Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Today I had recess and nap time. Who says you have to grow up?

Soooo much fun today that I am definitely going to feel tomorrow.

I dragged my husband out to Pursuit OCR where I've wanted to go for ages.  Picture kids at a playground -- climbing on things, swinging from monkey bars, etc.   Now remember being that kid.  Then realize, this one place, you can be that kid as an adult.

I'm not even kidding.

So this...  gym?  Obstacle course?  Playground?   Is adults only and alcohol free (as it's promoting fitness).   Their basic goal is just to get adults moving, and having fun while they're doing so.  Fitness level?  We saw a wide variety.   I'm at the least fit I've been in years *sigh* and had a blast.  While realizing it would've been even more fun if I'd been a *little* stronger.  Conversely, we saw some people who were seriously built, and some who may never have been in a traditional gym.  But mostly, we saw a ton of people having fun and cheering each other on.  Complete strangers helping others through the various obstacles and no impatience from those waiting a turn.   Was a very positive environment.  At least today ;)

Side note -- I left my phone in the car, so no pics from me :(.  Google however...

When you first go in there's one of those walls people run straight up.   Well, some people.

Ummmm maybe later.    (All pics shamelessly stolen from their website or Google)
But also at the entrance is the start of the course which involves going over or through a small block, climb up some blocks and away we go.

All obstacles were optional.  This was the start -- over, under, or through :)
So the first thing we are upon was a "the floor is lava" challenge (of which there were a few).   This one those with significant upper body strength could swing from the ceiling, for the rest of us, it was easy to navigate along the side -- giggling all the way.

The floor is lava!
This was immediately followed by another floor is lava game -- one of jumping from side to side across a tunnel, or using ropes to swing.  I used the ropes and had a blast!   Also not a ton of strength required.

After succeeding through that we were faced with a trampoline leading to a series of very far spaced monkey bars.   After a few tentative bounces on the trampoline that didn't get me anywhere near the first bar, I opted out of this one and made a mad dash across the bouncy mat.   Chris, however, not only got to the first bar, but on only the second attempt made the flying leap across all three bars.  Very cool!

A little hazy on details here -- lots of giggling and fun, but the items may be out of order or incomplete as it's now a nap and several hours later ;).  Also, that nap was very required.

So pretty sure the leap of faith between the bars was followed by a rock wall (which I've always loved) and then the laser course!   Lol this was done with black light and bungee cords -- just as well, as we would've failed lasers horribly!   The guys all seemed to belly crawl their way through, most of the girls seemed to be trying to pick their way through.  I did that till the very end when I got stuck and gave in to the belly crawl.  Faster for sure, but not nearly as much fun ;)

Don't touch the lasers!
We climbed up a level to be greeted to a rope mesh bridge to be navigated.   This bridge was over the bike course that wraps around under parts of the course.  Chris ran across this with only one tragic mishap that ended w/ him all kinds of tangled.   The first time I was not up to that and walked along the side -- a navigation challenge in itself, but a different one.   However later when I was waiting a turn for something else with no-one behind us, I went back and did it properly.  Lol I think this ended up actually being my favourite one.  I wanted to go back at the very end and do it once more, but by then the place was crowded and I didn't know a shortcut to get there so left it for another day.

Then we had a foam pit with two bars over top.   I didn't even look at the bars, just took a flying leap into the foam pit.  So much fun.  Chris navigated properly, getting hold of the bar and then kicking his feet up and over so he could move along it.   I did give that an effort, but not quite enough strong enough to get my feet up.   Next time ;).  I've deemed this round was the baseline one.  Now go away, improve my fitness, or at least strength, then try again...

After that was the rings, also over a foam pit.  I didn't expect to get past the first one, but I got three and fell on four.  Which of the other people we watched matched the best of the women.   A couple of the men made it through.  Chris made all but the very last, by taking a diagonal route instead of straight through, so there's definitely strategy involved as well as strength.   Seriously though, dropping into the foam pit is arguably as much or more fun than actually completing the challenge.

