Is it weird to have a favorite beetle? We were introduced to the “dung” beetle on this morning’s safari drive. This beetle finds a piece of poop dropped from a large animal, then the female beetle latches onto the side of the poop ball and the male beetle rolls the poop to a nice grassy spot where she will lay her eggs. The jeep stopped so we could watch one of these male beetles roll his piece of poop (which by the way was much larger than him) to the side of the road, all while the female was holding on tight. It was so amazing to watch this small bug rolling something much larger than he was, he in fact can actually roll a poop ball 10 times his own weight! Since these beetles eat poop, it is a good place to lay the eggs so that the larvae can feed on the poop which surrounds them. We had never heard of this dung beetle…so interesting, who knew?!
After our dung beetle experience, the ranger decided to take the jeep off the road and into the bushes…this thing literally just took trees and bushes down as it drove over them. We ducked and moved around trying to avoid getting pricked by the thorns but also anxiously looking ahead in anticipation of what may be hiding. When we pulled up…amongst the trees, bushes and tall grasses were a couple of lions laying on the ground resting. As we got closer, we saw a buffalo carcass with millions of maggots devouring the remains. We saw the same lioness with her two cubs as well as a young male, about 2-3 years old…probably from the lioness’ last litter. They were eating what they could get off the bones of the buffalo, it was probably a few days old and there wasn’t much left. They grabbed onto the buffalo skin and pulled with their sharp teeth, even the little cubs dug right in.
This was truly a national geographic moment…to see a huge lioness with her two cubs all gnawing the bones of this dead buffalo in the middle of no where, deep in the bush of South Africa-wow. We were so close to these lions…in fact, the lioness finally got irritated and walked straight over to our jeep glaring at us. The ranger whispered to us to stay still…OMG is this lioness going to eat us next?? She was breathing heavily and licking the blood off her lips all while glaring straight into our eyes. She could have taken one jump and been inside our jeep. Even Giff who continued clicking the camera got a little nervous when she turned her glare straight at him. Let me be clear…these are completely wild animals and we were in a open-air jeep a few feet away from them. The ranger saw the lioness was getting upset with us so started the car and reversed away from her until she seemed ok with the distance. We had such an amazing time taking pictures and video of this moment…this is not something you get to see regularly on these drives, we got lucky. Since there were other jeeps that wanted to get their turn to see the lions, we drove back out and onto the dirt road. We took a couple of pictures of the young male who would soon be kicked out of the pride by the dominant males on our way out.
Now, we can definitely saw we’ve seen lions on this safari experience!! We’ve officially seen three of the big five (buffalo, elephant and lion)…two more to go (Rhino and leopard). We pulled over to have our coffee break…coffee and Amarula with little muffins/cookies for a bit while chatting about what we just saw. Back in the jeep and driving towards the lodge, we saw another wildebeest, a few baboons, zebra and impala.
AT the lodge, we sat down and ate a leisurely breakfast and then went back to our bungalow to relax for a few hours before our evening 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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