The Last Two Legs of My Africa Trip

(Click here for Part One, and here for Part Two.)

Well, I’ve been home for over a week now and between trying to get caught up on work and getting my sleep back in order (apparently jet lag can last awhile) I have not yet done the final post describing the last two countries of my part of the trip — Morocco and Nigeria. Let’s correct that now.

Day 19: Thursday, July 20 — We arrive in Morocco early in the morning (around 8) but cannot check into our hotel until the afternoon (2ish). Apart from that anticipated bump in the road the hotel was nice, among the highlights of our short stay in Casablanca.

We survived our Red Eye flight and now are enjoying breakfast in Casablanca!

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Day 20: Friday, July 21 — We take a tour of the Hassan II Mosque in the morning and then explore the markets in the afternoon.

#Casablanca #morocco

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Continue reading “The Last Two Legs of My Africa Trip”

The Adventures Of Week 2.5 In Our Africa Travels

OK everyone, as I type this it’s Wednesday, July 19, 9:40 PM, and we’re getting picked up from our hotel here in Dakar in about 45 minutes for a drive to the airport (not far away.) Our flight to Casablanca will then take off several hours later and we should arrive around 6 or 7 and make it to our hotel by 8 AM where we’ll cross our fingers that a room will be available and we can get in early before our afternoon check-in.

So as the Senegal portion of our trip comes to a close, now seems a good time to summarize our recent adventures.

Day 7: Saturday, July 8 — a Travel Day from Dakar to Fathala Wildlife Reserve

We left Dakar around 7 or 8 in the morning and the drive to Fathala was supposed to take five hours. It took a little bit longer as the route we took included a trip on a ferry across a lake. But we were very happy with our driver, Pape, who we’d hired to drive us there and pick us up on Tuesday morning.

When we arrived we encountered two ostriches filled with personality:

Ostriches are so cool. Two of them greet visitors at the gate of Fathala – their necks are so goofy. 😊

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The accommodations at Fathala are wonderful. The rooms are tents that are very modernized — wooden floors, plumbing, electricity, a small refrigerator, shower, bathtub, and toilet. We also had a porch with two West African Lazy chairs. (We so enjoyed these chairs that later in our trip we decided to acquire some.)

April felt sick for much of the trip, when we arrived she prayed that it would rain and lo and behold it did start coming down and thundering. We sat out on our porch and just took it in all around us while watching the plains before us as animals grazed. Such a peaceful way to end a day of travels.

Days 8 and 9: Sunday July 9 and Monday July 10 — Two full days at Fathala Wildlife Reserve

What Fathala is perhaps best known for is its “lion walking” attraction. That was first on our priority list on Sunday. The two lions have been trained since birth to respect the African walking stick, so each guest is issued one before entering the lion enclosure and walking with them on a set route that includes plenty of spots for picture posing:

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April & I had a blast on the lion walk!

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Here’s some video that April shot of the restaurant/lounge/reception/pool area:

I'm at @fathalareserve

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For our second day’s adventure we took a tour of the villages nearby Fathala. The highlight was a chance to see and learn about this giant tree, believed to be over a thousand years old:

#senegal #silkcottontree 1000 years old

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Here I am inside of the giant, ancient tree. 😃 #Joy of #Travel

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Continue reading “The Adventures Of Week 2.5 In Our Africa Travels”

The First Week of Our African Odyssey…

Travel DAYS: Sunday, July 2 – Tuesday, July 4

The flight from LA to Dubai went across Greenland and produced memorable views like this one:

A view of the permanent sunset at the top of the globe, from my plane ride from LA to Dubai yesterday.

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The flight on Emirates was among the best I’ve ever had. In addition to tons of new movies, TV shows, and albums, they also had some classics, so I thought it appropriate to rewatch Casablanca given that we’ll be there in a few weeks:

I picked up my first Thomas Pynchon novel on Saturday,  Inherent Vice, for the plane rides, primarily because I liked the movie and have been studying the genre (LA Detective mystery ala Raymond Chandler):

Summer travel reading: Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice. Fantastic so far. #Mystery #detective #fiction #novel

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Day 4, First Day of Exploring Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, July 5:

For our first stop we hit up the most noticeable monument, a controversial $28 million dollar giant statue that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty. Here’s April, excited:

Here was @aprilbey_ at the African Renaissance Monument on Wednesday. 😎

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Inside the base of the statue they have a small museum, art galleries, and meeting rooms for ambassadors and foreign dignitaries.

