What an experience Ghana was. Waiting for the clouds to part outside the airplane window for my first look at this new land, I was filled with so much anticipation and, to be honest, a bit of anxiety for the unknown. Though I have been to North Africa and South Africa, they are quite Westernized, so I didn’t know what to expect from the Gold Coast.
What we found was a truly eye opening experience: a different way of life, a different-looking way of life. The locals were quite beautiful. Void of many Western fashions, it was so refreshing and inspiring to see many of the men, women and children wearing homemade African garb in bright colors and beautiful silhouettes. In the city of Accra where we landed, many of the day-to-day items were sold via an army of human concession stands walking up and down the lanes of traffic: water, socks, fruit, gum, bleach, nuts, towels – you name it, they sold it. The women would carry these large metal bowls on their head with the supplies stacked in giant pyramids, it was truly an amazing sight. Beautiful.
DAY 1: We drove out of Accra along the coast to discover this region of Ghana and take in some of the cultural history that has affected humanity so greatly at such sites as Elimna Castle. I felt very fortunate as I hunched through the “door of no return” looking out on the aggressive ocean waves and the horrific fate of that horizon line for so many. To be able to tie together the motherland to the ancestors that I met only a few months earlier in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, the largest import city of slaves in the West, was very humbling and culturally fascinating.
Continue reading “Chapter 3: GHANA”
The people of South Africa stand as the example of everything good about humanity. They believe in peace and sharing and harmony. I like to think their souls are beautiful because they are a part of a true circle of life here. They understand their place among the animals, in the grass, with the trees, all while walking with their ancestors.
Our evening drives were the perfect decrescendo to the day. As the golden hour set and the Southern Cross smiled down from the heavens, we sipped our cocktails over the endless horizon and said good night to all the creatures we had shared in the moment with. I try to go back to this place in my memory when I lay in bed awake early in the morning. I try to remember the colors of the sky, the whites of the horns, the sounds of nature and vastness of view. I try to remember that all that is good is all that ever was.
As we boarded the plane to leave, I was planning how to come back. The great migration, Tanzania, Kenya, gorillas in the mist… I think I have begun a lifelong love affair for all that is Africa. These photographs are all that remain of our fading memories now. As the years press on and we set out to new lands, new experiences, I hope this place stays just the way it was so that future generations can experience what we have and know this love now in our hearts.
Continue reading “Safari Nights”
I will never forget hearing the first roar from a lion. My entire body filled with adrenaline, fear, anxiety, total alertness. It is a sound that cuts straight to the center of your chest, an emotional reaction that feels today the same way it must have felt to humans thousands of years ago. We would cruise around, tracking paw prints in the sand. It was always breathtaking when we found our animal, it was always the most beautiful thing.
There were these wonderfully quiet moments where we would just sit in silence among the wild and all the world felt in perfect harmony. In contrast we had other times where we were speeding through the African tundra, chasing a lioness on the run, our hearts racing! “Tattle tail” birds would scream warnings of the predator on the move while giraffe, zebras, and impalas ran for their lives. Fear and adrenaline pump through your blood, a high we felt for hours. Being in the presence of something much stronger and more powerful than you, understanding and observing the circle of life, how it is such a beautiful balance, makes you respect and appreciate the world just as it is when it just IS.
We were so fortunate to stay at this beautiful resort but even if you were anywhere else, it doesn’t change the way the sunrise looks in the misty morning, the quiet way elephants migrate past you or the feeling in your soul when a lion looks you right in the eye…
Continue reading “Safari Afternoons”
Deep in the wilds of Africa we found our honeymoon chalet. Built over the riverine bush we would lie in bed at night and listen to the animal cries, feeling so small and so human in this world of other kings. When the sun was high on those lazy afternoons we’d hide out on the porch watching elephants herd by while we wrote in journals, sketched in notebooks, and read our novels. The romance of the mosquito net like a wedding veil fills my memory of this space in a soft glow of white light. Showers outside on the porch under monkeys swinging by and an endless view of the African vista felt so free and so naturally beautiful. Nights in long baths with old jazz playing its heartfelt tune take me back to this dreamy place, this homey place so rich in comfort so far from home.
Continue reading “Safari Dreams”
Before the sun rises every morning, we were awakened by a knock on the door where we rose for a light breakfast of oatmeal (with scotch if you prefer), the sun slowly waking up on the earth. We loaded up into our safari vehicles with hot water bottles, plaid wool blankets and, if you’re me, three cameras. It’s so quiet in the mornings, so peaceful. And the light. THE LIGHT. It’s the most beautiful light in the world. I dream of waking up every morning in this light. We sat quietly and watched elephants wander by (did you know their steps do not make a sound?), we looked at the mist dancing on the pond, we counted stripes on a zebra (did you know they stand overlapping in a group so their patterns confuse predators?), we tracked down lions and cubs, searched for cheetahs and followed wild dogs (which are actually rare!). One of the mornings we had a beautiful breakfast in the bush but mostly I just enjoyed the peacefulness of the mornings. Because later in the day…. it’s a whole different beast.