This was followed by some climbing through a tunnel and then down a slide.  Wheeee.   And the slide led... to a ball pit!!!   I'm not even kidding.   I took a flying leap and promptly sunk.   Lol. This is the adult version, once I got my feet under me and managed to stand, the balls were well over my elbows.  I had expected the balls to be harder and was a little concerned that jumping in might be a bad idea, but no, all good.   What I *didn't* expect was how challenging it would be to navigate the pit!  I now understand why kids sleep so well after being in those things.  It took more effort  for me to get through the pit than any other obstacle we did...  There was a rope attached at the far end that you could pull yourself out.  Or better yet -- other people could pull you out ;).  Chris and random stranger may have helped me and another woman with that.   I would've made it on my own no problem, just a longer wait for Chris.  But the other woman was definitely struggling and after she got a tow out, I decided to take advantage of the same offer :)  Fun. So much fun.  But wow.

We were coming toward where this photo was taken.
And that ended the course part of things, but underneath the course was a bike track.  Or rather, a trike track ;).  Yup, adult-sized tricycles and a "drift track" so as you went around if you hit the turns right you could spin your bike out.   Honestly, while I wanted to try it, I wasn't expecting much from this.  But it was So Much Fun.  WAY more than I'd ever anticipated.   The first round I did a little tentatively, but after that it was full on.  lol.  Line of the day went to Chris who described it as "It's like Mario Cart, but they're tricking you into exercising."

After that, I gave the wall a try.  Yeah - this is where you run flat out at a sloping ramp that quickly goes vertical.   Brilliant idea.   Lol failed horribly ;-P.  Not surprising that since I don't run well on the ground, it didn't work terribly well to run straight up, but hey ;).  I tell you, it's quite the mental challenge to convince yourself to run with any speed directly at a wall.  Self-preservation hold.

This was my first effort; I didn't know it was being filmed ;)

Lol I tried a couple more times, did something else for a while, then tried some more.   After the first one I managed to stay on my feet for the trip back down (although have to admit the slide was a lot of fun and less terrifying than running straight down).  My goal was to just tap the top, knowing fully well that even if I could reach it I didn't have the strength to pull myself up (esp at the *end* of the adventure!).  This is still a goal on the "for next time" list ;).  Although not sure how one practices for this without, in fact, having a wall to run up *g*.   So no, I didn't make it to the top.  Chris says I got within a foot, so we're going with that :).   

On the smaller wall (from the Over, Under or Through pic with the yellow cheverons) I could get up and wrap my hand around the bar, but still didn't have the strength left to pull myself up.   That one I actually found more intimidating as there was no slope up so you're literally jumping up the wall, not just running up a very steep slope.

So yeah, a super fun day that I will definitely be feeling tomorrow; actually, am feeling right now *sigh*.  I was hoping it might inspire a return to fitness -- we'll see ;).  But yeah, anybody who wants to go, just give me a shout. I'm definitely in.

FridayFlash #72: Daughter of Nightmares and Smoke

Kara came up with the title through one of those Facebook generators.  I decided I'd write it ;).   First flash in a very long time.  Yeah vacation day :) 

As always, comments very welcome.   Enjoy!


Once considered peaceful, the dragons came one night and scorched the villages.   For days nothing could be seen but smoke.  The people would try to rebuild, but every few months the dragons would return.  It was a time of terror.  Hunting parties were sent to get revenge; no one returned.  

And then one day, the skys were empty.  No longer did the occasional shadow drift over the village.  No more did children cower from the giant creatures from the sky.  Nobody knew why they attacked or where they went, but over time, that became unimportant. Things were quiet, and people rebuilt out of their grief.  And as the children who had seen their villages destroyed grew up and gave birth to children of their own, memories faded.  By the time their grandchildren had grandchildren, understanding of dragons had changed.  From peaceful and harmless, to horrifyingly vicious, to nothing more than a wisp of a myth. A story to scare young children into behaving.

