Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Africa: Sabi Sabi LIONS!

During yesterday's evening game drive, we had seen two male lions which was exciting, but they were sound asleep having substantially filled up their tummies. At dinner back at the lodge, Voster our guide, said, "Let's make a plan. Instead of leaving at 6:00 AM for the next day's drive, let's leave at 5:30 and maybe spot the lions more active." Also, since the private game reserves have a two vehicle per sighting rule, this plan might allow us to get to the sighting quickly without waiting in a queue. 

Note - This is important to remember as national parks such as Kruger (which Sabi Sabi abuts) do not have this rule, so vehicle after vehicle arrive at a sighting. A bush traffic jam. 

We all had to agree on the plan because Voster could not change the time without all of us wanting to leave early. Unfortunately, one man said, "No way!" leaving us to the original departure time. 

So we were a little less optimistic as we set out because the earlier you go, the better, and we were leaving later. We did spot some rhinos and an impressive eagle, but everyone's mind was on the lions as this was our last chance to view them before we all scattered in different directions upon departure. 

Finally, Voster said there had been a fresh kill, and the pride had been spotted, so we could go have a look. When we rounded the corner (after going up and down the sand hills like a bush roller coaster), we spied a group of moms and their cubs. However, they were sprawled under a tree fast asleep like stuffed animals upon a child's bed. 

Suddenly, a lone vulture appeared, and one of the females stirred. Others soon followed. The message was clear: their larder was threatened and nap time would have to wait. As the females stood, many cubs also jumped up and began to frolic. It was a sight to behold. One cub was only a month old, while the others were at different ages under a year. 

A bit later, one mama led the cubs into the woods, and Voster said that she may be worried about males coming. They will kill cubs that are not their own, forcing the female into estrous so that they can mate. 

But back out onto the open plains they soon came, brothers and sisters running and playing. The youngest hopped on a reclining female for some cuddling. Once received, the little one then tried to race through a bush. He got stuck and his plaintive cries filled the air. A female came to his rescue, and we thought she would pick him up by the scruff of his neck to extricate him. This motion was performed several times but the little one had no time for such a rescue and soon got free on his own. Male pride even at one month old!

We repositioned so we could actually see the fresh water buffalo kill. Two moms decided to have a snack which was quickly investigated by an older cub. All too soon (even though we had been viewing for over thirty minutes), it was time for us to allow another vehicle to move into our spot, and we headed back to the lodge and breakfast. 

The safari sights we saw were incredible at each lodge, but I think Sabi Sabi was able to provide better close-up viewing. (We were so close, I did not need binoculars.) Voster said the animals were accustomed to the presence of vehicles with seated viewers from a very young age (as with the one month old cub), so they completely ignored us, and I never felt threatened. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Africa: Morning bush walk

After breakfast, we set out on a bush walk with Voster and Jesse. Both had loaded bolt action rifles. Before we started, we were instructed to follow Voster's signals: a fist in the air meant freeze, a hand up meant stop and a hand parallel to the ground meant get low. Under no conditions were we to run as that means we are prey.

Voster started by showing us a huge indentation in the sand which meant an elephant had possible laid down. Elephants don't usually do that as it is hard to get up. When they do rest down low, they may lean against a termite mound.

Speaking of termites, we learned their colonies are similar to ants. Depending on the size of their mounds, they can be hundreds or thousands of years old. We looked at one that was six hundred years old. They build them with spit and one grain of sand at a time. Some termite mounds have holes at the top used for "air conditioning" as the hot air is released. Sometimes termite mounds are abandoned after the queen dies. Then they become dens for hyenas (such as the one in the video I sent) or wild dogs.

Voster pointed out some yellow thrashing grass which is used for roofing because nothing eats it. Other facts: Hyena poop is white because they eat bones. Then turtles eat the poop to strengthen their shells. You can count the lines on a shell to determine the turtle's age. Impalas can hold onto their babies for up to 28 additional days if there is no rain, and the babies might not survive in extremely arid conditions. It takes 8 years for a baby elephant to get skilled with his trunk. Elephants are left or right handed. The longer tusk shows the favored "hand."

