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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Africa'

Malawi

April 20th, 2009 · 3 Comments

My bureaucratic career peaked more than 40 years ago. I had joined the U.S. civil service in 1961 just after getting my master’s degree in political science from Claremont Graduate University. I went to work in Washington for the U.S. Agency for International Development. In 1965 just after my wife Doris graduated from Howard University I switched to the U.S. foreign service and accepting a posting to Nairobi, Kenya.

Three years later the honchos in Washington decided that for the good of the service I would be the next AID Affairs Officer in Malawi, a land-locked country in Southern Africa that had formerly been known as Nyassaland. I didn’t want to go because I loved working and living in Nairobi so much, although I realized that a posting to Malawi was a lot better than luck than most of us were getting. Most of us had to go to South Vietnam.
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Posted in: Africa

Somalia

April 18th, 2009 · 23 Comments

When I toured Somalia in 1963, it was much different from the failed state that it is today. I was working then in the State Department building in Washington, D.C., as the assistant desk officer for Somalia in the U.S. Agency for International Development.

I loved my job, the country, and its people. I learned everything I could about Somalia and the Somalis and had a huge library of everything written in English about them. Now I’m sad to see how terrible the lives of Somalis have become, but I retain my fond memories.

The American aid mission in Mogadishu put me up in a house complete with a support staff. Mohammed took good care of me including shopping, cooking, and drawing my bath. But he had to start by killing hundreds of huge cockroaches that had made their home in my house.
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Posted in: Africa

Chasing the Rarest Rhino

February 10th, 2009 · No Comments

Even years ago when I lived in Africa I was a dedicated amateur photographer. So dedicated, in fact, that I would hike miles through the bush to capture images of wildlife.

Once when I was on vacation in Uganda I heard that some of the world’s biggest and rarest rhinos were in a nearby game preserve. These Northern White Rhinoceros are, after the elephant, the most massive land animals in the world. They reach a weight of 6,000 pounds! They were pretty rare then and are even rarer now — only eight captive Northern White Rhinoceros are left in the world.
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Posted in: Africa, Hiking

Elephants of Eastern Africa

January 7th, 2009 · No Comments

Elephants are the largest land animals, and the African elephants are the largest of all. Like most big people, these big animals are generally quite gentle.

But they are wild animals, and that means they are unpredictable (not that we can always predict what people will do). As I travelled through Africa by vehicle I hardly gave a thought to being attacked by an elephant. But I admit being frightened when I stalked an elephant once in Zambia’s famous South Luangwa National Park.

At the time I was the U.S. AID Affairs Officer in Malawi, the country just to the east of Zambia. I had been visiting a friend who was the AID Affairs Officer in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
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Posted in: Africa

Lions of East Africa

January 5th, 2009 · No Comments

Lions are everyone’s favorite big cat — unless they are chasing you. The three East African countries — Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda — probably have more lions than anywhere else.

Lions are also easier to photograph than the other big cats. I didn’t see nearly as many leopards and cheetahs, and even when I found them, those somewhat smaller cats are less dramatic than lions.

During the three years that I lived in East Africa I took my share of lion pictures. These are my favorites.
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Posted in: Africa

People of East Africa‏

December 28th, 2008 · 13 Comments

When I lived in East Africa, I had to learn Swahili to communication with most of the people I met on safari. While many people in Nairobi understood English, few people in the countryside did.

But almost all of them knew Swahili as their second language after their tribal tongue. Swahili is the lingua franca of much of East Africa and the Congo, spoken today by about 80 million people.

Even in Nairobi my gardener, Etore, who was a member of the Luo tribe (like Barack Obama’s father), didn’t know English. I learned enough Swahili to communicate with him and with the people I met in the bush, although I never became fluent in that language and long ago forgot almost all that I learned.
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Posted in: Africa

Climbing Mount Kenya

December 25th, 2008 · No Comments

When I lived in Kenya from 1965 to 1968, on a clear day I could see a solitary peak shimmering with snow and ice just 90 miles to the north. I often saw it from my office on the sixth floor of the Jeevan Bharati Building on Harambee Avenue in downtown Nairobi. My office was a block away from the American Embassy, which terrorists destroyed in 1998, killing and injuring thousands of people.

The peak is Mount Kenya, which at 17,058 feet is the highest in Kenya and the second highest in Africa (after Mount Kilimanjaro). The first book that I ever read about Kenya was Facing Mount Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta’s 1938 anthropological study about his Kikuyu people of central Kenya. He wrote it while studying at the London School of Economics, long before he became the country’s first leader upon independence in 1963.
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Posted in: Africa, Mountain Climbing

Igor and the Elephant

December 22nd, 2008 · No Comments

Of the thousands of photographs that I took during the four years that I lived in Africa, none continue to give me more pleasure that this one that I took of my friend Igor chasing away an elephant.

I guess that I like it so much because this interaction between a human and the biggest land animal is on its face so ridiculous. And yet it worked.

Igor Lupekine was my closest friend during the three years that I lived in Kenya. An avid outdoorsman, Igor took my wife and me on many safaris in East Africa. He was also the most international man I ever knew. Born in Egypt of Russian parents, Igor obtained his Ph.D. in England, taught for most of his life in Africa, and retired to Andorra.
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Posted in: Africa

The Flowers of Africa

December 19th, 2008 · 4 Comments

As I continue to recover from surgery for my enlarge prostate a couple of days before Thanksgiving, my doctor firmly says to stay off the trails. With the sub-zero weather and snow that we have been experiencing in Boulder I wouldn’t have gone hiking in the mountains anyway. And besides, it’s too early to bring out my snowshoes.

But at least I can review my photographs and start to share some of those that I took in Africa years ago. When I returned to the States in 1969 after living there for four years, I brought back more than 10,000 35mm slides that I had taken with my single-lens reflex camera. Pictures in those days were, of course, all analog. But recently I selected a couple of hundred of my favorite shots for a local camera store to scan in as TIFFs.
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Posted in: Africa