But time is a tricky thing, and to the dragons, it moves differently.  Only one generation had passed since The Great Betrayal, and memory of it was clear.  After all, she did live with them.  Tall and graceful, Alesha laughed as she skipped between the caves, easily avoiding the dragon chasing her.  She whipped around a boulder, turning at the last second and ducking under the dragon who almost had her.  She poked his belly as he flew over top, “Gotcha Tren!” she laughed, his roar made the rock she was standing on shake, but didn’t phase her in the slightest.   They were siblings.  Friends.  And she had very definitely won.  Again.

It’s time to come home, the thought from their mother was as clear in her head as if it had been spoken.  Tren, having received the same message turned and headed toward her.  With a running leap, Alesha hopped on for the flight home.

She knew she was different, of course.  Small and fragile, but nimble and creative.  She couldn’t breathe fire, but she could build it.  She couldn’t fly, but she could access spaces the dragons would never be able to.  Her dragon family accepted things as they are, as they’ve always been, while Alesha questioned everything.  They complemented each other.  The smarter ones appreciated that and considered her family; the lesser ones treated her as little more than a pet.  A curiosity.  A spoil of war.

When they returned to the roost, Alesha and Tren were surprised to discover the elder dragons had gathered.  Tren aborted his landing and circled, hoping to avoid interrupting the council, but Tasque, the head of the council, noticed him and with a thought compelled him to join them.

Alesha slid off Tren as soon as he landed, preferring to face whatever was coming standing.  But while she stood calmly and confidently, her hand quivered gently where it rested against Tren’s shoulder.  

What’s going on? she asked.

The time has come for you to fulfil your destiny.  The voice in her mind was powerful, and not one who had ever deigned to speak to her before.   She met Tasque’s stare head on and held it for a moment.  She could feel a wave a pride wash over her – the dragon who had adopted her so long ago was pleased.

What do you need me to do?  Her heart beat faster and she had to consciously stop herself from fidgeting.  So long she had wondered why the dragons had adopted and raised her.  It was the one question nobody would ever answer.  

You remember, of course, The Great Betrayal?   How could she forget?   Her heart sank as she was reminded yet again of the time the dragons had attempted to aid humans, only to have five of their eggs stolen.   The dragons had found four – three of which had been destroyed; the fourth hatched and grew up to be Tren.  But the fifth egg, even after months of searching, remained hidden.  And with the humans getting closer to their nest, they had to call off the search and moved the entire flight to their current home.  But when they did that, they brought one thing that was not theirs.  They brought an infant girl.  Her.

We have located the last egg.   It will not hatch until it is returned to us, but we cannot retrieve it.  You and Tren will go together, get the egg, and bring it home.

Her eyes widened and she glanced at Tren.  She was going to go to the human’s world?   Before her thoughts could start spinning too quickly, her mother’s familiar voice interrupted.  

Alesha, you’ll need to remember all we’ve taught you about humans.  Tren will help you get there, but he must not be seen, so you will be on your own.  Several of their generations have passed since we adopted you – with us you’re still so young, but there you will age quickly.  We believe we’ve found which castle the egg is locked in, but that’s all we know.  You’ll need to find a way to get in, rescue the egg, and get out quickly.  You can navigate in the dark nearly as well as we can; most humans cannot – use that to your advantage.  You must speak of us to no one.  Dragons to them are creations of nightmares and smoke.  And you are our daughter.  Never forget it.

Do you understand? The leader’s voice interrupted.

I do.

Will you undertake this task asked of you by the dragon council?

I will.

Then it be done. We will watch for your return with each new moon.  May the stars guide your way.

Alesha bowed her head as she’d be taught, then gracefully vaulted on to Tren’s back so he could take them out of the council.  Tren tried to talk to her, but her thoughts were flowing too quickly for her to hear him.  She was going home.  A home she’d never known, true, but one where there were people like her.  And maybe, just maybe, once she’d rescued the egg, she could find a way to bridge the worlds.

The daughter of nightmares and smoke yes, but also of dreams and starlight.

A different work day

So today instead of going to work, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my team at the CP24 Chum Christmas Wish.   This is the same charity we used to collect toys for when I had GRS, and it was definitely a fun deviation from my usual day.

