24th February 2016 – New York City, USA
I handed my first business card out on the plane this morning! I’m probably over excited about this, forgive me but my new business cards please me enormously and I am utterly un-cool!
Bizarrely I was sat near a young couple on their way back from a honeymoon in Tanzania – I noticed their “his & hers” fleeces from a wonderful lodge called Namiri Plains! Here, ladies and gentleman, is our first connection and justified excuse to stick in a few wildlife photographs! It was a brilliant coincidence and I hope a good omen for the trip ahead.
Namiri Plains is a fantastic little tented camp (it’s pretty luxurious folks – I believe “glamping” is the phrase “the kids” use) in a remote corner of the eastern Serengeti National Park. For the last twenty years these grasslands have been completely off limits to tourists in a move to replenish a then dwindling cheetah population. This is big cat country at its finest, due to it being off the beaten track and the only camp in the area, the guests at Namiri enjoy seriously outstanding predator viewing without any other vehicles. That is pretty unusual for the Serengeti.
We were last in this area in mid August 2015, one afternoon drive delivered six cheetah, Hyena and two separate prides of lion. That is an incredible strike rate on cats and, according to our guide, not a particularly unusual drive for the area.
So back to New York!
I arrived in JFK at 15h50, all plain sailing thus far. Yikes! The terrifying boarder control man seemed convinced that someone with such an eclectic mix of east African stamps in his passport is clearly up to no good! Admitidly the stamps are not at all understated, they tend to be rather glamorous and pretty large – sort of like an extension of a nations traditional dress or head wear. Basically, if you have to have it then make it colourful – it’s a good mantra in my book!
Now, just to clarify, I’m not bashing this guy (frankly I wouldn’t dare). He wasn’t unfriendly, just really, bloody great at his job! Bless him, it cannot be possible not to take that kind of motivation home – this guy has serious career drive. One has to wonder what it is like visiting his home. Does he ask you if you’re carrying fruit and vegetables on the doorstep? Or if you’ve brought more than the suggested amount of alcohol specified on the invitation?
“Sir, you RSPV’d to a document that instructed you bring one bottle, yet I see you’re packing four in that bag of yours. Would you mind explaining what the hell you think your doing?”
Imagine being the luckless young rogue that arrives to take his daughter on a date – it doesn’t bear thinking about!
I’m off catch up on a little sleep now. I had a splendid presentation with some of the team at Star Flight Aviation this evening, and have lots of ideas to take further for how we can work together with their private jet service and deliver unique experiences in the bush for their clientele. All jolly exciting, so far I’m off to a great start!