Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel Photo Thursday: Sept 1st

Welcome to another Travel Photo Thursday. Here's a crazy photo I snapped in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.
We have travelled to Vietnam twice now, and always remember the country as colorful, vibrant, bursting with frenetic energy, and a very welcoming people.
But on those hot humid days it pays to take a nap in the heat of the day. Or is this a photo of the cheapest air-conditioned hotel in Saigon?



Join in over at budgettravelerssandbox.com.  Nancie and the rest of the Travel Photo Thursday addicts will be posting up interesting photos from around the world. Check them out! Always a great load of pictures to inspire you.




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Monday, August 29, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Runrig - AN DEALACHADH

On Loan from Its Tiger Time

Share your favorite Video Every Tuesday. Be Creative, Have Fun.. The video can be about anything.Leave your link in my comments section so I can drop by and see your choice.

12 months ago Kay and I toured parts of Scotland. We spent a lovely time together on the Isle of Skye. While you enjoy a few photos of our time on the road to Skye, listen to a beautiful song from a very popular Scottish group, Runrig. I wish I'd bought more of their music!

Runrig - AN DEALACHADH ( The Parting.) and Isle of  Skye scenes.








A wee look at Skye!

Leave your link in my comments section so I can drop by and see your choice.

Each month, Josh from Its Tiger Time will highlight a selected video and present the winner with the ‘You Tube Tuesday’ Award.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magnificent Monday: Flower Power!

As beautiful as it looks, this is not a flower. This is the growing stem of Aeonium SchwarzKopf  which will eventually produce a large spike with hundreds of flowers.
Welcome to  Magnificent Monday and let's have a great week with Flower Power! 
A busy bumble bee on Aeonium blossom..
 Note the poleen sacs on rear legs.

Travellers, bloggers and photographers, let's see how our wee flower festival takes off. Post a link in the Mr Linky tool at the end of this article to your pics and stories on flowers: a single bloom or a field full of sunflowers; tulips from Amsterdam or a flower bedecked balcony in Ecuador; a tiny desert flower or a lush tropical paradise. Let's read what you can link in with!

During our winter months Aeonium are flowering in our garden, showing off symmetrical precisely arranged fleshy leaves, eventually growing into tall flower spikes, each with hundreds of small yellow flowers. In the short sunshine hours the bees are busy collecting nectar and pollen; one of the few flowering plants this month. Such a pleasure to see honey bees around as numbers have fallen since the Varoa mite established in New Zealand bee colonies a decade ago.

Aeonium are sub-tropical succulent plants of the Crassulaceae family. Native to the Canary Islands and some parts of Northern Africa, their colours and intricately precise geometry of leaf form make them very popular as houseplants, and for the natural or landscaped garden.
                                   

Aeonium Schwarzkopf flower heads.



Aeonium Schwarzkopf
planted with a Money Plant
Crassula ovata





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Friday, August 26, 2011

Our Ger Stay in Mongolia: A vanishing way of life?


This shaggy beast is a yak, often herded with cattle.
Their thick long-haired coats ideally suit them as snow-breakers! 
Dave and Deb from The Planet D are off on the
Mongol Rally, as you will have read here -
Mongol Rally , stirring our memories of our time in Mongolia in 2005. The throatsinging CDs are loaded up in my stereo system on random play, and this week wonderful Mongolian and Tuvan tunes are blasting out in my workshop, and I am wandering the vast, grassy steppes again. Even my dog howls along when those Tuvan boys from Huun Huur Tu open up. Not sure why my dog loves the tunes, but her ears go up, a gleam appears in her eyes, and then the howling starts as she sings along with them.
While you read this post and browse some  photos taken on our Mongolian ger stay in 2005, click on this video link and enjoy the richness of Mongolian throatsinging and Morin Khur or horse head fiddle.

.................................................................................................................................................................

 In 2005 Kay and I were homestayed with a Mongolian family while on an exchange with Friendship Force , an international organisation promoting friendship and goodwill through a program of home hosting, or exchanges. After catching the Trans-Mongolian Express from Beijing and travelling non-stop through Mongolia to Irkutsk at the bottom of Lake Baikal in the Russian Federation, we met up with the rest of our Friendship Force party and all 25 ambassadors re-entered Mongolia heading to Ulaan Baatar, the capitol city. A few days later our Mongolian hosts drove our party to Khar Khorin by rented bus, and 4WDs.
Roads are rough: we often saw broken down vehicles, usually with suspension problems. You'll note the sway on our bus in this photo. At that time there was just 80 KMs of sealed road in the entire country. A broken suspension but a quick-fix weld up and we were bouncing over the steppes again.

