V and I both left Nairobi on March 30, she in the afternoon on Emirates with an overnight hotel stay in Dubai and me at midnight straight through via Brussels. We both arrived in Toronto within 90 minutes of each other so I waited for her and we both took the same limo home. Jet lag is one of the few things that doesn't get better with practice. I awoke with a dreadful cold and bronchitis but am committed this evening to attend an event that I wouldn't miss for worlds. The company that I retired from as President a couple of years ago and whose Advisory Board I now chair, was awarded as one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies and tonight is the gala awards dinner....[Continue Reading]
V and I spent our final dinner in Ethiopia at the Sheraton Addis. Over dinner we chatted, trying to pin down what we found most surprising about the country. V's random thoughts:
- Ethiopia is roughly the same size as Sweden. Population 80 million, Sweden 9 mill. Pop of Addis is 3.3 million and growing daily. Ugly city but a major centre.
- 9O% of the pop is engaged in agriculture,mostly subsistence farming.
- Lots of early ties to Jerusalem and early Christianity. The Lalibela churches were built in the 11th century by King Lalibela who had spent 20+ years in Jerusalem and wanted to replicate it in Ethiopia....[Continue Reading]
Birthday dinner great fun, V had arranged for champagne and a birthday cake. Dinner is eaten as a group with David, our 4 other photogs and V and I all at our own table. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, I made a speech, can't ever resist, and the cake was brought in by all the staff of the camp singing Maasai songs, clapping and in the spirit of the moment. There is only one other group at the camp, 5 Japanese photographers with massive amounts of Canon video and still equipment and their table joined in the birthday singing. Between the balloon ride and the birthday dinner surrounded by new friends, it was one of the better celebrations. Broke up at about 22:30 since we needed to be up at 5:30 for our morning game drive.......[Continue Reading]
Up early for a 7:00 am breakfast with David Lloyd and the other 4 members of our group. V and I had had gone for an early dinner the evening before and an early bed so we were in relatively good shape but the other 4 guys in our group had hijacked David in the bar and had made a night of it. Needless to say V and I were in much better nick than the others.
Flying a small chartered plane from Nairobi to a landing strip in the Maasai Mara where we were to be met by our cars for the 1 hour drive to our Entim Camp, our home for the next 7 days. Luggage restrictions very tight on the flight, 15k, so a Land Rover left our hotel at 8:00 am with everyone's luggage for the 9 hour drive to the camp, allowing us to carry only minimal luggage, essentially what we require for our first game drive at 4, since the luggage car will not have arrived by then.... [Continue Reading]
Arrived in Addis in early afternoon and checked into the Sheraton. We have two nights and a full day to decompress from our driving and to get ready for our Kenya safaris. Couldn't wait to get to our rooms and a long hot shower and on to a good lunch. The Sheraton is a fabulous spot and a real lens into Ethiopia. Wandering the huge marble lobby and public rooms, all busy and filled with people coming and going or sitting and talking in little groups it feels as if there are layers that we can see and many more layers that we can sense but can't see. The people sitting around or moving through represent many countries and nationalities, all are very well and expensively dressed, whether informal or formal and there are lots of bespoke suits and white shirts in the crowd. Feels like being in a Graham Greene novel but not knowing the plot. There are quiet but gruffly intense Israelis, suited Brits who look as if they are on their way to a board meeting, wealthy Ethiopians with or without families, trim Germans, knots of noisy Chinese and quiet and steely Americans. Indians, Icelanders, geo-thermal experts, French, Africans from a variety of nations, all meeting and discussing and negotiating and chatting and finalizing and the background noise that you hear is the sound of money whooshing in and out of the country....[Continue Reading]
Early out of Murelle and back up to Paradise Lodge on our way back north to Addis. Retraced our route through the trackless, well barely, rough, dry, scrubby desert country. This is a region of termite mounds which are scattered in surprisingly large numbers across the countryside in addition to something else that fascinated me. This was the presence of a flower called by the locals a bottle flower, blooming in large numbers on a plant whose stem was smooth and gray and somewhat bottle-shaped, which like the termite mounds, were scattered throughout the dry scrub....[Continue Reading]
Arrived at the Buska Lodge in Turmi after our bull-jumping adventure, a place that is in the middle of the desert that characterizes the southern part of the country. TripAdvisor had said of our hotel that one should bring their own food but we discovered when we were checked in that we should have brought our own room as well. We arrived at the hotel at about 8:30 to find that it was full and the room that we were given after 12 hours driving over broken tracks was a reject from a BBC production of Oliver Twist, tiny, dirty, with space only for a bed, a mosquito net and a fluorescent light. The lodge consists of about 6 0r 8 huts constructed like tukuls and a couple of rooms for overflow guests one of which we were given....[Continue Reading]