Zebras run together to confuse predators. Every zebra has a different pattern. Mom and babies know each others stripes. They have stripes because they have to forage for food for long periods of time in the hot sun. The black and white stripes act like convection to cool them off. The stripes also irritate insects so they are less likely to land.

More facts later!

Africa: Sabi Sabi evening and morning game drives

Last night and this morning we went on two more games drives. I'm impressed by how close the guide is able to get to the animals. Apparently the configuration of the vehicle with passengers is familiar to them and not threatening. He urged us not to stand up as that creates a new configuration that could be threatening.

We spent some time watching a family of elephants. The babies are adorable especially as they tried to perfect the technique of grasping food with their trunks. One little male was using his legs and feet to aid his trunk in controlling the branches. A mother rhino and her baby and teenager were also enjoying dinner of grass. The baby was playful as it romped back and forth.

Later as twilight turned to night, Lucky the tracker (this is his nickname; his real name is pronounced like Thatha), spotted two leopards - mom and baby running through the grass. I wondered if they were looking for prey but the guide said they were just playing.

This morning we saw a rhino and hippo both relaxing in the bush. Then we were on the hunt for a pride of lions - two males, five or so females and cubs between the ages of four and ten months. We finally found them napping under a tree about 30 yards from an African buffalo kill. The youngest cubs were climbing all over their moms. Back at the lodge, a different group had seen the male lions, so I am hopeful we will see them this evening.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Africa: Evening safari at Tanda Tula

We gathered at the Land Rover and took off in search of lions. There had been a kill and Luke thought we might be able to see the lions feeding. But before we reached the lions, we found some African wild dogs sleeping beneath a tree. Luke was thrilled as they are very rare. Previously, before Charlene and I arrived, we had  seen them running across the road close to the gate for Tanda Tula.  We were happy we had seen them active as they were easier to see and more fun to watch.

When we arrived at the lions, the two sisters we had seen earlier were napping after their meal along with their brother. He had been in a fight (we didn't see that...) as his left front leg looked spotted with  closed sores, and he appeared to be unable to put any weight on his back right leg when he stretched.

We watch them stretch and flop down before before moving on to a rhino who was having an evening stroll. Soon we arrived at a dry river bed where we had "sundowners," any kind of drink at sundown along with some snacks.

On the way back to the lodge it was quite dark with a clear sky full of stars. Jack, our tracker, got out a spotlight and moved it back and forth from one side of the vehicle to the other. He was looking for "eye shot" or eyes. He wanted to see what was out there in the night in case there was an animal.

Sure enough, he put his hand up as a signal and soon we were on the trail of a leopard. These animals are extremely fast but we did manage to spot it several times.

Back at the lodge, we prepared for a typical African barbecue known as a braai. It featured food cooked over a very large grill including sausage, chicken and kudu which was especially good and tasted like very tender beef. There were sweet potatoes, small white potatoes and loads of roasted veggies.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Africa: Early morning safari at Tanda Tula

The alarm jolted us out of a sound sleep at 4:55AM. Next, Luke was outside our tent with a large tray of preparations for hot chocolate, tea and coffee. Charlene and I each had a half cup, threw on our clothes, brushed teeth and gathered our items: binoculars, hat, sunglasses, cameras (phone, small point and shoot and my iPad), scarf, and water. We applied bug repellent and sunscreen. Then we rushed down the path by 5:30 AM to meet Luke, our tracker, Jack, and two other couples (one from Illinois and the other from Belgium) whom we had met last night at dinner. We were all hoping to catch the animals awake.

Our vehicle was an open top Land Rover with a seat outside in the front for the tracker, a typical front seat and three rows behind, each one slightly elevated like stadium seating. Charlene and I sat in the first row behind Luke and then we took off. As we drove, there was quite a wind from the movement of the vehicle, so we quickly took out heavy weight ponchos from their storage bag attached to the seat in front of us. Thank goodness for these ponchos! It was so cold that at one point I had on my broad brimmed hat AND the hood of the poncho.

The first animal sighting was two sister lions just relaxing. Later we saw some nuzzling as they showed affection. Next was a solitary leopard which is rare to see they say. Then Luke picked up a sizable hunk of dried elephant dung which we passed around like a rare gem. It was comprised mostly of undigested hay and mud. Quite light weight, it also had no smell.