Inside a nomadic family's ger.
 After visiting the Buddhist temple of Erdeen zuu at Khar Khorin, our convoy drove along a scarcely defined track deep into a vast valley where a few ger tents of nomadic herders were. This was going to be the ger stay, but no pre-arrangements had been made; our drivers just drove up to a ger at random, the exchange leader hopped out and disappeared into a ger, re-appeared a few minutes later and delegated 2 of us to that ger. The convoy drove off into the darkness, seeking out more unsuspecting families to disgorge unexpected guests upon.



  Mongolians accept unhesitatingly an unexpected guest - a traveller's survival in their harsh desert or winter conditions depended on being able to find shelter and food at any ger they came upon. This customary courtesy was extended to Kay and I, who were left to our devices with a family who spoke no English. We of course had to communicate by sign and expressions, until a school age kid from a ger a few kilometres up the valley arrived. English is taught at school and luckily it was summer school recess: all the kids were home from boarding school in the city and later that night many piled into our ger. It was a fun night, and our early model Sony digital camera was a hit, being able to take photos and show the kids their smiling faces broke the ice and created bonds of friendship.

Making buuz,
steamed and fried dumplings stuffed with minced lamb.
 Our new hosts found their famished invaders a meal. Dried cheeses of various varieties and their famous tea. This is shaved off tea bricks - blocks of compressed low grade tea. Salt and milk are indispensable components of Mongolian tea and the milky drink can be surprisingly refreshing once you get the taste of it. Fermented mare's milk called airag is another staple drink. I loved its slightly acidic bite. And then we sampled distilled airag called araka, which was even better being very alcoholic almost like vodka! You need lots to finish off a plate of dried cheeses: some are really tasty but the very plain white one disproves the old saying .. "as different as chalk and cheese!"

Our ger family's nieces and nephews
from all the gers in the valley.
Sleep that night was in a very comfy bed. We were under instructions not to go outside during the night as the guard dogs would chew us up. But in the early morning the araka was prompting a call of nature. In pitch black I felt my way around the tent, found the door, and wandered out in the dim moonlight to the horse line, and let it flow. Just in time I saw the horse in the dark a few metres from me that took exception to me peeing on his grass within his circle of leash restraint! I managed to leap away before his  teeth crashed together barely missing my shoulder. Perhaps the dogs paid him to guard while they skived off duty?

A cute yak calf.
Hure`( pronounced Kuray), our tent's owner, slept the night in his parents adjacent tent. We shared with 3 of the children who overnighted with us. When we awoke all were off about their early morning chores. Large flocks of sheep and goats were released from the holding pens to graze, and cattle and yaks were being milked. 5 kinds of animals are milked - mares, yaks, cows, sheep and goats.Yaks are a valuable animal as they open up the deep snows to allow cattle, sheep and goats to find grazing during the long winters.
 Nomads move camp 3 times a year to new pastures, and will have a wintering over area where there may be some rudimentary shelter for their animals. Animal husbandry as we know it with purpose built barns and masses of harvested hay or silage is  not practiced; the animals are often left to fend for themselves to find grazing during winter. This sounds harsh but has resulted in breeding of very hardy strains of domestic animals ideally suited to their conditions.

Horses are very tough, withstanding the sub-zero freezing
snows of winter and the heat of summer, without shelter. 
 The nomadic herder way of life may come to an end with Government moves to allow private ownership of land to encourage them to settle in one place and become agriculturalists. With around 70% of the 3 million population living in UlaanBaatar and other main towns, producing enough food in the short growing season is a problem. Nomadic families rarely plough the ground, except perhaps for potatoes for distilling vodka. Leaf vegetables are considered animal fodder. Dine with a nomadic family and their diet is based on what their animals supply - plenty of meat, fat, lots of meat, and more fat, served with rice, and the occasional pickled gherkin, and of course the obligatory dried cheese.

