Wednesday, January 25, 2017

And the wait continues

For all four safaris now, I've realized that once you've booked (which in my case was in June!) it is truly all over but the waiting.  There's nothing you can do to bide your time. Now that I have all the gear and the camera and know how it all works, all I can do to make the time go by is read trip reports on Safaritalk and wonder how my safari will go.

We had our pre-departure call with our Rwanda safari planner this week.  It was pretty cut and dry.  She's very organized and knows what we need to know.  Plus I've found a good bunch of folks on Safaritalk who have done this, so not a lot of questions left.

After different answers from different people, I tried again and was able to successfully submit my Rwandan visa application.  I'd been instructed by the Rwandan government that US citizens just get it on arrival, but other US travelers had gotten it online.  I'd just like to have it in hand when I land, to cut down on the nonsense that needs to be done after 20 hours in transit.

I found a lightweight backpack for the gorilla trekking.  It's small enough that it shouldn't take up much space in my luggage.  I've figured out snacks to bring and have started wearing my hiking boots on my commute to work to break them in.  My trainer also has me doing lots of strength work for my legs and I'm running hills and the step mill regularly to get used to that.  Truly, I am scraping bottom for things to do "to get ready"!

I'll organize the cash I'm bringing to account for the tips I'll have to give and money to hire porters and whatnot this weekend.  And I'll likely practice pack just to prove to myself that I can go carry-on again!

This past weekend I watched both Hotel Rwanda and Gorillas in the Mist to get myself up to speed on those stories again.  I did have a "oh shit" moment though when I saw the guides using machetes to hack through vegetation to get through to the gorillas.  Yes, that'll be me.  Yes, I'm doing that.  Gulp.

I'm not wholly focused on Rwanda, although that's been the most mental overhead for me this time.  I am of course quite anxious to get back to my beloved Mara and see the cats and elephants at Sheldricks again.  But that's the last part of the trip and I can't wish it away so soon!  Oh how I want to relax like I did last year again!

Nearly there.  Just some more waiting to get through.

Monday, January 2, 2017

I can say "this year" and "next month" now!

With the new year, I can finally say "this year I'm going on safari" and now I can even say "next month I'm going on safari".  When I go back to work tomorrow I'll officially be in the 30s in my countdown.  Phew.  The last few months have flown.  But I know that January and the little bit of February I have to wait through can be cruel.

Since I last wrote I did indeed splurge on a new camera.  This one is crazy expensive but I didn't trust my Nikon anymore and wanted a significant enough upgrade without going full-on DSLR.  I wanted a DSLR but I just don't want to deal with changing lenses in the dustiest of all dust conditions.  So I have spent some significant time learning how to use this camera, including another class at Hunt's Photo where I bought it.  I feel good about it.  I know I can't buy myself better photos, but I think putting some time and attention into this camera will pay off.

To that end, I then had to get a battery charger, spare batteries and a bunch of memory cards.   I got the battery charger, a battery and a couple memory cards for Christmas, and topped that off with a well-placed Amazon order.  As of right now, I'm going with four batteries and seven memory cards.  I'm considering shooting RAW and JPEG this time, which may mean needing more memory cards.  The jury is still out on that decision though.

I also ordered my roll-on insect repellant and have my eye on a new Tilley hat.  I can't count the number of hats I've bought and not worn, but maybe this time will be different.  We'll see.

I applied for and got my Kenyan visa already.  I applied late on December 22nd and it was in my email on Christmas morning.  I wish the Rwandan visa were that easy.  So far I've submitted a rudimentary form and got a confirmation number and that's it.  Strange.  I'd really like to get them both ahead of time just not to worry about them when we get there.

My trainer has been great about preparing me for hiking in Rwanda.  The only real way to prepare is to actually hike but given the weather here, I'm instead spending hours on the step mill and doing a lot of lower body and core strength work.  And I'm starting to wear my hiking boots everywhere to break them in.  The altitude is something I can't prepare for.

All that is really left is getting my prescriptions refilled for anti-malarial, Cipro and Ambien.  Then it's truly over but the waiting and the packing.

With it being the dead of winter here, there is the worrying about getting sick and freakish winter storms stranding me here.  I hold my breath until I get to the airport and actually depart.  But this time  it's more critical that I stay healthy as I cannot be sick and expose the gorillas to my illness.  So I'll be starting up a heavy dose of probiotic and Emergen-C in late January.  And hold my breath just about everywhere I go between now and then.