Saturday, September 25, 2004

We're back!


We're back! So far, this has been a truly wonderful year with lots of momentous occasions to celebrate. Daniel and I were wed at my parent's home in Los Angeles on August 7th. This was the perfect culmination to almost 5 years together and months of wedding planning. Our intimate ceremony was officiated by our friend, John Gatsis, and was a chance to unite the extended Gamber family with the Campos clan and some of our closest friends. The gathering was a whirlwind to us - we've labeled the whole experience - 'the circus'. This is an affectionate nickname! We've definitely gained a whole new level of respect for all of our friends who are familiar with the drama that comes with planning a wedding.

Of course, we didn't waste anytime before hopping on a jet to enjoy a fabulous honeymoon. It was the first time that Dan truly flew around-the-world (the 3rd time for me, but who's bragging?). Our first night was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I wish we could say we spent those brief 24 hours soaking up the culture, but the Shangri-La hotel was pure luxury...we barely left our room. This was a quick layover on our way to Mauritius, an island gem in the Indian Ocean. The local population is about 50% Hindu Indian, with the rest being a mix of native Mauritian (part of Africa), Chinese, and lots of European expats, mainly from France. We were there during their winter, which means the weather was VERY comfortable, although not the kind of hot that inspires you to jump in the ocean every 5 minutes. We did spend a lot of time strolling on powdery white beaches, if not tons of time in the water itself, and explored old tea plantations, botanical gardens and the interesting port town and capital, Port Louis. After 5 days we were on our way to Tanzania. This was really what our honeymoon was all about. I had been fantasizing about an African safari for years. This world is changing with spreading development and increased populations that I felt this pressing desire to get to the wild before the wild is tamed. Although the safari experience is very organized and 'safe', I never lost the feeling that we were outsiders visiting the homes of animals. The land was theirs, and we were just passing thru. It is kind of like scuba diving in the ocean. You are surviving under water, getting around, thinking, seeing things, sharing an environment with ocean-life, but how can you forget that this is not your home, that this landscape belongs to the fish, the sharks, the whales, the tortoises, the seals, the jellyfish, etc. etc.. Our 7 days in Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti were unforgettable. We did a mix of camping with a guide/driver and cook, and staying at luxury lodges. It was the perfect combination. Just when I thought I'd never get a brush through my dusty dreadlocks ever again, I had a hot shower to look forward to. Of course, where we slept always played second fiddle to our forays into the bush, spying on great animals in their natural habitat. We saw herds of elephants, zebras and wildebeest, all kinds of Gazelles and impalas, cape buffalos, hippos, ostriches, warthogs and hyenas, and the near extinct black rhinos. We spent hours watching lion prides, even watching a hunt and a failed kill, and the bloody feeding on a young gazelle, and seeing cheetahs camouflaged in the tall grass, and leopards eyeing us wearily as we watched them and their precarious kill, hanging high in the trees. Giraffes were my favorite, as their whole design just seems like an impossible fantasy. We (especially Dan) became enraptured with birds. Here are some brief impressions I was able to put to words while on the road:

Daniel is a newborn bird fanatic, teased by color, flight and song. Abdul's binos have become an elongated eye extension, and his brain is muddled with names and pictures from the 'field guide'. My husband is hopping from leg to leg, and chirping like his fellow fowl as he scans the Tanzanian sky.

Elephant impressions:

Memories of mammoth African elephants - they like the mud. The baby elephant follows his elders into a mud pit, where he sinks to his belly. After insuring a thorough chocolate covering, the baby struggles to suck himself from the hole, and onto dry land.

A great male bull scrapes his dry hide back and forth against the rough bark of a tree. The sound is richer than nails on an emery board or coarse sandpaper on wood. The elephant is in ecstasy with his auto-massage. He lets rip a long warbling fart.

We turn a bend in the road of Tarangire Park to find ourselves too close to an aggressive young bull. He trumpets angrily and raises his trunk. We have interrupted his feeding (which consists of ripping branches from a tree - turning it leper). We cautiously wait in our rover until he seems sufficiently calm and we are able to pass. As soon as we pull by, foot on the pedal, he makes to charge, eyes wild and ears spread wide and flapping.
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Our next stop was more like a traditional honeymoon - 9 days on Zanzibar, lazing it on the coast. What an amazing place. Known as the 'Spice Island', it has a fascinating history of sultans, slavery, sea-faring, and exotic spices. Ever since an island revolution in the 60's the local make-up of the residents has been predominantly Muslim, black Africans, but there are still minority populations of Arabs and Indians. The architecture reflects this legacy of Arabic culture, especially from Oman, and a short period of British colonialism. Stonetown is a maze of a city with labyrinth-like alleys, too narrow and winding for cars. Century old, intricately carved wood and brass-studded doors still barricade the entry to homes and businesses in the old town of Zanzibar. The beaches are stunning. The sand is bleached white, and the water is clear and azure. During low tide the sea is pulled beyond the reef, revealing cultivated seaweed farms and is the perfect time for fishermen to hunt for octopus', a local delicacy. This was the time for our vacation within a vacation, and we languished in bed, on the beach, played Bao, enjoyed our alcohol, and looked forward to every meal.

The return home to New York was not smooth. We had problems with our 'industry' tickets and found ourselves at an airport every day for 6 days. It's a long story not worth dwelling on. The positive is that it allowed us a brief glimpse of Dar Es Salaam, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and 2 days in Dubai, the Hong Kong of the middle East. Dubai was the perfect place to spend more money than we should have - I got hypnotized by gold jewelry, and Dan just had to add a sheesha pipe to our collection.

We've returned to work, the comfort of our home, and the absorbing street life of New York. It is good to be back. We've got a wide future to look forward to, and I'm happy about it. We've posted our wedding and honeymoon photos on our website,
Please check it out at
http://www.pbase.com/dgsc/wedding and http://www.pbase.com/dgsc/honeymoon

We send you love and best wishes. You are all in our thoughts. Here's hoping that the coming months will bring many happy opportunities to rejoice about life.

yours truly,
Sarah and Dan

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