My name is Cynthia M. (Cindy) to friends. I’m a very good photographer and artist. I used to be a wedding photographer before my car accident. Which is another story! But after the wreck on 1-16-92, after that I turned myself into a landscape photographer, my website is CreativeImagesByCynthia.com where you can create your own piece of photo art. I was born in Dallas, Texas I grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, so I’m just a confused Texan!

My Dad bought 30 acres in the Poconos Mountains, which we turned into a campground: Mt. Vista Campground, which still exists today. I also went to Africa all by myself too.So I’ll tell you about that, today.

In 5th grade, I did my first term paper on a nation of my choice and I choose Africa because I love big cats! And ever since then I’ve said: “I’m gonna go to Africa one day.” My mother died October 9, 2009. It worked out that my sister and I would get $100,000. plus a little amount until I turn 80 years old. So I thought…new car, pay off my home, which I should have done. But I said: “No, I’m going to South Africa!” “I grew up on a campground so a camping safari would work and it was the cheapest.” I thought I can handle the African bush on a camping trip. Little did I know! I was the first one booked for this English language camping Safari. I had already
gotten my air tickets and one day the woman I was booking through Marguerite with “Eye’s On Africa”, calls and tells me and tells me that 11 Italians registered for the trip They didn’t speak any English. I said no, but this is an English Tour and she said: “Well there are still two seats left, maybe they will be American’s.” I said: “They better be, for I wasn’t going to cancel my flights & wait for the next American tour!!!” I set everything up myself I booked the flights, I didn’t use the tour company to do it.

So on that day, my friend came to pick me to drop me off at the airport to go to Atlanta, GA. to catch my flight to Johannesburg, S. Africa. Not long into the 16-hour flight, I almost had a heart attack when I realized, “I left the battery to my camera and the watts changer for my camera to their kind of electricity to my $800 camera, that I bought just for this trip in the wall at my house!” I searched through all of my stuff, no battery or watt changer! It was a 16-hour flight and I spent the whole flight in a “panic”, I thought when I get to Johannesburg I’ll get to a camera shop and buy a battery, right! I didn’t get into the city until 8p on a Saturday evening and I was thought I’d get the battery the next day, on Sunday before I had to leave. But guess what, all the stores are closed on Sunday, and the guides told me: “You can pick one up on the way to the next place”. Well, we weren’t going to cities. We were camping, going to villages. Now, I could have bought some of that little throwaway cameras, but I didn’t, I’m so damn hard headed, I wanted to shoot with my $800 digital camera! We went into the village after village and there were no camera shops, for the batteries anywhere to be found.

I was all alone on my “DREAM TRIP SAFARI TO AFRICA”, it was just me and 11 Italian people who couldn’t even talk with me. Italians Language in the back and the two guides who spoke African in the front! So there I was watching all animals, not taking any pictures or talking to nobody!!!

 

The first night, at our first camp our guide Mike & I, were cooking spaghetti of course, for the Italians and they would be cleaned up. And after dinner, Mike had let me tell my story and the interpreter did her job so I told them my story about the car wreck, my TBI, which is a “Traumatic Brain Injury”, coma for 22 days and I have a partially detached optic nerve in my left eye so I can’t see things on the ground right in front of me so I would need someone to tell me if there is anything dangerous in front of me on the ground. So on my 7th day, my guide Mike and I took a walk to the bath hut, you really couldn’t call it a bathroom.They were pretty bad. And he was telling me about the giraffes, who would eat the tops of the trees away so halfway down the path there was this tree across the path. Mike, just sat on it and flipped his legs over and stood up, as he remembered to warn me, I was looking up at the trees. I wasn’t even looking down, I was looking up at the trees so I ran right into this tree with my shin bone and I flipped over the tree, landed on my left side and broke a rib. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t cry, I just laid there on the ground trying to catch my breath, I knew I’d broken a rib. I finally got a grip & we continued on to our next destination, that we were staying for 2 days. We are traveling in an open-air truck that holds 12 people, pulling a trailer full of our baggage. We were going up and down, up and down sand dunes, with my broken rib. It was only supposed to take us a couple of hours to get to the other place, but we got LOST in the bush of Africa. Every once in awhile, the baggage trailer would get stuck on one of the sand dunes and everyone but me get off the truck and free up the trailer. It was getting dark at this point, I was getting afraid that we’d be caught out there in the bush at night. With no gun & this 24-year-old pup for a guide, taking 12 novice people into the African bush. Bush in Africa means “Jungle”. All of a sudden, I heard one of the Italian men say something like “Leopard” – and I turned my head and saw a leopard crouched down there, just looking at us! He was watching us jump in and out of this vehicle. I knew what he wanted, he wanted some “Italian food.”Before we got too scared, a big tow truck came around the bend to pull us out of the sand dunes and scare off the leopard, but we did see a leopard in the wild bush of Africa for about 10 seconds!!!

