Thursday, October 31, 2013

Traveling Tanzania and the Maasai

When I told my sister that we would see Maasai, I thought she was going to cry.  She really wanted to see them.  She asked, do you think we can trade with them?  I remember when I went to a Maasai village in 1983 in Kenya, the inhabitants wanted our film canisters to make ear rings.  The village was not "sanitized" (I'll explain that later).  This village was the real deal.  Cow dung all over, flies every where, and poverty.  I explained to my sister that what she should expect is to pay them money to take their pictures.  And that we did have to do.  The Maasai believe that if their picture is taken, you, as the photographer, have already taken their blood.  Yes, that may be but they've also decided that by charging for pictures, it's a great money maker.  But the modern Maasai have also decided that they are tired of business entities using their name so "they" (that's the real problem.  Who is "they"?) are looking into trademarking the name "Maasai".  There are already  major brands using the name "Maasai" as part of their product lines i.e. Land Rover using the name for accessories for their vehicles, a running shoe carries the name as well as a line from Louie Vuitton.  If the Maasai are successful, it would be the largest cultural brand in the world. I would equate this to the US government allowing Indian reservations to have casinos and sell tax free cigarettes.  A windfall for the Maasai.

Our first camp, Tarangire Treetops,  is a member of the Elewana collection.  Read more...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Americans Don't Like to Travel

We're at our first lodge in Tanzania, the Tarangire Treetops Lodge.  We are preparing for my sister to have her first ever "sun downer".  An event where you have a butler or guide take you to a lovely spot overlooking a watering hole or vast savanna to watch the beautiful African sun set.  Before your "sun downer",  you are normally asked what would be your drink of choice.  And you are then served this drink/s along with some great snacks.  After the "sun downer" we were to go on a night drive to see what we could see.  It's normally a time you see all of the nocturnal animals scurrying about.  Let's get back to the "sun downer".    Read more...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Big Game Hunting In Namibia: Thanks for P*ssing Me Off

 I just spent 9 days in Tanzania the purpose of which was a photographic safari.  We wanted to see cheetah, lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and miles and miles of zebra, wildebeest, and water buffalo.  We saw all of this.  The high lights were the sightings of two cheetah and we were lucky enough to see 6 leopard.  My first safari was in Kenya in 1983.  Even then we wanted to see leopard.  We did not.  On my second trip, we did see 2 and on our third, none.  There are anywhere from 400,000-700,000 leopards in Sub Saharan Africa.  The exact number is not known because the leopard is so reclusive therefore difficult to count.   So seeing 6 on one trip is amazing.  We were ecstatic, euphoric, and high fiving.  Fast forward to my return trip from Johannesburg, South Africa.  I'm standing in line waiting to go through the final piece of security.  There is an American couple in front of me.  I started up a chat.  Where are you from, where did you go in Africa, what did you do...and this is where I was dumbfounded, flummoxed for words, and almost beside myself.  So much so, I almost, involuntarily, spit my water on them.  Well, maybe not so involuntarily.  They calmly told me that they had gone to Namibia to hunt.  "And what were you hunting," I queried.?  "Leopard",  they responded.  I asked, "and were you successful?"  "Yes, we were," the husband says.  And added, "my wife killed all kinds of animals."  I said, "really. I didn't realize that hunting leopard was that easily available."  The wife chirps in, "Oh they're a menace to the farmers."  I then realized that I was among people who liked to kill animals for the pure pleasure of killing.    I don't care if they are from my home state.  Killing animals for the sheer thrill of it makes me want to knock them upside the head.  So I said to them, "do you mind if we don't discuss this any further?"  The husband says, "no, I understand."  The wife huffs off and proceeds to tell her husband, rather loudly,  that apparently "there are more of THEM than she thinks."  I guess she means those of us that don't believe in killing an animal for the thrill of it.  I hope you're happy back in your cozy house telling all of your friends about how you got the leopard in your sights and there he is, stuffed, for all to see.  You're standing by it proudly for all to take your picture.  This encounter clouded my entire trip home.  This got me to thinking about all of the people that I know that hunt.  One friend went on a deer hunting trip to Montana and came back empty handed.  Why?  Not because there wasn't anything to shoot.  It was because what they kill, they eat.  And the deer they saw would not amount to a plate full.  So, they killed nothing.  Some people detest hunting, period.  But the meat, chicken, fish we get in the store was once alive.  And they died somehow.  I've seen the "somehow" and trust me, you don't want to see that.      Read more...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hobby, Stuff, Cr*p, Possessions or Memories

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I have a good friend who likes to collect jewelry, big, honking piles of diamonds piled on diamonds. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars worth. When seeing her mother's latest purchase, the daughter of said friend said, "well, that's going into the estate sale."  Why does my friend do this?  I think it has to do with her poor background and now that she can afford it, well, it's her hobby, her stuff, her possessions and according to her daughter,  headed for the estate sale.  Not everyone has a parent that can afford piles of diamonds nor a parent that collects Picasso's. But this is what crosses my mind when I see the match book collection, the Gone with the Wind collection, the velvet Elvis collection... who will we leave this stuff to and if we do, will they want it? All that care you took to put together this collection and all your progeny thinks is that it is stuff, cr*p and headed for the garage sale.  Read more...

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?