We heard a knock at the door at about 5Am this morning, that was our cue to get out of bed and over to the main lobby. We threw our clothes on including a jacket since it was chilly out and walked over to the main bungalow. They had tea and coffee waiting as well as some small biscuits. We grabbed a cup, sucked it down and got into the jeep for our first morning safari drive.
Driving through the bush on an open-air monster jeep watching the sunrise as we searched for wild animals was really one of the highlights of our 400 day trip. There really is no other option but to add this experience to your “to do” list…get it booked…there is nothing like it. There were six of us on the drive plus the ranger and all of us were staring into the bushes trying to spot an animal. We found buffalo…one of the big 5! They are one of the most difficult to find because they are usually so far into the thorny bushes. Each one weighs up to 1500 pounds and there was a herd right on the edge of the bushes…very close to the road we were on (when I say road…I mean dirt road made by jeeps driving around on them). We were taking pictures of the buffalo sticking their heads out to see what we were doing, and then after waiting patiently…they crossed the road right in front of us. We are hoping to see all of the “big 5” in the few days we are here…one down, 4 to go.
On the 2-way radio…we heard our ranger talking back and forth with another ranger and then suddenly were headed on a very specific route towards something exciting. We pulled up and saw a HUGE male lion sitting in the grass, his back was to us…we saw there were two. The ranger explained, these two lions were brothers and each the head of their own pride. The males were resting, one of them stood up which made us realize just how massive he was…he walked with his back to us deeper into the bush, obviously not wanting to deal with company. If we have to, we will count that as seeing number two of the big 5 but we are really hoping to get a closer view of lions while we are here.
As we drove around, the sun was warming us up and we were seeing a few really cool birds sitting in the trees, stopping to take pictures. We saw many impalas and a group of very loud frogs at one of the main ponds. Our ranger pulled over to the side of the road and we all got out to stretch our legs. He attached that little portable table to the front of the car and then brought out breakfast munchies and hot coffee…just what we wanted! Beside the coffee were little mini bottles of Amarula. We had never seen Amarula before…it had a picture of an elephant on it. The ranger poured it into our coffee and it really hit the spot as we sipped it…it was Bailey’s cousin, a creamy sweet liqueur but was made from the amarula fruit found here in Africa. There is a picture of an elephant on the front because elephants absolutely love the amarula fruit…they will travel very far to find and eat the sweet treat.
We drove back to the lodge where breakfast was being served. We sipped on tea and ate our hot made to order breakfast while we talked about the drive. After we ate, we walked back on the path to our bungalow to relax for a bit before the next drive. As we watched carefully where we were walking…we saw all kinds of life around us, we stopped to see lizards and beetles and other random things. Back in our room, we laid back on the bed…we caught up on computer work and took a nap.
After a few hours of relaxation, it was already time for lunch followed by our afternoon drive! Before we got to the table, we saw a bright yellow bird hanging upside down inside his green nest. We noticed there were a couple of these green weaved nests which had various twigs and leaves weaved together into a dome-like shape with the hole at the bottom. He would fly in and out of it adding a twig and checking the inside. Giff quickly started recording and as we watched, the female came over…she flew inside and then started squawking. He took a piece of twig out of the nest and flew away with it. The ranger explained that these are the only birds that actually weave their nests and they make several…but only lay their eggs in one. They do this in hopes the decoy nests will fool the snakes which are searching for their next meal. He also explained that the male makes the nest and the female checks the nest to make sure it is built to her standards. If she does not like what she sees, she will let him know and sometimes will tear it down so he has to build a new one. Is it really that surprising that the female is the boss…duh! We had a lot of fun watching this whole scene and were excited we got it on video (see below).
While we ate our multi-course meal, we saw a big herd of impalas gather at the watering hole and of course took another video. After lunch, we all climbed back into the jeep anxious to find out what we will see on our next drive!
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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