Out Of Africa by France Balding

Africa has been on my mind ever since I was little. With Carmen my younger sister, I professed that we would go together as missionary to save the world. Well, time has changed, but Africa has remained for me a magnet that pulled me in a second time. The adventure fluctuated between being informative to utter excitement.
On the first day of a safari in Chobe National Park, in Botswana, we saw twelve lionesses kill three Cape Buffalos. Along with the animals, we found our hearts pumping faster as the adrenaline hormone instantly spread through our bodies. Instantly alert in the safety of our vehicle, we followed the pride as it strategically executed their kills. The last buffalo, weak or old, will be the victim. For hours the lionesses crouched, watching, quietly spying on the herd of 20 -30 buffalos. They are hungry. It has been several days without a meal. When close enough, the first lioness jumps on the slowest one. A second one follows and a third, digging their powerful claws into the buffalo’s behind, sides and neck. The buffalo is overpowered and falls. He is hurt. The other buffaloes are coming for the rescue. The large male, with his solid, threatening horns and bony forehead is charging the lions. The lions retreat but it is too late for the mortally wounded buffalo. The herd circles the animal who is no longer able to stand. Realizing that there is no hope, the herd leaves quietly and two lions return to finish the kill. It is a slow, cruel process. One lion is at the neck bleeding this prey to an excruciating death. Watching from afar and thinking the buffalo dead, its hind leg starts moving. The lioness renews her attack. She bites the neck, a second one clamp down to the rear end until, no more movement is observed.
The rest of the pride is watching the herd again. Again, they sprint toward the slowest one. This one is old, not running as fast. This time the bull turns around and charges the lions. His hard forehead hits one lioness’ right foreleg. She limps behind on three legs, no longer able to attack. The nine remaining lions resume their attack. They are patient and wait for just the right time. Now they go. The same tactic. Attack the last one. Bigger this time. But old and unable to run away. One lioness jumps on the buffalo’s behind, then two, three, four. Again, and again their powerful claws dig in and overpower the poor victim.
The pride is still going strong, however decreasing in number. The experienced lioness does not lose any chances. This is a feast. She is also as prudent as in Kenney Rodgers song ‘The Gambler’. She knows when to walk away, knows when to run. She never counts her kills while sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the day is done. And there she goes again. Indefatigable. Charging a third buffalo. Again succeeding.
This is the first morning on safari. Worth getting up at 5:30 AM to explore the park. We go back to the camp for lunch, excited about what we saw. Hunger is a strong motivator and killing is nature’s way of survival. With several kills, the pride will gorge itself and be satisfied for a few days.
In the afternoon, we go back in our vehicle spying on the pride. We found them lying on their sides with their abdomen bulging out; they are sleeping. One is on her back with her four paws in the air looking pregnant. They gorge themselves, rest, and eat again until there is nothing left.
It is impossible to beat that day. Even the guides had never seen such action. Lions usually kill at night. To witness the planning, co-ordination, and execution of survival in the wild was thrilling. The rest of

the trip seemed dull at first, in comparison. However, there is more to Africa than her lions and buffalos. It is a continent of contrast. Wealth and extreme poverty. Lush Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and dryness of the bushes. Women may walk miles every day from their village to fetch dirty water from the riverbed and carry it home on their heads. In Zimbabwe, the children go to school without the luxuries of electricity and running water. Girls don’t go to school when the have their period because they do not have sanitary pads.
In South Africa, 25% of South Africa’s of the population of 60 million live in the townships of tin shacks with one toilet for about each 5 families. South Africa is 82% Black, 9% Colored and 9% White and Asian. The Whites live in well built houses with thick fences and security doors. Covid hurt the economy badly. A country where tourism is key. Many lost their jobs. The corrupt government after Nelson Mandel’s presidency did not take care of infrastructure which even today has planned, daily black outs of electricity. Staying at boutique hotels does not make any difference. For 2 hours a day or more, no electricity.
South Africa is also the home of the beautiful Table Mountain in Cape Town. The magnificent scenery along the coast to the south westernmost point, Cape of Good Hope. The ostrich farms. The wineries. And most of all the gratitude in people’s faces for seeing tourists again.
This trip is more than one story. It is dozens of stories. Each with their own point of interest. It brings this essay to its conclusion and opens the door to new adventures.

