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Africa Vacation

Africa Vacation

Africa Story #1 TRANSPORTATION

In addition to the comedian/actor John Candy's modes of transportation in his hit movie, Planes Trains and Automobiles, during my month in Africa I added a few to the list.

A funicular to the light house in South Africa on the way to the Cape of Good Hope was fun, fishing in a small boat on the hippo and crocodile infested Zambezi River was exciting (caught Tiger and a cat fish and a Squeaker), transferring to an even smaller boat (raft?) to go to Impalilia Island in Namibia to get to the immigration office (I use the term office very loosely), Safari Jeeps (exposed on all sides for great game viewing and our potential deaths from lions chasing us and elephants charging), a cable car to the top of Table Rock Mountain in Cape Town, an ox cart pulled by 2 oxen named Ocean and German pulling a cart that was actually a chopped off Ford Pick-up truck bed (talk of irony), of course a lot of walking, walking, walking in temperatures over 110 degrees (always sounded better when they reported it in Celsius even though we all knew we were dying of heat stroke) and finally my favorite mode of transportation was on a 27 year old elephant name Coco Channel with a mind of her own. We rode in the bush among Cape Buffalo, Kudu, Wart hogs and a myriad of other animals. Coco Channel taught me what it is like to gracefully destroy a tree in ones path in a very close up fashion .

My dream of traveling to Africa and being able to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat has been a dream since childhood.

Check that one off of my bucket list. I still have quite a list remaining. I believe one should never totally complete their bucket list.

Sheree Everett DVM

To be continued...

Africa story #2 SCARY ENCOUNTERS IN AFRICA

If I ever decide to change my occupation, my Africa vacation helped me to acquire new training.I can now expertly cut grape vine suckers to promote more grape growth and how to bribe police officers for personal escorts to avoid street hawkers harassments.

This lesson involved helpful training on WHEN TO PANIC in the bush as different animals will give different signs before they try to kill you.Good to know.The problem is when the animal forgets these signs and screws up the sequence.

The potential danger from our safari jeeps open concept, added a "WOW" to the experiences for me. Others want to blank those memories from their brain and feel they were have lucky to have survived Africa.

With the elephants 1 mile an hour pace, our guide got tired of following him and honked the horn a few times to discretely say "please Mr. Elephant would you get out of our way and let us pass".After a few more honks and revving up the engine, the elephant begrudgingly said OK.He then made a quick U turn and forgot the two warning steps before one charges.His right tusk fortunately caught on a tree and turned his head just enough for us to accelerate passed him.I swear he was within 6 inches of me but it was probably more like 10 feet.After the danger passed,I turned around to everyone in the jeep and was excitedly saying "Wow, how cool, amazing, unforgettable experience, let's do it again."A few agreedwhile the others, that could still speak, talked abouthow their lives flashed before their eyes.

Another scary event was in ChobePark where Cecil the lion and an animal guide was killed a few months ago.Our driver/tracker spotted a dead elephant with a large adult male lion laying next to it.Our driver drove closer to the lion and told us to take our pictures QUICKLY so we could get out of there QUICKLY.We were taking pictures when the lion became camera shy and said enough is enough.He felt we were in competition for his elephant steak and became very threatened.

We started to turn the jeep around which is difficult in the thick bush. After a few back and forths of the jeep, the lion charged us. Once again I excitedly happened to be in the prime seat to see all the action. The lion charged and did not stop.I calmly (yah right) informed the driver on the opposite side of the car that the lion was chasing us.He chased us for almost 1/4 mile before deciding he had intimidated the big metal green animal enough.I have some great pictures of the lion laying next to the elephant but the pictures while he was in chase are very blurry.Go figure.

I with a few team members were expressing our enthusiasm havingexperienced such an amazing event, and the athleticism of the lion and how close he came to us while the scared group was still laying on the jeep floorboard expressingthe fact that they have certainly used up all of their 9 lives by now.

To be continued...

Sheree Everett DVM

Africa story #3 PAINTED DOGS

Dogs are used for security and consequently were pretty aggressive. I however did manage to get my "DOG FIX' one day when I was allowed to love on four little puppies. It sure made me miss my Morgan girl and all of our patients.

These wild dogs are highly social animal Uniquely it is the females, instead ofthe males, that leave their pack once sexually mature.

They are perpetually on the hunt and don't have boundaries like most of the species. They will attack farmers goats, cattle and chickens and consequently are trapped, shot and snared.This trait, their habitat fragmentation, human persecution and disease outbreaks have all lead to their own decline in population.

we were very fortunate to see two small packs sleeping under the dense brush.Due to the great distance, we were not able to get great pictures which made one of our stops even more special.

moment was our visit to the Painted Dog Conservancy in HwangeNational Park in Zimbabwe.I was pretty impressed with their medical set up including a decent laboratory.Simple procedures are performed on site while they work with a local veterinarian for more complicated cases.

