Tag Archives: travel

Day 4 – Karatu, shopping, and the Masai Village

Karatu – Had a really good sleep best one of the trip. However, upon waking I remember that packing for our day and night at the Masai village needed to happen – I kept asking myself, how can I possibly bring all the things / clothes I will need for a stay in a Masai village? Wasn’t easy but I got it all into my small bag. I mean, how can you pack for a sort of unknown, known? Anyway, I did it. As I tend to always say, ‘if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.’

At breakfast later today as we had a more relaxed start. We headed back east again seeing what we didn’t see in the dark. Stopped in one spot for a few shots of the first baboons we saw. Stopped again at an overlook to Lake Manyara and got assaulted by the trinket sales guys. I made a mistake and didn’t bring any money, very dumb on my part.

After some great long wide landscapes of the Rift valley, the lake, and distant flocks of storks, pulled off at a very large open-air market, somewhat hot, dry and dusty, this market was filled with a throng of locals buying and selling stuff. We were quickly the subject of a great deal of attention and I again had to explain over and over, I don’t have any money! Everyone wants to be your new best friend. Met a guy ‘Emanuel,’ who followed me around through the whole walk. When he realized that I really didn’t have money, he was mostly happy to give me a running narrative on the market and stuff there. It’s only on Thursdays, it tends to be organized into places for common stuff like say shoes or fabric. Of course my new best friend was more interested in selling me something but we talked about a lot of different topics. One spot was the ‘Masai Shoe’ area. These shoes are pieces of tires with the sidewalls cut off and the sole just left to curve up on both ends. Men’s versions are plain with limited decorations, while women’s are highly decorated and a bit on the lighter side. Kinda reminded me of things I saw in Mexico a long time ago but these shoes were different as they were curved. After about a 30-minute walk through the market, we ended up at the cars and the high pressure vendors. Julie bought some stuff at high prices but really not much. Managed to get away. Sorry no photos there as we were warned that these folk might not be so receptive to this.

Back on the road to the Masai School (the entrance off road sign is above). Got there mid-day. Were mobbed by kids of course. We met the teachers there and then were cut loose to wander. There were only 7 classrooms, grades 1-7, and of the 7 teachers working there only 5 were available. We got an orientation from one of the teachers and we met the principal as well. Soon after this, the kids spilled out of the classrooms and it was a good thing we’d had training at the school in Moshi for this experience. TGL/kids/cameras/fun it all happened until around our lunchtime.

Here is a short video of the kids singing: IMGP0615

At lunchtime, we headed above the school to where our support team had set up shop. On folding metal tables with table cloth, we were served a fine meal of Tanzanian pizza hard to describe the topping but it had carrots and other things on it. It was delicious as was the deep-fried chicken and other stuff. Very cool to have your own cooks along on a Safari like this. After lunch, we had some more time with the school kids and then began the short ¼ mile walk over the hill to the village.

The first order of business was to meet with the chief of the village and request his approval for both our stay with them and the overnight stay in a boma. By now we’d learned the appropriate Swahili greetings but we had to get some coaching on greeting the Chief in Masai language. Also, women had to be 45 or older to shake the hand of the Chief. Anyway, the Chief, reported to be 105 year old or so (he’d been the Chief for the past 70 years or so, was very gracious and funny. He then asked Godloove to explain the Masai history and how they come to live in the village. Here is a short portion of this discussion. IMGP9502, the Chief is on the right seated. Formalities over, we were allowed the freedom of the village upon which we began to move around and explore the area.

Daniel and the Cheif’s son discussing issues.

There were two large baobab trees in the village and for me, those became prominent landmarks. Near dusk, we went back over the hill to a sit down bush dinner again provided by our support team, wow. Much later we were issued sleeping bags and we grabbed our overnight gear + camera stuff heading back to three bomas which had been prepared for us…not sure what that consisted of but killing cockroaches was part of the equation for sure. The plan was to try to do some astrophotography as it was REALLY dark there before we retired to our bomas. Now keep in mind that although the Masai live traditionally, they have headlamps, cell phones, and some other modern stuff. However, the bomas a mud walled wood reinforced circular structure which has a small fire pit in the center and is kept in near darkness, have no lights and not much ventilation either. More about that in Day 5’s post. Regardless, we headed up to one of the baobab trees for some light painting / star shots. The weather was not cooperating as a partial cloud cover obscured the sky. I did some light painting with my head lamp and helped some others get familiar with this quasi art form. Wasn’t overly happy with the results but it was instructive to some of the group regardless.

About midnight we found ourselves back at our assigned boma, ready to bed down for the night. What a day…

#TGLtanzania #thegivinglens

Day 3 – TGL Tanzania – Home visits and Ride to Karatu

Our day started with the usual wake ups and breakfast at the big table in Twiga House – the plan for the morning was our final visit to the school and then visits to several homes of our EEF students. The clear point was to enable us to better understand the issues faced by our kids. We arrived back at school to say goodbyes to the teachers and headmaster.

Some very nice words were said by the school staff, Sara, and Michael as well. Really had a warm feeling as we piled back into our bus with about 9 or so EEF students.

After a drive around somewhere near the school, down dirt roads, and surrounding fields, we stopped at a side road and walked a bit to the home of Yasin. We met his grandfather, brother Yafari, and baby Karim, father and mother. The small house, chicken coup, and surrounding banana trees made up their simple home. As we have learned greetings are very important in this culture and we greeted the family members. I hung back a bit as I really felt that I with my camera was intruding in their home. I know this wasn’t the case and they were clearly proud of their home, but I felt this none the less. Yasin was happy to show how he could use our cameras and we also did a family portrait for TGL and EEF.

