Birds, birds, birds!
The rain was light and the mud was everywhere, but we suited up and started off for our adventure. Honestly, I was truly excited about coming face to face with a chimp, but after the “briefing,” as we approached the entrance of the park, all I could think about were elephants. I was not excited about seeing an elephant. In fact I was rather terrified, since elephants are actually quite scary creatures. But I trudged on behind the group with those thoughts staying carefully tucked inside my head and we crept along listening and searching for chimps.
Our first clue to locating them was the sound of screeching. Our guide led the way and we found a group way high up in the trees. There were about 8-10 of them climbing around eating fruit way high up in the canopy. With the contrast of white cloudy sky and the dark forest, the chimps were really hard to make out and pictures were even more hopeless, but we patiently looked through the binoculars and listened in amazement.
We were told that it was very unlikely they would come down from the trees because they don’t like the rain or the wet ground, but all of a sudden, a large male, climbed down and started lumbering through the trees. Bego shouted and we were right on his tail. Our guide led us in a zig-zagged line trying to keep up and within 3 minutes, he slowed down in a clearing. Amazingly enough there were about 7-8 other chimps hanging out on fallen tree trunks grooming each other. There was even a baby around. From that moment on, my mind was on the chimps. No worry about elephants, no worry about snakes, just pure bliss. It was an experience like no other and it will stay with me for eternity.
After meeting Jane Goodall last year and seeing her life’s work, it all makes sense. She really had it all figured out. As you scroll down the photos, you will notice a chimpanzee without a hand. This happened in a snare set out to catch local game. This is still happening throughout East Africa. If you have a change to donate, visit, teach others, or anything else to help, please do so. The world will be a better place for it. Enjoy!
Last week we were lucky enough to fly to Uganda and spend a week traveling by car to many different parts of the country. Upon first arrival, I noticed that the people were wonderfully friendly and the air was crisp and cool. Stepping off of the plane and walking across the tarmac into the terminal we could see Lake Victoria in the distance. The sun was setting and I knew we were in for a treat.
Our driver, Musa, picked us up and drove us to our guest house, Gorilla Tours Airport Guesthouse in Entebbe. When we arrived, we sipped a cool welcome beer and heard the itinerary for the next few days. I had been so busy with work leading up to the trip that I really had no clue what we were going to do exactly and where we would travel. All I knew was that we were going to see gorillas.
The next morning, after breakfast, we hopped in the car and headed west toward Kibale. The drive was beautiful and it was wonderful to look out the window and see the rolling green hills, tea plantations, crater lakes and smiling faces. I got into taking pictures of the advertisements painted on the sides of buildings.
People were out visiting with each other and working to get tasks done before Easter. I couldn’t wait to see more.
Our Christmas Eve was marked with a family walk on the ocean, smiles from Bego’s niece, dinner and drinks. It was lovely and could not have been a better start to Christmas. The nativity scenes were out, there were lights everywhere and mood was merry. We even got to see some traditional music from some street performers.
Bego was the best host. While in Tenerife we not only went to a volcano, but she took us hiking on the coast. It was beautiful and the weather completely cooperated.
On the way back, we stopped at the cutest restaurant high on the cliffs, overlooking the ocean. I don’t know the name of it and probably will never be back in my life, but it was delicious.
Then on the way back home, we stopped at a man-made beach to swim. Needless to say I didn’t even get into my suit because it was way to cold for me, but Cody and Bego hopped right in. Nothing like TZ water, but it was pretty cool to see them swimming in Spain in December. Also, a huge thanks to Bego’s friend from way back, Acasia for driving us around and spending time with us. It was such a blast!
The next, Bego planned a trip to the volcano, Teide. I was designated the driver of her dad’s car and I nervously got in the manual car parked on a slope with her dad watching. I eased off the clutch and luckily the car didn’t stall even though I anticipated it since I had not driven in a while. We were off.
The drive was beautiful. The twisty paved roads were a cinch to drive on and every few kilometers Bego would have us pullover and look at something spectacular.
Here we were going up getting a view from the base of the volcano.
Right in with all of the lava beds.
On top of the mountain having a beer in the freezing cold.
Our next stop was the island of Tenerife to visit with Bego’s family. Tenerife is the largest and most populated of the seven Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. Bego and her dad were waiting with open arms when our plane touched down and from the first moments in the car I knew it was going to be a wonderful trip. As we drove along the coast the air was warm and crisp and the views reminded me of the coasts in Norther California and Oregon.
When we arrived in Puerto de la Cruz at her parents flat, a delicious lunch was waiting for us. It was homemade pallela and it was such a welcoming meal.
After lunch we strolled around the seaside city soaking in the sunshine and the sights. It was very similar to any coastal tourist town you would find all over the world. There was ice cream and fudge for sale, as well as postcards and towels and there were even street performers. Just a perfect respite from the cold weather in mainland Spain.
During our walk, we found a carnival in town and went to check it out. It was one of those parking lot jobs but the difference was that we were in Spain and it was right by the ocean. It was special.
After our walk we hit up a pretty popular local spot for dinner. I don’t remember the name of the place, but the meal was wonderful and the papas arrugadas were just as Bego promised, the best. What’s more, we ate a horse fish for dinner. Check out those teeth! We were off to a roaring start on the second leg of our holiday.