 This may be a move fraught with unforeseen consequences. Much of the desertification of Inner Mongolia which is now part of China, is because the vast plains have had their grass top cover destroyed through resettlement programs and the associated agricultural 'improvements'. Once the grass cover has been broken open, the exceptionally strong cold seasonal wind worrys the exposed area, lifts out the soil and sandblasts the bare areas wider, lifting particles into the air and creating dust clouds that cover as far away as Beijing...where citizens wonder about climate change causing desertification, when the truth is man's inappropriate farming practices. I wonder if anyone there could be shown the Dust Bowl' era in the USA's Mid-western states of the 30's?
A Mongolian tourist camping ground.
The showers and toilets are communal blocks,
and there is a central restaurant.


How to erect a ger. Also referred to as a yurt.

 A way of life that has existed for 1,000's of years is under pressure to change, as Mongolia enters the modern world and urbanisation draws more children away from the nomadic life to jobs and careers in the city, mainly the capital. Fewer young are content to carry on the hard way of their parents. Coca-Cola and french fries are taking over from meat and dried cheese perhaps?

What hope that the Mongolian traditional nomadic way of life will continue?


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

This Moment: Friday 26th Aug.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Adopted from Soulemama. Drop in there and leave your link and comments also.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

So who is this cool rappin' dude?

Let's discover the story behind the photo - 

The young San Bushman boy above doing the rappa signs is Kanna. Kanna's family live and work on N/a'an Kuse', a wildlife sanctuary 45kms east of Namibia's capital Windhoek. Kanna is one of the last persons in southern Africa to contract Poliomyelitis, a viral disease that can affect nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis. Many people will remember the polio epidemics of the 1950-60's that swept though until the development of oral vaccines eliminated it from Western countries. Residual pockets still exist in 4 countries- Nigeria, Afghanistan, northern India and Pakistan. In the near future it may be totally wiped out as has been smallpox, a huge achievement for medicine. As a custom shoemaker, I have many clients needing my skills as paralysis also often affects the growth of the foot or limb.

In August 2009 my wife and I met our daughters, Emma currently living in UK, and Elissa from Wellington and volunteered at N/a'an Kuse' wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation centre. I noticed Kanna limping around so took measurements home, and duly sent across a pair of boots to enable him to dress in uniform and get off to school in Windhoek, just like all the other kids! Kanna's big smile is here- kannas-big-smile.html

On my last trip to Namibia I took over another pair as he's a fast growing lad now! Posted them in Swakopmund, beginning April. Then in early August I checked with N/a'an Kuse' ...no boots. Oh dear. Postal service in Namibia is shockingly inept.

How delighted I was to get an email this week from Lucy at N/a'an Kuse' to say they had arrived!
Yahooo! Kanna's boots fit!

But I think he needs a pair for rage dancing don't you reckon?

Young Kanna and the Clever Cubs kids Aug 2009.



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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travel Photo Thursday: Aug 25th.

A pic of the Spice Bazaar or also known as Egyptian Bazaar. This is an exciting place for the senses. Delve into the colours and heady smells of spices in the long narrow L shaped building in the  Eminönü district of Istanbul.



Istanbul has fascinated us on our 3 trips there, with many more palaces, mosques and places of interest left to explore to entice us back. Probably the city we love the best.


And yes, I'll be stocking up on the Viagra nougat next time!

Over at budgettravelerssandbox.com Nancie and the rest of the Travel Photo Thursday addicts will be posting up interesting photos from around the world. Check them out!

Haghia Sophia, an Istanbul landmark.


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Youtube Tuesday: Aug 23rd. Oliver Mtukudzi.

On Loan from Its Tiger Time

Share your favorite Video Every Tuesday. Be Creative, Have Fun.. The video can be about anything.Leave your link in my comments section so I can drop by and see your choice.


As I walked through Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg last June after 4 weeks in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, the sounds of an African singer attracted my attention from the music shop. I stopped and listened- the music and voice chilled my spine, setting goose pimples up my bare arms. I had to find out who that singer is! I now play his inspiring music in my workshop. 

Oliver Mtukudzi hails from Zimbabwe, a country we all care for during their troubles under the Mugabe regime. This song seems to be the soul of that country crying out  for freedom and love.



.

Leave your link in my comments section so I can drop by and see your choice.

Each month, Josh from Its Tiger Time will highlight a selected video and present the winner with the ‘You Tube Tuesday’ Award.


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Magnificent Monday: Rocks!

This weeks theme is 'Rocks'. Interpret that any way you can and join the fun!

