Gone Walkabout...

This blog was going to be about my travels and impressions I had from them. But my attention span went walkabout. And like with any good walkabout I discovered unexpected things. I invite you to come explore with me...

You can contact me at teri-gonewalkabout@live.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bon Voyage!

Every year we take a trip. Some years we go overseas and some years are touring thru the US. The common factor is that I plan each one and then implement those plans on the journey. And although it’s a lot of fun, it’s also a tremendous amount of work.

So this last fall when we start batting around ideas for our ’08 trip, I stated I did NOT want to do some big excursion. I wanted a vacation where I could relax…maybe a resort or something like that. Just something that once I got it planned out, on the actual vacation I didn’t have to oversee a thousand details.

The trip we came up with was a cruise. Now we had to decide “where”.

An Alaskan cruise was nixed by Himself since he does that twice a year. (One of these days I’ll do it!) Caribbean was kinda ‘ho-hum’ to both of us. It’s so overdone now and we aren’t partiers. I didn’t feel like going overseas for a Mediterranean cruise. So we started leaning towards a Hawaiian cruise. A friend went on one with his wife last June and loved it.

But while researching the different cruise lines, I saw itineraries for cruises thru the Panama Canal. Wow! I trotted that pony past Himself, and he was just as excited as I was.

Out with Hawaii and in with the Panama Canal.

More research…

I found out that the Canal season is September thru April. After that, the lines bring their ships to the Caribbean for the summer party season. Since Himself works Jan – April and June – mid Sept, that narrowed down the ‘when’ pretty quickly.

We ended up going with Princess Lines (#2 choice was Holland America). Reason for Princess is that it offered everything we wanted at a better price. It’s not as glitzy as Holland America, but I really don’t care about a golden lobby.
We have a balcony suite on the right side of the ship (so we can watch land as we sail from the Canal to CA). The ports of call are Aruba, Columbia, thru the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Huatulco Mexico. We get on in Ft Lauderdale and off in Los Angeles.

I can’t pick our excursions until July! --Sigh-- But looking at what they have offered this last season, I know what I’m aiming for. Aruba – snorkeling off a wooden sailing boat, Columbia – Panoramic Cartagena, Folkloric Show, the Canal is a thru cruise with no excursions, Costa Rica – a jungle canopy tour, Nicaragua - Colonial Granada, Masaya Volcano & Craft Market, Guatemala - Lake Atitlan & the Mayan Highlands, Mexico - Rural Communities & Traditions.

In Ft Lauderdale we want to go on an Everglades airboat tour, a cruise along the Ft Lauderdale shore and dinner at the Mai Kai dinner show. In LA, we’ll probably go with Gray Line and do a Hollywood tour and rent a car for a run down to San Diego.

And there are things to do while you’re sailing too. Of course the first thing everyone thinks of is eating. Yes, there’s plenty of food. With Princess you can pick either seated dining (where you have the same time and table every meal) or open dining (such as a restaurant). We are doing open dining since we don’t want to be tied to a schedule or set of people. Seated and Open dining have the same menu, just a different atmosphere. There are 3 formal nights, which will be fun! (Can’t wait to go shopping for that!) But there are also classes offered – such as pottery, cooking, photography and so on. There’s the spa – I’m going to get my first full massage and facial!!

And the best part is once I get off that plane in Florida, I am The Queen. Everything will be set up and all I have to do is enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


With all the troubles going on in Kenya, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust isn’t getting any visitors. And it’s by the donations of visitors that they feed those baby elephants.

I was getting ready to make a donation when I thought, “Why not just sponsor another baby since Zurura has gone off to 'Middle School' in Ithumba?” As far as the cash goes, it’s the same difference…all the donations go to running the trust. So why not?

So --- drum roll please –-- I’d like to introduce you to Sinya.

