Africa Story #6
One very memorable experience was the joy of riding an elephant. My elephant’s name was Coco Channel, a 27 year old matriarch of the pack. She was the sweetest elephant I have ever ridden (OK the only one) but I will admit that based on her aroma, she would not have been selected as mascot for the perfume company. On the other hand a new perfume line could be created with possible names like Trunk & Stunk or maybe Poop & Toot.
Coco Channel taught me many things that day;
The African elephants version is to stop, smell the bushes and trees searching for the tastiest morsel before they gracefully destroy the tree. They then carry the branch in their trunk an undetermined amount of time based on their "score" and eat the leaves while plodding along. Great PATIENCE was required on our part as you do NOT tell an elephant to move along while they are determining their meal choice. I certainly understand as I know what I’m like when I’m hungry so don’t rush me when I’m trying to select my meal.
At least there was a good breeze that day to save us.
RESPECT – Although I was mesmerized by the beautiful wildlife all around us at the elephant camp, one must always RESPECT the wildlife. They are wild and potentially very dangerous.Coco Channel however is an intimidating old broad and immediately demanded respect from all the wildlife around us and certainly me.We saw Bush Buck, Cape buffalo, Impala, Wart Hogs, Giraffe, baboons and a myriad of other mammals, reptile and birds. While crossing a river, we startled a couple of crocodiles basking in the sun. Coco just kept on walking, undisturbed, parting the crocodile filled waters.
was going to do and how suddenly she decided to do it.Believe me, it was not like riding Dumbo at Disneyland.I guess I also learned a little INTIMADATION as falling off at that height would have been a long drop-----so I did as I was told (believe it or not) and hung on with two hands.
I can see the commercial ads now-----"Tired of using a wet spray in the dry bush?Tired of mosquitoes sticking to your armpits?Try Stink and Go.Goes on dry, lasts a long time and has the fragrance of a dung beetle.Disclaimer-Can only be removed with a mud bath."Anyone want to invest in my new company?
PAIN CONTROL – The consequence of riding an elephant for an hour is the immediate capability to walk like John Wayne upon your dismount.Too bad I didn't have my boots on.
UP TRUNK and DOWN TRUNK.
Well the real trick was to perfect your aim in order to give them the most amount of pellets and still maintain your 10 fingers.Speed was the answer.
The handful of pellets would be dropped into the trunk where they then quickly transferred the pellets to their mouths.
but we were instructed several timesNOT to bend over and pick up ANY of the pellets. We soon learned why. Animals, being very intelligent,have learned various ways to survive in the bush. The Baboons and Warthogs have learned to watch the elephants trek home after these rides and know the results. Theyrush in and clean up the spilled pellets off of the ground not really caring what is in their way. I was surrounded by a few baboons and warthogs but felt minimal threat as they were focused on the cornucopia of the spilled pellets.
Thank you Coco Channel for being my teacher.
to be continued...
Sheree Everett DVM
Africa Story #7
The walk-------On our walk, Coco Chanel was the caboose of our elephant train. Jumbo was a huge, unruly, adolescent male elephant that walked directly in front of us. He was retired due to his stubbornness and therefore too dangerous for anyone to ride except an experienced elephant pilot. Whenever he would get out of hand, Coco Channel would just stop. Our pilot said Coco didn’t trust him either and kept her distance behind him. He was kind of fun to watch however as Jumbo would certainly do his own thing. He marched to the beat of his own drum. As a veterinarian, I diagnosed Jumbo with ADHD.After a few self directed side trips, the pilot would patiently get Jumbo back on the trail and then Coco Chanel would start off again. We arrived probably about 15 minutes behind the rest of the pack thanks to Jumbos antics.
In the elephant parade, directly in front of Jumbo was Lacy, accompanied by her adorable 9 month old baby girl, Pearl. of course imitated and learned from her mom.She would stop, smell a bush, make her selection and then proceed to rip little twigs from a bush. Little Pearl was the hit with everyone as she ran along side her mom during our ride trying to nurse.This is what I really call eating on the run.
In some areas, elephants paint for a revenue generator.At this park, a mud product was applied to the elephants left front hoof and they have been taught to press it down onto parchment paper. I bought Coco's foot print and after framing,now proudly display it in my home.
Memory--------They say elephants never forgot and the pilots/guides gave us numerous examples proving that statement.
Elephants may walk over a thousand miles a year tracking the same path each direction that was taught to them by the groups matriarch. They have been taught where to find food, shelter and water along the way necessary for their survival throughout the year. This vital information is taught and retaught year after year, season after season, generation after generation.
An unfortunate example proving this involves two animal parks in south Africa.To benefit both, they decided to do an animal exchange of 10 black rhinos for 10 elephants. The rhino survived but ALL the elephants died.They couldn’t adjust. Not having been shown where, when and why to follow routes by their matriarch, they couldn’t figure out where to find food and water year around.
Many elephants would pick up a bone with their trunks and walk a fair distance before dropping it.Our guide said that it is their way of showing respect and dealing with their depression when the bones were from their family.Non related elephants will simply walk through without disturbing any bones.
My family, friends, co-workers, clients and patients are on the top of my list.
Sheree Everett DVM
To be continued...............................
Africa Story # 8
South African Wineries
The last leg of our month long trip was in Cape Town, South Africa. Culture shock!After 3 weeks in the bush and being surrounded by a menagerie of animals and tolerating 114 degrees with NO electricity, we were transported via plane to a city of 3.4 million people.I enjoyed being surrounded by animals more and was unhappy about the exchange towards the masses of people.The trade out however was YAH to electricity and yes--- you are waiting for it-------------air conditioning, ice and hot showers. It was the first time I actually felt clean in weeks. Oneday I even took 2 showers because I could.