There is a wall in Namibia: well, there are quite a few actually, but this wall is a very special wall - it's a work of art! Not many people have seen or heard of this artistic wall: they wouldn't have, it's just been built. Built by a group of volunteers from USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Namibia, and myself from New Zealand. We volunteers, who care about elephants, gave up our spare time, paid out big money on airfares and volunteer fees, sweated in the hot sun, got filthy, went unshowered for a week, and were sleepless while some farmer's jackass was getting it off all night with with all those happy jennys! All night long! heehaw, heehaw, heeeeehaaaaw. How could he?

Why Build a wall?

Why on earth would anyone want to travel halfway around the world to build a wall in Namibia? Who would bother?

Well, lots of people do. Every year 100's of volunteers of all ages, head to Namibia's Damaraland to devote their time and effort to Elephant-Human Relations Aid, EHRA and their desert elephant conservation efforts. Elephants seeking water from farm or village water points will often break down tanks, or pumping equipment - even ripping pipework out of the ground. EHRA recognised the need for rock wall protection to prevent damage. Simple and effective: walls built just high enough for an elephant to get their trunk in, but stop them breaking or turning over the tank. A drink of water, and the small herd can go on their way. A complimentary program is also run to educate the community to value the desert elephants as being unique and attracting tourists, thereby creating job opportunities. Wildlife conservation can only be effective if local communities can be fully involved with them reaping benefits also.

In August 2008 I joined a team and we built a wall just south of the C35 road Ugab River crossing.

August 2008 at EHRA.
Do locals want walls?

Kay and I re-visited Namibia in 2009 and we visited much of the area I was in with EHRA the previous year. I drove into the small native community causing a bit of consternation with the locals. But we found a young man who spoke English and he asked why we were there. I held out a small photo album and presented it to him, asking if he knew the local man who is smiling in the front of the above picture smiling behind the two women.
"Oh yes, I know that man."
"Will you please give him this book of photos?"
With that, he beamed and I showed him myself standing in the photo and said I helped build the wall behind him.
"It is a beautiful wall. We love this wall! No elephant damage."
We were made welcome by the families but had to be on our way. That little photo album may become a prize possession in a little hut with not much else in it.

That sounds like that community is pretty happy with EHRA, and the work the volunteers do.

Our first day's effort.
Why volunteers?

For locals to build a wall requires money: they just don't have it.
Easier for them to shoot the elephants.

Going back to Namibia and EHRA in May this year was different than the first: I knew what was expected. Plus this time I was going with eyes wide open scrutinising every little flower, insect, lizard, and up early for the sunrises and sunsets with camera working overtime. The elephants were just a bonus! The difference in the country between the August 2008 dry season and the late rains of this year into May, was remarkable. Wildflowers everywhere, insect life buzzing, lizards scuttling away at every step; it was a very beautiful time to see the country.

Cooler weather meant building our wall was much less stressing. We made good time. The girls - some who had signed on for several weeks - really got into it, dressing our wall with sparkly chunks of white or green quartzite. Crystals of quartz delicately mortared into the wall glittered in the sun. Namibia is an ancient land, rich geologically, and valley floors are covered in quartz and marble fragments, and other semi-precious stones. It is a geologists or gem hunters paradise.
Our gang.
The Great Bling Wall of Namibia.
Our wall became the Great Bling Wall of Namibia. Not just a wall but a work of art.
It's the only one of its kind. Not just made from rocks of granite or marble - but bling. Those crazy girls!


I wonder whether elephants will be so blinded by the glare they'll walk right into our wall and knock the whole lot over?

1. Paste the link to your post, and your name in the box below.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Young Brown Eyes: A Song

There was a moment in time
when I could have chose crime,
then a young brown eyed woman walked in.
As she opened the door,
she showed me there's more,
I learned how to live life again.

They shine with a light
through the years they stayed bright
for the young girl who became my bride.
When I think back in time
to the day they became mine,
I remember young brown eyes that shine.

Some times have been hard
the crippling mortgage,
and the times making our love stretch thin.
Then I'd think back in time
that first glance at mine,
and fall in love with those brown eyes again.

There's a touch of the grey
we may fade away
and my memory may have to strain,
but as I look back in time
at a girl I made mine,
I remember young brown eyes again.

Green Park, London. 1974.


