I just returned from my open-jeep safari tour of the Tala Game Reserve near
Durban, South Africa. I had been waiting for this day since I found out about
this trip and it was everything I hoped it would be. As we drove up to the
reserve, before we even got into the jeeps we saw a whole herd of zebra on the side of the hill. Then we drove a little more and saw a family of warthogs. Every where I looked I saw a new animal. Our driver of the jeep happened to be the head of the reserve and he very rarely gives the tours himself but because there were so many of us he helped out. He was so smart and knew everything about all the different animals there. He wasn't scared to drive right up to them and he knew all the places to look for them. We saw a giraffe in the distance and he started to walk away and I wanted to follow him to get a better look but our driver said no let's try around this corner and sure enough there were three of them drinking out of the watering hole. Then we followed them around for a while and they came right up to the jeep. The good and bad thing about this particular reserve was that there were no predators there. That means that the animals that were there weren't really scared by us or skittish at all. The bad part was that we didn't get to see any lions or leopards. Most people say you can't really see them unless you go out very early in the morning or just at dusk so I don't think we would have seen any anyway.
Yesterday I was in Madagascar. It was actually the first time on my trip that
I really realized that this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Nobody ever goes to
Madagascar! It was unbelievable. I took a trip to a small island nicknamed the Isle of Lemurs. We took a speedboat from the dock to the island and were greeted by children singing and dancing on the beach. We walked along the paths through their village and saw how they lived. When we finally bumped into some Lemurs I went up with a banana in my hand and he jumped right on my shoulder and started eating it. I was told I was lucky he didn't poop on me. It was awesome. They are much bigger than they look in that cartoon movie Madagascar. We kept walking along and the women were selling lace table cloths, vanilla beans and ebony masks. One thing that really stood out to me was how many children there were. I would say there was about 25 children for every one adult I saw. Not only that but pretty much every girl I saw over the age of 16 looked pregnant. The other thing that stood out was the heat and humidity. It was so hot that all day my shirt stayed wet and I felt like I'd peed my pants. I was literally dripping with sweat. After we walked through this jungle path they had fruit and drinks waiting for us. I tried one of their tiny bananas and it tasted very different than the ones we get at home. It was much sweeter. Then I played with some of the kids before I hopped on my speedboat back. I feel so lucky to have been a part of that and to have seen a glimpse into their lives.
I spent the last two days in the Seychelles. The water is so blue and the
weather is perfect. When we pulled up to Mahe, the main island, I couldn't help but hear the theme to Jurassic Park in my head. Or maybe it was more like where they found King Kong. Either way it was epic. There are catamarans and sailboats and supposedly there's hidden treasure left all over the islands by a pirate trying to stash it away in a hurry.
Today I only had about 2 hours to go ashore and we were tendering so that
takes a little more time. I figured I would just get off and explore for a little while until I had to come back. I didn't have time to drive to any beaches so I just put on some shorts and a tank top and went out. When I got there I saw people swimming in the water right where the tender boat docked! I had to walk through a little jungle to get where they were and then I realized they were other crew members. I climbed down the rocks and sat with my feet in the water. After about three minutes of sitting there watching everyone swim and have a good time I decided to just jump in in my underwear. You only live once and I didn't want to spend the day wishing I had brought my bathing suit and missing all the fun. The water was so warm and there wasn't much coral so I could actually swim this time. Then I got out and walked around the little town. I bought some postcards to make people jealous and then headed back to the ship. What a great day.
Last night I crossed the equator for the first time and apparently that is a
very big deal when you are at sea. Today we had a ceremony for all the
"polliwogs" who had never crossed before. I had heard rumors of terrible things they make you do at this ceremony. In the navy they take it way overboard, literally. They toss you off the ship or they dump fish guts on you, etc. Everyone kept telling me it was tame here at Oceania but I wasn't so sure I believed them. We all marched out behind King Neptune and one by one he called us in front of him to be judged. He accused us of crossing the equator without his permission and we must be punished. First I had to kiss a giant dead fish. Then I kneeled before him and had this delightful blue goo dumped on my head. Turns out they didn't think through the ingredients very well because it turned into a kind of paste. When I tried to wash it out of my hair later it didn't come out, it just balled up into little blue clumps. After about an hour washing my hair, I am still blue. But at least I am no longer a polliwog.
Sorry it took so long but better late than never I guess!
I had been looking forward to going to the Maldives since I first learned I
was going on this trip. I saw pictures of the beaches with the white sand and
the green water and I couldn't wait to go swimming! What Google Images didn't tell me was that the Maldives islands are Muslim, therefore you are forbidden to lay on the beach in your bathing suit and if you would like to go swimming you have to do it with all your clothes on. I was only slightly annoyed when we got there and the island of Male, where we were tendering to, was not very pleasant. It all seemed like it was a big disappointment until we realized that if you take a ferry to one of the other nearby islands, you could swim and lay out all you wanted. So we took a 45 minute ride over to an island that I can't remember the name of and it was absolutely amazing. It was just what Google Images promised me. The palm trees, the green water, people lying around drinking out of coconuts. It was unbelievable. I spent three hours swimming and snorkeling. The water was like bath water, only a little warmer than Hampton Beach, NH. I swam over the reefs and saw tons of fish all different colors. I even saw a manta ray. I think the last time I went snorkeling I was probably 10 so it took some getting used to. It’s completely counterintuitive to breathe through your mouth while your head is under water. I choked a couple of times before I got into the groove. I was gently floating on the surface of the water looking at all the underwater creatures when all of a sudden the water got really cold. I looked ahead of me and noticed that the sea floor completely dropped away and I could no longer see the bottom. It was like the Grand Canyon of the ocean and I had just swam out over it. Turns out you can be scared of heights in the water too because this is when I started flailing and hyperventilating. Penelope, the girl I was with, had to calm me down and tell me to float on my back for a few minutes while I caught my breath. She held me up while my heartbeat slowed down and then we calmly swam back to shore. I guess it all takes some getting used to but I’m still glad I did it. We had a nice, relaxing ferry ride back and it wasn’t until later that evening that I realized my skin was on fire. Probably one of the worst sunburns of my life. It was everywhere. I looked like I was wearing a big red body suit. Even as I sit here typing I can feel the heat radiating from my arms and butt. The problem was that I spent the entire day in the water where it was nice and cool and never noticed my skin getting hot. I don’t have this problem at home because the water is too cold to go in so you can always feel your skin baking in the sun. Lesson learned. Now I have 2 days at sea to stay inside and cool off before we get to the Seychelles and hit the beaches again. Happy Holidays!
We were in India for 5 days last week and I think those were the hottest 5
days of my life. The air was so thick that it was difficult to breathe. This
doesn't help the strange spicy garbage smell that wafted over the country. I
didn't get to see too much of India this time around but I could definitely
smell it. I did get off in New Mangalore and it was pretty cool. The streets
were really busy with motorcycles and tuk tuks and huge buses and everyone just drives kind of wherever there's space. No need to stay one behind the other. This was scary to witness from the bus but even worse from the rickshaw. The food I had was good but it was SO SPICY. Even the veggie burger I ate made me start to sweat. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see Cochin or Mumbai this time but we will be back in India in January and then again in April on the last cruise home.
Sassy ginger from NH off traveling the world.