White rhino was next on the agenda when Luke spotted one in a pan or small body of water. It was almost invisible as so many of these animals blend right in to the landscape. We kept our eyes on him and got to see him get out of the water and walk onto land.

We stopped for a short picnic of coffee, tea and biscotti before heading for a clearing where breakfast was cooking over an outside grill in huge iron skillets. We joined the buffet line for any sort of eggs, lamb sausage (not my favorite), bacon (best I've ever had), some roasted veggie mixtures, toast with homemade jam, and fruit. We sat at picnic tables and enjoyed our meal.

For the remainder of the morning and early afternoon, I edited pictures, relaxed on our deck, viewed a baby giraffe and mother feeding in the dry river bed below our tent and possibly even dozed off.

Fortuitous, since the late afternoon/early evening game drive was next.

Africa: Tanda Tula, Kruger National Park

We arrived in Nelspruit Airport and were met by the transfer driver, Edward. It was quite a long trip from the airport to our tented accommodations because of traffic and distance.

Along the way, Edward, gave us lots of information about South Africa, a top farming area. They grow oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts, and bananas to name a few. Bananas only produce one banana per plant, so there are off shoots beside each plant ready to spring up once the neighboring plant dies. Plants are cut down once bananas are harvested. Edward has no running water in his village. They must buy it and transport it to their home.

We have seen some half finished homes here and in Zambia. People buy a plot of land, build a room and move in. They finish the home bit by bit as they have time and money. Most homes are made of large cement bricks made with cement, sand and water and poured into a form. After they dry in 7 days, they can be used. Toilet are pits that are emptied by a truck when full. Those without electricity collect firewood. But they must be very careful of the tamboti tree as it is poisonous. Inhaling the vapors from the latex is fatal. They are taught from a young age to beware.

Nearing our accommodations, we saw some rare wild dogs which looked like spotted German shepherds. Even Edward whipped out his camera! We also saw hyena, kudu and impala. After we arrived, we settled into our elevated tent with zippered flaps for the door and all six large windows. It had gotten quite cool, a huge relief from the 100+ temps earlier. A bathroom is also in the tent along with an outside shower. We were shown how to secure all three zippers for the door so as to prevent monkeys from entering. But then I went out, forgot to secure and return to see a small monkey on the floor looking up at me. He quickly exited and I quickly promised myself to always secure those zippers.

Next we gathered for cocktails and chatting before being called by the beating of a drum to a fire circle where we were treated to a tribal dance performance. It was lovely and even included audience participation. Dinner was buffet style with a long table for all the guests. They served an eggplant appetizer, impala (tastes just like beef), red snapper, sweet potatoes, chicken and a coffee/chocolate mousse for desert. Our dinner partners were from the US, Belgium, Germany and other parts of Europe.

After, in very dim light so as to not be seen as part of one side was open, I snuck into the outside shower for a most refreshing rinse. Later, as the wind blew, I snuggled down in my bed and immediately fell asleep.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Africa: Zambia to Tanda Tula, Kruger National Park

This morning we were up and at the dock by 6 AM for a sunrise cruise with Godfrey. He was also very knowledgeable about birds, their songs and nests, and animals. 

We were treated to the beauty of the trees on the shores reflected in the river. Some of the pictures we took are incredible. 

Soon we saw the now familiar ear bumps in the water indicating a hippo. First the ears, then the eyes and if you're lucky, a yawn showing the teeth and massive jaws. Just ears and eyes for us this morning. Perhaps the hippos slept well...

Back at the lodge, we had breakfast including what appeared to be a Double Whopper Burger but was actually three pancakes in a tower separated by bacon, pineapple and a bit of cottage cheese. Very good. 

At 11:00 AM we got our transfer to Livingstone Airport and our flight to Nelspruit. From there, we will be driven to Tanda Tula, an elevated tented accommodation in a reserve in Kruger National Park. We'll be there for 3 nights. 

I have high hopes of spotting lots of cats as there will be two safaris a day - one early in the morning and the other late in the afternoon. Both times are when the animals are most active. The heat of the day is not suitable for beast or man. 