I was volunteering in the warehouse.  There were rows of boxes that were all labeled by age and gender (boys 3-5, girls 14-18, etc), with a few other misc areas (stuffed toys, board games, sport equipment, stocking stuffers, and summer).   While I definitely have some issues with the separating of toys by gender (does this STEM kit belong in boys or girls?  hmmmm) I do understand why they're doing it, as esp with the younger kids there is distinct branding targeting one or the other.

So the first job was to put philosophical moral objections aside and sort the presents.   So a truck had recently been unloaded and we got to take the toys and find them the appropriate bucket.  I found this far more entertaining than you might imagine because of the sheer variety of things.  

Then we went "shopping" -- in that we (in pairs) would be given a group to collect toys for (eg,  8 boys, age 7) and go pick one thing for each of those 8 boys.  Since we know nothing about the recipients other than gender and age, it's impossible to make an informed decision.  At first it was really easy - find something that's Just. Plain. Cool. and pick that.   They had some things to keep in mind -- like most of the recipients won't have cell phones or computers, so if you come across something that requires one of those, it went in a different area.   And if you picked a board game, pick something else that can be enjoyed individually because not everybody has someone to play games with.  It definitely helps draw attention to all the things so many of us take for granted.

Michalina and I did one amazing bag for a group of I think about 14yo boys that had just all the good stuff (including a ball hockey stick and ball).   But as we got more into it, it became increasingly challenging because the boxes became sorely depleted :(.   I had one go for 14yo girls, and they have a rule for no makeup under the age of 16.  By then the 9-13 box was empty and the 14-18 box was all makeup.  It was a real challenge that Nicole and I put a whole lot of effort into solving.   Some of our team have done this multiple years, and there were a lot comments about how depleted the supply was comparatively :(.  So that was sad to see.  Conversely, some of the gifts were amazing.  There were some great things in there of really good quality and creativity.

So yeah, overall it was a great experience and I'd certainly do it again.

This wknd’s challenge

So I made a thing.   Lol - decided I should get some practice w the main stitch I need for my afghan, so found a scarf pattern that uses it.  And then me being me pretty completely disregarded said pattern, but hey - I’m still happy with the end result :). 

On close (or even not so) observation it’s pretty obvious which end was the start and which is the finish lol but I’m still please with my first effort.   Other than the fact that I’m pretty sure crocheting anything makes me old *sigh*.  Can I go back on safari now?

At least it was enough of a computer break that I can go back to sorting through pics now.

The latest challenge

So we're home and back to reality.  Last day in Zanzibar was spent at the pool and on the beach and was pretty perfect.   Even though we had to check out 12h before we left, they had a good place to hang out after dark made the pool less appealing ;)

Was so happy to see Sasha again :). She didn't leave my side till I went to work this am.  So work is work.  End of story.  Although was surprisingly nice to catch up with people -- I work with fun people.  Otherwise though *sigh*

Had a Spanish lesson the other day, trying to bring that back into regular occurrence.   I've been good about the independent work, but speaking will only improve with actual lessons.

I also randomly decided I wanted to crochet an afghan.  Came across the pattern, it said "easy" in big bold CAPITAL letters.  Capital letters.  It must be true.

It wasn't true ;-P

Lol so I bought the kit to make the easy afghan.  Just to put in perspective, I think I learned to crochet a straight line when I was in brownies and that was the last time I had anything to do with this concept.  Fortunately I also bought a beginner how-to book ;)

Okay so beginner book seems pretty clear...  Good start.  Decided I needed some spare wool to practice and learn some basics before tackling The Project.  Wool is not something that floats around our house, but it *does* tend to float around Mum's.  Lol so quick text and sure enough, she has lots to spare :)

So she gave me a quick 101 on how to crochet -- and her hands flew and it looked just so easy.  Yeah - so is posting trot.  Unless you're a complete beginner.   I tried and devolved into giggles it was so hopeless.  Also, still jet lagged so decided to pause and went home to sleep.

