Friday, August 22, 2014

Documentaries that will open your mind and empower change

I just spent two weeks away from my family having some amazing life changing experiences.
First, I spent time in rural Uganda with World Vision
where we had the opportunity to see the good work that is happening in the community that our church has partnered with on the other side of the world.

Then, some of the team flew to Kenya to the Masai Mara where we spent time on safari.
You can read and see pictures from my safari here and here.

Both of these experiences were opportunities that I have dreamed about my whole life and I was thankful to have the chance to get to actually experience them in the most wonderful way.
When you go on a trip of a lifetime, the only thing that would make it better would be if you had the people that you love there with you experiencing the same thing that you are experiencing.

Thanks to the wonders of video and Netflix
{thank you baby Jesus for Netflix}
I have the opportunity to give a glimpse into some of the culture and wildlife
 that I was able to experience while on my trip and I am able to dig deeper into some of the issues that are facing the people that I grew to love.

Netflix offers an Animal Planet series called Safari that takes an inside look at South Africa's diverse animal species.  And while it isn't the same as being on that Land Cruiser with me in the Mara, it does a pretty good job of painting the picture of what safari really looks like.

I had some amazing experiences getting to see how the people in Uganda live
and my heart will never be the same.

The following titles are available on Netflix and I am looking forward to seeing some inside glimpses into other people's experiences in Uganda and what they are doing to spread the love of Jesus.

Women around the world lack basic health care and nutrition and it places not only the mother in danger, it places the newborn in danger as well.
No Woman No Cry is a documentary that looks at maternal mortality around the world.
These were issues we saw being addressed by World Vision in Buliisa, Uganda, and while things aren't perfect, there is hope.

I added Madonna's documentary I Am Because We Are to my cue because many of the same problems the African country of Malawi faces are similar to those facing millions of children, including the precious children  from Buliisa, whose faces will be forever ingrained in my mind.

Half the Sky is a documentary filmed in 10 countries that introduces us to women who are struggling in the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
It is only by the grace of God that I was born a woman in America, but I long to know how I can relate and take a moment to walk a mile in another woman's shoes.

Netflix offers many more documentaries that will empower and change you, these are just a few of the titles that I put at the top of my list to watch so that I don't forget about the needs half way around the world.

Have you ever watched a documentary that has changed you?

disclaimer: I am part of Netflix stream team and receive free streaming. My opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I ate ox balls

After our group left Uganda, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya.
Our group had discussed wanting to stop at Carnivore restaurant before we even left the states.
We happened to have some time before boarding our plane to the Masai Mara.

Carnivore is a meat lovers dream and most famous for their game meat.
The meat is skewered on Masai swords and cooked on coals.

It's then shaved off of the swords and onto your cast iron plate giving you as much meat to eat as your little heart desires.

This was the menu on the day that we ate there.
I tried a little bit of everything...
even the ox balls.

 Over dinner at home a few nights ago, I was sharing my dining experience with the family.
No one was impressed or wondering what ostrich meat balls or crocodile tasted like,
they wanted to know about the ox balls.

This is the actual conversation that was had at the dinner table.
Owen: you ate ox balls or like meatballs made out of ox?
Mom: like ox balls
Dad: yep, like those kind of balls
Owen: why would anyone eat those?
Mom: I don't know, maybe for the experience.
Dad: you should have said you were allergic to nuts.

I missed my family!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Safari in the Masai Mara continued

In case you missed it, I shared some of my safari pictures 
from my recent trip to the Masai Mara on Thursday.

I was thankful that one of the members of our group to Uganda shared the use of his nicer camera with me, 
because it was fun to pretend I was a National Geographic photographer for a hot minute.

The safari was an amazing experience.
One that I thought I could only dream about.
So forgive me if this post is picture heavy.
I didn't want to forget a second!

One of the amazing aspects of the animal kingdom is how groups of animals take care of each other.
These topi's have two guards while the rest of the herd grazes.

It was a rare sighting, but we were lucky to see a black rhino on our safari.

There are only about 8 rhinos left in the Masai Mara because of poachers.
Seriously people, no one needs a rhino horn that badly!

We were fortunate also, that we saw a lot of big cats on our trip.
Like a lot a lot.
It seemed like they were always dotting the horizon.
This was a pride of younger lions with their mother close by.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were in the Mara at the perfect time
 for the great wildebeest migration.
I don't know that I can accurately describe just how many wildebeest there are during this time.

There are over two million {yes, with an m}
 that make the trek into the Mara seeking grass to feed on.
It's amazing because you can look over the Savannah and just see ribbons of black where the wildebeest are lined up in a herd all grazing together.

zebra love

We spotted this cheetah a few days in a row.
It was amazing watching it stalk it's prey.

I must confess that after awhile on safari, you start to get blood thirsty.
You see animals feasting on fresh kills, and you get all circle of life out there,
but the desire to see the whole thing take place is intense.
We were willing some animals just to make their move and see them in action.

Even the smallest creatures are pretty spectacular.

impalas...and no, not the Chevy kind.

