As promised, my #10 highlight of the trip, it's a personal one, but again, that's how I'd like to have my adventures, making them personal so that I have special memories of each place I visit. There's nothing like traveling and seeing a new place with a girlfriend is there? Especially when you are sitting for more than 24 hours on air, we had to kill time somehow...From enjoying inflight wine at 38,000 feet high (students, close your ears!!) and timing our girly movies on our screens, to being scared by an ovesized porcupine-these stories definitely make a huge part of the trip fun! So back to the porcupine story, here's what went down:
--Rachel and Suwanee at Bush Camp-Krueger National Park--
The briefing about wild animals roaming around the camp goes something like this:
The number one rule of the bush-DO NOT RUN! (If a wild animal is coming your way!)
Don't crouch down either, check your sleeping bags for scorpions, and shake off your shoes before putting them on. Always stay in a group, do not walk alone. If a porcupine is nibbling at your shoes, don't panic and don't run. What?!!
Rachel to Ranger: So what's the protocol if a porcupine is nibbling at your feet?
Ranger: Oh, you don't have to worry.
Rachel & Suwanee: Hmmmmmm.....(glanced at each other with scrunched eye brows)
Rachel to Suwanee: Was that a legit question??
Suwanee: Yah, of course!
As the night got darker, the drumming lesson was soon to start. Then I realized I had forgotten my flash in our cabin. Still on edge from the brief, I asked if Rachel would be my walking buddy to our cabin, a few feet away. So with a itty, bitty, tiny flash light, we walked together. All of a sudden I swung around because of a rustling sound in the bush, gripping Rachel with a death grip...
Suwanee: What's that?!
Suwanee: OMG, I think there's someone or something behind that bush!
Rachel-Gripping Suwanee with a death grip-immediately swung the flash light directly into the bush.
Suwanee & Rachel:gasping....
Gripping each other with death grips.
Suwanee whispers: Don't run.
Rachel whispers: Get down
Flash light still shining straight towards the creature, we could harldly believe our eyes.
At a minimum of 40 lbs, the porcupine busily nibbled at crumbs in the bushes just a few feet away from us.
I'm not kidding, the thing was almost as big as my camera bag!
What did we do??
We crouched down really low and stayed quiet until the creature moved further and further away from us. As soon as we thought he was far away enough, we bolted for our door and slammed it shut!
After regaining our composure and the grabbed the flash we quickly made our way back to the camp fire with everyone else.
Rachel to Ranger: So you never answered my question about what to do if a porcupine nibbles at your shoes, it almost happened to us! It was a legit question then!
Ranger, with a knowing smirk: How big was it and I hope you didn't crouch down?!
Thank the Lord the porcupine was too occupied with the crumbs to notice two scared Americans crouching to the ground...
That's all for South Africa for now, I hope someday to return!
---SuwaneeRachel with Baby Cheetah resting at her feet.One of my personal favorite of Rachel and a little boy interacting.I know it's blurry, but it's the only image I wanted of me with a baby cheetah, so I handed the camera to the nearest person while he was resting on my lap...(O:"Buy-a-Donkey" =Thank you very much!!
There are thousands of images I took and obviously I can not share all of them. So I will simplify them down by selecting only my favorite highlights from my perspective as a photographer for the group. And here you have it:
# 1. Bush Camp at Krueger National Park: Face to face with a wild lion during our morning walk. The experience here was THE FIRST TIME EVER in my three years of photography have I ever been really, truely scared. An important rule at the bush is to never wander from your group or you could be targeted as prey by the wild animals. Well....as a photographer, I have to remove myself from the situation to capture the story, so that's kind of a big problem...great, just great.... So here I was, with our videographer Jimbo, pulled from the group and guarded by an armed ranger to get our shots. Heart racing, eyes locked on the wild creature, one hand gripping Jimbo's arm, and one hand pressed down on my shutter---shooting from the hip---The beast looked at me, at my other camera dangling, I whispered to the lion...we are a big group, Jimbo and I, though there's only 2 of us, we are a very, very big group and we are NOT your breakfast....Seriously, it was such a rush....just crazy......
#2. Early morning walks with 2 (less wild) lion cubs that were raised by a yellow lab. Now, these guys were a piece of cake after the previous day's experience.But notice though, the ranger's hand still holding the armed gun? They were extremely mischievious. Check out these two brothers stealing a student's backpack. They had a fun morning being chased by rangers to get it back. It was an unexpected comedic relief for all of us for sure.
#3. We saw many wild animals including the BIG FIVE of South Africa- leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and the rhino- which was extremely elusive and fast.The release of a leopard into the wild was a pretty cool event we got to witness too.
#4. Being just a breath away from a lion's face with only my lens in between us:My favorite animal of all the animals we saw, the Cheetahs---Magnificent!!
#5. And of couse, petting the 3 cheetah cubs: Notice the cub sitting comfortably on my left foot. And the gentle mother--# 6. The Apartheid musuem was intense---wish I had more time to read and absorb.The photographs, the stories, the history...wow, wow, wow....
#7. Visiting an orphanage in an area affected by HIV & playing with the beautiful children:#8: Shark Cage Diving: Aa umm....a little embarrassing story here: There was a cold front coming into Cape Town and it was cold, windy, and rainy the entire time we were there. The waves were high and less than one hour into the boat ride to go dive, half our crew, and myself included, was sea sick...And of course, I was one of the worse ones, so after the first dive, I was out of touch with anything around me for the next 3 or so hours on the boat. Those of you who have been sea sick know what I mean when I say I wanted to just die right then and there....embarrassing....BUT, if given the chance again, I would do it again in a heart beat!! Those sharks were just phenomenal! # 9: Meeting incredible new friends from all over the US. (O: I really like this picture, just because. A ranger had an accident while out in the bush.
And my #10, the best one will be shared tomorrow, so please come back. (O:
Let me know your thoughts with your comments below, would love to hear from ya!
PS!!! Check out Jim's amazing video of the trip HERE & HERE
Did you really think I forget?? Forget to share, forget to blog, forget to tell stories and highlights of the trip?? Did you really? Well, just to prove you wrong, here's one sneak peak of what's to come, be ready for some crazy photos and stories!