Farewell to Jambo, Jambo

As with any trip you take or any endeavor you engage in (not trying to sound too morbid, but…), one day you start and before you know it it’s all over. We were told to leave our duffel bags (easier than suitcases to cram into a limited space) outside our rooms at the crack of dawn, and the staff would bring them to the reception area to be loaded into the Land Cruisers. The staff at the Oldeani Mountain Lodge gave us a final round of ‘jambo, jambo,’ and that was it, we were off for our final day in Tanzania. Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 6)

It’s been several weeks since my shul, Musar Avicha, (as with all the other houses of worship in these environs) was reluctantly closed for business. Sooner or later, the virus and our consequent forced isolation will go the way of all viruses (until it returns in some mutated form), and we will return to our assigned seats and resume praying together. That means we’ll be singing or reciting the repetition of the Amidah Shabbat morning. Matai timloch b’tzion (when will God rule over Zion?). Even here in the Land, we sometimes get somebody doing it in Ashkenaziz, when it becomes Masai timloch b’tzion. What, you want an African tribesman to rule over us? Vas is daz? Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 5)

It’s not just us – assuming that we are part of ‘us,’ a dubious proposition at best. The ‘us,’ or maybe the ‘them’ I’m referring to are the white Europeans who, as part of their legacy, trashed several continents ecologically and impoverished or enslaved whole populations. There’s a reason why the American bison almost became extinct. You can decide for yourself whether you consider yourself or your ancestors as part of the problem – or not.

Either way, it’s not just ‘whitey’ who is responsible for this human depopulation. The Tanzanian government, taking its cue from the Europeans, is doing a first-rate job of keeping the various antelope species safe and sound, but as far as the humans wandering around, that’s what this article is all about. Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 4)

Once we had decided to ‘go on safari,’ and we had sent our money to Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours, I decided to look at an on-line map to find out exactly where we would be heading. Don’t ask me why, but looking at a map gives me a sense of security, as if I would learn something I didn’t know before.

It looked as if all the places we were scheduled to visit were in close proximity. Of course, there’s ‘close,’ and then there’s ‘close.’ I could mean ‘close,’ as in it takes us twenty minutes to walk to the mall, as opposed to the folks who live down the hill, who need a bus ride to get to the same destination. I wouldn’t consider ourselves ‘close’ to Tel Aviv, although it’s now only a half an hour train ride from Jerusalem. Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 3)

It may be anti-climactic to be writing about our safari just now, with all the travel restrictions, bans, quarantines, and lockdowns out there, but I will resolutely press on with my narrative, no matter what. Plus, I have a lot of time on my hands to work on these posts! Let me begin by mentioning an Op-Ed piece in our edition of the NY Times, written well before the latest difficulties, by an activist who was, shall we say a little too frenetic, suggesting that people stop traveling by airplane in order to Save the Planet. (Guess what: he got his wish!) My off-the-top-of-my-head reaction was to envision the likelihood of the Schwartz family with their four children bicycling from New Jersey to Florida to visit grandma. (No!) A more considered response came a few days later by another interested party, who reminded one and all of the virtues of environmental tourism. The fact that folks would come from all over to gawk at exotic animals in far away places with strange sounding names – providing the local human population with a way of making a living – was keeping those exotic animals safe and sound. Otherwise, their habitats might well be turned into cattle ranches, because what the planet needs now, more than anything else, is another ten million burgers. Every day, that is. Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 2)

(Before I begin: a concerned reader, responding to my last article, suggested that I might have been foolish to travel – considering my age – given the current concerns about the corona virus. To allay any fears, let me mention that when our plane arrived at both the Kigali and the Kilimanjaro airports, all the passengers were interviewed and checked by a team of doctors. Of course, back then we were asked only if we had come back from China in the last two weeks; unfortunately, the list of countries has expanded greatly until now it’s most of the world. As far as I know, there have been no reported cases of the virus in either Rwanda or Tanzania, where we were. So I’m probably ‘safe,’ at least as safe as anybody else is, given the ability of corona to spread itself around at the blink of an eye. I should add that, unlike other ‘viruses,’ this one is not spread over the internet, meaning you don’t need to disinfect your phone or computer screen, at least on my account. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.) Continue reading

Jambo, Jambo (Part 1)

Don’t step in any elephant poo, said Irwin, and that was useful advice – unlike the well-worn suggestion to ‘break a leg’ (something I heard all the time back in the days when I was on-stage with Encore!) – especially considering where we would be going. Please understand that a safari to Tanzania – where we just might come across some elephants and their ‘leavings’ – was not what I had planned or had in mind. My original wish-list itinerary for this year had been: Feb. 9, attend Sommelier in Tel Aviv, the most prestigious wine-tasting event in Israel; and, whenever they finalized the dates in June, the kosher culinary trip to Tuscany (where we would make our own pasta, dig for truffles, and visit Terra diSete, the only kosher winery in that part of the world).

My plans for the wine-tasting event on Feb. 9 fell by the wayside, victim of another four-day AACI study trip, where we would be staying at a hotel with a breath-taking view of the Mediterranean and, among other things, visiting the local sea turtle rescue facility. But then, that plan got changed as well at the last minute.

When we went on an AACI-sponsored trip to Morocco (you remember Morocco, don’t you?), we had the services of Cindy Kline as our guide, and I’ve been in touch with her on Facebook ever since. She sent me a message on WhatsApp (kind of risky, since I rarely look there), something to the effect of: I know it’s last minute, but would you and Barbara like to join a trip to Tanzania? Because I am a dutiful husband, I showed my wife the message, which got her truly excited. Have Cindy send me the information, which she did. Continue reading

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (part 6)

They don’t have a sign like this, but there ought to be one: Sic transit Gloria mundi (So passes the glory of the world), and it should be placed prominently at the port in Dubrovnik for all to see and contemplate. Today, this city is merely the fourth largest in Croatia, but at the height of its glory, Dubrovnik (then known as Ragusa) was a rival of Venice as a regional maritime center. What’s left is an Old City that dates back centuries in time and is now a UNESCO heritage site. Like its former rival, huge numbers of tourists clog its streets during peak season – another reason to show up at the end of October. (I told you so, Barbara….) Continue reading

Sailing the Wine Dark Sea (part 5)

Being an ex-pat American living in Israel, I generally leave it to others to pontificate about the merits and demerits of Brexit, as in England leaving the European Union. I don’t pay much attention to the European Union period, at least most of the time. However, having an ‘open border’ does come in handy once in a while.

Day 8 of our cruise brought us to the very top of the Adriatic to the venerable city of Trieste, our next scheduled stop. However (a big ‘however’), the Golden Iris did not dock in Trieste, but in Koper, which is a half an hour bus ride away AND is in Slovenia (which is not the same as Slovakia). If you ask me why our ship couldn’t or didn’t dock in the port city of Trieste, I don’t know; it never occurred to me to ask, nobody else thought to ask, and nobody bothered to explain why. We just did, and that meant crossing the border between two countries, which at some time pre-E.U. might have meant the usual bureaucratic border control folderol. These days? You just keep going on the highway, and nobody thinks twice about it. Even the fact that we were using a Slovenian guide to show us around an Italian city didn’t seem at all out-of-the-ordinary. Continue reading