 A giraffe reuniting with his wildebeest friends

I wanted nothing more than to see a wildebeest stampede cross the river all Lion King like.
We waited for quite some time at this river crossing hoping to see just one wildebeest start the crossing.
It only takes one and then the rest follow, though the wildebeest did nothing more than get a drink.

Here's a close up.
I'm wondering if they are thinking about it but then surveying the huge numbers of crocs in the water and deciding against it.

These may look like big rocks, but it's a combination of hippos and crocs hanging out in the water together.

Just in case you were thinking of driving beyond that point, 
this guy is waiting to steer {ha ha, get it...steer..} you away.

Baby hippos and their mama's sunning themselves.

There are a few sanctioned break stops that you can make in the Mara,
this point in the river was one of them.
We were lucky enough to get to watch two crocodiles with a fresh zebra kill.
It always amazed me that the zebras stayed so close to the kill.
It's like, "hey, there's my friend George. Wonder what he's doing with that crocodile over there."
But I guess at that point, the crocs were busy feasting, so they were relatively safe...

Or so they thought.
It takes 2-3 crocodiles to take down an animal.
Crocodiles don't like to share their kill and the other crocs get a taste of blood and start getting all predatory.
Or maybe they are all predatory already.
I have no idea.  
Remember, I'm just pretending to be all National Geographic with my fancy pants camera.

Anyway, we watched several other crocodiles head in towards the group of unsuspecting zebras while they were getting a drink and pretty much scare the living daylights out of them.

The crocs would move in and the zebras and wildebeest would run out.
Then after about a second when the zebras would forget, they would go in for another drink.
The whole cycle continued for 20 minutes at least while we watched.
Hungry to see a crocodile actually get a kill we waited, but never were rewarded during out wait.

This hippo on the other bank of the river just seemed happily oblivious to the drama playing out in front of her. 

 Once we parted ways with the crocs and zebras, we saw this zebra bleeding out at the top of the hill from where the other zebra friends were getting their drink.
It had obviously gotten a bite out of it from the crocodiles and managed to get away before bleeding out and becoming easy lion dinner.

The next day we saw the zebra head in the hands of this hyena

and these jackals taking care of the ribs that the lions had already gotten to.

The vultures weren't far behind taking care of the rest.
Circle of life people.
Pretty awesome stuff.

All this happening, while my new favorite friends the giraffes hang out munching on trees.

Look at those faces!

Those eyelashes!
Seriously, why do women not say I want eyelashes like a giraffe more often?

I was smitten with this baby elephant.
Her mama wasn't far behind in those trees,
but like any mama, she stayed far enough behind to let this little one seek independence, but was close enough in case she needed anything.

nursing elephant baby
cue awing now.

Check out this band of brothers out on the prowl.

This is their mama hanging back to see what her pride comes up with.

It was pretty amazing sitting and watching this mother lion while the elephant and giraffe wandered behind.
Cue the Lion King soundtrack people, we were having a moment!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Mara, 
we found another pride of lions with their adolescent cubs.

We were told they were fresh off of a kill, though they seemed to perk up a bit when they saw these topi's walk by.

Nap time seemed more enticing then exerting the effort to catch anything.
It's hard to tell but that lion on the far right was laying on it's back.
Sort of like my dog does.
It should be a new In Style magazine segment:
"Cats in the Wild, they are just like our animals"

So after seeing all these lions, we started to get choosy and decided we wanted to hunt out a male lion.
You know, find Mufasa and stuff.
Some lion that had a long mane of hair blowing in the wind and could roar so loud it would set off car alarms in the next village.
We found him.
Actually we found not just one male lion, we found three.
Three brothers, though this guy was the only one up and moving,
the other two were taking a little siesta.

This lion had his eye on a cape buffalo, but these buffalo would have nothing of it.
We watched a whole herd of buffalo chase down and run off this lion.
It was pretty spectacular.

Defeated, but still the king of the jungle.

I think the part of safari that I will never forget is looking up on the horizon and seeing the most amazing animals all lined up.
It's breathtaking, and so very surreal.

Before we left the Mara, we were able to witness an ostrich seeking out a mate.
The male is the one with the pink legs.
Apparently, during their mating ritual, they bow down to one another and show their feathers.

This male picked two females but one of the females was having none of his two timing ways and seriously slapped the other with the most amazing crack of her feathers and sent the other ostrich on her way.

A safari road block.

Seriously, safari was one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life.
It was made that much better by having an amazing camp to come back to when we were done.
The food was unbelievably amazing!
Most of it coming from their own personal garden in the middle of the camp compound.

The Masai tribe wandered in and out of the camp all day

sharing their culture and their life with us.

I'm not a big camper.
In fact, I hate tent camping.
But these tents, well, these tents I can handle!
My photos of the inside of the tent don't do them justice.
If you want to see pictures of the inside of the tent, you can find them on the Kichwa Tembo website.

The most charming {perhaps not the best use of the word} 
part of the camp were these Pumbaa's that would wander freely around camp.
This guy was helping himself to a drink out of the pool.

Africa was a dream trip.
And while it's safe to say I can cross that one off of my bucket list, 
I want nothing more than to return again one day.

Do you have a dream location for a trip that you want to go on?