A Vacation For Three by  M. R. Kaiser

A long time ago, my sister Marianne came to visit me in Frankfurt during the summer vacations. She wanted to go on a trip to Scandinavia. We talk over a travel plan. My fiancée Helen reminded me that I had once promised to travel with her to the island Mallorca (Spain). Scandinavia did not interest her at all. Marianne, on the other hand, had firmly expected that we would go to Scandinavia together. She said what she would do in Spain; it would be just very hot there. They were both correct. I had promised both Marianne and Helen a trip. So at first I was helpless. Then I suggested that we travel to Spain and to Scandinavia one after the other. After some back and forth, my fiancée and my sister accepted my offer, and we agreed to travel to Spain first and then to Scandinavia.

The first vacation days in Mallorca were truly no pleasure just a new challenge since my two companions always had opposite desires: After breakfast, if Helen wanted to go to the beach and then to the water, Marianne would stay at the hotel and relax by the pool. If Helen preferred a walk along the beach promenade in the afternoon, Marianne preferred to go to the sea. When Marianne wanted to go for a walk after dinner and then go back to the hotel, it was time for Helen to go out.

After a while, I tried to bring together the wishes of my sister and my fiancée. I went with Helen to the beach and stayed there for a while. Then I left her alone, came back to the hotel and took care of Marianne. After dinner, I first went for a walk with Marianne until she was tired; then we went back to the hotel. Thereafter, I went on a night tour with Helen at the beach promenade. 

One day after lunch we stood at the hotel bar and wondered what to do in the afternoon. I suggested taking a bike tour of the island to discover something new. Again one was for and the other was against. Almost spontaneously, I said: “Please stay here just a moment, I’ll be right back”. Then I asked the hotel manager, who made bicycles available, rented a bike, got a map of the island and left without letting Marianne and Helen know. The whole afternoon I toured the island by bike alone. For the first time, I did what I had wanted to do without my lovely companions. For half a day I recovered very well from the daily efforts with my two ladies. 

When I got back to the hotel, it was almost dark. I saw Marianne and Helen at the bar talking politely and in a friendly manner. When they saw me, they came to me, hugged me, and said they were worried about me. After that day, there were no further discussions between Helen and Marianne and there was no argument either. The two accepted without protest when I made a suggestion. After that event, I was able to really enjoy my vacation together with my two women! 

Back in Frankfurt, we wanted to travel to Scandinavia after a few days. But this time Helen broke her promise and cancelled the trip. She said my sister and me should do the second part of the journey without her! It was not a bad idea in itself because I could devote myself completely to my sister. According to our travel plan, we flew first to Hamburg, from there to Copenhagen, then to Stockholm staying two days in each city. The trip for two pleased Marianne so much that she took over the entire cost of that trip, which was a great financial relief for me at the time.

—————— In German ——————–

Ein Urlaub zu dritt     von  M. R. Kaiser

Vor langer Zeit besuchte mich meine Schwester Marianne während der Sommerferien in Frankfurt. Sie wollte gerne eine Reise nach Skandinavien unternehmen. Wir sprachen über einen Reiseplan. Meine Verlobte Helen erinnerte mich daran, dass ich ihr versprochen hatte, einmal mit ihr nach Mallorca (Spanien) zu reisen, wo sie gerne im Sommer Urlaub machen wollte. Skandinavien interessierte sie gar nicht. Marianne hatte auf der anderen Seite fest damit gerechnet, dass wir zusammen nach Skandinavien fahren. Sie meinte, was sollte sie in Spanien, dort wäre es bestimmt sehr heiß. Beide hatten recht. Ich hatte ja sowohl Marianne als auch Helen eine Reise versprochen. Zuerst war ich ratlos. Dann aber machte ich den Vorschlag, dass wir sowohl nach Spanien als auch nach Skandinavien reisen und zwar nacheinander. Nach einigem hin und her akzeptierten meine Schwester und meine Verlobte den Vorschlag und wir einigten uns darauf, dass wir zuerst nach Spanien und dann nach Skandinavien reisen.

