Journal Journey's

Africa – 2017, Day 4

Day 4

We rejoined Joseph and went to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to learn about and enjoy the orphaned elephants that they provide safe haven for until they can be released back into the wild. 

We exited a few hours later with our hearts warmed by all that we saw and learned, and next went to the Giraffe Centre.  

It was another amazing experience – we were given pellets to hand feed these graceful giants.  Long black tongues carefully reached for the inch long pieces of food one at a time.  As we got braver (Cody first) we placed the pellet in our lips and received giraffe kisses!  It was such a delight.

Cody, our researcher, then discovered Nairobi Mamba Village, a crocodile park nearby so we went and learned about them, turtles and ostrich’s as well – and yes, a few of us blew kisses to them too. 

Attempting to kiss a turtle proved to be a memorable experience for me.  He looked deep into my eyes, stretched out his curios neck… and shot a stream of urine all down by blouse!  Turtles were my least favorite of the day.

We had a quiet dinner at the hotel that night.  It took such a long time to cook!  Aisha offered to help in the kitchen… perhaps our western standards were getting a reality check.   It proved worth the wait for the parmesan risotto and multitude of vegetables – each prepared in excellence of spice and flavor.

Early to bed, early to rise.  Tanzania was waiting for us.

Journal Journey's

Africa – 2017, Day 3

Day 3

Our Emirates crew received their gifts oddly at first.  It is not a common practice for them to be thanked.  It was my turn to give and I literally had to place it in the boarding flight attendant’s hands while he seemed bewildered.  

I was glad to have included a note:

Dear Crew,  

We are traveling in celebration of a 30th, a 50th and a 60th birthday!  Our ultimate destination is the beautiful and adventurous land of Africa and we are so grateful that you, our airline family, are part of our story.

Please enjoy this little sweet along the way and a tip for your van driver later.  Thank you for welcoming us.

Warm regards from your Airline Family, Aisha, Eileen, Diane, Cody and Judy

As word spread throughout the flight, most of the 19 member crew stopped by to wish us happy birthday.  They dressed the us in their elegant uniform hat – a traditional stewardess cap from days gone by – red, trimmed in gold and adorned with a long cream scarf which they draped beautifully on each of us for the photo.  They brought decadent desserts and again we were delighted that such a simple gift would spark such fun!

Customs in Kenya was dirty and confusing.  My officer overcharged for my visa, then wanted to correct the error by using the difference from Diane, then changing the receipt.  There was a messy pile of forms on his desk and his demeanor reminded me of myself when I am especially hormonal, irritated and over-caffeinated.

Receipt in hand, we finally exited to find our checked luggage and had just done so when the officer came back to demand the first receipt even though I had already given it to him.  He was flustered and frustrated with me.  Finally he accepted that I did not have it and let me go.  A customs difficulty in a country so foreign was intimidating, and now the line to exit was tremendous – but we did not complain.

Our driver, Joseph, met us outside with a joyful smile that immediately atoned for the complications.  We squeezed into his small mini-van with luggage piled to the ceiling and made our slow egress thru traffic that made the 405 at rush hour look easy.

And now we are all caught up and checked in to the faded glory of the Nairobi Safari Park Hotel.  It feel like our trip is about to begin – Africa at last!!!

I showered under lukewarm water that I was cautions not to swallow, refreshed and met everyone back in the lobby.  Our destination was the Safari African Lodge for a dinner show and dancing.  

The resort was spectacular with lush gardens and walkways.  Dinner was an exotic grill featuring the ordinary chicken and beef to the more exotic crocodile and camel.  We toasted with big glasses of the local beer, Tusker, and waited for the show to begin.

It was an extraordinary display of song and dance, enhanced with colorful and ever changing costume.  I found myself holding my breath in awe throughout.

When the show ended all the lights went out and a chorus line of singers surrounded our table to sing a rhythmic happy birthday song.  We were enchanted and felt very honored.  The remainder of the night was spent dancing, laughing and taking pictures.  It was a grand celebration.

Journal Journey's

Africa – 2017 Days 1-2

On September 11th, 2017, we boarded Emirates for Dubai – our airline custom is to bring gifts for the crew – something little to say thank you for letting us join you.  Our crew was so taken by this simple token that they spoiled us like mad for the entire 16 hours!  They gifted us with gift bags and desserts from business class – they took Polaroid photos of us and made us birthday cards.  We landed weary, but pampered in Dubai on the evening of September 12.

We checked into our hotel – a luxurious 3 room suite at Chelsea Towers… marveling at our view of Dubai’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa.  Actually, at present it is the tallest building in the entire world!  

We met our driver downstairs and began our city tour.  The opulence of Dubai is hard to put into words – everywhere we looked was pristine and spectacular.  It was the cleanest city we had ever seen – not a speck of litter or graffiti to be found.

Her skyscrapers were intricate and different like snowflakes.  They did not seem to compete with one another, but each added to the blanket of wealth and earthly image of security – and the irony that this city was built on sand was not lost on me.

At one am we dropped into a café for Middle Eastern food – hummus – eggplant – pitas and grilled meats.  Once there Aisha realized she had forgotten her purse at our last stop.  She and our driver went back in search of it.

Upon return she reported a man had discovered it and was standing guard until the police could arrive to bring it to safety.  We were astounded by the notion that someone would take such great pains for the security of a stranger’s purse.

Our driver continued with our travel weary bodies – showing us his Dubai and all her glory until we pleaded for rest!  Back at Chelsea Towers, we melted into our beds for a few hours rest before returning to the airport and pressing on for Kenya, Africa at last –

Journal Journey's

Journal Journey’s

Africa 2017


Today is the 14th of September 2017 and I am in Kenya, Africa.  I am on day 4 of these incredible travels to mark my 50th birthday – still 5 weeks away, but why not close out my 40’s well?

I feel like I am off to a late start – it’s been such a whirlwind of travel, but at last a peaceful moment here at the Nairobi Safari Park Hotel.  

My hotel reminds me of my travels to Magadan, Russia, in my early flying days during the 90’s.  She is well worn in places, but the opulence of her history shines through the weariness.

I was surprised to learn that she opened in 1985.  I thought she was centuries old, but 1985 – how perfect, right?  It was the year I graduated high school, and here we are meeting again.

But I am ahead of myself – Day 4 is no place to begin a tale… let me back up.

My colleague, Aisha, has been telling me about her homeland for years – always concluding with, “You should go.”

“One day, one day,” I would respond.

This is a decade birthday – a perfect time to reflect and plan.  It’s so easy to let the years come and go without thought, but decade birthdays are thinking years.    

So, I jumped at the notion that ‘one day’ would be the marker for 50.  I was going to Africa!

Two of my work friends were of like mind and had been planning the trip to mark their 30th and 60th birthdays – Cody, and Diane.  Our dear friend Eileen also recognized the need – the desire – the calling to be changed by travel and enlisted as well.  We committed to Aisha and began making plans.