Their efforts to save the declining population of these beautiful dogs is growing and daily volunteers go into the bush

Poachers snares are easily made from cheap wire and is a very

When snares are found, the volunteers remove them and bring them back to the conservancy to be utilized in making beautiful artwork.The proceeds of their sales go back to the care of painted dogs. Wonderful irony.

After treatment, the dogs are fitted with a thick leather spiked collar before being released.This device serves as a GPS tracking system plus it protects their necks from strangulation from wire snares.

Check out www.painteddog.org

To be continued...

Sheree Everett DVM

Africa story #4 CREEPY CRAWLERS

It wasn't just the mammals that at times were a little intimidating but instead it was the ever present insects.

I am very blessed to have great single girlfriends that also love to travel. We call ourselves the Fab 4 and sometimes we live up to that name. In the last 8 years we have seen China, Tibet, many Greek islands (Santorini is my favorite), Italy, Amsterdam, Paris, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and now Southern Africa (included the countries South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. Wow, I can't believe it myself.

In preparation for those travels, each country has certain recommendations to help keep one healthy. Due to my previous travels the only medication I needed this time was against Typhoid and Malaria. Taking daily medication has certainly helped me to appreciate all of our compliant clients that give their pets daily medication. You are great owners and please pat yourselves on the back.

Living with insects simply goes along with living in the bush. Sleeping with mosquito netting around the beds minimizes the insect exposure but trust me when I say --------- they are NOT insect proof.

African insects included mosquitoes, 6 inch millipedes that came out at night and many other unidentifiable creepy crawlers. Most of them were very adept at crawling along the walls, floors and ceilings of our huts. The spiders in Chobe Park in Botswana were the most intimidating as not only were they as big as my hand but they were also athletic sprinters. I swear one outran me on a full chase probably a little intimidated by the huge wad of toiler paper I was carrying in my hand.

We were told by the manager that the gigantic spiders helped to keep the mosquito population down and they would appreciate us not killing them. The spiders and I consequently came to a compromise. Speaking Dr. Doolittle in African, I told them as long as they stayed on the walls or ceiling, I would let them live. If however they crawled into my bed, their life would be cut short. Catch and release would not be a consideration but a quick swimming lesson would be in order. We learned through experience to always check our clothing and shoes before putting anything on.

In addition to the uninvited insects sharing our sleeping quarters, small Africa squirrels would come in through our reed roofs, lizards of varying size found their way under the doors and two huge toads would join us every night in our room at the Bakwena Lodge in Namibia only to disappear before dawn. We were right on the Zambezi river and woke up to Vermet monkeys looking in on us and hippos and crocodiles below our tree house.

We loved to hear the hippos snorts from our room but were very thankful that they didn't know how to climb the stairs to our tree house. One morning I awakened to their loud snorts but was disappointed to realize that it was my roommate instead.

The sleepless nights in the bush were mostly due to the 114 degree temperature without electricity. The advantage was it allowed for more reading time using my little battery operated book light. Flying beetles were particularly annoying as they unfortunately were attracted to light and had a hard exterior shell. Occasionally these beetles would fly towards my book light and either slam into my book or become aerodynamically challenged and instead slam into my cheek. I actually had a welt one morning on my cheek.

They certainly made me appreciate our tiny, non-biting swarming, green midges.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Africa Story #5 VICTORIAFALLS

Victoria FallsWe spent 1/2 day walking around in the park, admiring the falls from different angles, the unique flowers and wildlife thriving in the rain forest created by the falls.The experience was enhanced with two full rainbows arching over the falls. Honest it wasn't photo shopped.The falls are created from the Zambezi river and act as the boundary between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Have I mentioned that it was 114 degrees? Since Africa was British ruled, everything is metric and they drive on the wrong side of the road.Temperatures are therefore always given in Celsius.46 degrees C sounds fine until you sense the sweat (I mean glow) exuding from all of your pours and then realize that it is a fricken 114 degrees.

We were able to see the falls all the way to its bottom pools and see the powerful rivers created.In their winter, there is such an immense amount of water passing over the falls, that it creates such a thick mist that most of the falls is not visible.It's nickname consequently is “the smoke that thunders”.It's roar was pretty amazing.

The lattice metal bridge over the river, separates Zimbabwe and Zambia and takes time to cross as they only allow one vehicle at a time to cross. When I asked why----- the answer was "that's how it has always been done".I suspect it had more to do with the age but neither answer instills a lot of confidence.

http://www.africansunhotels.com/stay-with-us/victo...

Not bad but his driving wasn't worth that.Seat belts were not an option as there were none.

High tea is supposed to be about the experience and the tea. Right?Let's me honest, it is all about the food.This high tea included tea of course but more importantly a 3 tier high platter ofdelicious munchies.We estimated the calorie count to be a little over 66591830257923 trillion but know that calories don’t count on vacation so it was fine.I also heard that if you eat chocolate in 114 degrees, it makes you skinnier. I read it on the internet someplace so it must be true.

to be continued...

Sheree Everett DVM

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