I am typing this as we fly. Even though it's a short flight, they served a box lunch. Mine was miniature crepes filed with a tasty filling, crackers and a Butterfinger-like mousse with shaved chocolate in top.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Africa: Chobe National Park

After an early breakfast on the deck overlooking the Zambezi River, we got in a van to transfer to Chobe Marina Lodge in Botswana where we would have a water safari in the morning and a land safari in the afternoon. We needed our passports as we would be crossing the border into Botswana. Fortunately, no visa is required. 

However, both sides were extreme busy.  There is one ferry across the Zambezi, and only one truck can fit in the ferry. Truckers line up in both sides with a wait of sometimes five days to get on a ferry. There was a heavy steel gate on both sides to secure the border. We were able to take a pontoon boat across for the quick five minute ride. Apparently, the Chinese are assisting with the construction of the bridge which will be completed in 2019. 

Once in Botswana, we were required to wait for our passport to be stamped. It was quite crowded and hot. Next we were asked to step (shoes on) into a shallow pan with wet dirty rags to prevent foot and mouth disease. 

At Chobe Lodge, we boarded an open boat with a canvas top. Water and soft drinks were available as well as male and female toilets! The guide, Divine, was very knowledgeable about birds, so I was able to identify many different species. We also saw crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, impala (known as doughnuts of the Savannah as they are plentiful and a tasty snack), water buffalo, wildebeest, and a family of hippos. It was truly amazing.  

After, we had a buffet lunch at the lodge before going out in the land safari in a canvassed top vehicle with a fold-down windshield. We saw a lot more elephants, giraffes running, sable antelope, warthogs, zebra and many birds. The landscape was dry and stark because of the heat (over 100 degrees) and lack of rain, but still stunning. 

On our return to Zambia, the curio salesmen were gone, so we weren't bothered, but the long lines of truckers remained. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Africa: Livingstone Island, Zambia

This morning we went on a game drive through the local national park, Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders). Fabias was our driver and guide which was terrific as he is very knowledgeable and can identity birds by their song. We saw elephants, giraffe, and many groups of impala. This park is smaller, but there were still numerous animals. Fabias even pointed out elephant tracks which look like oval disks about a foot long and 9 inches wide. 

Afterwards, we were delivered to the Royal Livingstone Hotel where we met our guide, Alpha Omega, who would take us to Victoria Falls. There was the option of swimming in Devils Pool, a rocky indentation fairly close to the edge of the falls. I chose not to, but most in our group, including Charlene, my traveling friend, suited up and took the plunge! It was necessary for them to swim to one group of rocks, climb on the rocks, and then re-enter the water to get to the Pool. Alpha Omega and other guards were there, but the amount of paperwork absolving them of any responsibility was daunting and an indication of the risk. Still, all who went loved it and were quite happy they had done it. 

Later, under the coolness of a canopy, we were treated to a delicious lunch including beef, chicken, roasted veggies and pineapple sorbet. Some toasted to their courage with wine!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Africa: Livingstone

We started yesterday with a trip to Victoria Falls. There are paths along the side that allow you to see the falls and the towering basalt cliffs. The falls are much less fierce now as this is the end of the dry season. Had it been the wet season, none of the cliffs would have been visible and we would have been covered with spray. The falls were still astounding as they thundered to the bottom- 180 meters down which I believe is twice Niagara's?

Our guide, Fabias, knows birds well, so he pointed out a number of different species as we walked along. It is not nearly as hot here as in OK, probably due to the lesser humidity. After Vic Falls we wandered through the curio market. Unfortunately the artists are intent on a sale and so I did not stay as I was too distracted by their salesmanship.

Next we dropped some folks at the Royal Livingstone hotel which had giraffes nibbling leaves near the hotel.

Then we returned to Tingabezi for a tasty lunch and a bit of relaxation before leaving for the Livingstone Museum which was quite interesting. It contained excellent maps, models and dioramas depicting the history of Zambia and village life. They had tools displayed (some found recently by school children) from the Stone and Iron Age.

There was also a section on David Livingsyone, the missionary, who explored Africa and was also looking for the Nile. There were actual letters he had written in closed cases, enclosed in glass that we could pull out and read.

