Day #208 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A review of an exquisite first safari experience…Firsts!…

It was hard to say goodbye to the staff at Camp Olonana Sanctuary Retreat after the extraordinary stay and safari.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

The lodge was an invited place for us to sit, sip beverages and post our photos and stories. With no Internet access in the tents but available at no charge in the lodge, we spent most of our limited spare time in here.

Seven years ago today, we wrote a comprehensive review of Camp Olonana Sanctuary Retreat in the Maasai Mara in Kenya where we had the privilege to experience our first safari in Africa, forever emblazoned in our hearts and minds.

The dining room’s ambiance was easy going and welcoming.

There’s a lot to be said for “firsts” and without a doubt in our minds, that particular first left us reeling with sheer wonder and delight. Throughout our world travels, over and over again, we’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide array of firsts, that above all, stand out in our minds years later.

One evening, as we were busy posting after dinner, the staff and guests began dancing around the lodge to celebrate a couple’s anniversary. It was an intimate group with no more than 16 guests on-site while we were there. (The camp holds a maximum of 28 guests). With a little prodding from the staff, we joined in the line.

Whether it was our first transiting of the Panama Canal, the first in-person view of the Eiffel Tower, the first sighting of The Treasury in the hidden city of Petra, the first visit from a warthog in our garden in Marloth Park or our first cruise, they all hold special meaning with us.

 Windblown, with hat hair, at dinner each evening we wore our daytime safari clothes, feeling too tired to change. Also, arriving from safari between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, food was more important than fresh clothing.

Frequently coming up in conversations between us and others, firsts litter our itinerary, year after year, combined with the easy memories of the events surrounding such events. Isn’t it ironic how we all remember such times as our first date, our first kiss, our first airplane ride, our first bicycle, our first car, our first pet, and our first job?

The gift shop had a wide array of souvenirs and gifts, none of which we purchased with no room in our bags as we continue on our world travels.

Traveling the world the past has provided us, old-timers, with a wealth of firsts we never imagined in our dreams, and yet, here we are, universally, worldwide, all experiencing our first pandemic, our first months in lockdown and our first times wearing face masks, as non-medical professionals.

On the second night at camp as we were finishing up yet another safari, Anderson took what appeared to be a new route back over unpaved bush areas.  Bouncing about, we all giggled over the new route wondering why we were taking this route. With the gates to the reserve locking at 6:30 pm, we were late getting out. We’d assumed this new route was a way around going through the gates. Instead, suddenly we saw this campfire, to be surprised by everyone at camp, all guests and most staff were awaiting our arrival that tonight was the ritual “dinner in the bush” was a total surprise for the six of us.

Firsts are not always pleasant, as in the case of COVID-19, and many of us may prefer to have this event excised from our minds, which does nothing more than elicit painful thoughts and memories we wish had never happened. In our attempts at positivity, many of us strive to find meaning in even the most sorrowful of experiences to guide us through our lives, adding to our purpose and depth of character. 

The Maasai villagers were in attendance to sing and dance before or dinner as we all sat in a half-moon of comfortable chairs, enjoying appetizers and beverages, sharing our various safari stories. 

This period of COVID-19 still leaves me wondering what we’re supposed to learn from this. Each day, during the past seven months, as I walk the corridors, earbuds in my ears, listening to some informational podcasts, my mind wanders away from the voices I’m listening to that same question. “What am I supposed to learn from this “first?”

Look at my plate at the “bush dinner!” It was exciting to know that most of the meat and vegetables were within my dietary constraints, all prepared to perfection, seasoned with local spices. Once again, great job Chef Ambrose!

Was it resilience? Patience? Tolerance? We both already feel we’ve had these bases covered after living without a home for the past almost eight years, amid many stressful and challenging situations. We’ve often mentioned the need and commitment we’ve made to adaptability as, scenario after scenario, we were tested as to our ability to adapt. We not only managed but most often, somehow, we thrived.

After the bush dinner, we posed for a photo, although after a day on safari, I hardly felt photo-ready. Tom’s face was sunburned from the almost 8 hours we spent on safari that day, exposed to the elements, loving every minute. We couldn’t wait to put our clothing in the dirty laundry hamper to be washed, dried, and folded to perfection that was returned to our tent that same evening. This service was included in the all-inclusive pricing.

I suppose time will tell. Perhaps this query to ourselves on this topic will present itself somewhere in the times to come, once we’re blissfully removed from this confinement-type existence, purely predicated by an invisible toxin wafting through the world at a ravaging pace.

Ah, the naysayers who espouse this virus is a hoax! Those who have lost loved ones, young or old, don’t call this a hoax. 

On the first night, we both had the same entrée, a grilled sirloin steak atop a medley of sautéed vegetables. Tender, cooked exactly as requested, this steak required only a butter knife to cut it. Neither of us had appetizers or dessert that evening after having had lunch earlier in the day upon arrival.

As for today’s photos, they are a pleasant reminder of a “first” that we can easily determine its purpose, in its impact on our lives, the changes we’ve made, the adaptation we’ve embraced and the awe and appreciation we gleaned from such a glorious and memorable experience.

My nightly dessert of fine cheese and Kenya is grown cashews and macadamia nuts. The night of the “bush dinner” Chef Ambrose had remembered to bring these items for my dessert, as the only guest in camp unable to eat the traditional desserts. Wow!

Enjoy these photos with us, knowing our comments from the past event, seven years ago today, were heartfelt and passionate.

Enjoy your day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2019:

Coat of arms on shields at the entrance gate to Chepstow Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

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