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This moment – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words August19th

A photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment you want to pause, savour and remember. “This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by the Wee Man.
And borrowed often from whomsoever is carting it around. But a great idea and credit to the originators.
My Moment this week is a follow on from last week's moment here- wildfowl
 

My Moment is a favourite photo of a letter to the Editor of our Observer newspaper in response to their article  the previous week about wildlife that has adopted our street and stormwater detention pond. Fencing regulations drawn up by our local council may impinge on ducklings and other wildfowl following their mums to the ponds if they are fenced off.

 
It was really nice to see this letter written by a well known local wildlife advocate about Gerald and  myself. That made my day. I will be ringing her to thank her.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Most Beautiful Dog You Will See!

Lilly, at Naankuse. Isn't she a stunner! A big, beautifully patterned girl. Photo by Naankuse.
 Lilly is one of a pack of 14 African Painted Dog  pups taken in early last year by Naankuse. You can read about this in an earlier post - Who let dogs out.

 The African Painted Dog, Lycaon pictus, also referred to as African Wild Dog or Cape Hunting Dog, once numbered over 500,000 across 39 countries, but now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in perhaps 14 countries. As wilderness areas lessen due to human encroachment, wildlife is pushed into smaller and unconnected areas, numbers fall too low, scattered pockets of survivors cannot mate with new 'blood' and the gene pool is diluted in strength. The pack may be cut off from infusions of new, stronger genes. This lack of new gene infusion is now identified as a prime cause of falling numbers of many species, such as lions. Nature's way survival of the fittest by inheriting new stronger genes has been interfered with by human encroachment.

 Lilly pictured above, is named after our own mongrel. She is one of 14 Wild Dog pups taken in last year by Naankuse, a wildlife sanctuary and re-rehabilitation centre just east of Namibia's capital Windhoek. The critical level of Wild Dogs in Namibia, now around 350, compelled the removal of 14 young pups from the den on a farmer's property where they could have faced persecution. Usually the mother would soon bring forth another litter. These 14 pups plus the 2 male brothers already at Naankuse are to form the basis of a breeding centre for release. Some of these Wild Dogs will be swapped with other centres to increase gene pool diversity. That would be particularly good if survivors in areas where diseases have occurred are brought in to breed disease resistance traits through to new generations.

 Wild Dog breeding and re-introduction programs are fraught with difficulties in maintaining healthy captive populations. Generally inoculation against disease such as canine distemper is required. Released progeny may be inoculated but their wild born pubs will have to take their chances. Wild Dogs range over vast territory, often taking them into close contact with villages or farms where livestock predation returns them the farmer's ire, usually with them being wiped out as just another pest.

 Research and a planned program for release is essential. Ensuring there are large enough wilderness areas with a sustainable prey base well away from humans is also a problem.

 Naankuse is developing a national management strategy for reintroducing captive wild dogs back into their natural habitat.  There will be an international workshop bringing together experts from all over the world in wild dog management and introduction to formulate a working plan. They plan to hold this in September but need to raise funds for it to happen. Even a $10 donation will help.

Lilly is our adopted Wild Dog. We have just renewed our subscription.
Easy to pay by PayPal here- Naankuse PayPal

Since writing this article I have been advised by Naankuse that Namibian Laws do not allow captive breeding. Plans have been reformulated. This message from Naankuse-  "Naankuse is not a breeding centre ...for wild dogs, breeding in captivity in Namibia is illegal but what we will be is a holding facility to allow supervised pack formation of captive-reared and wild-caught dogs, which can then be released back into the wild. Keep up the good work!"

BTW-
Here's an interesting example of gene differentiation within a species.
Take a look at this photo I took in 2009 when our family volunteered at Naankuse . The pair of brothers that have been in the sanctuary for a few years, and will be included in the program.

Note the ears are more pointed, like a domestic dog to which they are not related.

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And this is Lilly, our mongrel. Kay asked me to add this pic so both our Lillys are showing.
Our Lilly.
Our Lilly in Namibia. Photo by Naankuse

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Travel Photo Thursday: Smallest house in Britain!


Welcome to this week's Travel Photo Thursday and we've got something really big lined up.

My daughter Emma outside the smallest house in Great Britain. It's on the Quayside at Conwy, North Wales. The house is only 1.8 metres wide by 3.05metres high. Once owned by a 1.8 metres tall fisherman called Robert Jones.
Last May while I faced death in Namibia and Botswana, my wife cavorted around parts of UK, and Normandy. I think we both agreed that we wouldn't travel alone again - life is too short when you love someone.

And it is Travel Photo Thursday and over on Nancie's great site budgettravelerssandbox . Amazing photos being linked there also.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kubu Island: Into the Dreamtime.