Today I tried again.  The first row is okay, but then when the actual crocheting starts...  Ummmm - couldn't remember how Mum showed me to do it, and my book - which is pretty simple - I couldn't follow the diagram.  Fail.   Enter YouTube's How to Crochet for Absolute Beginners.   Lol google win.  This person knows how to teach true beginners.   In slow motion, showing clearly how to hold all the parts, I still had to pause and replay it a few times but I got the general concept.   Actually applying, however, is more of a challenge.  lol I end up twisted around, backwards, and all kinds of creative.  I might end up with the strangest looking afghan ever.   And I've only made it to minute 5 (although I was able to skip the first 3 -win!).  At some point I might have to watch to the end ;).

Sadly the stitch I need to learn to make my afghan is not in this video.  It's gonna be a while before I can even start ;).  Well that and the fact that I don't even know how to read the pattern -- but I'm counting on being able to access Mum's mad skills for translation *g*

Anyways - that's this week's random hobby.  Wish me luck.

I was a fish in a previous life; I dive to visit relatives.

Water day today :).

Chris and I headed over to the dive shop a few properties over after breakfast for our partial day on the water.  We were pretty pleased when we discovered our dive boat was one of the classic style here :).  Getting ready to go was an interesting experience in that nobody seemed to have any idea what was going on, yet somehow everybody was slowly organized with all their required gear.  I’m still not quite certain how that happened, but it was effective at least :)

I neglected to take any pics today, but this one Chris took a couple days ago shows the type of boat I’m talking about in the background

Since I’ve been having so many issues w my ears, my plan was to snorkel the first dive and dive the second (the second dive being the more shallow of the two).  The boat ride out would be about an hour, so we settled in.  We were right at the front of the seating area, and I was very pleased to discover that the design of the boat had the advantageous side effect of sending wake splashes away from the passengers.  Win.

Bigger win, *much* bigger win, on the way we saw whales!!!  Two of them, by size I would guess mother and baby.  Guess also validated by one of the locals who confirmed that whales are normal here from now through November as they come to give birth here.  Awesome.   So the captain cut the engine and we got to watch the two whales for a while.  Was really cool and completely unexpected.  Also a first for me.  I’ve been in whale territory a few times, but always “we saw one here yesterday” or some variant.  But not only did I see these, I saw them first *g*. I’ll trip over a lion in the wild, but apparently she who can only barely swim is set to survive the ocean?   That being said, whales weren’t exactly hard to see ;).  Lol was more that I was looking the right direction at the right time.
Anyways - eventually made it to the first dive site; Chris actually went diving, I stuck to snorkeling.  Was a good sized reef, not a ton of fish.   I managed to lose my group three times *sigh*.  Once the guide noticed and called to me when I popped my head up to look around.  The second time the boat was coming right to me — they redirected me where I should’ve been ;).   The last time I looked up and realized I was all alone :(.  Slightly scary as the main reason I’d looked up in the first place was that I was getting very cold and very tired and wanted to see about going in.   Okay well people can be hard to find, but at least I could see the boat in the distance — it was off picking up divers but I figured if I swam in that general direction it’d probably work out.  And sure enough I found my group and grabbed a floaty to hang on to till the boat came back to us.   Absolute worst case, some of the reef was shallow enough I could’ve stood up.  Would’ve destroyed the reef though so was really trying to avoid that!   I did decide though I’m much better at diving than snorkeling.

