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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PEARL'S ASHES: #12--African Safari

Incredibly, and eerie, but when I awoke this morning, I opened my eyes and saw the following rainbow.  Kuakini Hospital is at the end of the rainbow, and Pearl passed away exactly at the middle of the intersection of the rainbow with the hospital.

But going on to Pearl's Ashes, for reasons that elude my judgement, African Safari tents are at the top of the world's best places to stay.  I stayed at several, and they were okay, but hardly great.  On the other hand, TripAdvisor has the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at #1, which generally agrees with me.  However, Hawaii does not have the thrills of wild animals, insects and assorted stresses when you attempted to walk back to your room.  There were times when staff had to escort us, with guns, back to our tents.  That said, two Fairmont Safari Club properties, Mount Kenya and Mara, were outstanding.  At the former, the Masai honored me over a red carpet as I crossed the equator.  I am in the south, and the north is to the right:

The FMKSC was founded by actor William Holden, with Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby also somewhat associated.  The Mara (welcome to left) was named by Travel and Leisure to be the third best hotel in the whole world.  The Mount Kenya was "only" #74, which is not bad, considering that there must be a million  hotels.   For the record:

#1  Oberoi Vanyavilas (Ranthambhore, India)

#2  Triple Creek Ranch (Darby, Montana)

Never heard of them?  Who's been to Ranthambhore or Darby?  I guessT&L types must like oddball strange places.

When not luxuriating at these epicurean African water holes, we saw enough lions, elephants wildebeests, zebras and giraffes for a couple of lifetimes.  Interestingly enough, I saw two sunbursts:

And Pearl's favorite flower was the sunburst:

The past twenty-four hours were, actually, the most exciting on my trip thus far.  First, yesterday we snuck up on three white rhinoceroses.  Of course, white and black rhinos are all the same brown color, which looks like the dirt roadway, but I was assured that the soil was not why they were so colored.  It is possible that evolution camouflaged them.  If the nervous male charged us, some would not have made it, as our Land Cruisers were a hundred hards away, and there were no trees to climb.

Today, 3November10, we were awakened at 4:30AM for a hot air balloon ride.  My knowledge of these contraptions is to hop into a small basket, not unlike in Around the world in 80 Days.  Not so! Our rectangular basket with four compartments (each capable of holding up to three) began horizontal, we had to crawl in and hang on for the balloon to inflate, springing us vertical, then, with a discombobulative whoosing sound (the butane burner is deafening) and concern, we suddenly are off the ground exactly at sunrise.  Up went up, but not fast enough, as our basket crashed into the top of a tree, but we did barely clear the area.  For future tourists, I hope this was a a rare occurrence.   After that near fiasco, if you blocked out the sporadic burner noise, the ride was serene and spectacular.

There were so many wildebeest that it was impossible to count. We saw several carcasses representing kills during the night.  Our group was split into two balloons, with the other one behind us (left).

After a half an hour ride, we landed and had a feast.  Pearl always wanted to go on a safari, and I never did.  So, for her, I was looking for the exact right animal and moment to drop her ashes.  The next photo could have been it:

Notice how the male lion seems always to be resting.  Now I know why.  Only one lion is king over the entire pride, and he sometimes copulates more than 50 time/day.  When he is challenged, the winner bites of the genitals.  What a life!  While I did photograph lions doing "it" and battling, I never found that ideal scene, so I finally went through the ceremonies during sunset at Masai Mara on my last night of the safari:


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