Next was the bustling fruit market which was the real Zambia. Everything was for sale including fruit, clothes, beans, and dried fish that look like silver leaves with eyes (among hundreds of other items). We were told not to take photos as that's intrusive. Most stalls were primitive with tin roofs and fabric or paper walls. One makeshift table was supported by perhaps a car motor or transmission. Music was playing with a rollicking beat and families and children were everywhere. The sound of roosters could be heard often as they and chickens were available to buy live to be taken home and cooked for special meals.

One stall contained a man with a sewing machine and a poster of fashions on the fabric wall. People will choose an outfit and he will make it for them. He even makes school uniforms as they are more expensive purchased elsewhere. Two men were playing checkers in the shade using bottle caps as tokens. There was even a pool table on a concrete slab where two men had a friendly game in progress.

My main thought was that despite the heat, multitudinous flies, and primitive environment, people were joyous, joking with each other as they went about their daily lives in the market.

Back at the lodge, we cracked open the bottle of wine Mary Ann, the woman who organized our trip, had left in our room, and watched the sun go down over the Zambezi River.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Africa: Zambia - Tongabezi

Good morning from the shores of the Zambezi River. It is a gorgeous day - hope to be able to post a photo later...).  Having coffee on the deck observing an African Darter which looks a little like a large cormorant.

Yesterday to we flew into Livingstone and were transferred to Tongabezi by van through Livingstone. The area is quite rural with some small businesses along the side of the road and many, many people walking, especially school children, as well as women carrying items on their head and also others on bikes.

After we got settled in our rooms and went through a short orientation, we had lunch of homemade gazpacho, bread and a lamb burger which we split as we weren't very hungry after the large breakfast AND the meal on the 90 minute flight from Joburg.

After unpacking, we headed for the dock for the sunset cruise in a pontoon sort of boat. The compound is set up with elevated planked walkways everywhere. We saw a family of monkeys. In my room was a beautiful tiny black spotted lizard. I'd love to identify it. Also lots of ordinary lizards around.

On the boat, Fabias - who had picked us up at the airport - motored us around looking for animals. We finally spotted large "rocks" in the river which were moving. Hippos! A few even yawned for us, showing their huge jaws and teeth. Most were in groups of 3-4. They were cute completely submerged except for ears and then their eyes. They spend the day in the water because of the heat - at least 95 yesterday - and then come on to land at night to feed. You know they are there when you hear their frantic and loud munching. Some even come onto the property according to the guides. Consequently, we are escorted to and from dinner in case animals are nearby.

We also spotted a few elephants in the distance feeding along with an African darter, African eagle and a reed cormorant. Soon we pulled up to an island where they had set up drinks and snacks on a small table. Some of us had Pimm's as a nod to the British... Off to the side were large hay mounds. They were what I thought - elephant dung!

The views on the river were peaceful, and the air was breezy. A perfect preamble to dinner on the deck not too soon after we returned.

Today we go to Livingstone to see the island, Victoria Falls and the David Livingstone museum.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Africa: Johannesburg

We arrived in JNB last night and were met by a helper from the safari company who was able to speed us through Customs. I think it saved us 60-90 minutes time! Then another helper walked us to the hotel.

The hotel is nice and there is breakfast this morning. Then we'll return to the airport where we'll get our two hour flight to Livingstone. We'll be staying there on the Zambezi River for four nights. It will be great to be in one place for more than one night.

Last night, about an hour before we landed, it was cool to look out the window and see brown and green land formations beneath us. No buildings or roads.

 City Hotel in Jburg

OR Tambo Airport, JNB

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Blast off!

At the airport in plenty of time. Just waiting for plane to ATL. 

Now we're in ATL. Great jazz musician serenading us as we have lunch.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Africa: 1 more day!

Wow. I can hardly believe that our departure is almost here. We'll leave at around 8 AM tomorrow to get to Tulsa and fly to Atlanta. From there, we have a bit of a wait until we board the plane for Johannesburg around 8:15 PM. But, I'd rather wait in Atlanta than in Bartlesville.

The weather here has been beautiful - finally. Cool and sunny. It's been delightful to have the windows open after so many months of heat warnings. As a result, I've been in the mood to do more cooking to keep Robert in fine form while I'm away. I made another batch of granola, baked some of Kasia's terrific artisan bread and then froze it, made mac 'n cheese and today I made chicken soup. It might sound like a lot, but I really enjoy cooking, so it was fun for me with the windows open and the cool breeze floating in.

