I arrived last night in Cape Town, flying in as the sun began to glow against the mountains and the sea. What a beautiful city! I was here nine years ago when my daughter spent a semester at the University of Cape Town, and am thrilled to have another visit. Of course, my initial euphoria was quickly dampened when I arrived at the hotel to learn that my reservation had been incorrectly made by my hosts, and there were no rooms. Sat around in the lobby for almost two hungry hours until they located a room at another hotel for two nights. By the time I got here, it felt way too late for dinner, and making do with peanuts and wine from the mini-bar seemed just right.
As you know, I have spent the last ten days in the bush in Botswana. If you know me personally, you know how easily moved I am, and I spent almost every moment of those days overflowing with feeling. You know the Otis Redding (I think) song: "Morning has broken, like the first morning..." That is how it felt, watching the sun rise over the Delta or the Kalahari. Flaming skies make dark silhouettes of the trees, and, as it became more light, the movement of all the creatures became visible. We saw hundreds of spectacular birds; my most favorite is the Lilac Breasted Roller. Google it for a picture of astonishing beauty. There were butterflies and lizards and odd big bugs and the animals--oh, the animals. The grace of all the antelopes, the Impala especially seem too beautiful to be real. There is a large antelope called a ornyx in the Kalahari which looked like a regal character in a child's book. The lions in the Kalahari have black manes and are gorgeous. As this is my 4th trip to Africa, I am more comfortable than I was in the beginning. The first trip, I could barely sleep at night as I heard elephants crashing around right outside the tent. Now I do believe that the leopard that is about three feet distant from me is going to continue her nap and not pounce, or that the mother elephant , with the baby tucked under her, it going to continue crunching on leaves and pulling up big tufts of grass. The guides are incredible and read the animals beautifully; if they are not concerned, I have learned that I don't need to be either.
Here is my favorite new fact: A group of zebra is correctly called a "dazzle" of zebra. Here is the most unnerving thing that happened: one night during dinner, the camp manager abruptly left the table, returned in a few minutes with a baby (although still at least 8 feet long) python around his arm. It had been in the kitchen where it apparently visits often. Here was the scariest thing: we were in a very small boat, surrounded by high grasses and reeds, when a large bull elephant suddenly appeared and made a mock charge. If that happens on land, it is scary, too, but the jeep can move more quickly than the boat if necessary. In this case, it was "mock", so all was well--after my heart stopped hammering
It was all marvelous, and we flew away from Vamburo Plains with tears in our eyes. In Maun, my husband and I got on separate planes. Obviously, I came to Cape Town for an international breast cancer conference, and he went to Zimbabwe to meet people and visit two tiny mission hospitals that we are trying to help. Today I am meeting my host soon for a drive around the Cape and then an early dinner with her staff. The conference begins tomorrow, and I will share news and stories. I am thrilled to be here and have the chance to meet breast cancer survivors and health care providers from all over the world.