While the big game such as elephants, lions, and hippos, get the attention on an African safari, the birds deserve top billing as well.
The birds are amazing. From large, dramatic species like crowned cranes and hamerkops, to the small colorful sunbirds, there is an amazing richness to encounter in the African wilds.
There is only so many times you can take a photo of a lion or hippo. Between those big game encounters there are half a dozen birds to be viewed and photographed. From the delicate pin-tailed whydah to a wheeling flock of white-backed vultures, check out the birds.Continue reading “Even the Starlings are Pretty”
Imagine a bird…. A rather large bird…. That at once is both majestic and something that might populate a horror movie.
Look up just about any online list of the world’s ugliest birds and you will find the Marabou Stork listed. Deservedly so. This bird can be described as a very large, rather ill-tempered cross betwixt a stork, a vulture, and a burn victim.
The marabou stands about four feet tall and can have up to a three meter wingspan, though about two meters may be more typical. Large enough to intimidate nearly any other creature they may encounter, including people.Continue reading “Marabou”
Despite numerous international trips… Europe, Central America, living in England for several years, or living on an island in the middle of the Pacific… I had never crossed the equator.
Unlike so many I would not cross the equator in an aircraft or ship… I would cross it by car. The Kampala Masaka road crosses the equator at a small town named Kayabwe.
The zero line does not pass by unremarked. Local businesses have turned zero latitude into a tourist stop with large concrete zeroes either side of the road. Gift shops and a cafe greet travelers looking for an excuse to pause during the four hour journey from Kampala to Masaka.Continue reading “To Cross the Equator”
First stop in the Entebbe airport was a moneychanger, where I bought a couple hundred dollars worth of local currency. Here you encounter another vestige of British culture, the Ugandan schilling, abbreviated UGX, the official monetary unit in Uganda.
The coins and bills are quite pretty, featuring local wildlife and cultural icons. I do like the 1000 schilling note featuring the Ugandan Kob.
As the value of one shilling is fairly low after historical periods of inflation, there are no partial denominations such as cents or pence, the common coins are 100, 200, and 500 schillings. The most common bills are 1000, 2000, 10000 and 50000 schillings.Continue reading “Money in Uganda”
This old Land Cruiser had it’s issues… You had to jiggle the gearshift to get the vehicle into reverse. If you rolled the driver’s window up all the way it would roll itself right back down again. The key would only work one side up in the lock despite it looking exactly the same on both sides. It rattled and clattered alarmingly on rough roads. And I loved it.
That old Toyota Land Cruiser was just the right vehicle for the job.
Through the mud and ruts, up the side of a mountain, through thunderstorms and washed out roads, across an entire country… This green beast got me there. With this vehicle I enjoyed experiences that will become memories treasured for a lifetime.Continue reading “The Right Vehicle for the Job”
Travel allows one to see so much, experiences that allow an observant traveler to see a wider world. Different foods, different views of life, different ways of doing things. While much of this is subtle, the small experiences, some observations are dramatically different and memorable… At the school we were visiting an age old art was being practiced… Digging a well by hand deep into the earth to reach the water below.
A simple wooden frame sits over the well, a hand cranked winch wound with just enough 5/8″ jute rope to reach the bottom. No bearings at the ends, the winch shaft just heavily greased where it passes through the wooden frame. Simple tubes over the handles allow the cranks to be easily spun by hand as the loads of soil are lifted from the earth below.
The well is being dug by a crew of four to five young men. One fellow deep in the shaft, a couple winching the loads up and down, and at times another preparing the materials… Loading bricks into buckets, mixing mortar, or resting in the shade.Continue reading “Digging a Well By Hand”