Die ersten Urlaubstage in Mallorca waren wahrlich kein Vergnügen für mich sondern nur Ärgernis und täglich eine neue Herausforderung. Denn meine zwei ständigen Begleiterinnen hatten immer entgegengesetzte Wunschvorstellungen: Wollte Helen nach dem Frühstück an den Strand und dann ins Wasser gehen, so wollte Marianne im Hotel bleiben und sich am Swimmingpool ausruhen. Bevorzugte Helen nachmittags einen Spaziergang an der Strandpromonade, wollte Marianne lieber ans Meer. Mochte Marianne nachdem Abendessen spazieren und dann ins Hotel zurückgehen, begann für Helen erst der Abend und die Zeit zum Ausgehen. 

In den ersten Tagen versuchte ich die Wünsche der beiden Frauen in Einklang zu bringen. Mit Helen ging ich zum Strand und blieb mit ihr eine Weile dort. Dann ließ ich sie alleine, kam ins Hotel zurück und kümmerte mich um meine Schwester. Abends nach dem Essen ging ich zuerst mit Marianne spazieren, bis sie müde war; dann gingen wir ins Hotel zurück. Danach unternahm ich mit Helen eine Abendtour an der Strandpromonade. 

Eines Tages nach dem Mittagsessen standen wir an der Hotelbar und überlegten, was wir gerade am Nachmittag machen sollten. Ich schlug vor, Fahrräder zu mieten und eine Radtour durch die Insel zu unternehmen, um etwas Neues zu entdecken. Wieder war die eine dafür die andere dagegen. Ohne viel zu überlegen, fast spontan sagte ich zu ihnen: „Bleibt einen Augenblick hier, ich komme gleich zurück“. Sodann ging ich zum Hotelmanager, der auch Fahrräder zur Verfügung stellte, mietete ein Fahrrad, ließ mir eine Inselkarte für Radtouren geben und fuhr fort, ohne Marianne und Helen Bescheid zu sagen. Den ganzen Nachmittag tourte ich mit Fahrrad alleine durch die Insel. Zum ersten Mal machte ich das, was ich mir selbst gewünscht hatte, seitdem wir auf Mallorca waren, ohne meine lieben Begleiterinnen. Für einen halben Tag erholte ich mich sehr gut von den täglichen Strapazen mit meinen beiden Frauen. 

Als ich ins Hotel zurückkam, war es fast dunkel geworden. Zu meinem Erstaunen sah ich an der Bar Marianne und Helen, die sich artig und freundlich unterhielten. Als sie mich sahen, kamen sie zu mir, küssten mich und bekundeten, dass sie sich Sorgen um mich gemacht hätten. Danach gab es keine weiteren Diskussionen zwischen Helen und Marianne und es kam auch keine Widerrede mehr von den beiden. Sie akzeptierten brav, wenn ich einen Vorschlag machte. Nach diesem Ereignis konnte ich den Rest des Urlaubs richtig genießen.

Zurück in Frankfurt, wollten wir nach ein paar Tagen alle zusammen nach Skandinavien reisen. Aber diesmal brach Helen ihr Versprechen und sagte die Reise ab. Sie meinte, der Bruder und die Schwester sollten den zweiten Teil der Reise ohne sie erleben! Es war an sich keine schlechte Idee, denn ich konnte mich für etwa eine Woche ganz meiner Schwester widmen. Wir flogen gemäß unsrem Reiseplan zuerst nach Hamburg, von dort nach Kopenhagen, dann nach Stockholm und blieben in jeder Stadt zwei Tage. Das Programm war ganz nach dem Geschmack von Marianne. Als Dankeschön übernahm meine liebe Schwester die gesamten Reisekosten, was für mich damals eine große finanzielle Entlastung war.

Elizabeth’s 55TH AA Birthday

“Fifty- five years ago on September 28, I took my son to school, came home and threw myself on the floor and cried. I drank the night before as I did all nights. I was still under the influence. I screamed as loud as I could and I said “If there is a God, do something!” Elizabeth was sharing on the phone on her 55th AA anniversary.