Report from the Sheldrick Center:
On the 14th September at 8.00 am an elephant calf of approximately eight months old was discovered by Maasai boys trapped in a well dug for their livestock on the Kenyan border with Tanzania in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The location was not far from Amboseli National Park and close to the Sinya mines where Meerschaum is mined. There were no longer any elephants in the area, her family obviously having abandoned her having tried desperately to rescue her no doubt, but mindful too of the fact that the herd was vulnerable in an area frequented by humans. The well was not particularly deep yet the steep solid sides, with little space for maneuvering, made any hope of her getting out on her own impossible. Her head was propped against the rough side of the hole and her trunk had been chewed by Hyenas overnight or possibly in the early hours of the morning as she lay trapped yet exposed. One of the three Maasai boys who discovered her walked to the Kenyan Wildlife Service Kitirua Gate in order to send a message to the Headquarters of Amboseli National Park, while the other kids remained at the well site with the calf and their livestock. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants team received the message late morning and immediately went to the scene arriving there by midday. Due to how narrow the hole was and how steep the sides were they had difficulty in extracting the calf themselves, and had to wait for the Kenyan Wildlife Service to arrive with more hands to help.

In the meantime both Cynthia Moss, and The Kenyan Wildlife Service had alerted The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust about the plight of this poor unfortunate calf and we began with the usual preparations for a rescue. Due to the time restrictions and the fact that the rescue plane would have to take off from the Amboseli National Park airstrip no later than 6.15pm, it fast became evident that given the distances involved in this rescue coupled with the difficulty the rescue team was having in extracting her, time was running out. We made the decision to fly the Keepers to Amboseli to be dropped off in order for them to overnight with Sinya, as she was named, to give her the all important antibiotic injection, and both the milk and rehydration she would need overnight. On arrival at Amboseli our three Keepers were met by Cynthia and immediately set off for the site in order to lend a hand with the rescue proceedings. The time now was 17.30pm. In the meantime, the Kenyan Wildlife Service team had arrived and together they had managed to pull the calf out. She had scrapes on her body where she had struggled against the walls of the well, but the more serious injuries were on her trunk caused by Hyeanas. The team of Keepers and Cynthia met up with the KWS rangers at Kitirua Gate where the keepers were able take over and make the calf more comfortable. They then drove to the Amboseli main airstrip and the Keepers and calf were housed in a building under reconstruction at the airstrip so that they could be on hand for the rescue plane due in early the following morning. There were no windows or doors which clearly was going to prove challenging throughout the night for the Keepers, but thankfully Sinya was feeding well and immediately bonded with the Keepers desperate for more fluids and happy to have a finger to suck. Having been fed supper and armed with a powerful torch and hurricane lamp the three men and the calf endured a long and sometimes harrowing night. The Keepers with a calf that screamed out in anguish and hunger from time to time were mindful of how vulnerable they were from not only predators but wild elephants coming to investigate the cries. They barricaded the large entrance with a small table and a drum of diesel in an effort to keep the African night at bay but were painfully aware of what an unsatisfactory barricade it actually was. The haunting cry of Hyena echoed through the building shell, coupled with a whistling wind which picked up overnight, but fortunately for them, although they did not sleep a wink, Sinya had no intention of running off into the night, all too aware of what a threat the Hyenas could be to her and more than happy to take comfort at the side of the Keepers.

As the dawn broke over Amboseli and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Cynthia Moss and the rest of the Amboseli Elephant research team returned to the airstrip to see how everybody had fared overnight. There she found three tired men having had no sleep at all, but Sinya sound asleep. Before the rescue plane arrived the Keepers took their young charge for a walk down the airstrip and she followed them willingly, ravenous for more milk. It was not long before the plane arrived with Robert, another Keeper, armed with freshly mixed milk, and some breakfast for Stephen, Amos and Josophat, who by this stage were exhausted. Sinya was loaded into the aircraft with the help of KWS personnel and the Amboseli Elephant Research Unit and flown directly to Wilson Airport in Nairobi and once there then had to endure another short journey in the back of the pick up to The David Sheldrick Wildlifes Nairobi Nursery situated in Nairobi National Park.

On arrival at the Nursery it was evident that she had suffered not only the obvious wounds from the Hyena mauling she had endured while trapped helpless in the well, but also massive bruising and chaffing on her legs, chin and back from struggling for so long and hard in an effort to free herself. She was by now exhausted, clad in a warm blanket, she rested her head close to Amos and slept soundly until the next feed time. Her wounds were treated and a broad spectrum antibiotic administered again.

