Sunday, September 28, 2008

Coffee in the African Bush

Who doesn’t cherish a hot cup of coffee in the morning, especially on a Sunday? I certainly do, and I have never enjoyed one so much as I have in Africa. While on camping safari, I wake in my tent to the sound of the tour guide pulling out a coffee pot from the truck-- the unofficial alarm clock. I lay in my sleeping bag listening to the sounds of the Carmen Bee eaters before stuffing my sleeping bag and deflating my mattress. I slip on the clothes that I have laid out on my duffel bag. After putting the tent down, with the assistance of my tent mate, I walk to the circle of khaki chairs that served as a barrier against the African night. Maybe there were hyenas lurking about, maybe elephants so softly trodden. The remnants of last night’s fire are reduced to ash. As I drink my steaming coffee out of a tin mug, the other campers join me. We later eat cereal from the same mug before washing them and driving off on the dusty, bush road.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

African Healing Dance

I certainly don’t kill myself going to the gym, but I do try to exercise when I can. When I’m at the gym, I enjoy lifting weights, doing yoga, and swimming. I also like walking, rollerblading and biking. Sometimes I even pop a Pilates tape into the DVD player at home. While browsing through the DVDs at the library, I found another exercise tape that I want to try—African Healing Dance. The host is the lead dancer of the Damballa dance troupe who demonstrates traditional African dances. Supposedly, it is supposed to improve my physical and emotional well-being. I don’t see how I can go wrong since the woman looks fantastic in her traditional skirt and halter. I might even wear the same since I brought some African cloth home on a previous trip. I can’t see myself having her rhythm though, but who will know if I do it in the privacy of my own home? I’m going to make sure that I draw the blinds. What would the neighbors think?

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Ten years ago, while on an overland safari, one of the girls in my group came down with malaria. She was a Norwegian aerobics instructor in her twenties. Watching how the sickness affected her made me fear getting malaria myself. I have never been infected, but I always take precautions when I am there. I take malaria tablets, spray myself with the strongest DEET there is and keep covered during dawn and dusk. Unfortunately, many Africans do not have access to these live-saving resources. According to a study conducted in 2002 that was reported on the Global Health web site, over one million Africans die each year from malaria. I recently rented a DVD called Africa Live: The Roll Back Malaria Concert (2005). The two-day concert’s goal was not only to entertain the 50,000 who came to view the African musicians in Dakar, Senegal, but to also bring international attention to the issue. The festival featured a remarkable diversity of performers, but the message was what moved me most. Africans wanted desperately to help each other.