I introduced myself to the Babu (grandfather) and told him in my limited Swahili that I was a grandfather too. He said I was too young but I took off my cap to show him my grey hair or the lack of it, he smiled and agreed I was a grandfather too…cool. Continue reading Day 3 – TGL Tanzania – Home visits and Ride to Karatu

Day 2 – TGL Tanzania

On Monday evening we had another lovely meal of simple food (some of which I’m never really sure what it is but rice and beans of some kind seem to be involved), It’s always good. Then – as I predicted more or less – it rained for quite a while.

Tuesday morning – Seems like 4am is the dog barking / call to prayer / rooster crowing hour. Could not sleep so I got up about and did my blog. My mind went back to Monday and those kids. As we were going to be at the school basically all day, there was a lot of doubt in my mind about how it would go. Elizabeth was also having sleeping issues and we both worked on images for about a hour and a half until nearly breakfast. After breakfast Michael our leader broke out the 20 donated point and shoot cameras for today’s teaching shoot with the school kids.

Packed up and loaded into our bus taking us to the school.

Upon arrival amid shouts of ‘Simba!’ (Daniel is known around here as Simba) we exited the bus onto – oh did I mention that it rained a lot – a muddy field. The kids mobbed us and already several kids wanted more jumps from me etc. It was already like a reunion. What fun.
Continue reading Day 2 – TGL Tanzania

Tanzania – Finally!

Dateline Moshi, Tanzania

After spending about 11 hours in Nairobi yesterday, the short 55-minute flight to Moshi, Tanzania was a relief. Nairobi was overcast which mostly stayed around all through flight. The plane broke through the cloud cover and a nice glory formed around the plane’s shadow, I had my phone off and couldn’t get a shot before it was running, however, although the image below is cell phone quality, I was able to get a shot of Mt. Kilimanjaro poking through the clouds! Very cool.

Continue reading Tanzania – Finally!

Leg 1 done, waiting for leg 2

Dateline Dubai International Airport, it’s 9:30 pm in this enormous airport. Friendly people and great shopping…on my return of course. The 15+ hour flight over the pole was long but good.

The screen on the flight today over the pole. Nice sea ice.

Slept ok, food good. Only issue was a annoyingly boorish women in the middle seat. Lift could be harder I guess. Anyway, thanks to Amanda’s TGL trip 3 years ago, I researched airport shower options. The Marharba lounge here is really nice with food and drink included. It’s 40+ pounds but worth it. I get to say here until midnight then take the train to my next flight at 1am local…

Next stop Nairobi…


#TGLtanzania #thegivinglens

SFO – Waiting for leg one

Got here a bit past 1pm, checked-in very quickly, TSA Precheck again! 2 minutes from entering to exiting, no scan, shoes off, just metal screen and I’m in. Very cool.

Me beginning my blog today.

Next stop Dubai…


#TGLtanzania #thegivinglens

Tanzania – 2

Well, two days to go before liftoff and I’m still adding and subtracting to all the photo equipment for Tanzania. Can’t even load it all into the pack yet to get the weight. Regardless, a lot of this will be used and needed on this journey. Will be working on the final clothes next.

However, have checked in for my flight and booked lounge time in Dubai for a shower etc. Less than 48-hours now to go.


#TGLtanzania #thegivinglens

Tanzania – 9

In 9 days I’ll board a flight from SFO and begin my journey to Tanzania for 20 days in country. So much yet to do and prepare but so much already done. This trip is about photography. Got some tips tonight from another photographer who was there this February. Basically, I’m on track for the trip. Working on Swahili and customs. The Facebook list for TGL is heating up and I think we are all feeling it.

I’ll post as often as I can. When in country it may be harder but my goal is to keep it up. That’s all for tonight.


#TGLtanzania #thegivinglens

Fort Ross and Salt Point

Mid August of 2014, I went with a meetup group from Fairfield to do an all day shoot first at Fort Ross State Park (SP) and then to Salt Point State Park both on the Sonoma Coast. I’ve been to both places numerous times and each has its moods and beauty. As it turned out the coastal weather was its usual gray overcast which made for somewhat less than exciting photography. However, the landscape photographer has quite often the task of making the best of the conditions and pulling out the images from it. Regardless, off we went to see what we could see. Here are some selected images from Fort Ross SP.

#1 – Cute seal on the rocks
Continue reading Fort Ross and Salt Point

Late Summer Visit to Trinity Lake

In early August last year, Sharon, Kyra, and I put the boats on the Pathfinder and headed north for a long drive to Trinity Lake in northern northern California. Upon arriving there, we met up with Amanda and Chris plus Chris’ family for a nice weekend of camping. While I didn’t do as much creative photography as I thought I might, I did get some nice images of the Trinity Lake area worth sharing. For one thing, there was a very active wild fire 6-8 miles northwest of us and at times during the day it really ruined the vistas an…the air quality as well, for another, Trinity Lake with the drought was down close to some 200 feet below normal and most artificial lakes like this are seldom picture postcard lovely when their bare sides are showing. On the other hand, this was also the weekend of the ‘super moon’ and I expected to try to capture a shot or two of this event, but again, the smokey skies as well as the terrain really limited my options. So here are some images from this weekend.

Late afternoon in the lake bed with smokey skies looking to launch our kayaks.
Continue reading Late Summer Visit to Trinity Lake