove around and saw another group of tourists in a van, with a cheetah on the hood, then roof. Being very curious like most cats, seeing a cheetah atop a safari vehicle, was a somewhat common sight.

We continued to drive a little ways from where we'd been, and our luck changed for the better. The extremely endangered wild dogs were spotted again! I took several wild dog photos. Not only did we get to see them again, but we saw them make a kill of a wildebeest that looked to be about six months old. It was difficult to watch, but at the same time fascinating. The hunt, takedown, kill, and consumption, all took place in less than fifteen minutes, and in complete silence. Literally, all that was left of the six-month old wildebeest, was skin and bones.

We saw some members of the wild dog pack stand aside, when they'd gotten their fill, so the other members could feed.

We also saw two wild dogs playing together, laying together, as the other members of the pack continued to feed, and another dog approaching the pack in a submissive stance.

We were so thrilled, that our luck had changed, as this was the last day of our game drives, because our three week photo safari was coming to an end. After the excitement of seeing the wild dogs again, and so much varied behavior we drove away, as they lay sleeping in the grass.

We stopped a few miles away, to have a bathroom break, behind some bushes. As usual, the women, and men split into two separate groups, with each person having their own bush to, "go," behind. We always thought, "Safety in numbers," when we'd get out of the vans, literally, in the bush. After we all were done, I said to Lou, "I can't believe that three weeks could go by so fast." I was definitely sad. I could have spent a year there, had I known how much I'd love it. Lou nodded in agreement. "I can't believe it either."

We all walked back to our vans, but hung outside together, as a group. James got on the subject of marriage. He said, "I would like to have two wives; one in Kenya, and one in America." Should women have two husbands?" I asked. "No, that would be a bad thing, not good at all," he replied.

Lou, Nancy, Ann, and I all laughed.

Don, who was a physicist and gemologist, came over and suggested that we look for rocks to take as souvenirs of this area. Ann, Lou, Don, and I found many pretty ones.

Then we all got back into our three vans and headed back to the Masai Mara River Camp, as that was our last game drive of our photo safari. But it was spectacular!

When we arrived at camp, we each went back to our tents and washed up for dinner, then Ann and I walked to the dining room. We had roast pork, carrots, potatoes, and string beans for supper. We had eaten at the same table for our entire stay, and had the same waiter. That night he placed a generous portion of pork on my plate and murmured, "I want you to eat more," with his sweet Kenyan accent. I guess he had noticed I wasn't eating much, not because I wasn't hungry. For sure I always was. As you know if you've been reading my journal, I was very guarded about getting food poisoning again, as I had the first night in Ngorongoro Crater. By this time, my entire group knew of my, "micro-phobia," from food not being cooked throughly, not being refrigerated, or sitting around too long not being kept hot enough, as what happened in the Crater.

Three young girls about eleven years old, had recognized Lenny from one of the lectures he gave at their school. One of them excitedly exclaimed, "That's Leonard Lee Rue, III!" They were all smiles and giggles. (I felt like this the entire time I was on safari with him.) :-) They came over to our table near Lenny, with their grandparents in tow. The more vocal of the three introduced them to Lenny. The girls asked for his autograph, and the grandfather asked if he could take a photo of Lenny with his granddaughter and her two friends. "Yes, you sure can!" Lenny said enthusiastically. The granddaughter sat on Lenny's knee, and her two friends stood behind them. After they thanked him and happily left, I said to Lenny, "It was so kind of you to take the time and make them feel so welcomed. I know they'll remember this the rest of their lives. I know I will, as this will be the best trip I will ever take." He just smiled. I did that do him a few times; left him speechless.

We continued to talk together about over dinner, about our wonderful luck in seeing the wild dogs, and the other, many adventures we had together. We were one of the last groups to leave that night, as we did not have a game drive scheduled the next morning. We moved to the lounge, and had beverages, and just chatted the hours away. I know we all felt sad as we eventually headed back to our tents, one last time. Ann and I made our journal entries, then shut off our lamps for the night. I listened, one last time to the night sounds of Africa.

Posted by kathleenlryan kathleenlryan, December 03, 2019 02:32

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