These "Tale Spinner" episodes are brought to you
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Vol. XVII No. 02
January 08, 2011
IN THIS ISSUE
Nearing home, Zvonko Springer writes about the last days of their
SECOND AFRICAN SAFARI
On Saturday we got up later than usual and let after 9:00. First we drove to the Owen Falls Dam to view the might hydroelectric-power station at the Nile outlet from the Victoria Lake. We toured Jinja Main Street and looked for some native art products. The city was well kept and clean and had a nice residential area which reminded us of the colonial times. Jinja was an important industrial town with large steel works and railway workshops as well as tea and sugar-cane manufacture plants. It was a sunny day so we drove on happily and fast to Tororo and crossed the border to Kenya around 11:30.
The custom officer told me to watch the road which was in a very bad state in Western Bungoma or Nyanza as it rained after 4:00 almost every day. I drove as fast as possible but Ljiljana insisted on stopping to take pictures of some boys standing at the road side. They wore white paint all over their bodies, exposing their genitals to view. The boys had passed the circumcising ceremony and tried to collect money from passers-by. I stopped and Ljiljana got her pictures but after that we did not talk to each other for some time.
The state of the road worsened significantly so I slowed down, trying to avoid ruts and washouts, etc. Now and then I heard a strange squeaking, chafing or rubbing noise of steel on steel. What the hell was it now! I had to stop and inspect the front axle again as the noise came from there whenever the car hit bumps. By Jove, the new bolts were put in the wrong way to the plate so their ends rubbed against the rod connecting the two wheels. Well, there was nothing I could do now but get to Eldoret as fast as possible to find a workshop open on Saturday. Then it started raining and I drove on, cursing the idiotic fate of my car.
I will never forget the despair I felt when I heard that screeching noise, and the hope of finding a garage on a Saturday afternoon. Expecting a catastrophe at any time, I finally reached Eldoret at 2:20. Luckily we found a skillful mechanic at the AGIP petrol station who hoisted the car to reach the four bolts. It took him some time to turn them the right way and to fasten them tight. The steering rod had been slightly abraded but there was no danger in continuing the drive to Mombasa, he said.
I started the drive singing aloud with happiness, hurrying eastwards to our next and hopefully last stop before getting home. Ljiljana got out bread and other goodies and started feeding me with bits of sandwiches. I drove about 100km/h as long the road allowed it. We came to the equator, climbed the Mau Mountain (+2.535m), and enjoyed the alley of mimosa trees in full bloom.
Ljiljana reminded me that we had promised to buy the Molo cheese (that pleases!), so I turned at the right junction to the farm. The owner was pleased with our interest in his cheese products and lead Ljiljana around his farm, explaining everything in detail. Vesna disappeared with the owners daughter of about the same age and they went looking for the horses. I was left alone, getting more nervous with every passing minute. We had still some 215km to Nairobi that I intended to reach before darkness. Finally we left the farm at 4:30 with quite a quantity of well-packed cheeses, and reached the main road soon after.
We passed through Nakuru without stopping and a downpour got us at Elmenteita Lake short of Gilgil. I had to slow down and drove extremely cautiously until the downpour stopped. The sun came out low in the west below dark clouds. We started climbing the escarpment after we rushed through Naivasha. It was getting dark and I happily queued behind a Jeep that had better lights, showing me where the road went. I was tired and the night driving turned into a nightmare. I followed that Jeep for many miles at almost 80km/h until we reached the suburbs of Nairobi. I turned off at a junction, not knowing where we were, but Ljiljana soon realized that we were in the Ngongong area. Under her vigilant instruction we got to the Fairview Hotel at 7:10 after all. I cannot remember driving that last hour in total darkness. I drove our car for a total of 10 hours on that day - it was my longest drive on that safari.
My nerves calmed down after a long hot bath and a perfect dinner. I slept that night like a log and nothing could wake me for sure.
I agreed that Ljiljana could go shopping on Sunday, being happy with the state of my car. We would meet at 10:00, but there was a misunderstanding regarding the place, so I found them at last around 11:00. Ljiljana and Vesna were nervously waiting for me at the place I had left them before. As a dispute would erupt for sure, I decided just to drive out of Nairobi instantly. There was no time for arguing as we were on our way home.
Soon after the Athi River we came upon the dusty murram section of old road leading through Sultan Hamud and Emali. The new road was under construction and nobody cared for the old one, so clouds of red dust engulfed anyone behind another vehicle. It was best to stop or slow down for a while, getting a clear view until the next "cloud". The most difficult were the curves at Kiboko and Kibwezi as bypassing the Chyului Hills. Around 3:30 we reached the tarmac at last and drove as fast as possible through Mtito Andei. I had to drive at a lower speed the 3km-long murram section before we got to Voi on tarmac again.
