A very Happy New Year to everyone! May 2014 bring lots of joy and adventures! I am finally back to blogging. My computer died a horrid death at the most inconvenient time and with a busier than busy work schedule, my beloved blog got waylaid and neglected. I finally got a new one and now have some time to start blogging again.
My last job for 2013 was a most incredible trip to Kenya where I spent 5 days in the Masai Mara. During this trip, I had a weak wifi signal and no mobile signal, I had a chance to reflect on many things, one of which was how I'd like to approach social media this year. Throughout the year, I've had mixed feelings about this medium of communication, Twitter especially. The highs were meeting and interacting with really diverse people who shared an infectious passion for beauty and food. The lows involved watching a lot of cyber bullying by more aggressive people towards more passive twitterers. There was also a constant underlying negativity amongst certain (I mean certain) bloggers and people on twitter about how they deserved this and that and that they were being looked upon as blaggers and threats to traditional print and journalism. I am always friendly towards everyone and maintain that I treat people how I want to be treated and as a result have made many good friends through social media. I'm also privy to many a direct message made in private about arguments, side taking and general pettiness that I thought I've outgrown from playgrounds when I was a kid. It made me sad and to be honest, slightly apprehensive about putting more of myself out there.
So when busy with work, I rarely tweeted and I missed it! I miss the camaraderie that used to be strong amongst beauty bloggers, I miss the banter and chit chats. Nowadays when I check my timeline, I see people making grand and usually inaccurate statements about anything, almost to provoke a reaction. I personally find it unkind and unnecessary. It doesn't happen all the time for sure and this is my personal feeling. Maybe I always stumble upon the wrong tweet at the wrong time. It's my blog after all so as a medium of putting out there my feelings about my life and work, I thought this is the perfect time and way to start a more positive year! So I am asking people to think and consider how their 140 characters might affect how other people feel before clicking send.
Anyway Kenya! I was a bit wary due to rumours of unrest and dangers towards tourists. I couldn't be more wrong! As soon I got out of our 12-seat toy plane onto the dirt track at Keekorok in the Masai Mara to be greeted by Masai Warriors, coupled with the heady earthy fragrance of nature, wildlife and plants, I knew instantly why Africa is sometimes credited as The Cradle of Life. The electricity I felt was infectious and left not only myself but the whole team, excited about our adventure to come.
It's hard to describe in words but during the 90 minute truck ride to the 1920s-style safari campsite The Cottars Camp, the landscape of the Mara unfolded. Plains as far as the eye can see with lush vegetation, silhouettes of solitary Baobab trees against nothing but sky and land, spiky Acacia bushes, trickling streams to roaring rivers, waving Masai shepherds with their cattle, dusty rocky paths all sent prickles of glee and excitement in me. I haven't even started with the animals! That 90 minutes I got to see various types of antelope springing away from us in herds, a family of giraffes grazing from horrid thorny Acacia trees, zebras trying to blend into the landscape to avoid attention, hyenas, buffalo and even a cheetah resting amongst tall grass. To finish it all, a pride of lions! I got so close that even with my Iphone, I took a sharp shot of the male's face all speckled with flies! And further down from him, a couple of females tearing into a buffalo they've killed only a few hours ago! I was stunned and should have been scared but it felt natural and to be able to experience all this first hand, to see the power and grace of these giant cats was quite something else!
I could go on and on but I should just let the pictures speak for itself. I do want to quickly point out a few highlights of the trip. When we were shooting on the 3rd day, we were positioned at a random location hoping to catch the sunset behind the distant mountains of the Mara. Nicky and Orsolya from the magazine and myself went about building this campsite using canvas and wooden poles and our Masai guide Mako built a fire in our impromptu campfire using nothing but his machete, dried grass, elephant dung and his breath. It was magical to watch! But that wasn't the highlight, this will stay with me for life. A few hours before all this, we had a slight shower of rain and everyone ran to the trucks to take shelter. I went back for my set bag left in the open and when I bent down to pick it up, I noticed that tiny white flowers were blooming everywhere as the rain hit the dried grass! I stood there and after my eyes adjusted, saw this happening everywhere. Just magical.
The other magical moment was while shooting in the wilderness again, 2 masai boys crossed our paths with their cows. Silently the boys approached with bent heads and slowly came up to everyone. Why? They were coming forth with bowed heads and wanted each and everyone of us to touch their heads as a sign of respect and blessing. By this time I found myself welling up inside. It was a simple gesture and probably normal to everyone but I found this so beautiful and emotional.
Right enough waffling on, if this is too wordy for you, come back later. I will revert to my usual before/afters and product blog offerings, but until then, enjoy the Masai Mara as seen through my eyes & my Iphone!
What do you think? Quite something else isn't it? I can't wait to go back with my family. Kenya is definitely one of the most amazing and magical places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. And to have gone with some of my favourite people and colleagues only added to the experience. I can't wait to see what 2014 has planned for me, the places and the people I am going to visit and meet! So to conclude, shall we make a pact? To be nicer and more patient to the people around us. To think before we speak/tweet, to treat others how we ourselves would like to be treated. My gut tells me that if we achieve some of that, 2014 is going to be an amazing year!