The people at our camp kept the food warm for us, so when we got there we eat. We were all very hungry. Then I went to my hut I was worn out, tired and hurting, glad to be out of that truck. The next day, I tripped over the lip of the tent and I fell right on my rib and belly. I yelled in pain really loud, and Mike came and help me up Right then and there I knew that I couldn’t go on the last leg of the trip. Camping in the bush was harder than I’d ever thought!!! So my 14-day Safari turned into a 7-day trip. Before I left, I flew in a small airplane, over the Okavango Delta that I would have been camping for the next two day with my broken rib. And it would have been REAL rough camping, you would have to dig a hole in the ground to relieve yourself, then cover it up when you leave the area so there would be no trace that we were there. So I didn’t go and that was where my dream trip to Africa stopped!!! Before they took me back to Johannesburg to fly back to Atlanta. We took a little airplane ride over the Okavango Delta, where I would have been camping. After just a few minutes up in the air, the pilot said: “Look down to the right and see the lions.” There were 2 females and 1 male lion, standing in the water of the Delta below. So I didn’t get to take any pictures, but I’ve got it all in my head for life.

I got a ride back to the Johannesburg airport, dragging this big bag behind me and my camera on my shoulder. The main guy of the safari in Africa made it able to switch my reservations over for different dates for a flight back to the Atlanta, GA. I go up to the airline ticket desk, and said: “I’m checking in for the flight to Atlanta”, and the woman told me, I have reservations on the 2:00 pm. flight the NEXT DAY! I was so freaked out, but I knew I couldn’t freak out! I had to pull myself together.That SOB made the wrong reservations! And I thought “AA”….they are all over the world. I’ve had 25 years clean and sober. I had the number for Inter-group, that is the main contact for the area that had all the meetings. I couldn’t understand the man very well who I finally reached because his accent was so thick, but I told him: “I needed to get in touch with a female AAer” when he told me that the last AA meeting for the day was over. This was again in a Sun.We in AA have to learn how to ask for help!!!

 

He didn’t know what to do! So he offered to come pick me up and take me to his place for the night and he “promised” me, to have me back to the airport in time for my flight at 2:00p the next day. I wasn’t sure that was a good idea, but I didn’t have much of a choice. Stay in this seedy airport for 24 hours or take him up on his offer. He was an AAer so I trusted him to help me. We met at the Food Court, as we’d arranged. He grabbed my bag and I grabbed the camera and off we went to his place. It’s nighttime by then, we’re driving on the back road’s for a long time and I’m getting worried that something bad is going to happen to me, wondering if he’s going to rape & kill me and feed my body to the lions!!! And no one would know what happened to me in Africa. I would never found! We finally got to his place. A little, dark shack in the BUSH of Africa! We went in and he said: “This is where you will sleep.” It was a blanket in the corner on the floor with a pillow. I fell asleep just from exhaustion still hurting. But I did take my night time med.’s. Thank God I had them with a bottle of water. I asked him to take me to an AA meeting before my flight, I wanted to at least go to an AA meeting while in Africa. He said: “Yes there is a 10:30 am AA meeting”, so we did that. They are an hour and a half long over there. It was so cool, damn near just like ours, alcoholics are everywhere, every kind of person, every town, every country. Alcohol has eaten up so many people’s lives and the ones that get sober are tight, like family. I do have a sister, but we are not that close, but I found my family in AA and in Africa, where and when I really needed it. And that’s my story of my dream trip to Africa! And I’m still here to tell you about it!

The End