The sun blazed on my side and it became generally hotter with every mile as we got close to Mombasa. At last, on passing Mariakani, we saw in the east the wide ocean lit by the late afternoon sun. Around 5:00 I drove slowly through Mombasa center and got to the factory gate at 5:25 to pick up the post. We reached our home at Bamburi Beach and saw the blue sea at 5:50. Eureka! Everybody expected us there, including Knocker, our dog. We had made it home, safe and sound!
A brief comparison of the two safaris in 1965, through Kenya and Tanganyika; and in 1966, from Kenya to and through Uganda.
Fauna: From what we saw and recorded, the diversity was greater in Kenya and Tanganyika. In Uganda, we noted the greatest herds by the number of animals. The Great migration of wildebeests and zebras is certainly the largest aggregation of animals in East African countries.
Flora: In Kenya and Tanganyika we travelled mostly through steppes and savannahs. In Uganda the rainy season started during our trip, which made the countryside green and the grass grow high. Uganda had many low-level grounds like marshlands and swamps, and the many large lakes like Victoria, and the great river of the Nile flowing across that vast country.
Nature: We made both safaris during August and September in 1965 and 1966 respectively. We found many natural beauties in all three countries, but I could not say that these differ significantly in the quality as well as how they impressed us personally. We had more problems in Uganda, mainly due to the technical troubles with our 1954 VW. Road maintenance had been gravely neglected, particularly in some parks, whereas the main roads in Uganda could have had better surfacing.
Political and tourist situation: We did not have any problems in travelling through all three countries. We had the tripartite pass and crossed borders without any hitch. However, in Kenya North, guards had watched for the Somalia Shiptas. At the beginning of the so-called African socialism that had introduced President Nyerere, Tanganyika had some inner political problems. We entered Uganda shortly after the government cancelled the existence of the five kingdoms, proclaiming the country a republic. However, we did not experience any problem from this situation.
As for the tourism industry or trade, I would say that this was better developed in Kenya and Tanganyika compared to Uganda. In particular, I refer to the management of lodges and costs for services in hotels in Uganda, which were higher than in Kenya. The information boards were relatively scarce in Uganda, compared to the two other countries we travelled through.
Our photographic "harvest": During the 1965 safari through Kenya and Tanganyika (later: Tanzania), we were able to take many photos of animals. We had not lost pictures taken on any of the several films. We did not have the same luck on the safari through Uganda as we lost many pictures we had taken on two films. One complete film of at least 36 pictures in my Russian-made camera had been lost. The second film emulsion had been spoiled by heat during the unfortunate mishap of being stuck in mud. Just bad luck!
Catherine Nesbitt writes: As I began to put away Christmas ornaments, I thought I should tell you about my favourite, purchased in 2003. It is a small "talking" (motion sensor) ornament of Maxine and her dog, labelled "I Don´t Do Jolly!"
The figure has 10 messages. A few of them are: "Christmas always means the same thing to me - hot cider, hot cocoa, and hot flashes." "When carollers ask me if I have a request, I always say ´Keep moving.´" "The holidays always bring out my spirit of giving. This year, I´m giving wedgies."
When I walk past and hear one of Maxine´s characteristic comments, I laugh. This little figurine amuses me every year. It´s about 3 1/2 inches tall and 2 inches wide, and to me it is worth every penny that I paid. Laughs are priceless!
Dick Monaghan, whom we remember fondly, forwarded these thoughts about
THE OLDER CROWD
A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor´s office. "Is it true," she wanted to know, "that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?"
"Yes, I´m afraid so," the doctor told her.
There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, "I´m wondering, then, just how serious is my condition, because this prescription is marked NO REFILLS."
An older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation.
As he was about to get the anesthesia, he asked to speak to his son.
"Yes, Dad, what is it? "
"Don´t be nervous, son; do your best and just remember, if it doesn´t go well, if something happens to me, your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife...."
Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. (ED. NOTE: I already have!)
The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me! I want people to know "why" I look this way. I´ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren´t paved.
When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of algebra.
You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.
Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft... Today, it´s called golf.
Still on the subject of aging, Gerrit deLeeuw sends this
WARNING TO WOMEN
Some of you may have already been warned of this.....
You´ve heard about people who have been abducted and had their kidneys removed by black-market organ thieves.
My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years ago. I went to sleep and woke up with someone else´s thighs. It was just that quick. The replacements had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Whose thighs were these and what happened to mine?
I spent the entire summer looking for my thighs.
Finally, hurt and angry, I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans. And then the thieves struck again.
My bum was next. I knew it was the same gang, because they took pains to match my new rear-end to the thighs they had stuck me with earlier.
But my new bum was attached at least three inches lower than my original, and was at least three sizes bigger! I realized I´d have to give up my jeans in favour of long skirts.
Two years ago I realized my arms had been switched.
One morning I was drying my hair and was horrified to see the flesh of my upper arm swing to and fro with the motion of the hairbrush. This was really getting scary - my body was being replaced one section at a time.
