Below are several of my travel/lifestyle articles. Enjoy!
Herds, not Hordes
“If an elephant charges you, roll up in a ball next to a bush or shrub–they have poor eyesight,” explained Graham, the guide for our walking safari. “If it’s a lion, climb a tree. If it’s a Cape buffalo, well … just pray.”
A little stunned by the ‘what to do if you get charged’ pep talk, I’m not sure I remember his words precisely. But that’s more or less how it went. There were just seven of us – and hundreds of miles of dry, wheat-hued savanna dotted with acacias and doum palms as far as I could see. We dutifully tucked our pant legs into our socks (to avoid scratches, ticks and other annoying critters), loaded our backpacks with water and fell in line behind Graham.
As we set off on foot across the plains, beads of sweat were already trickling down my back, even in the early morning. Graham led the way with rifle in hand; a Kenya Wildlife Service ranger brought up the rear – also with a rifle. Having wanted, for as long as I could remember, to see all the African animals I could, I found myself secretly hoping, after Graham’s introduction, that we wouldn’t come across any at all.
Read the full story, from the San Francisco Chronicle, here.
Santa Cruz, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Confectionary Ways
It’s easy to find Santa Cruz’s best-known spots — the sandy beaches, the boardwalk and the breathtaking cliff walks. But locals have a few secrets too. One of these is that this coastal town has a surprising number of high-quality bakery/cafés. It’s not clear how this happened, but we don’t ask why — we just enjoy.
These are Santa Cruz institutions, places where you can pick up a fresh-baked loaf or meet friends for coffee and a chat. Wherever your explorations of Santa Cruz take you, these neighborhood eateries, each with its own character and specialties, are great places for a treat or a full meal…
Read the full article, which appeared in the LA Times travel section.
Ol Pejeta: Kenya’s Lovechild
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a gem that should be on every safari goer’s bucket list. Against the backdrop of Mount Kenya – the tallest mountain in Kenya and second tallest in Africa – and straddling the equator, this little piece of heaven stands out, offering memorable safari experiences, striking natural beauty and large-scale conservation success.
In the global conservation community, Ol Pejeta has made a name for itself as an innovator. From pioneering funding efforts such as the adjacent Mount Kenya Wildlife Estate, to developing a K-9 team to support its armed rangers, Ol Pejeta constantly has its eye out for the best ways to meet its conservation goals.
(Read the full story I wrote for Africa Geographic, here.)
A Sense of Place Suffuses Joann Pai’s Food Photography
Joann Pai’s passion for food photography was born in the farmers markets of Paris. Today, this Adobe Stock premium contributor uses her career as a passport to explore her biggest passions—food culture and travel.
“I consider myself someone who lives to eat,” says Pai. “I was initially drawn to food photography as a way of documenting my life and travels.”
This interest in food photography began to develop in earnest during a three-month trip to Paris…
(Read the full article I wrote for Adobe Create Magazine, here.)
A Pedestrian Paradox in Cape Town
Capetonians are a very congenial bunch. I see bus passengers give up their seats for the elderly and disabled without being asked, and the cashiers at Woolworths and Pick n Pay are almost always friendly and smiling. I find the custom of saying “It’s a pleasure!” (you’re welcome) charming—and apparently genuine.
But when it comes to relations between pedestrians and drivers, that genteel behavior disappears as if blown away by the Mother City’s notorious wind.
And whose fault is this? I have no idea. Chickens and eggs come to mind.
Pedestrians in Cape Town are passionate jaywalkers. The little green person in the “robot” (traffic light) might as well be all for show—or perhaps for the entertainment of visitors—because you almost never see a Capetonian standing on the corner and waiting for it to turn green.
If traffic is really heavy and there seems no likelihood of making it across the street alive, pedestrians will bunch up and wait for their turn to pour out into the street. But as soon as there’s a gap in the traffic, off they go. You’d have as much luck stopping that flow of humanity as you would holding back the tide. They seem to be daring drivers to keep coming at them.
And the drivers are only too happy to oblige. Or, is it the drivers who are daring the pedestrians? Drivers (whether in passenger cars, trucks or MyCiti buses) love to honk at people in the streets. If they can sneak up behind a pedestrian and scare him with a nice, loud blare, all the better. You hear car horns a lot in Cape Town. Really—a lot.
It’s “hectic,” as they say.
So, as I stand on the corner (alone) waiting for that little green person to light up—and even then I venture out into the street cautiously—I’m confused. Because apart from this pedestrian/driver paradox, everyone in Cape Town is just so nice.
Going Solo on Safari in Kenya
I enjoyed my first solo safari recently, living for a month just outside of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya, so that I could go out on my own daily game drives.
On a solo safari, I knew I’d be missing out on the knowledge – and keen eyes – of a guide. But, I wanted the adventure of driving by myself and having intimate experiences with the wildlife that I spotted.
On my first morning in Ol Pejeta – in the first 30 minutes, in fact – I came across a lioness just 20 metres off the track. I crept up slowly in my car along the track until I was looking directly across at her. I took a few photos and then just sat, appreciating the situation; just me and a lioness, with no one else as far as the eye could see.
Then she got up and started walking towards me!
(Read the full blog post I wrote for Africa Geographic, here.)