She was originally placed in the stable next to Shimba, but the following day when she met up with the three little orphans already resident at the nursery, Lempaute, Shimba and Lesanju, she became instantly hooked on Lesanju. (We had removed the stable partitions the previous day to accommodate Lempaute and Lesanju in one large stable as they had been moved from their original stable to accommodate the newcomer) Mellow Shimba didnt seem bothered either way, and Lempaute was clearly jealous as Lesanju became fixated by the newcomer. She is such a responsible little elephant Lesanju, and she shares a special bond too with Sinya, as both suffered the same fate, albeit hundreds of miles apart and from two different elephant populations in Kenya, but both fell down man made wells, and both were rescued by caring Maasai and Samburu tribesmen respectively. Sinyas first full day in the nursery began with her being placed in the big stable together with all the little orphans as it was a rainy cold morning. This provided a perfect place for them all the get to know each other, and for us to get to know her. Although mischievous little Lempaute was more interested in playing with whoever would oblige, and occasionally shoved Sinya when she thought nobody was looking. Soon the rain subsided and the rest of the day was spent outside, the little group of babies staying together for the day.

That night Sinya refused to stay in the stable next door to Shimba and was incredibly restless even becoming aggressive towards the Keepers for the first time. At first we thought it may be because of the pain from her recently dressed wounds, but it soon became evident that it was Lesanju she was after. Eventually Sinya was moved into the big stable and once she found herself back with the other two little girls, Lesanju and Lempaute, she instantly calmed down and fell asleep close to them peacefully, three elephant lumps in the hay, and three Keepers. This left Shimba alone with his Keeper with no next door neighbor but he appeared to be completely oblivious to this development, and probably was relieved to have a more peaceful night as a result. With the company of the other elephants close by Sinya each day and night her physiological wounds will heal, it will of course take time, but thanks to those that rescued her and with the love of her dedicated Keepers and the other orphans in the Nursery the memories of her terrible ordeal will fade and she has another chance of life.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


The images of Kenya in the news hurt.

Places that we visited 14 months ago are shrouded in smoke. Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret. This is insane. Two men who say they want the best for Kenya instead by their actions are tearing it apart. Kibaki, by all appearances, has cooked the election. Odinga is urging rioting. No longer Kenyans, now tribal Kikuyu and Luo. The common man has so little, those in the slums has even less. Yet they destroy what little they do have. Insanity.

I have 5 sponsor kids in Kenya. Two are Maasai and live far in the bush, they should be alright.

But 3 live in the slums of Nairobi, tho thank God not Kibera. Two are in Soweto. The headmaster of their school reports, “the last three days I have been spending in school with Holly house children. We are all terrified of what is going to happen at last. As write this email there are gun shots everywhere as the police fight to contain the protesters. Please Pray for us that we go back to our normal lives very soon.” And in the Dandora slum is Tyson, sponsored by friend JoAnna, but we visited him when we were there in ’06. I count him as one of “mine” too. Tyson is Luo. He is an orphan who lives with his older brother and family. I pray the brother doesn’t do something stupid.

The kids are supposed to be starting back to school on Monday. Starting their new year of classes. Will classes start on time? Will the school even be there? Will they be alive to go?

Damn it. It’s not supposed to be this way.

UPDATE: School start was postponed for a week, to 14 Jan.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, New Adventures

A new calendar is hung…2008. This will be my 30th calendar that I have filled in and will keep. Oh yeah… I have every calendar I’ve used all the way back to my little freebie Hallmark one of 1978 marking the days of my high school life. It’s fun sometime to look back over them. AND they’ve come in very handy in winning a few arguments too!

The last 3 calendars have been ones I’ve made at Walgreens.com using my photos from our trips. Brings back great memories with each month’s page. Another thing I like about these calendars is that you can preprint birthdays and other dates onto the pages (and if you did that the year before, you can transfer the data with one click).

I’ve already been writing in new events for a couple months. Photo shows…new sponsor kids birthdays…meetings…trip dates. It doesn’t take long for our calendar to start filling up! However, this year I am working on cutting back my obligations, mainly by not adding more in to the spaces that have opened up. So front seat this year will be church mission activities, my photography activities and my scrapbook book club.

And trips! I’m always planning my next trip and this year is shaping up to be exciting. Stay tuned for further details!