Whether I'm trying my best to not fall off an Icelandic glacier, or standing in an ice-cold stream in Austria, or watching a lioness snack on a zebra on the African plains, or (more often) just sitting at my desk overhearing 16-year-old girl gossip, every day's a holly-day for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tripod Dilemma Solved

We're about to board. Feeling a little "anxious" (as my mom would say) but very excited. And no worries on where to put the tripod...I left it in the trunk of my car. So all my photos taken with the mega-zoom lens will be blurry...oh well. I'll say I did it on purpose in the name of art. Besides that, everything has gone well so far. Africa may not be ready for us, but we're ready for them!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Should Sell Tickets to This

I am almost finished packing. Backpack: 35 pounds. Duffle: 28 pounds. Camera Bag: 15 pounds. Watching me try to get the backpack on my back and the camera bag and duffle on my shoulders by myself and carry it up and down the stairs four times as suggested by campers much more experienced than I: PRICELESS. I should do the whole thing all over again tomorrow night and sell tickets for the viewing of such activity. Trust me, it would be much more entertaining than most of the summer movies out right now, and I will only charge $7 a ticket. OK, $5. And the first person that shows up and helps me figure out where the tripod will fit gets in for free!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tanzania, Houston Has a Problem

OK, so I just weighed my backpack and my camera bag, both of which I will be carrying on my body quite a bit during the safari. 29 pounds. Perfect! Except that the backpack only has my sleeping bag, sleeping mat and collapsable chair in it. That's it. No clothes. No stash of granola bars and almonds. No mosquito net or cute floppy hat. No toiletries, no tripod, no Tevas. The guy at REI told me not to carry more than one fourth of my body weight on my back. (He added "one third if you're in really good shape." OK, so one fourth.) I need to gain 60 pounds this weekend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Into Africa

In ten days, I will be walking through an African village just outside of Arusha, Tanzania. I might as well be landing on Mars. I have no idea what to expect. I am quite sure whatever expectations I have at this point will be proven completely wrong, for better or for worse. I've wanted to go to Africa since I was a little girl. I remember looking at photos of the bare-chested women and their babies in the Time-Life books that sat on a shelf in our dining room. I was fascinated by the images of the villagers and the animals and the sunsets. To think that I am now going to see those things in person 30 years after looking at them in a book excites me and scares me at the same time. I am sure I will see things more magical than I ever imagined and things that make me more sad than ever before. I've seen some beautiful places and I've seen poverty and horrible living conditions, but something tells me I will experience both of these things in a whole new way.

I am fortunate to be traveling with my friend and fellow teacher, Cathy Bottoms, and 13 photography students. The trip, sponsored by National Geographic, will last three weeks. To see Africa through the eyes of students will add a whole new dimension to the trip. And to help them see the trip through a camera lens, while hopefully improving my own photography skills, is an opportunity for which I will be forever grateful. We will spend part of our time doing community service work in a small village near Arusha, helping build a water supply system and getting to experience daily life in the village. We will then spend seven days on safari, traveling with a National Geographic photographer. Of course I am excited about that part of the trip, as I have dreamed of seeing elephants and giraffes and lions in the environment they're supposed to be in rather than behind bars at a zoo; but I am also very much looking forward to meeting the people of the village and spending time with the children there. And in some very minute way, I am looking forward to proving to my family and friends and myself that I CAN sleep on the ground in a tent and I CAN go a week without a shower and I CAN hike several miles with a 30 pound (if I'm lucky!...maybe 35?) backpack on my back.

Let the adventure of a lifetime begin...