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Notes from Our Travelers: Carl Safina

One of our past private jet guests, Carl Safina, a Marine Conservationist and MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, sent a lovely note after he and his wife, Patricia Paladines, experienced a Lions, Tigers, and Tradewinds journey of discovery.

Patricia and I add our voices to what many of you have said about our splendid journey: that it was one of the finest excursions of our lives and that we had the pleasure of a particularly wonderful group of co-voyagers.

I enjoyed every moment of our trip and was often blown away by surprises and pleasures I did not anticipate. Oman, for instance, was a near-total surprise to me, and the temples of India blew open a window in my mind that gave me a new perspective on religions and human relationships to life and death. (What I had carried as vague impressions of differences between Eastern and Western views of life and death clarified and sharpened for me in unexpected ways that I have found enormously enlightening as I reflect and talk about our experiences.) Seychelles was heavenly; good thing we left when we did, or we might have decided to stay there forever! 

Each country showed us delights and surprises beyond all my expectations, but that did not happen by itself. The staff was incredible, both because of how extraordinarily well-planned our stops were with excellent on-the-ground fixers and guides and with no time wasted and because of the grace and speed with which they dodged curves and secured contingencies when well-laid plans unavoidably went awry. 

And, of course, the trip was strung together with one pearl—the Black one—that made the skies truly friendly and a pure pleasure. Who could have expected that being stuck on a runway for seven hours could be so pleasant, restful, and delicious? Or that we would have a Christmas party at 30,000 feet!

Of course, for me, the wildlife was what I most anticipated. We got fortunate with tigers, and the birds and other creatures were likewise wonderful—as was the women’s co-op at the edge of the Tiger Reserve. Kenya was superb and very reassuring to me because of all the open land we saw from the planes between Nairobi and the Mara. (Last time I was in Kenya, I went north of Nairobi and was dismayed to see that so much wilderness I traveled in when I was young had been turned to dusty towns and farms raising flowers for export to the white-tablecloth restaurants and hotels of Europe.) 

Our Kenya visit was, for me, also a way to reconnect not just with wildlife but with people I cherish. My scientific colleague and friend, Dr. Vicki Fishlock, shared her incredible expertise and insights on elephants with us. And most movingly for me was to connect with my Maasai friends. 

I had not seen Moses Kipelian since we were twenty-six years old (I was surprised at how instantly familiar and at home I felt when, after all those years, I stepped inside the Maasai boma our group visited). I had never met Moses’ son Alfred in person, whom I have been in conversation with by email in recent years because of his dedication to protecting his ancestral homeland and its wildlife and forests from poachers and illegal loggers. I had never met Alfred’s stunning wife, Mercy, nor their precious daughter whom—I still can hardly believe this—they chose to name Safina in honor of a man from across a continent and an ocean whom they had never laid eyes on. Wow.

And then, our group moved through the cultural and ethnic histories of West and North Africa with all their colors, art, sights, sounds, smells, tastes—and deals. Our friends have suggested that it must have been hard for us to return home, and I am happy to report that it was not. Our middle-of-the-night arrival created delightful chaos among our three doggies and us. Their wagging tails and licking tongues only reaffirmed what we always know and carry everywhere: we have a beautiful, wonderful, extremely lucky life.

Thank you for being such a newly memorable part of our life. Patricia and I sincerely hope our paths will cross again, whether in brief prosaic visits or another epic journey.



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