Arrival at Kubu Island, a pile of jumbled rocks, bare baobab and star chesnut trees, and so far from everything on the edge of Magkadigkadi Pans, Botswana.

 Sunlight pierces the crack between the drapes, shafting across the room to creep slowly down the wall highlighting each imperfection in shadowed relief. Moving on ever nearer to her sleeping body, golden light creeps across her pillow, laying a subtle touch upon her tousled hair which sparkles, tinged red with the light. Slowly, softly, fingers of light delicately but deliberately advancing, stroking her freckled features, feeling their way down her exposed neck, playing lightly upon her shoulders, then rising up on rounded contours of breasts. Soft down on her naked arms glows as the light shines across her skin.


 I look...not moving, not wishing to waken my sleeping lover. This moment is for me to savour. Form...texture...gentle curves....shadows: the moving light accentuates these, leading my eyes with it.

She sleeps on, unaware.

 I awake reluctantly...the loud snoring of the Italian in the over-cab tent next to me! Bum! The moment gone so quickly. What was I dreaming of? Oh yeah... light creeping across all those curves and contours...forms and textures on sensual display just for me. Oh, I would be so lucky...yeah, right! Lightening up outside: it's 5am! Brain kicks into gear...she won't wait for me...that golden light lasts such a short time.



 I dress, don my thick fleece for the chilly morning air, find my camera, stuff extra batteries in my pockets, then jerkingly unzip the opening of the over-cab tent and carefully climb down the ladder, setting the safari Toyota Hi-Lux camper gently rocking. The snoring stops. Oh well, can't be helped. Hopefully, waking the Italian may encourage her to get up and get that camping espresso machine on for a hot cup when I get back. She's never offered me one yet...I have to settle for instant.


 I climb up on the rocks, take a few pics then sit and observe the brightening glow on the far horizon. My safari companions sleep on, out of site. All around for 360 degrees to the horizon my deep aloneness spreads; my red morning's awakening at Kubu Island, Magkadigkadi Pans, Botswana. This pile of rocks, once an island in an ancient lake, now sits in a huge dried up salt crusted pan - except for a short seasonal rainy season when it becomes an important feeding ground for migratory birds.


 The flat featureless pan, stretching uninterrupted to the horizon, allows the lowest angle of sunlight: colours are rich but softened, heightening contrasts for photography in this "Golden Hour". The previous evening I had seen unexpected changes in colour, wrought upon this pile of rocks and skeleton trees by the setting sun. Those ethereal images had stirred my imagination with a dream so real: my anticipation of even better to come.


 The dream returns as light creeps down the the weather-rounded rocks and baobab bottles. Creeping light highlights in stark relief the twisted crowns of naked baobab and star chestnut trees. Rocky contours become defined in the increasing glow. Freckled features on rounded trunks and boughs, and porous rocky textures become accentuated under the advancing light. Tufts of grassy tassels begin to glow as sunlight fires along their tops. A reddish tint spreads across Kubu Island for my eyes only.


 Too many dangers to be wandering African koppes on your own in the dark. Leopard territory! But Kubu Island should be safe: game has migrated to the nearest water 100kms away, predators have followed. Snakes can be a concern in rocky terrain; lots of hiding places and rocks to warm up on in the sun. As it is winter, hopefully they were hibernating. I climb carefully over the rocks keeping an eye on where I place my feet. The previous evening I had worked out angles, direction of light and shadows, and noted interesting features like rocks and twisted trees, so I know where I want to be and when, in relation to the position of the sun as it rises.

Baobab and star chestnut trees I shoot in silhouette early in the lowest light.



I walk far out on the pans to catch the light upon the rocks and trees.


Then back to move around Kubu Island using trees and scrub to create my pictures.



Nature breathes new warmth and light across the land: old trees and ancient rocks absorb it. They glow red in the light...just for me.


 Kubu Island is now fully exposed in the morning's light. The moment is gone. Only during the golden hour does Kubu Island reveal an unexpected sensuous splendour for the early voyeur: a pile of rocks awaits the tardy, the unimaginative...the blinkered.

 Rejoining my companions, the mug of instant coffee handed by our Italian interpreter hides my smugness- I know the intimacy of Kubu Island. I leave with the dream - the dream that showed me how to see a pile of rocks.



Rework of an earlier post about Kubu Island.

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