Continue reading “Safari Mornings”
I didn’t know what to expect when we set out for South Africa. To be honest, I was quite nervous and very skeptical of the romantic aspect that had been advertised; this was our honeymoon after all. I’ve never been that far from home and although I had been to northern Africa and the Middle East, this was a whole new world… the animal kingdom. My most recent experience with animals had been a trip to the Natural History Museum and zoos growing up. I didn’t realize how much I was missing when I let this be my only relationship to wildlife. What I had yet to learn was that safari and ultimately Africa would change my life.
The conversation about safari started a few months before our wedding. We didn’t know where to go and on one fateful night over dinner with friends, I asked what their best trips had been. One couple answered with all their passion and excitement “SAFARI“. I wanted to do something extraordinary, I wanted to go someplace far so that when we tell our kids, they will be inspired to discover the world too. We flew into Johannesburg and connected onto what was at the time the smallest plane I had ever experienced (until this harrowing flight), landing on a tiny strip in the middle of the African bush at Londolozi Game Reserve. I was more nervous than excited (you might be too after the three shots and two medications you have to have before arriving) until I walked into the lodge, was handed a glass of champagne and looked out at the view in awe. I couldn’t guess what the next day, our first drive into the wild, would hold, but I knew at that moment I was living in a dream…
Continue reading “A Great Adventure”
As the golden light of the setting sun brought our last day in Marrakech to a close, we wandered the halls one last time at the Four Seasons, smelled the sweet garden air of roses and gathered for one last dinner with our fearless travel companions and inspirational group of women Nola, Caroline, Rebecca, Susie and Megan.
Continue reading “A Sweet Goodbye”
Throwing on our souk purchased packs, Kelly and I ventured out of the ancient walls of Marrakech onward to the Agafay desert at the base of the Atlas Mountains. It is quite a strange sensation feeling the heat of the desert sun on your skin while looking out onto snow capped mountains…
Day four in Marrakech, the adventure~
It was tan as far as the eye could see until we came over the hill and spotted our desert oasis “Le Pause” waiting for us.
We relaxed away the late morning sun under heavy woven tents and soft corner couches where the breeze off the earth swept through keeping us cool from the heat of the day.
Continue reading “Desert Oasis”
The phrase “shop till you drop” was never more well said than after a day in Marrakech’s Le Souk. If I wasn’t such a woman distracted by shopping in every other stall I came across, I could have wondered the narrow corridors all day in amazement of the wares, colors, food, local culture and vast size… but alas, these are the few snapshots of this ultimate shopping excursion Kelly & I embarked on in day three of Marrakech~
Below: WATCH OUT FOR THE MOTORBIKES! We became very trained to step to the side when you hear the sound of a motorbike coming because OH! They will not stop!
Continue reading “It’s All About the Souk…”
From the new city to the old we danced through ancient courtyards, rubbed rose oil on our skin in the heat of the day and became inspired in the very gardens Yves Saint Laurent lived. As the hours ticked away, this city of now and then became even more intoxicating… and so we begin day two in Marrakech~
Above: Rebecca reads in the morning light at the Four Seasons
Below: Behind the walls of the old fortified city we ventured into the heart of the Médina where we visited the Saadian Tombs where the past Kings lay to rest.
“The Saadian Tombs lay hidden and mostly forgotten until 1917, when they were discovered during a French aerial survey and a passageway was built from the side of the Kasbah Mosque. The tombs’ long neglect has ensured their preservation and they have since been fully restored to their original glory.”
Continue reading “A Deeper Journey~”
Of course when I was packing my bags for Morocco I couldn’t help but see smoky old jazz bars and men in white dress coats while Sam plays As Time Goes By dancing in my mind’s eye… and I was not disappointed. The light of Morocco was as structural as a black and white film, cafes held old secrets and the long hot hours of the afternoon were cooled away with sweet mint tea and soft shaded nooks…. This starts the journey I was so thrilled to make with an amazing group of women and my dear friend Kelly Framel.
Welcome to day one in Marrakech~
After the journey from Casablanca to Marrakech we were welcomed at the Four Seasons Hotel with traditional mint & sugar tea and local pastries
Below: The floating rose bowls were one of my favorite hotel touches.
Continue reading “North African Oasis…”