Why so controversial? Continue reading “The First Week of Our African Odyssey…”

April’s Asian Odyssey Begins…

April left for her Bali trip late Wednesday night and has now arrived. There’s a 13-hour time difference. Here are the first of her photos:

 

 

 

 

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#taipei

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Continue reading “April’s Asian Odyssey Begins…”

Just Maura & Me At the Hobbit Hole For A Bit…

Hilltop Queen Maura decrees an afternoon working outside. The perfect weather further insists. I comply. #siberianhusky

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Much has been afoot the past few weeks to push my attention away from consistent blogging. I offer my apologies, dear readers.

The primary challenge confronting us concluded yesterday: April left to begin her travels. I’ll be joining her in 10 days’ time. For now it’s just the Maura dog and me in our quiet hobbit hole in the hills…

I’ll try and pick up the blogging pace more over the remaining days before the trip starts and then will hopefully be able to begin daily or every-other-day travel blogging from Africa, all through July…

A New Series, Essential Authors #1: Andrew Klavan

I start a new series today at Smash Cut Culture, the blog of Taliesin Nexus:

Two years ago, I joined Liberty Island Media, a start-up book publishing company focusing on genre fiction, as their West Coast Editor and began acquiring and editing novels. I also started writing my own novels and helping other writers develop their stories. Now, in this ongoing series at Smash Cut Culture I’m going to start highlighting the authors who I’ve returned to most often in working with writers. As I’ve studied and met both fiction and non-fiction writers over the years these are the ones with the most depth, originality, and humanity. Reading their books and understanding the ideas that matter to them has helped change my life for the better and I hope it can do the same for you.

Andrew Klavan has worn many writer’s hats over the years: hard-boiled thriller novelist, Hollywood screenwriter, essayist for The Wall Street Journal and contributing editor for City Journal, longtime new media innovator in blogging, hilarious YouTube videos, podcasting at the Daily Wire, and now celebrated memoirist with The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.

I’ve known Klavan since 2009 when I started editing full time; I came to know him better from 2011-2015 as his editor for his columns and blog posts. (Not that Klavan ever needed much editing!) See this reflection I wrote about him and the potential of his ideas in 2013. In more recent years I’ve been particularly interested in coming to understand how Klavan’s novels have generated such success for him, and in turn communicating those lessons to writers—and myself.

Read the rest at Smash Cut Culture…

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June 6, 2017, 8:34 AM: Future updates with links, photos, and comments on all Klavan-related writings will go here.

Your Favorite Beatles Album Defines You

So today has been the celebration for the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I admit to not participating in the festivities, even though I remain a Beatle fanatic, having been raised on their music, in their pop culture pagan faith since probably before birth. I don’t particularly need to spell out the album’s inadequacies, numerous “think pieces” already have. Of the album’s 13 tracks, only a handful have become classics of the Beatles’ canon.

But there’s one in particular that I’ll stick my neck out for any day of the week, George Harrison’s contribution:

We were talking
About the love that’s gone so cold
And the people who gain the world
And lose their soul
They don’t know, they can’t see
Are you one of them

When you’ve seen beyond yourself
Then you may find
Peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come
When you see we’re all one
And life flows on within you and without you

Yes, I admit my biases: I do prefer the Beatles when they’re in mystical mode and of the four George is probably the one I end sympathizing with most. (I used to identify with John Lennon for many years — during my rebellious adolescent period.) But now the artistry and spirituality of George seems a better fit:

I’m more of a White Album Beatles fan. The individualism and experimentalism of the album are still what makes it resonate for me — the way that the songs allowed each member of the band to try innovations and parodies and provocations.

If you’re a Beatles fan which album is your favorite? And how do you see your personality or your own artistic tendencies reflected in it? Which tracks are your favorites?