Back on the boat we relocated to the second site, but I was done.   I’d tried a mini dive while snorkeling and couldn’t equalize, was also having mask pressure issues, and was so very cold and tired.  I didn’t clue in till much later that the timing from when I took the anti-nausea meds to then was about exactly as long as they take to knock me out.   Fail.  So I opted out entirely.  Not one part of me even remotely wanted to get back in the water.  Chris went, and got to see some very cool fish, but I parked myself in the sheltered front of the boat w a life jacket pillow and just lay there.   Full wetsuit, black, under the equatorial sun, at midday.   And it wasn’t till the last 10 mins or so that I ditched the top half of the wetsuit — just to give an idea of how hot it was.   Just as well as the only thing exposed — the back of my hands — got sunburnt.   Lol took me a while this eve to figure out how I’d done that, but yeah for a good part of today, all of me was protected by 3mm of wetsuit.
Drive back was uneventful.  The whole trip was significantly longer than expected but perfect weather on a nice boat w interesting people — not half bad.  Across from me were two people doing their scuba certification.  The instructor was teaching switching between English and Spanish (I was more entertained than I should’ve been trying to understand the Spanish).  Turns out Student A only speaks Spanish; Student B speaks English, Swahili, Italian, and some Hebrew?!?!  So random.  But apparently Italian is close enough to Spanish that he could understand it well enough to follow even though he couldn’t speak it.   I am loving the variety of languages I get to hear here :).  But yeah, this instructor had two students learning in two different languages.  Credit to her on that one.
After we got back we just spent the afternoon enjoying the beach :). We stuck to the shade today, again getting another beach bed, because well - we both got more than enough sun on the boat.
Tomorrow’s our last day :(.   Our flight leaves at 2am on Monday.

Random awkward hippo art sculpture photo cause it was the only one I took above water today ;) —

It’s exhausting doing nothing because you can’t take a break.

Today was a day of absolutely perfect nothingness.  Our most energetic activity was to walk down the beach to the dive shop and book tomorrow’s excursion :)

Otherwise we spent the morning by the pool and the afternoon by the beach.  We even got one of the covered bed loungers on the beach :). Win!   And it was hot and sunny enough that we’d go in the ocean - which is one of the clearest and definitely the calmest I’ve ever experienced, lie down till dry, at that point we’d be ready for another swim.  Rinse and repeat all afternoon.

Those of you who know Winston will be pleased to know he too is enjoying his vacation, even if he didn’t get to play with the lions.

And now I’m somehow exhausted. And also really looking forward to tomorrow.

Adventures at Stone Town and Prison Island

So this appeared on my FB today and is a way of looking at things that I generally apply to my life. And while often this leads to awesome adventures (the beach ride in Costa Rica for one, my entire Australia trip for another ;) it does, occasionally, backfire.

Today was one of those backfires as our private tour ended up being neither private - 2 other couples - nor a tour :(. Our “guide” got us to the locations after a very long drive with lots of stopping and exchanging money for no apparent reason. But he appeared to know nothing about the locations and certainly wasn’t about to give a tour. His English was also extremely limited. At the prison, another guide took pity on us so we got a tiny bit of info there; I would’ve liked to have just tagged along for the rest of his tour, but it wasn’t actually in English. Lol he legit gave a quick English spiel cause he felt bad for us guideless folk...

Other than that, the prison was just a courtyard, and with no guide and no signage, we were left with no real way to take anything meaningful from it.

If you’re going to be sent to prison, it may as well be one with amazing weather and incredible views. —

Next up was the tortoise sanctuary, which was as you’d expect w some very large tortoises. Their necks are remarkably snake-like, and I found myself more creeped out than I should be by something that moves at a glacial pace. Lol that and for some reason I kept having flashbacks to The Neverending Story - was there a wise old tortoise in that? Cause I definitely haven’t seen it in more than 20 years so it’s a pretty random memory.

We managed to lose our guide and one other couple in there that meant us and the 2nd couple got to spend a significant amount of time just standing waiting. At least the weather was good - or would’ve been had we been on a beach.

We eventually made it back to the mainland for our tour of Stone Town. Thankfully our “guide” found us a proper tour guide for this one and the tour itself was quite good. The sultan’s palace, which I was moderately curious about, was under construction so we unfortunately didn’t get to visit :(

We wandered around town with a variety of explanations and of course hit up the local tourist market. Lunch was in a local establishment — by that I mean one frequented at least in part by locals. It was insane, crazy packed, and we had no idea how to order (waiters weave through asking people what they want). In the end though the food was good, copious, and cheap :). Chris and I figure with exchange rate together our meal was well under $10; his very impressive smoothie alone would’ve cost nearly that at home.