One of my favorite day excursions in Cape Town included tours of 3 Stellenbosch wineries. The Vergenoegd winery-----http://vergenoegd.co.za/things-to-do-at-vergenoegd... the first winery we visited that day. I can't say that I have wine for breakfast very often but why not?That was a rhetorical question so please no comments. This winery is noted, not only for its award wining wines but for its ducks and geese.These beautiful but noisy birds serve dual purposes at this winery.First they are very happy tograze the vineyards daily eating all the creepy crawlers in the fields.This alternative to pesticides, allows the winery its organic status. Also, since these ducks are a special breed and have received many awards, the winery receives other benefits in addition to selling their eggs.
parade occurs on the grounds of this old winery where over 500 ducks and geese walk around amongst the people. This was so much fun to witness but I was sure wishing I had brought a pair of ear plugs.We were then given a tour of the duck operation where numerous incubators were totally filled with eggs each marked with a hatch date and information about its breeding pair.We then proceeded through the hatchery where we helped a new baby free itself of its shell and then to the nursery.While I am totally distracted by all these cute babies, I hear some of my fellow travels instead complaining about the stench.Thank God we are all unique people in this world.In the breeding pens, each outdoor enclosure had two breeding duck pairs and one goose for protection against the nuisance crows.The ducks were very unique looking with their funny top knots on their heads in a modified Mohawk style. After all the duck tours we then enjoyed some scrumptious wines for breakfast.Yum.
took us through the vineyards, the barrel storage area located under a lake for cooling purposes and the production plant. This was all very interesting but I missed the ducks.They finally lead us to a beautiful tasting room surrounded by glass.Wine for lunch anyone?I sure wish TSA would have an exemption to the 3 ounce regulation when it came to wine.Darn.
Talk about saving the best for last but our third winery called Fairview was just that.---http://www.fairview.co.za/-------Ittoo was a unique experience as it was also a goat farm. Yah, back to the animals.They had a tall brick tower about 2 stories tall with a 2 x 2's on the outside forming a slanted ladder around the tower.The goats loved to climb and would climb up and down it many times during the day.
many scrumptious types of cheese. Therefore, brunch was wine and cheese.I think these are two of the major food groups in Africa.
interacting with animals in unique ways, a beautiful day 20 degrees cooler than when we were in the bush ANDwine for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner.Sounds perfect to me.
This wonderful day ended emotionally at the gates of Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town.Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years within several prisons, including RobinIsland, and spent the last few years at Victor Verster Prison in Cape town.He was finally released from prison on my birthday (hint hint) February 11, 1990.More later on Nelson Mandela.
To be continued...
Sheree Everett DVM
Africa Story # 9
BIRTH NAMES, SPORTS AND WHATS IN THE NEWS
I have traveled many areas, including the US, where my name seemed to be an impossibility for people to pronounce correctly.Many African names were the same for us. Try pronouncingChukwuemeka (means God did great deeds), Yejide (means mother's picture) or Adebowale (means return of the crown).
Starting in the early 1800's, missionaries, including David Livingstone traveled through Africa spreading the word of God.Instead of traditional African names, people started Later African children were instead named based on objects, places, emotions or the true meaning of a word. Examples of these included our trackers named Peace, Jelly, Tabby, Jubilant and Joyous.
An example is Bob would be the nick name for Bahbahtoondeh (means return of the father).
a "click" sound that they make effortlessly and is equivalent to words. The tongue is flicked off the roof of the mouth somehow to create this unique sound. As much as we all tried, none of us could come close to this "click" sound.I made the analogy one day to our guide, Harmony, in Cape Town that for us to be able to perfect the "click", was probably similar to him being able to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.He laughed, wanted to know what the word meant and then took it on as a challenge.That night he went to his three sons and explained the challenge.His oldest boy repeated supercalifragilisticexpialidocious immediately perfectly and explained Mary Poppins to his dad.He then helped him to memorize this ridiculous word with the correct pronunciation. The next morning, Harmony recited it perfectly to us but yet none of us were able to master the "click" sound.Harmony 1, Tourists 0.
http://www.jenmansafaris.com/accommodation/chobe-b...------ the staff of the camp danced and sang for us.A drum like sound is made when they danced from their leg braceletsmade of twin and nuts.What an amazing experience!!!!!!!!.They then asked us to sing a song for them.Our group collectively discussed a song that we all knew and then proceeded to sing and act out Take Me Out To The Ballpark.It certainly wasn't my first choice but it did make us and our audience laugh.They ask every traveling group to do the same thing and said that it was not a song they had heard before.I certainly can understand why.Even more difficult was when a New Yorker in our group tried to explain the sport of baseball and the 7th inning stretch.Some things are better not explained.
Their love of soccer puts any Ducks and Beaver fans to shame.The continent stops EVERYTHING when a soccer game is on.We were sooooooooooooo excited in Cape Town to finally have electricity AND a TV with 8 channels. We wanted to know what had happened in the US during the last 2 weeks but our excitement was short lived when we learned that 7 of the 8 channels were sports.
The BIG topic of conversation while we were in HwangePark was of course about Cecil the lion and the tracker that was killed soon afterwards in that same park.Their take on it is VERY different than what was publicized by the media.The topic then quickly and angrily changed to Oscar Pistorius when he was released from prison and transferred to house arrest at his uncles million dollar mansion in Pretoria, South Africa.Wherever we went, guilty was the South African verdict that we repeatedly heard.These discussions almost topped sports that week.
Sheree Everett DVM