What's on the schedule for tonight? Well, according to NASA, at about 7:30, we may be able to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station. Here's the link to see if you have a chance of seeing it:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Africa: Three more days!

I finally got the whole suitcase dilemma figured out. I'm using the grey one in an earlier photo. It has the right measurements, and I have been able to get everything in it. I'm also making good use of an old backpack that Gates used in middle school. In there, I've stashed all of the items I'm bringing to him (along with some other non-replaceable items) in case my suitcase is gate checked.

I am getting really, really excited and just want Saturday to be here. Gates and I have been talking about what we can do while I'm there. One idea is to go to Liwonde National Park.    That's about 50 km away and could be done in a day, or we could stay overnight at a lodge. I also want to see Zomba, particularly the botanical gardens and Chancellor College. I'm also interested in the markets as I hope to get some fabric with which I can make a quilt.

Here's our itinerary:

Sunday, 10-3: Arrive in Johannesburg
Monday, 10-4: Fly to Livingstone, transfer to lodge for 4 nights
Tuesday, 10-5: Victoria Falls -
Wednesday, 10-6: Chobe National Park -
Thursday, 10-7: Maybe Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
Friday, 10-8: Fly to Nelspruit, South Africa: transfer to Timbavati Game Preserve for 3 nights
Saturday/Sunday 10-9, 10: Game drives
Monday, 10-11: Transfer to Sabi Sabi Game Preserve for 2 nights; game drives
Wednesday: 10-12: Fly to Johannesburg
Thursday: 10-13: I fly to Lilongwe and Charlene flies to Botswana
Thursday, 10-13 to Thursday, 10-20: Zomba!
Thursday, 10-20: Return to Lilongwe
Friday, 10-21: Fly to Johannesburg, Atlanta, and Tulsa
Saturday, 10-22: Home!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Africa: 7 days and counting

There was a little hiccup yesterday... I found out the maximum carry-on luggage measurements for Delta are: 14 x 22 x 9. My favorite carry-on is one inch longer and wider, and I was worried this would cause my suitcase to be gate checked. Not something I want to deal with upon arrival in Johannesburg.

So, as much I do not need a new suitcase, I went shopping. Fortunately, I found a Travel Pro that is the right dimensions. I also discovered that this is the brand flight attendants use. So I'm hoping that they will let me board with it for the US flight as well as the three flights within Africa. It would simplify things so much.

Here's a photo of my old favorite "Big Red" and the new one. Amazingly, I was able to pack just about everything in the new one, including some items I'm bringing for Gates. And there might just be a silver lining here - the new one will be lighter and much easier to manage.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Africa: Nine days and counting...

I'm taking a break today from my never-ending list of tasks. Here are the two books I'll be spending some time with:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Africa: 10 days until we leave

As some of you may know, I'm going to Africa in October with my friend, Charlene, a fellow Bartian (local talk for a resident of Bartlesville...). I feel so blessed the way this whole trip has come together in such a smooth and wonderful way.  We'll be on safari for ten days, and then I'll go to Malawi to see Gates for ten days while Charlene travels to the Okavango Delta.

Ten days until we leave! I am slowly whittling away my list. Getting this blog set up is a huge relief as I really do hope to be able to post from the lodges/camps we'll be visiting. I'm hoping there will be some down time in the afternoon when it's much warmer.

There's been a huge amount of details (including shots, clothing, bug repellent, Insect Shield items) but things are all falling into place. In my spare (?) time, I've been reading up on animal behavior. I bought a terrific book, The Safari Companion - A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard Estes. It lists each animal by family (such as carnivores, etc.) and includes a description of possible behavior and what that behavior means. I also bought a laminated brochure of animals, birds, snakes, etc. which sounds a little juvenile but has been very helpful already in identifying animals in some of the BBC animal videos I've been watching on Netflix.

I also read Peter Allison's "Whatever You Do, Don't Run" which details his experiences as a Botswana guide. And now, I'm working on West With the Night by Beryl Markham which my good friend Leslie sent me last spring.