What could they do to me next?
When my poor neck suddenly disappeared and was replaced with a turkey´s neck, I decided to tell my story. Women of the world, wake up and smell the coffee! Those "plastic" surgeons are using REAL replacement body parts - stolen from you and me! The next time someone you know has something "lifted", look again - was it lifted from you?
THIS IS NOT A HOAX! This is happening to women everywhere every night. WARN YOUR FRIENDS!
P.S. Last year I thought someone had stolen my boobs. I was lying in bed and they were gone! But when I jumped out of bed, I was relieved to see that they had just been hiding in my armpits as I slept. Now I keep them hidden in my waistband.
P.P.S. - These same thieves came into my wardrobe and shrank my clothes! How do they do it?
Just thought you should know.
And to add insult to injury, Betty Audet sends these definitions:
AN OLD-TIMER IS...
1. One who can remember when folks sat down at the table and counted their blessings instead of calories.
2. A person who remembers when people wearing blue jeans worked.
3. One who can remember back to when a telephone was a convenience.
4. A geezer who can remember when "setting the world on fire" was only a figure of speech.
5. A guy who distinctly remembers the five-cent cigar but forgets the 10-hour, six-day workweek.
6. One who still remembers when the red menace was made of flannel, had a flap in the back, and was worn in the winter.
7. A guy who realizes that his kid´s history lessons are what he read in the newspapers.
8. The person who can remember that when you bought $5.00 worth of groceries, the clerk reminded you to hold the bag by the bottom.
9. A father who remembers when a juvenile delinquent was a youngster returning from the woodshed.
10. A man who is old enough not to care what anyone says about him, and no-one does.
11. A senior citizen who can remember when you could get the landlord to fix anything by threatening to move.
12. A person who can remember when you didn´t even think of Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving.
13. One who recalls the only improper things you learned in school were fractions.
14. A man who can remember the time when it was easy to distinguish between a bathing beach and a nudist camp.
15. A man who can remember when you could light a cigarette at either end.
16. One who can remember when there was hot criticism of the extravagance of a government when it gave away free garden seeds.
17. A person who can remember when charity was a virtue, not an industry.
18. A person who can recollect when a new baby was considered an addition instead of a deduction.
19. A man who can remember when a lady looked the same after washing her face.
20. A guy who can remember when the sky was the limit.
21. A person who remembers when buttons were sewn, not pushed.
FROM THE EDITOR´S DESKTOP
It must have been the time of year and the approach of my 89th birthday that prompted the selection of this week´s posts. There is nothing like the passing of the old year and the approach of a birthday to remind one of the rapid flight of time.
As I get older, I feel the weight of the years pressing on my ancient body, where gravity and thinning bones and aching muscles bear testimony to the effects of aging. But as it becomes more difficult to walk or bend over too far or too long, my restless desire to be going places has waned to keep pace. I begin to fit the stereotype of the old woman with her cat - though I don´t knit. Or sew, or crochet, or cook, or can.... Perhaps the new stereotype of an old-timer is someone bent over a hot keyboard. Much more instructive and more fun than any of those household chores, which I never liked anyway.
I read somewhere that 90 is the new 50. Whom do they think they are kidding? Regardless of the progress of medicine in its quest to lengthen life, there is a built-in obsolescence that will thwart their efforts for many years to come. Besides, who would want to live all those extra years? If just a few of the catastrophes predicted for the near future actually materialize, life will not be as comfortable as it now is for many of us.
And of course not everyone is comfortably well off when they retire. Many are in straightened circumstances, and some seniors are actually living on the streets, though it is hard to believe this could happen in a country as rich as ours. I am sure those people do not look forward to many more years of hardship.
My aim is to look after myself for as long as I can, to help others in whatever way I can, and to have a lot of laughs in the process. Laughter is the best medicine I know.
So my friends, let us go into the new year with all the energy and enthusiasm we can muster, with good cheer and laughter and kindness. Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be. (Uh huh, and if you believe that . . . . . )
Bruce Galway forwards the URL for a video of men with banjos who know how to play them:
Bruce also sent this link to British satire at its best:
Catherine Nesbitt writes: Here´s a case of ´go home and rethink this...´ of thwarted efforts to film polar bears over a period of time:
Geoff Goodship recommends listening to/watching this every morning before breakfast. Your cereal will taste wonderful and the rest of your day will be involve skipping and hopping.
Gerrit deLeeuw forwards the link to a video starring grizzlies, eagles, humpback whales, and the legendary spirit bear. In 2010, Vancouver filmmaker Damien Gillis joined two separate week-long journeys by boat through BC´s Great Bear Rainforest. This magical place is threatened by Enbridge´s proposal to bring an oil pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands and supertankers to BC´s North and Central coast. Gillis was filming for his recently released short documentary, "Oil in Eden."
Brene Brown studies human connection - our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity: