A quick post this week as my hubby is having hip replacement tomorrow — such is family genetics. Two surgeries over the next few months and then we should be able to resume travelling to see more cultures and take more photos. For this week’s challenge, Reflection, I thought I’d post a photo I took of one of the beautiful night lilies that float around throughout the vast flood plain of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. They bloom near sunset, and you see hundreds of them on a late afternoon boat cruise around the deeper waters of the flood plain that’s formed as rain water from Angola rushes down the length of the Okavango River into neighbouring countries. This particular lily seems, like the Greek legend of Narcissus, to be admiring its own lovely image in the water around it, glowing in the late afternoon light. The lilies are one of the highlights of a visit to the Delta, nodding and swaying as your safari guide silently glides a traditional dugout canoe, called a mokoro, through the shallower waters or bobbing as your small motor boat passes towards evening. If you’re looking for an escape to sunshine and tranquility, head for the Delta!
Yes, the sign says “Fire Assembly Point”. We were in Kenya during the dry season in late February, and there was a fire still smoldering all around our lodge in Lake Nakuru National Park. We’d arrived at the gates with a massive plume of smoke overhead, and had driven to the lodge inside the park through a blackened landscape full of smoke and licks of flame. The fire had broken out a couple of days previously, but our guide assured us that the lodge was intact and safe. From this sign on the grounds, through, it was clear that fires are fairly common during the dry season.
Lake Nakuru is a soda lake, one of several strewn through the Great Rift Valley. The alkaline water holds an abundance of algae, which in turn attracts millions of pink flamingoes — it’s so famous you’ve probably seen a photo of it already.
Although the fire covered a lot of ground, the wildlife seemed unfazed, and many scavengers were feasting on a bounty of dead rodents and other small ground-dwelling animals. The periodic fires are nature’s way of giving the landscape a fresh start. We saw a great variety of wildlife, including white rhinos, a troop of olive baboons, and many spectacular birds around the shores of the lake. The fire kept its distance and we had a very enjoyable visit. Our startling introduction to the park was just icing on the cake 🙂
There’s a wonderful old convent in Lima, Peru that has beautiful and elegant architecture — walls of painted tiles, courtyards with delightful gardens, a venerable wood-panelled library with massive old books. It’s a peaceful haven, but in one area there’s something quite unexpected. You enter through a lobby that features a most unusual floor. You can see it in the photo above — it looks like we’re stepping on big 3-dimensional blocks, but it’s all flat and painted in a wonderful tromp-l’oeil style that reminds me of an Escher drawing. Perhaps it was a way for the architect, or even the nuns themselves, to balance the gravitas of the other spaces, but whatever the case it’s a charming surprise. If you’re going to Lima in the future, don’t miss this sight, and in particular the amusing floor art.
There’s something alluring about abandoned places, even if we know their history. Our mind’s eye tries to imagine what they were like when they were in use.
One of my favourite places for a road trip, preferably in the autumn, is the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York. There are numerous old estates dotted up and down the river, many of them preserved and open to visitors.
This photo was taken at Montgomery Place, an early 19th-century estate owned by the Livingston family. The estate is on the National Register of Historic Places, with a Federal-style mansion, gardens, orchards, outbuildings and winding paths through the oldest oak forest in the Valley.
Unfortunately the day we arrived for a tour all the power was out, so we couldn’t go inside, but we were able to wander around the property, and deep in the woods we came across this abandoned old power station. There are waterfalls on the property which the owners used to generate their own power for a time.
The mansion is evocative of a more genteel time period, while the grounds are wild and haunting, at least in the fall. The estate has a wide terrace and rolling lawns that overlook the Hudson River, so you can imagine the wonderful parties that must have taken place when the weather was fine.
You can find more information about Montgomery Place and several of the other Hudson River Valley estates open to visitors on the Historic Hudson Valley website. It’s the perfect area to enjoy fall colours, charming small towns, great farm markets, history, and even a wide variety of Halloween-season events!