Black and White – ANIMALS

What I like most about the African landscapes are the colors: the reds, blues and greens laying next to each other in different shades and strengths like the pencils in a pencil box. I can however imagine that an elephant or a zebra make for a gorgeous black and white picture.

Allow me to tackle this challenge with pictures that are not mine. I know, it is a bit of a cop out but these pictures are so good I have to share. All credit goes to Julien Polet, my fellow Belgian that lost his heart to the African bush.

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Axelle’s disco

Little girls do grow up so when I asked my little chipmunk what she wanted for her 11th birthday, she said : “a disco party!”

The good thing about that is, that you can do it somewhere else (go to ‘El Patio’, and have clean house to return to!), let someone else do the food and drinks (clean kitchen!) and have fun yourself.. I asked some parents to stay after dropping off their minors and with a party scheduled to last only until 10pm, most of them did.

The preparations:

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The party:

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The chocolate fountain (huge success!)

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The cake (Dahlila worked wonders!)

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Black and white challenge – PEOPLE

I think pictures of people are always the nicest. In Africa, however it is not always easy to take a picture of a person, they are very suspicious about tourists asking them to pose. And if you don’t ask, they definitely get annoyed. After I once made a woman with a heavy load on her head jump into a muddy ditch to avoid my clicking camera, I became more careful, or is it caring?

I like taking pictures of children most. They still have that unprejudiced, open-minded smile. Well.. some do. Sometimes I come across an old man who has just as many lines in his face as he will have in his life story but then I usually don’t dare ask. Respect your elders is maxim number 1 in this country so I say “shikamo” and leave them be.

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This boy I met in an orphanage. He smiled shyly and looked away because he had just asked me whether I came to take him to my house so he could live there. Good thing he looked away because he would have seen through my eyes the crack he made in my heart with saying that – and especially with me having to say no.

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When my girls and I went for a walk with the dog on a Sunday, we came across these kids. (They only relaxed when we locked the dog in the car)

I love it when kids make their own toys. They probably cherish them for years. A sharp contrast to my girls and their request to upgrade their Ipod.

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These Maasai boys are being prepared for their rite of passage into adulthood. The main event will be the circumcision but there is a lot more involved.

For years, I have seen new groups of this age in the bush, or driven past them and promised myself that one day I will stop and make a picture. (And they did make me pay) Unfortunately, my girls were not with me, that would have made an interesting shot I would think :-) An actual black and white challenge.

Midterm break – Ngorongoro Crater

Since everyone in the world has – or should have – Ngorongoro Crater on their bucket list, I decided to tick some boxes on my daughter’s lists. Crater being one, spotting a Rhino being number 2. The last time I went to the crater, it was peak season and then it gets a bit touristy so I would enjoy this with them, in the low season. We got company from good friends so we had the ideal scenario for a weekend away.. And we had a goal: see a rhino up close!

The Ngorongoro Lemala camp from Sanctuary retreats is without a single doubt one of my favorite places in the world. Safari at its best in a unique location.

We ended up seeing really good game, lions eating a zebra, mama lions playing with cubs, lots of birds, a male ostrich trying hard to seduce a female (and failing badly), lots of babies, hippos  .. and a kill when we least expected it! Only the rhinos turned out to be shy and lazy buggers so we saw 2 but it was from a distance and they hardly moved.. Not sure if I want to remove it from the list yet :-)

Lemala Camp

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The crater

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Midterm break – Pangani

As it so happens, my girls are gone when I am busiest at work. So although I miss them terribly every time, I bury myself in overtime and when they come back everyone is happy. Win-win.

So when they have a week off from school, I also take a week off and we have fun together!

I have been to Pangani with them about 5 times in the last 10 years I think, but it is always fun. You can drive there, the Indian ocean is always warm, the lodges are very good price-quality, the weather great… This time the 4 of us went with good friends and even though we all wished we had more time, it did us the world of good.

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We also visited Saadani National Park, the only place where you can combine bush and beach, and see an elephant on the beach. We were not that lucky in the half day we were there, but we saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs so it was a real safari. And the same day we went back to laying by the pool and walking on the beach.. Excellent combination.

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So I guess it is no surprise we are regulars at Pangani and I am sure we will go back again..

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2014

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2013

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The weekend in images

From all the choices a stepfather can make and all the things he can do with his kids, I must admit he has different choices than I think I would have. But thank god for that.

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A while back it was poker lessons. So when he wanted to take them motorbiking, they were eager enough.

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Turned out they loved it and are asking to do it again every day..

But we did other stuff.. Sunday we took the dog for a walk. The only tiny hitch in my -otherwise of course perfect – plan was the fact that we had to get the 50kg dog to the polo club.

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So far so good.. We walked from polo club to golf club.

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But then the beast got a bit too comfortable in the car.

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So this morning when we wanted to go to school, Stella just got in the car together with the girls on the backseat as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

Lucas

Lucas Mollel is a Maasai. That means that as a young boy, he helped herding the goats. One year, the lack of rain did not only cause a drought, it also changed Lucas. It made him promise that he would not just sit around and wait for the gods to give them rain, he was going to go out and do something else. Something that would make money so he could help his family. And that is exactly what Lucas still says to this day, in his adult life, when you ask him why he left the Maasai village to get a job: “I could not just sit around and wait for rain”.

So Lucas got a job in a nearby lodge in the Southern part of the Serengeti. He started small, did whatever he could, he had no experience with tourism or hospitality, spoke only Maasai. But he learned. He grew. When the company I work for, took over the lodge, Lucas was the driver of the tractor and he was part of the deal, part of the stock and furniture so to speak. What a bargain that was.

Lucas aspired for more and so for 3 years he saved his salary and his part of the tips to go back to school. When he studied, he still kept working, and the manager at the time, did pop quizes with him during work on what he was studying.

Lucas studied wildlife and tourism and he became a driver guide. A good one. And that is what he does today. Much to the enjoyment of our guests, and himself, with a perpetual smile. People love him. One of the guests liked him so much, she bought him a camera. And not just any camera, a state of the art, fancy thing with a big zoomlens.

So every time when Lucas comes back from safari, I ask if I can download his pictures. At first out of curiosity. Not to my surprise some were not sharp, some clumsily framed, he is still getting the hang of it but he is a quick learner. But some are natural gems. Just like Lucas himself.

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