We’ve been traveling since late November starting in Nairobi, Kenya, on to the fabled nature preserve of Masa Mara in Western Kenya, on to Tanzania – the Serengeti Nature preserve, Selu River, and to Zanzibar in December.  At Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Mozambique visiting one of our dear friends who is the new Peace Corps director. On New Year’s Eve a bunch of people came together for music and drumming, with a huge fireworks explosion over Maputo harbor. Then on to the next two months through Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa, more amazing, beautiful, and complex culture than we could had imagined. Our journey thus far of some 10,000 kilometers, that has lead us here to Cape Town, then on to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana for a week at Victoria Falls. Turkish Airlines had a super cheap deal we could not refuse, the chance to spend 48 hours in Istanbul on our way back to New York. It has been a life-long dream to visit, understand, explore, and be awed by the sights we have seen on the journey so far. The cost?  What is the price and value of living one of your life time dreams?

            In our four month stroll through Africa we’ve been astonished and surprised at every turn. In particular, it is the joy and fun of meeting people from all walks of life from former prisoners of Robben Island in Cape Town, our hosts along the way, the house party where I performed in Johannesburg and met a fabulous fun group of people, the bright and courageous activists in Soweto who are creating art schools for underprivileged kids, and other activists leading cultural tours in the impoverished townships.  Musicians of all kind surprised us at every turn. Yesterday, we went along the southern coast near Cape Town and a lovely duo Fusa and Zoe were unexpectedly playing.  I gave a concert of classical guitar/ flamenco in Eastern South Africa in Blythe Canyon for people who had never heard this kind of music. This is the pure joy of traveling, allowing the spontaneous surprise to emerge. 

        

Children of South Afrca

    The most unforgettable moments are watching children going to school, some with their mom, dad, or their older sibling holding their hands.  Many of the children came from the impoverished Townships and yet despite the lack of water and basic services the uniforms were spotless. This is the enduring dignity of people that we have met – the poorest people with their hope and vision for a better life for their children.

            Oh, did I forget to tell you about the wildlife? Our original impetus had been to see the great wildlife migration of Wildebeest, Gazelles, and animals. The kind you see on the National Geographic Channel, but the opportunity to see the great five – rhinos, African buffalo, elephants, lions, and cheetahs…  there is a spell binding enchantment as we roamed through the great animal preserves of Masa Mara and the Serengeti.  Though we have been to zoos around the world, nothing compares to seeing these beautiful animals in the wild… all manner of gazelles, zebras of all stripes (sorry, couldn’t help myself), antelopes, giraffes, and that is only the tip of the astonishing variety of creatures.  It is a veritable Garden of Eden. This was never so much true as seeing Ngorongoro crater, the most pristine valley in Tanzania, and the largest volcanic crater in the world. At sunrise, watching the light over this verdant pristine land gave me the feeling of how the gods first imagined and created the world.  All the creature from flamingos, to wildebeest, lions, antelopes, the rare black rhinos, and birds of all kind who swooped above us. We were truly in the Garden of Eden.

            Too often, in the West, our view of Africa is of incredible poverty, vast slums, and misfortune galore, while that is true to an extent and important to consider in our travels, more vital is the amazing diversity and beauty we found in our journeys.

 We have been energized to meet, advise, and help people with their local community projects. In particular, young activists who have a ton of dreams and need a wee bit of organizational planning. But the brightest stars on our journey have been all the school children in their uniforms all with their backpacks bursting with possibilities.

            For us as senior travels, in our mid-sixties, we have our share of aches and pain, but we are vibrantly healthy in our passion and curiosity. We still walk between five to fifteen kilometers a day and we are travel junkies. Though we have visited about 100 countries and counting, we are even more animated and curious about the world. Simply, we could not imagine a life where we did not travel.  Our budget is modest, out lodgings simple, and

            If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the vast beautiful areas of the Serengeti, the Masa Mara, the bewitching beauty of South Africa’s Wild Coast, the dreamy enchantment of Zanzibar, moonlight over Maputo harbor, to para-glide off the top of Table Mountain and dance hundreds of meter high in the wind, and to know that you have only tasted a tiny bit of this extraordinary enchantment of the world. In the weeks to come we will journey on to Victoria Falls, more of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and finally winging home via Istanbul.

           Come and visit this extraordinary beautiful land and discover this enchanted corner of the globe yourself.