“What was going inside you as you called on God?” I asked

“I was thinking I was becoming a drunk just like my father. I wondered what kind of a parent I was. I hated myself so much and drank to stop the pain inside.”

“Where did this deep feeling of hate come from?”

“Growing up, my mother hit my brother and I. My father was an alcoholic and beat up my mother. It was a sick home. It was the time of the big Depression and we were poor. I mean everyone was poor. We had food, yet I felt I didn’t belong. I was an excellent student and never acknowledged by my parents. I felt the harder I tried, the worst it was.”

“You experienced severe trauma growing up.”

“It was horrible. I was always the best student in my class. In nursing school, I was the top student, yet the harder I tried, the less I felt.”

“You created a miracle in your life. You remember the day you got sober vividly. Would you share that again with me?”

“Yes, I remember as if it was yesterday. I had a purple dress on that I shoplifted the day before. I smelled of garlic and perfume so my husband wouldn’t know I was drinking. I felt nobody understood me. I hated myself, drank to numb the pain inside and could not stop. I was desperate. When I called on God, sobbing, someone, my guardian angel, took my hand and called the operator. It was not me. The operator responded and I said I needed help. She connected me to AA and Sisi came and took me to an AA meeting. When the secretary of the meeting asked if there are any new comers, Sisi poked me and said just share your first name. I haven’t had a drink since then.”

“You said you felt nobody understood you and you wonder if even today if anyone does.”

“One must live in the mind of an alcoholic to be able to understand. Non-alcoholics don’t have a clue. When I called God, I realized I was as bad as my father. It took me a long time to learn that being an alcoholic is not a ‘character weakness’, it is a disease. I was full of shame then, today there is nothing I’m ashamed of. It was my life. Now, I know myself better and I’m grateful for what I have achieved.”

“If there is anything you do not want me to include let me know.

“My life is an open book.” Her laughter filled the air.

“Your faith has played a major role in your recovery. Will you share?”

“I couldn’t have done this without the help of Jesus, Mary, St. Francis and St. Anthony. They have been taking care of me all these years. I don’t know what God has in the store for my future, but they protect me.”

“You love Mother Teresa, right? I remember her hand written letter to you.”

“Yes, I pray to her daily.”

“I remember your beautiful companion.”

“Yes, I took care of 16 rescued dogs. They were the most loving companions. The last one was Cricket who went to Heaven recently. I prayed that she would go peacefully and not suffer and my prayer was answered. I miss her so much.” Elizabeth’s sadness is deep when she talks about her precious companions.

“I have loved your Lion and the Lamb Christmas cards for over 35 years. When and how did you start sending them?”

“When I was working in the clinic, someone said there are no animals in heaven. It was around Christmas time, I thought of the lion and the lamb and decided to send them as my annual cards.”

“I have a whole collection of them. Would you reflect on your life today?”

“I have been in this nursing home for the past four years. I miss my home. I wanted to be in my own home. When I fell and broke my neck, I was not in good condition. When my home was sold, I had to let go of everything.”

“You’re grieving not only the loss of your home, the loss of everything in your home that was a reflection of you. I remember you had a name after each angel and statue with the name of a friend to receive it. You gave me your lion and the lamb statue. It is in front of our fireplace and I think of you every day.”

“The past is the past. I am grateful to God and know that he works through people. I have so many friends and I pray for all of them daily. Today, my friend Anna took me to lunch and on Sunday, October 2, 2022, my friends have a gathering for me in a restaurant at noon. Many of my friends have health issues, yet I’m so grateful to all my friends. On that day, I am going to thank God and recite St. Francis’s prayer.”

“Thank you for who you are and thank you for helping generations of others in becoming clean and sober. What goes around comes around. You helped many and now those you served are honoring you with love and gratitude. Thank you for having been a source of inspiration in my life for many years. 

YO CHO KOHAM(I love you in Polish), I love you in Polish.That is how we end our every conversation.

Elizabeht is a woman to love and honor

NOTE: previous posts; 11/18/21, 9/28/21, 12/24/2019, 10/21/2018, 3/10/2020, 6/12/21, 11/16/2018, 10/21/2018