After lunch we hit up the market, which gave me a new appreciation for grocery stores ;). But it did serve to give some insight into how people here live. The fish market was something straight out of a history text. That odour, mingled with the not insignificant BO of many of the people crowded in there, the claustrophobic environment, and the constant annoyance of flies, is not something I’ll soon forget.

The decision to skip the meat market was unanimous lol. The spice market which followed was definitely more appealing. It was hot and crowded though so we were unimpressed when we got back to find our driver had left and was 45 mins away *sigh*. At least it was nice weather - we got ice cream and chilled in a park till the driver and his non air conditioned van deigned to appear.  Drive home was equally long and unpleasant — and we needed to stop for gas again.  Sheesh.  Oh well -- we made it in one piece.

Overall right on the bottom end of the scale of tourist experiences I’ve had; on the plus side, nothing truly tragic, dangerous, or scary happened so I guess we’re still calling that a win. Things could def have been way worse. Will be booking through the hotel for the next one though.

Completely unrelated plus — my hearing has been coming back all day and is almost entirely back to normal. Also, dinner at the hotel was lovely, 2nd floor balcony under a moonlit sky, overlooking the beach. Very civilized :).

AND - I got my touristing done :). Those of you who know me well enough to have been in my home, know of my unfortunate and so very out of character habit of collecting horribly tacky tourist photo frames from everywhere I go :). Sadly I didn’t start this till my “adult” tourism, so am missing a few countries from my uni adventures, but otherwise yeah. It’s a thing. And it is awesome. And my husband tolerates it ;). If there is ever any glitter to be found in my house, that is where you will find it. That being said, I was really struggling to find a frame to meet my requirements here, so was quite pleased to stumble upon one tonight. Win!

Looking into snorkeling tomorrow. Ears still not right so not convinced I should dive, but no risk w snorkelling. Dive shops all closed when we got home, but we were given directions to a reputable one from the front desk and the sign in their window says they have a trip both tomorrow and Sat. So we shall see :)

Off to Zanzibar

So last night we learned that I am the first person who dies in a horror movie ;). Lol something trying to break into the tent, and my first reaction after dismissing “ignore it” was to grab a flashlight and see what it was. This of course while half asleep and blind. A whole lot of zero drama - once I shined the light, it ran away ;). But it did amuse me to discover that no only can I not see the predators, I walk right up to them. Sheesh.

Some hyenas on the way to the airport —

And today I learned that any ambition I had to learn to fly can be shelved. Little planes and I do not mix :(.

The airport was nothing more than a field with a dirt landing strip.  No checkin, no tickets checked, carry bags to the plane and hop on —

So our flight ticket said we fly to Arusha, then transfer and fly to Zanzibar. Sure, no problem. What the ticket didn’t say was that there would be four stops on the way to Arusha *sigh*. By the fourth one I was feeling motion sick (despite anti-nausea meds) and far worse - my ears. So much pain. It seriously felt like someone stuck a drill bit into my ear drum and had tunnelled down on some weird angle through my eye socket and into my molars. It was brutal. And still one flight left. After the last flight there was less pain, but I was mostly deaf. Unfortunately still am :(. I have high hopes this will be gone when I wake up in the am, but am very much afraid it may mean no diving for me :(. And diving in Zanzibar was actually what started this whole adventure. Booo. Also slightly concerned simply because it’s been hours w no improvement. I’m already mostly blind, I’d really prefer not to be mostly deaf too :(

At least we got to sit super close to the pilot; that was cool.

The drive to the resort was long and slow and through some areas I’m not sure I’d want to stop. But now that we’re here, it’s lovely. Not very big, but nice, gorgeous pool and lovely white sand beach.
Where we accidentally ended up having possibly the most romantic dinner ever. Fair given that technically this is our slightly-delayed honeymoon :). But yes, the restaurant we ended up in mostly cause it was the first one we found, we think reservations are required but because we were early they let us in. We had one of about 8 tables set up on the beach, waves of receding tide lapping gently, amazing food eaten by candlelight. Really was quite the experience:)

This same white sand beach is also where we bought a tour from a random dude. Assuming we didn’t just get totally ripped off, that’ll be tomorrow’s adventure :). Stone Town and Prison Island (read: history and tortoises ;). Looking forward to it!

