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You Have to Return to Africa - Charles Fox
We probably trod on grandpa's grave next to the Oldupai Gorge, where so many of our forebears were unearthed by the Leakeys and others.
We visited struggling schools and an orphanage that gave us great hope for what Africans are accomplishing right now. We saw palaces and hovels and modern big cities and got fleeting insights into life along the main routes of Kenya and Tanzania. We had small smiling children take our hands as we walked with them through their timeless tiny fishing village. We visited the Maasai. And we saw Eden, at least what is left of it.
We were in the cages; the animals were free, and knew it. We learned elephants are BIG, giraffes are TALL and Cape Buffalo are never ever to be confused with placid Water Buffalo. Our bird life lists jumped by 50 or more new species. And the "rodent" we spotted one night turned out to be the closest living relative to the elephant. Constant surprises accompanied our jeeps.
But nothing prepared us for being in the midst of migration. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and antelope surrounded us, moving, calling and honking constantly. But it was not a threat; it was a rare privilege.
You too have to return one day. The welcome will overwhelm you.
Spotlight On: Cassandra Tondro
From her exclusive "Eat Your Fruits and Veggies" series, Cassandra Tondro displayed her 3 beautiful paintings at The Rose Cafe in Venice. Her collection was on display from May 6 until July 7!
For more, visit Cassandra Tondro's website.
(shown from left to right: "Broccoli in Garlic Sauce", "Stir-Fried Carrots and Peas", and "Sweet 'n Sour Eggplant")
Adventure of the Cunning Mr. Fox - Charles Fox
(shown from left to right: Archeology Museum at Naples, Terrace Houses at Ephesus)
Okay, it wasn't summer, but you get the idea...
My wife and I, with another couple and their daughter, returned to our roots, in a way. We took a 12-day cruise through the Eastern Mediterranean, starting in Rome and Pompeii (40 years after we first tried to see it), then swinging into Greece. We saw dramatic Santorini -- beautiful white village perched perilously on the jagged edge of a caldera that might have been the scene of the worst volcanic explosion in recorded history. Rhodes dazzled with its history. Kusadasi in Turkey revealed the spectacular Ephesus, and the now-open-to-the-public Terrace Houses(see picture above), millennia-old three or four-story dwellings above the hustle of the main street's shops. Next up was Mykonos, with a side trip to the home of the gods, Delos. Our morning was a traipse through ancient ruins all over the small island; our afternoon was a sudden spot of blissful quiet amid a cruises packed with stops and sights. Athens was a must-see, though the Parthenon is really a political statement rather than a religious or human one. But the explanation of the roots of democracy, first born in Athens and only picked up again a millennium later by the US, made that day extra meaningful. And Olympia was a real treat. Ever since I was lucky enough to work the Olympics in LA in '84, the Games have meant something very special for me. We walked ourselves through much of Corfu, a complete mishmash of styles and construction and history and influences. Even stumbled on an important parade which now combines All Saints' Day with thanks for freeing the town from cholera in the distant past. We were supposed to see Dubrovnik, but a sudden nasty turn of weather prevented it; gave us a full day in Venice though, so we could see firsthand how it is when St. Mark's Square is under water.
Jet lag and a cold were what we dealt with after returning home, and if that's the standard cost, we'd do this again in a New York minute.