|A giraffe gawks back at author Sally McKinney on her safari in Tanzania. During her trip to East Africa Sally discovered that even in her 9th decade there is a way to still travel and enjoy it. Photo by Sally McKinney|
Editors note: This guest post is by my long time friend and collaborator Sally McKinney. We me met in New Zealand over 25 years ago. A few years later we began to work together as a writer / photographer team on many great adventures. Having Sally share her secrets of slow travel is a great honor for me and for Travel Boldly. I maybe telling tales out of school, but for the record Sally turned 80 this last birthday and she shows no sign of slowing down. OK, maybe just little. ~JS
After Slow Travel in Tanzania. We Went Poco y Poco in Peru.
Guest Post by Sally McKinney
When I was younger, I traveled all over. Watched leaping dolphins from the deck of a sailing ship. Paddled a dugout canoe. Soared above volcanic lakes in an open-cockpit biplane. Danced under starry skies to throbbing tribal drums.
Zebra keep a wary eye out for trouble as they graze. The
safari took us through the Serengeti eco-system of East Africa
Then I got older.
As my energy waned, an “If It’s Tuesday. . .” trip became too stressful. Yet, giving up travel made me depressed. All of that changed in 2011, when I was invited to East Africa. While planning this seven-week adventure, I had to re-think my needs. The solution I came up with? Slow Travel!
PLAN FOR PEOPLE TO HELP
|A woman walks through the village market near Serengeti |
National Park, Tanzania, Africa.
By living more like the Africans than like a tourist, I learned to
SPEND ONLY ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT
A mother elephant and her calf amble by our safari jeep.
MORE INFORMATION HELPED REDUCE WORRIES
Sally, Billy, Walter and the gang from Safari Arts
Expeditions pose for a photo.
“Camping is the best way to see the animals,” Walter explained. And a camping safari was all I could afford. Yet, how could I sustain my energy if I could not sleep in the tent. And, how could I possibly help with all the camping chores? Even worse, failing to be a good camper would—quite likely—damage my friendship with Walter. . .and with Billy, too.
During one last dinner with Joanne and Martin (Walter’s father), Martin assured me that Walter’s staff would put up the tents, also buy, cook and serve all the food. All I had to do was show up, then eat, sleep and ride around in the jeep snapping pictures. How hard could that be?
An antelope preens while the herd is at rest on the grasslands
of the Serengeti of Tanzania, East Africa.
RELAX AND ENJOY THE RIDE
On that Serengeti morning, we bounced along one of Tanzania’s roughest roads. Barely awake, and craving a second coffee, I gazed out the open window. A rosy, crescent sun seemed to float behind an acacia tree. Using a monopod (that also worked as a trekking pole), I steadied my camera to shoot a gawky giraffe.
|The ever-smiling cook, Elisante Hambu.|
Using impressive tracking skills, Walter and Charles took us to watch a pride of lions. I felt privileged, wondering how many people in their lives ever get to watch lions in the wild, tending their cubs. . .then go back for breakfast.
SUSTAIN GOOD HEALTH WHILE TRAVELING
Walter Miya Tour Director, Safari Arts
Expeditions serving food on safari.
“Not a tourist place,” Walter assured me. “This is where middle-class Africans go.”
When I looked around, I saw that Billy and I were the only “mazungus” (white people/foreigners) in the club. Even so, many of the other guests stopped by our table to say “Karibu” (welcome in Swahilii). After I downed an icy gin and tonic, the hot drums of the African dance band enticed me onto the dance floor. Walter, who is perhaps half my age, danced like a wild man that night. Kicking his long legs askew, he rocked his lean body, whipping those “dreads.” Clearly, I could not keep up with
Makonde band lends its African rhythm to our safari.
Photo credit Alice Fagin
FIND A TRAVEL COMPANION
ADOPT SLOW TRAVEL FOR THE NEXT TRIP
Machu Picchu is a place every traveler seems to long to visit.
Even if you are in your 80s. Sally says that's not an excuse to
miss one of the great travel destinations in the world.
While planning that day, I applied the Slow Travel principles I’d learned in East Africa. The night before, I visualized success—then got eight good hours of sleep. Next morning, taking a later shuttle to the ruins allowed me to eat a leisurely breakfast (and tap the energy from this food.)
Our excellent, English-speaking guide worked out a suitable climb/walk/rest pace for me. My monopod was not allowed at the site, but the guide found me a bamboo hiking stick! At the top, we enjoyed marvelous views. Sitting on a wall, I drank water and munched energy bars. While Billy hiked on to the Sun Gate, I relaxed with a “power nap” on a grassy terrace.
The steps leading up to the caretaker's hut at
Machu Picchu World Heritage site,
GRATEFUL FOR EVERY THING THAT’S STILL POSSIBLE
After the shuttle ride back to Aguas Calentes, we had much to celebrate! While Billy drank cerveza, I sipped a pisco sour. On the menu: papa rellena, fresh grilled trout, Peruvian pizza, sweet flan. When the Peru Inkas began to play—hot and fast—I could have danced with joy. Poco y poco, we had conquered Machu Picchu!
Sally McKinney poses for a photo on her trip to Tanzania,
East Africa with her new friends, the Masai guards.
Sally McKinney never dreamed that at age 80 she'd be living in Bloomington, Indiana, dancing twice a week at the local pub, and learning to cook with spices and herbs. . .while trying to book a holiday cruise around the Galapagos on a 50-foot sailboat.
Over the years her travel articles and photographs have appeared in publications across North America and around the Pacific Rim. Travel in 47 countries (so far) has given her a unique appreciation for life on this planet.
After writing all those articles--plus six travel guidebooks--she's now working on a memoir about how travel experiences have encouraged personal growth. In occasional pieces for ExploreDance.com, HighOnAdventure.com and now TravelBoldly, she encourages travelers to value diverse cultures, sustain the natural environment and support local economies.
Here's her advice to other travelers who've grown older. "Even if you're losing your eyesight, don't lose your adventurous spirit. Keep traveling!"
You can reach Sally at GoingSlowerNow@Gmail.com