The Grande Finale 

-- Us in the vehicle we've been all but living in this week ;)  The pop-up roof really makes all the difference! --

Last night I feel asleep listening to elephants talking across my tent. This was after the noisy hyenas and the lion in the distance. Absolutely incredible. The other night something (I think zebra or wildebeest) bumped into the tent - that was slightly nerve wracking, but just hearing them all when they seem content to leave you alone is awe inspiring.

Our guide did tell us though of one woman from a previous trip that the elephants kept kicking in her tent. Turns out she’d taken an apple back from dinner and elephants love apples. Who knew? Lol makes me think that “no food in the tent” might’ve been a good thing to mention in the briefing. I know it logically from camping at home, but somehow the thought of an elephant breaking in to steal an apple had never crossed my mind. Chris lost part of a protein bar to some critter - but we have no idea what or when.

So this morning we went to see if we could watch more wildebeests cross the river. And we did, with a much shorter wait this time! SO many - way more than yesterday. To put in perspective, I shot just shy of 3 min of video and still had time for still shots and to just stand and absorb in stunned amazement. I will share this at some point but have no free wifi left so it’ll have to wait a bit ;)

Unfortunately we were on the other side of the river today so not quite as impressive as they’re running away from us instead of toward, but still wow.

Interesting to me was that the safari vehicles all park kms away while they wait for the wildebeest to start crossing - barely in sight, hidden behind trees, because the wildebeest are hesitant to cross and won’t if anything seems out of order. But the second they start, everyone races up till we’re only a few meters away and the wildebeest couldn’t care less. Today was crazy with vehicles :(. Yesterday there were only a handful, today dozens. But we still got to experience it and it was incredible! Also, being on the leaving side, we got to see a few times when the herd would change their mind, do an abrupt 180, and run back the direction they came from! Very cool.

Next we traveled around and Chris spotted a leopard in the distance! Eagle eyes. The guide was super impressed. Sadly, I couldn’t see it even with explicit directions *sigh*. I am disappointingly bad at this game. However, once I saw it, I got the money shot of it jumping up the hill :). Pretty pleased at that, although it was far enough away to be severely stretching the limits of my camera, so we shall see how it looks in big later :).

-- Even napping, the cub is super cute --

The remaining wildebeests also saw the leopard and disappeared, so we changed track from following them and instead revisited yesterday’s lions; there was nothing exciting going on there so we ventured into Kenya for a while. Tanzania has a sign marking the border, but Kenya didn’t seem to.

-- With our amazing guide --

Oh and as far as signs go - there are none! No street names, nothing. Yet somehow everybody seems to know where they’re going and can describe to one another how to find things ;). The only sign we saw in Serengeti was one that said “do not cross if river is flooded” lol. Now you would think this was obvious, but these vehicles can go through water half way up the windshield - we certainly forded various streams and such that no vehicle I’ve ever owned would’ve made it through. But this bridge was only as wide as the vehicle itself, and it’s not hard to imagine crossing w it under water and landing w a tire in the river, resulting in a quick flip of the vehicle.

Anyways - we made it safely into Kenya, but didn’t see a ton interesting there, some more racing gazelles (otherwise known as Thompson gazelles, but I prefer ‘racing’ :), a bunch of the usuals: water bucks, elephants, zebras, a giraffe or two... There was a large tortoise who was kinda fascinating in a slow and ponderous way.

-- PC: Chris.  Mine is still on my camera --

On our return we got to see the leopard with her cubs again. This was amazing! She had a kill up in the tree; we got some shots of her climbing up and also of one of the three (not two as previously thought) cubs feasting, while the other two wrestled on the ground. Some amazing photos and also just so happy to watch them play.

-- PC: Chris. Mine is still on my camera --

And on that high note, we wrap the safari portion of our adventure; tomorrow we’re off to Zanzibar :)